Marshall Goldsmith: Choose to Invest Yourself
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.
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.
- Does it matter?
- Can I make it better?
- 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.
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?
Thank you for reminding me of one of my all time favourites – Marshall Goldsmith ( and you of course)
Don’t talk about it if you’re not willing to make it better.
Love it completely, it’s such a simple expression which to me is one of Marshall’s hallmarks, he makes the noise visible.
Have a great day – I’ll be taking that sound bite to my meeting.
“…he makes the noise visible.” <— KaChing.
P.S. You’re one of my favorites too. 🙂
I try to use the GTD methods of time and task management to ensure I have everything in one place, nothing nagging in my brain consuming cycles, and have confidence I’m working on the most important things that I can add value to.
Where I slip up is when I mistake my own passion about a topic for expertise or ability to add value. Sometimes it’s because I’m not sure those that are primarily responsible for it have the same vision as I do. Instead of tackling the work myself I should instead have that awkward slightly uncomfortable conversation with them.
That second paragraph is a powerhouse. Don’t mistake passion for expertise. Just because I care doesn’t mean I can.
You really hit that one out of the park.
I loved concept of investing your Energy to what matters most to you.If you dont optimized your investment , you would invariably take time away from your “What matters most? ” to “What doesnt matter at all?”. Every morning we are credited with 86,400 sec, its up to us how we use credit as there is no option carry forward to Next day..
Every second counts..
Many Thanks for great insight..
So true, it’s easy to slip from what matters to what doesn’t matter. If we aren’t careful we end up doing things that don’t matter. The tyranny of the urgent takes over.
Perhaps one thing to keep in mind is what are we really trying to achieve? Just keeping asking, does this take me where I want to go?
Good stuff Dan. Not wise to spread oneself too thin. Remember Lucy and the assembly line of pies?
One thing I am is curious. I used to suffer mightily from contempt prior to investigation. When something comes along I know nothing about I figure it is for a reason. So I look into it. Doesnt take long to get a good feel for something. What do you? I do not choose to be in everlasting ignorance. I seek what I do not know with gusto.
I pray for inspiration of what to do next and if I feel inspired I go in that direction to see how I might help.
I also like give of myself more than invest. Know the meaning is similar just like giving better.
Last question for me stopped two words short, to me. Everything matters to someone. What I got to do is stay in conscious contact with my Higher Power and act on the inspiration I am given.
Thanks Dan good thought provoking stuff.
SP back to now where the inspiration is revealed.
One of the things I take from your comment is stay curious don’t rule things out too quickly.
Exactly what I meant.
Just like the other day one of my Heros, Simon Sinek said “our Leaders and Companies are killing people”!
I had no clue what he meant. Pretty outrageous statement, right? If true worth LeadershipFreak reporting on, right, wrong, maybe, maybe not?
Because I was willing to listen and learn something new…..I found stress produces cortisol. That is a flight or fight chemical.
It is supposed to be in, out quick. 70% of folks feel no one cares about them at work and stressed at work all day long. Effects their health.
Cortisol drip drip drip all day long. Wonder about the health of the average employee in America? Cortisol stops immune system and growth in the body, google it.
So on face value what Simon said made no sense. After TAKING THE TIME to learn something I knew nothing about and did not understand….. now I get it and even more I believe him.
See the value in taking time to learn new stuff? I do.
Other thing Simon asked, what are you gonna do about it? Felt that in my bones I did.
My answer…….ALL I CAN!! if TRUE how can I not try to do something about that? How about you? Gonna take time to get what Simon is talking about? Just google Leaders Eat Last. Vimeo. If you don’t have 45 minutes for the whole video just go for the last 5 minutes, summarized there.
Either part of the problem or part of the solution, no grey area. Which are you? General question, not personal question to you Dan.
“Lack of vitality is the result of
being too busy doing what doesn’t matter.”
Thank you Dan for another great post.
I loved the idea of instead of saying no I dont have time to think in terms of investing yourself to make it better. It allow you to focus your talents where you feel led.
As for people listening to what you say that a 180 in this day and age of know it alls. I’ve always loved being a librarian and being able to say “I don’t know but I bet can find out.” It was easier than having to be the expert. Who knew?
Spot on. Have a great day. You made mine!
Isn’t it interesting that the simple question, “Am I willing to invest myself in making it better,” clears away lots of clutter. It also clarifies what’s important to us.
I see a paradox happening with some people reading this … one must choose what is important but society has the habit of glorifying the “multi-tasker”. Unless you can grow two heads, you can only do so much. Multitask too much and you get burned out and/or the quality of work is often sub-par.
So true! We equate busy with important. That’s part of the problem and succumbing to the pressure actually makes us less important.
Who would have thought that doing fewer things was an important component of enhancing our impact.
I like this post Dan. It reminds me of many conversations I’ve had over the years with colleages, friends and co-workers, and especially my three daughters. I have always approached business in the very same way I deal with stress, or, stressfull situations. When faced with making a decision regarding my involvement, or dealing with ‘stressfull circumstances’, I ask myself these simple questions, #1 – “can I do whats nessasary to remove the strees or ackcomplish the task”, #2 – “am I WILLING to do whats nessasary”, #3 – “is someone else better suited for the task or should I LET IT GO”. Leaders who want to have a hand in everything eventually lose thier focus on whats important. Each of us is given 24 hours in a day, no more, no less. When commit to total commitment in everything, the things that are most important suffer. You are not only indiviual in your organization with skills and talents. Allow others to step up to the plate and be team players. Giving others opportunities beyond thier day to day activities often reveal the potential of others that otherwise would go unnoticed. Especially with stress, “if you can do something about it, DO IT, otherwise LET IT GO. As far as deciding what to do or not do, remind yourself, “the most important thing to do, is the most important thing to do”… Cheers my friend!
Thanks SGT. Steven,
Wow… “Is someone better suited..?” That needs to be on the list of deciding when to invest in something. Love it.
I like this. Now, I need to apply this
As one who has struggled with this, I found the three questions suggested too much. So, I opt for Derek Sivers suggestion in “Anything You Want” – If the answer isn’t “HELL YES!”, then it’s no.
Reblogged this on Movers, Shakers, Leadership Makers.