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  • Writer's pictureBrian Reaves

What Not To Do

"The amateur does not know what to do. The master knows what not to do." - James Clear


broken computer screen

I love to learn new things. I don't develop a deep interest in everything, but I'm a fact junkie, enjoying interesting peeks behind the curtains of other professions or hobbies. When I decide to try something new, I try to learn from people who have successfully done what I'm about to attempt and find out what worked for them.


But did you ever stop to think of how important it is to know what NOT to do?


As my sons grew up into men with their own lives and choices, I tried to remind them often of this fact. When it came time to leave a job for a new opportunity, I never wanted them to feel like they had wasted time at their previous job. Even if they didn't feel they had left with a roadmap to success, they had learned something important if they learned how NOT to do something.


I have a friend who spent over a decade at their job working tirelessly and long hours trying to help their leader succeed in his vision for their organization. My friend eventually left that job and was feeling frustrated that they weren't able to accomplish more, but I told them the same thing I'm telling you now: Sometimes, the most valuable lessons you can learn are the things you should NOT do when you eventually end up in charge.


Were your suggestions immediately ignored or dismissed? Remember to honor every suggestion you can when you are in charge.


Did your organization or department fail to reach its potential because your leader was indecisive and kept making changes to the projects at the worst possible moments? Remember to be decisive and clear in your directions to your team when you are in charge.


The list could go on forever, but you get the point. Why do I keep saying "...when you are in charge"? I believe that if you leave a leader because of their shortcomings (remember, people quit leaders, not organizations), you have the drive necessary to possibly be in charge someday. People who constantly want to better themselves and reach for higher goals always level up in life if they keep trying.


So don't be frustrated if you find yourself having to move on to another job or position in the future and you don't feel you've learned enough to help you progress. You might have learned more than you realized by just learning from other's mistakes.


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