More on Leadership…

December 12th, 2008 by Nick Jacobs Leave a reply »

Nick Jacobs, FACHE author of Taking the Hell Out of Healthcare

One imperative for any leader is a positive mental attitude. We must work tirelessly on believing in ourselves, and then we must work constantly to reinforce that belief with positive self-talk. If we embrace that concept that we can, there’s a very good chance that we indeed can. If, on the other hand, we believe that we won’t, we probably won’t. This single belief can initiate all forward movement. Winners in life constantly encourage themselves to think that I can, I will, and I am, and they don’t focus on the past —the should have, would have, or can’t do’s are gone forever. We can never make a better past for ourselves.

Last year, one of our employees attended a non-traditional educational seminar whose primary focus was directed toward the analysis of different personality types. When the employee returned, I asked, “What did you learn?” Their response was, “I learned that the primary function of people with my personality type is to pee on your cornflakes, to rain on your parade, and to frustrate your every creative idea, because that’s just what we do.”

Hence the opening paragraph of this piece. We are in difficult economic times, and the general counsel from our advisors is more often going to be to take no risks. If they are doing their jobs, we will be inundated with reasons why we should be against almost everything. In fact, words like growth, expansion, and opportunity all seem to be put away as this storm cellar mentality prevails. They will argue that they are saving their organizations by “shrinking to greatness” while opportunity after opportunity slips away.

One of my favorite visuals of this mind set comes from the 1990 movie Ghost where the people were helped to find their place in eternity by little demons that came out of the sewer grates to drag their souls into Hell. As leaders, we are surrounded every day by people who see their job as one of hard, cold, black and white facts. There are the extremists who spend their days spreading pessimism, fear, gloom, and negative energy; looking at the down side as they constantly undermine not only growth, but the attitudes that foster growth. The blacker the sky, the deeper the reinforcement of their concerns, and the more intense the corporate paralysis becomes throughout the organization.

Positive Mental Attitude Psychologist, Denis Waitley helped to change my life when he lectured on this topic nearly 30 years ago. He had been the U.S. Olympic athletes’ psychologist. Dr. Waitley taught us to learn from the past, set vivid, detailed goals for the future, and live in the only moment of time over which you have any control: now. He always spoke about the reality that life is inherently risky and that there is only one big risk you should avoid at all costs, and that is the risk of doing nothing.

Don’t get me wrong, conservative thinkers are important in the balancing act of leadership, but they must never be given the power to control all aspects of an organization. It is a recipe for disaster. The result will be stagnancy and eventually, business failure. There must be a means to carefully look at what they have to say, to evaluate the risks outlined, and then to make a decision based upon the prudent person process, but, having said that, remember that leadership is not a gutless proposition.

If you are not interested in some sleepless nights, tension filled meetings, or numerous failures, don’t get into the game. As Waitley says, the winner’s edge is not in a gifted birth, a high IQ, or in talent. The winner’s edge is all in the attitude, not aptitude. Attitude is the criterion for success. There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.

A leader’s world is not always black and white.



  1. Denny Henderson says:

    Hi Nick,
    I think your post is very timely in this market when many people are burying their heads and praying things blow over.
    If “reality” is only a function of how we react to the world around us, then taking action consistent with the future we want is the only way to change “reality”.

    I wish you a successful transition and new beginning with SunStone.

  2. where what’s ho if i wish to learn new leadership skills? thanks!

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