Most leaders manage a variety of obstacles on a daily basis. While some challenges can be exciting, others may leave you feeling overwhelmed (hence this article’s reference to quicksand – the sinking feeling we all experience from time to time). It is not uncommon for leaders to get caught in quicksand without realizing it. Part of my responsibility as CEO of RX Medical, a family of healthcare businesses, includes developing tomorrow’s high-potential future leaders. Through ongoing coaching, we help our employees recognize signs of downward spirals – before they start to feel there’s no way out. What can today’s leaders do to avoid sinking in quicksand?

Most people try to navigate quicksand by learning to swim in it says Mark Miller, author of Smart Leadership: Four Simple Choices to Scale Your Impact. He shares that in nature, quicksand may be sand and water, but in your work life, quicksand’s noise and complexity (information overload) can easily pull you under.

Exploring Miller’s Factors & Smart Choices (Things that Contribute to Workplace Quicksand)

  • CEOs spend about 72% of their workweeks in meetings, as Harvard’s Michael Porter and Nitin Nohria reported based on a 12-year study. 
  • Mobile device users send 23 billion text messages every day.
  • People often remain linked to social media for 11 hours a day.
  • Interruptions at work and at home are constant and distracting. Research suggests that office workers might be interrupted “every three minutes and five seconds.” After each interruption, it takes 20 minutes for them to regain the level of concentration they had before being disturbed.
  • Everyone must deal with a more complicated planet. For only one indication of how intricate the world has become, consider that Google has now indexed 56 billion web pages…and counting.

Seasoned leaders who recognize and understand modern challenges still face hurdles – including physical and emotional ramifications of high-pressure work. We all possess the ability to choose, in other words, make decisions that help us change how we act and how our organizations perform. Everyone inevitably makes mistakes, but instead of dwelling on them, forward-thinking leaders discover ways to make smart choices to shift and move forward.


Confront Reality: Some leaders refuse to acknowledge reality. They become convinced of their superiority and don’t want to recognize (or accept) a perceptions that differs from their own. Some leaders want all the trappings of being a senior executive, but they fail to evaluate how they’re performing or examine how well they’re addressing significant challenges. 

Increase Capacity: Each choice you make is linked to another. For example, if you do not grapple the pains of reality, you risk not developing the confidence and drive needed to expand your capacity.

Encourage Curiosity: Most people do not give much importance to curiosity, yet most of today’s top leaders maximize its power. Need a boost to encourage curiosity? Document quotes, a poem you like, a few lines from your favorite song, pictures that make you smile, or words that inspire you for example. Refer to your collection of ideas often to give yourself a curiosity boost.

Create Change: Successful professionals harness organizational resources. Most smart leaders know a brighter future can’t exist if they’re stuck in the quicksand of dated mindsets and/or old practices. Take action to pivot your workplace by creating, then supporting, productive change.

📌LEADERSHIP CHALLENGE: Your belief in your power to lead others successfully is important. What shifts will you make to escape the mediocrity that ensnares others on your path to become a more effective leader?

Brandon Rouse leads a diverse & growing team of professionals well-versed in the challenges facing healthcare. Headquartered in OKC, OK, Brandon’s experienced team represents various technological & innovative medical solutions. ZB RX Medical is a direct distributor of Zimmer Biomet.