Beware: Overconfidence and The Slippery Slope | Extraordinary Leadership

I remember, as a kid, going to an amusement park in New Jersey called Action Park.  Action Park was a park where you actually had to participate in activities in order to have fun.  For example, they had down-hill toboggans that you had to steer, they had rock climbing, wave pools, cliff diving and inner tube trails.  I think that the only thing you could actually simply sit back and ride was a ski-lift that would take you to the top of the mountain where several rides began.  Of course, you had to jump on and off at the right time…and you could probably fall off without too much effort.

One of the things about a park like this is that since you have to steer, jump, swim or slide in order to have fun, you could also get hurt.  While they made every effort to keep things safe – there were lots of lifeguards and ride attendants all over the place, every once in a while, someone would do something outside of the norm (or their abilities!) and get hurt.  I, personally, can testify that they had a great medical team, as well.  One ride in particular that I (and many others) got hurt on was the Alpine Slide (see video – more on YouTube!). 

This thing was a small cart with four wheels and a handle that served as a brake.  The object of the ride was to ride down a 300 foot polished concrete track, as quickly as you could without having to stop halfway down and scoot yourself forward somehow.  There were three levels of track, of course – the beginner, intermediate and the advanced.  Most people stick to the beginner or intermediate.

I, of course, started with the advanced.

Well, I got myself situated at the top of my slippery slope on my cart.  The ride controller said we could go, so I took off, zipping through curves – left, then right, then left, then left, barely even touching the break.

Then, I hit a tight S-curve and I panicked.  I went into the first turn and leaned hard to the right…oops.  Too far…

I managed to find myself sliding down the concrete pathway – without the cart, on the back of my shirt and getting friction burns on my arms, shoulders and legs.  I also had to endure the looks of amusement and awe from the dozens of people who saw my adventure.  I think there was a little bruised ego in there, as well to top it off.

I over-estimated my abilities and found myself desperately trying to make decisions that were outside of my capabilities.  I should have slowed down.  I maybe even should have practiced on the intermediate course.  I should have studied the track a little more…heck, I wasn’t the only person to fall that day.

In business, we are faced with the same treacherous landscape…things are constantly changing: the economy, market needs, technology, the industry and even government regulations can change the way we do business.  The worst thing we can do to ourselves, assuming we want to stay in business, is to assume that today will be just like tomorrow…and the next day and the day, following.  We have to make sure that we continue to educate ourselves, survey the environment, and make APPROPRIATE adjustments in our course.

By staying ahead of the the game, so to speak, we can avoid feeling the need to OVERCOMPENSATE for the changes as I did on the cart.  As with my adventure, this could cause the business to fail, creating a loss that is greater than there might have been had more information been available.

By knowing our capabilities and capacities, we won’t be overconfident going into seasons of prosperity.  We will have plans to know our capacities and manage extra demand on our businesses.  We will know when to slow things down a bit in order to ensure that we can still able to provide outstanding service.  We won’t find ourselves tipping the cart because we entered into dangerous curves too quickly.

This is how you act as an extraordinary leader.  This is how you run an extraordinary business.  Beware of overconfidence and the slippery slopes.

Aepiphanni Business Consulting: The Business Strategy People is a Strategy Consulting Firm dedicated to serving the needs of small to medium sized business leaders and executives. We specialize in helping leaders create extraordinary businesses.  We welcome clients in the personal and professional services industries, including Creative and Design Services, Software & IT Services, Professional Services and Healthcare Services.  As always, we welcome your comments, thoughts, questions and suggestions.  If you are seeking a business assessment, or have further questions about creating your strategy or developing your vision, please give me, Rick Meekins, a call at 678-265-3908, or email us at

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