Effective Leadership Article

Know Your Opportunity Cost to Avoid Inaction


dale-carnegieDid you know that the best-seller self-help book, How To Win Friends and Influence Peoplewas first published in 1936?

The author, Dale Carnegie was clearly ahead of his time, or are we just slow learners?

One of my favourite quotes of his is:

Inaction breeds doubt and fear. Action breeds confidence and courage. If you want to conquer fear, do not sit home and think about it. Go out and get busy.

Do you ever consider the Opportunity Cost of your inaction?

If you were to add up the costof your inactive personal intentions, would it prompt you to act?

But first, what do I mean when I use the term ‘cost’?

persistence-climbingUltimately your costis what you could have if you took action. Whether that be time, money, happiness, or status, the Opportunity Cost of your inaction is what you are missing out on because you are unable to commit to action.

Im sure you have plenty of good reasons not to commit to action – but if you truly understood the potential of your action perhaps you would go out and get busy.

And therein lies the problem – we look at potential through the lens of old perspectives.

So how do old perspectives lead to inaction?

friendshipInitially, you for a moment allow yourself to dream and ponder what if. But within an instant you apply your existing perspectives and beliefs about you and the world around you to discount the benefits of your potential to an overall net loss.

Usually these old perspectives are out-of-date. Not only are they based on assumptions that are no longer relevant, the information that they are based upon is second-hand or second-rate.

But interestingly, these old perspectives are never enough to totally erase your dreams and your continue see the same opportunities pass by like the house speciality on a Sundays Yum Cha trolley.

I see this to be particularly the case with peoplesself-development.

Of course there is an investment of time, money and capacity to profit from self-development.

success-champBut before you go discounting the return, allow yourself to understand the potential growth and professional network arising from your development and the positive impact for you beyond your out-dated view of your past.

As Carnegie succinctly states action breeds confidence and courage.

Start by looking at your future as the future, not discounted by the past and realize your true potential.

Craig Stephens site

Written by: Craig Stephens

Craig is a coach and mentor who develops the purpose, presence and performance of professionals, teams and organisations.


twitter: @craigvalue

About the author



Craig Stephens is a coach and mentor who develops the purpose, presence and performance of professionals, teams and organisations. If you can learn more about Craig you can visit on twitter: @craigvalue

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