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Marshall Goldsmith: Choose to Invest Yourself

Dead leaf

Over-commitment is the inability to say no.

Chronic over-commitment reflects lack of priorities. Weak, insecure leaders fill their calendars to the point of panic.

“Beware the barrenness of a busy life.” Socrates

The hardest choice isn’t deciding what to do, although that can be tough. The hardest choice is deciding what to stop. Starting is easy. Stopping takes wisdom, resolve, and, most importantly, courage.

In a world of limited time and energy, effective leaders stop doing what doesn’t matter. Stopping enables vibrancy. But, life without stopping extinguishes everyone eventually.

Lack of vitality is the result of
being too busy doing what doesn’t matter.

Investing energy:

The choice on where to spend your energy may not be as difficult as you think. It took Marshall Goldsmith 45 seconds to explain where he spends his energy.

Just ask, “Am I willing to invest myself in making this better?” Focus on things you’re willing to invest in. Let everything else go.

Don’t talk about it if you aren’t willing to make it better.

Three questions:

  1. Does it matter?
  2. Can I make it better?
  3. Am I willing to invest myself in making it better?

If you say, “no,” to any of these questions, let it go. If you aren’t willing to invest, divest.

Bonus material:

Marshall and I talked about handling the pressure of having people listen to what you say. (2 min. 38 sec.)

Don’t talk about what you don’t know about. If you want to be perceived as an expert, only talk about what you know about.


I recommend, “Managers as Mentors,” by Chip Bell and Marshall Goldsmith.

How do you choose where to focus your energy?

How can leaders learn to say, “no,” to things that don’t matter?

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