Best advice: worry more about how you do it

Mr MiyagiI’ve received two pieces of advice that I follow more than the million suggestions I’ve been given over the years.

Graduate School Professor

The first comes from a professor I had in graduate school. I had one of those “there is no answer” questions for him and he told me, “Mr. Webb, it is rarely about what you do, but how you do it that will cause you a problem”. That has stuck with me for over 20 years, and proven itself time-and-time again. You can make any potentially bad situation better if you just think about the best way to accomplish the task at hand. There are those ‘bad’ meetings you have to have, ‘bad’ situations you have to solve, etc. If you just think about how to do it the way a logical human would do it, you’ll go a long way. Leave the rest of the ‘noise’ behind and be nice.

Current Colleague

This is one of may all time favorites and my colleague admits she heard this from someone else (but can’t remember), and it is an something I use in business and real life, as well. We were having one of those difficult partnerships and it had come to an end… badly. We were in our postmortem meeting to determine how we recognize these types of situations in the future, work to mitigate them, etc., and she said, “you know what, this comes down to the simple fact that life is too short to work with someone who makes your tummy hurt.” That stuck with me and is something I assess when going into partnerships, now. “Do I think they will make my tummy hurt?”.

What are your examples of advice and words to live by?

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Categories: Continuous Improvement, Leadership

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7 Comments on “Best advice: worry more about how you do it”

  1. February 27, 2013 at 6:58 am #

    Early in my career I had the opportunity, thought it was a burden at the time, to work with a very senior management coach and after a few weeks he abruptly announced he was done earlier than planned. and concluded out relationship with two bits of wisdom by which I have lived with for the last thirty years. He said that I should never forget ” it’s not the people you fire that get you into trouble, it’s the ones you don’t; and it’s far easier to ask for forgiveness that to ask for permission”. Those two simple things have made all the difference!

  2. February 27, 2013 at 7:32 am #

    Thanks Jim, that is definitely great advice. I have a friend who has a similar “law” (as he calls it). He says you should never get behind the power curve on any issue. You’ll deal with the symptoms until you deal with the real issue, which is many times a staffing issue.

  3. February 27, 2013 at 7:39 am #

    I love the tummy reference Ron, I should listen to my gut more often !!

  4. February 27, 2013 at 7:42 am #

    Theo, the instance that made our tummy hurt to the degree we try and live by this rule now was Enron. They really made our tummy hurt.

  5. Alison HIllis
    February 28, 2013 at 7:16 am #

    Life is too short to spend it working with people who make you tummy hurt. Bravo- love this one.

  6. Marji Henry
    March 7, 2013 at 7:13 am #

    People don’t care what you know , until they know that you care.

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