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When I faced tough, gut-wrenching challenges with a former job, a trusted adviser and friend urged me to come to grips with the inevitable.  "Quit making excuses.  The dysfunction is killing you; it is suffocating your spirit."

He was right.

For so many years, I had seen the handwriting on the wall, but I worked overtime at making all the excuses for avoiding the ultimate tough decision.  However, when I came to grips with the facts and decided to leave, it was as if the curtains opened, the seas parted, and the answers to all those debilitating issues that I had rationalized for years suddenly seemed so clear cut. I kept asking myself, 'What took you so long?' 

I am not alone in making this mistake.  

In our new economy, healthcare leaders will be tested as never before.  Leaders must not be afraid to ask for help. "I can't do that," one CEO said, explaining that his board might conclude that his request for support would signal that he was not the right man for the job "…and they will push me out."

If that is true, what is going to change in 2011, 2012 or 2013 when the Medicare reimbursement is repeatedly cut and the challenges only become more problematic? 

Leadership is about confidence and courage.  But it is also about admitting when you need help to address a major issue.  There is not a top health system or hospital CEO in the country that is going to have all the answers to the challenges that will assail our industry. The smart guys know why and when to ask for additional resources.  They know that waiting will only prolong the agony and increase the financial consequences.

Executives who allow themselves to become trapped by the myriad of reasons why they cannot change, or why they cannot ask for help, will learn that those reasons are, in reality, only the lies we tell ourselves to justify why we do not take bold action, why we will sacrifice our mission and our vision for a less riskier game of "small ball."

I have been there. But once I got over that mental barrier to deal with what I thought were insurmountable issues, I opened a new career door.  Today I am happier than I have been in years, doing what I love to do.

I am not an exception.  You, too, can make the tough decision and find great happiness and career satisfaction.

© 2011 John Gregory Self

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