Opportunity does not equal obligation. – Perry Noble
Good leaders will find that success compounds itself. As Jonas Salk said, “The reward for doing is the opportunity to do more.” Meaning, the more success you have, the more opportunities people are going to bring you. But, we must take caution not to lose our capacity to execute on what brought us success in the first place.
Here is a really basic example: If you put two chew-toys in front of Finley, my new puppy, it completely freaks him out. You can just see the stress and anxiety build in him as he looks back and forth between the two. But, if you take one toy away, he is clearly happier.
I think we sometimes have so many toys, or opportunities, in front of us that we go back and forth, dividing ourselves between them, and getting more and more miserable because we are no longer successfully executing our core mission.
How do you know when an opportunity is right or not? In our organization, we say if the opportunity does not fit closely within our mission, we cannot even consider it. It may be a good idea, but not for us. So, we graciously say, “Great idea, thank you for bringing it our way, but we can’t take that on right now; it just does not fit.”
As a leader, I am always grateful to be presented with unique opportunities, but I don’t always have a right to say yes. I cannot freely give away time or capacity that belongs to my family, my team at Southwest Michigan First or the organizations and individuals we serve if the opportunity does not further our mission. I need to have the ability to say no and have that be okay.
Question: What opportunities are in front of you today that you should turn down? What opportunities have you agreed to in the past and have later regretted?