Anything vs. Everything

I spent the last three days in Chicago, attending one of the full meetings of the board of directors for the National Association for Healthcare Quality. As NAHQ’s newly appointed chairman of its Commission for the Recognition of the Profession, I was able to sit in, as an invited guest, on the board’s late-summer meeting.

Interesting thing. One of the consultants who spoke kept repeating a slogan that resonated with me. He said: “You can do anything you want, but you can’t do everything you want.” He was talking about board strategy, but the point holds for everyday life, too.

In the grand scheme of things, many fail because they aim low and achieve even lower. But there’s a flip side to that coin — that you can try to do too many (or too disparate) things, and also fail to achieve.

I’m reminded of the need for balance by my boss and several of my co-workers, who often lament that when they’re on vacation, they still have to work, and they still have to burn the midnight oil to keep up on emails and whatnot. I can sympathize.

Sometimes it’s hard to let go of things we used to do, because they’re a “known known.” But to get to the point where you’ve done anything, you must first stop trying to do everything.