Making the “Get-to” Shift Can Change Your Life


Are you a “get-to” person or a “got-to/have-to” person? I start many of my presentations with a PowerPoint that shows the terms “get to” and “got to/have to” with a mark through the terms “got to/have to.” I share that while we will cover lots of material, if there is one action I hope they leave with, it is using the term “get to” versus “got to” and/or “have to.” I then ask them to recall what they thought about—and might have told others about—coming to the session they are sitting in. Did each person think or say, “I’ve got to go,” or, “I have to go?” Or did they say, “I get to go?” There are grins, and it is evident who the “got-to-go” and “have-to-go” people are. I share that my goal is that when they leave they will be “get-to” people.

I look for single actions that have multiple results. My experience is that when I substitute “get to” for “got to” or “have to,” it rewires my thinking and my attitude. After my presentations, the organization that brought me in does a survey. A takeaway always mentioned by attendees is the moving to “get to.”

Like most items I write about, the concept of “get to” was not created by me. I am a collector of actions that work for others and a connector to others to share learnings. I collect and connect.

The person who shared “get to” with me is my cousin Al. I quote him often. (Yes, there really is a cousin Al!) His father, George Sengstock, and my mother, the lovely miss Shirley, were siblings. Al Sengstock is my first cousin. One time, Al asked me what I was doing the next week. I said, “I have to travel,” and shared the cities I would be in and the number of flights I would be on. He replied, “Why don’t you say get to versus have to? I get to go to organizations and be helpful. I get to travel.” Since then, I have gotten used to it.

As I present to groups after the “get-to” question, I then say how grateful I am that I get to be with them. Getting to is also effective in organizational culture. When a leader says they “get to,” the staff hear a more positive message. And at a time when it is not easy to find staff who want to be managers, it helps position the role of a leader more positively. “I get to go to the department meeting,” or, “I get to be part of the budgeting process,” or, “I get to attend skill-building sessions,” or, “I get to share what is working in my work area with others.” Yes, there are still those “got-to” and “have-to” moments; however, they can be reduced by being a “get-to” person. Do not be surprised if something you thought was a “got to” becomes much better when you say, “I get to.”

Try using “get to” this week. See how it works. From big actions to small ones, it makes a difference in how you experience your life. In recovery, I attend meetings. For years, I would think, have to go to the noon meeting. Once I moved to, get to go to the noon meeting, it changed things. So even on the personal side, “get to” works.

“Get to” also removes victimization. When a person says “got to” or “have to,” it subconsciously creates victim thinking. Early in my talks, I sometimes ask if anyone is in the room due to a court order. I ask, “Is your community service being a leader in healthcare?” The point is that each person made the choice to accept the job, fill the role, and work in the place they are working in. We get to work. We get to make a difference. We are the lucky ones.

No matter what your role—where you work or where you live—it is a “get-to” opportunity.

I am grateful I get to write this column.

Quint Studer
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Quint Studer’s latest book, Rewiring Excellence: Hardwired to Rewired, provides tools and techniques that are doable and that help employees and physicians experience joy in their work as well as enhance patients’ and families’ healthcare experiences. His book The Calling: Why Healthcare Is So Special is aimed at helping healthcare professionals keep their sense of passion and purpose high. In Sundays with Quint, he shares a selection of his popular leadership columns for leaders, employees, and business owners in all industries.

Quint is the cofounder of Healthcare Plus Solutions Group, a consulting firm that specializes in delivering customized solutions to diagnose and treat healthcare organizations’ most urgent pain points.