Nielsen: Drowning In A Sea Of Opportunity

We are in a study of Marshall Goldsmith’s excellent book, What Got You Here Won’t Get You There: How Successful People Become Even More Successful.  Goldsmith identifies four key beliefs that help us become successful.  Because these key beliefs are so deeply ingrained in successful people, these beliefs can make it difficult to make necessary changes to go from where we are now (successful) to where we want to be (even more successful).  “And that’s the paradox of success: These beliefs that carried us here may be holding us back in our quest to go there.”

One of these key beliefs is “I will succeed – which is another way of saying, I have the motivation to succeed.”

Goldsmith writes:

        ‘Successful people have an unflappable optimism.  They not only believe that they can manufacture success, they believe it’s practically their due.  They tend to do ‘whatever it takes’ to achieve the goal.  That’s a good thing.  But it can easitly mutate into excessive optimism.”

This ‘I will succeed – unflappable if not excessive optimism – do whatever it takes’ mentality leads many successful people to overcommit and begin “drowning in a sea of opportunity.”

Goldsmith writes:

        “If you’re not careful, you’ll be overwhelmed in due course – and that which made you rise will bring about your fall.  This ‘I will succeed’ belief can sabotage our chances for success when it’s time for us to change behavior.  Overcommittment can be as serious an obstacle to change as believing that you don’t need fixing or that your flaws are part of the reason your’re successful.” 

How about you?  As a successful healthcare leader who is continuously endeavoring to create greater value, deliver better service, and achieve greater success, are you “drowning in a sea of opportunity?”


Is a sincere desire to serve and add value, coupled with a proven ability to serve well, causing you to overcommit?  Is that which made you rise and made you successful now moving you ever-closer toward a state of “drowning in a sea of opportunity?”

“Just Say No” is as important and relevant today as it was when Nancy Reagan popularized the phrase in a campaign against drugs.  Strategically and thoughtfully saying “no” is one of the most effective tools available to any successful leader.  By the way, one can make an effective arguement that overcommittment becomes an unhealthy “drug” or “high” for many well-meaning, extremely busy people. 

Carefully, thoughtfully, strategically, politely… just say no.  Drowning in a sea of opportunity is a guaranteed loss for all concerned!

It is a fact… and it is reality… What Got You Here Won’t Get You There!

Copyright © 2011 by Dan Nielsen

Founder, National Institute for Healthcare Leadership  

Cell 214-695-1292

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