Feb 23 2016

The title line is something that I heard & said hundreds of times while serving in the USMC. We were always praised for taking the initiative, but always corrected when our decisions were misguided or lead to something other than success. The premise was to be bold, make decisions, ACT, then LEARN when you make mistakes.

How often do you see the need for something to be done, you’ve even discussed it with others and they agree; yet you wait for permission or instructions to do something? I see it on a regular basis, in all sorts of areas. From small improvements that are obvious with little or no drawbacks to bigger, often more complex changes or improvements.

People are afraid to stick their head above the parapet for fear of being ridiculed or chastised or even in some cases disciplined. Sadly, in many organisations these things happen. However, even where they do, in most cases, the worst thing that actually happens is a bit of ridicule or teasing from peers. Rarely are people actually punished in any way for trying to make things happen. If you’re in one of those organisations where this does happen – maybe you should leave.

Otherwise, my advice, as always, is to step up & be the leader you are paid to be. If it is a good idea, go for it. Stop waiting to be told to do something. Stop waiting for approval or permission for your idea. Sure, there are of course limits to this, and only you can know where they are, but in my experience, too few people come anywhere near the limits of their authority &/or responsibility. They too often defer to a “higher authority” for fear of being responsible for the outcome.

There are hundreds of quotes floating around social media; I get dozens every day through various platforms. Many are related to this topic. This last weekend I saw one that said, “If you can’t make a mistake, you can’t make anything”. — Marva N. Collins. One of my all time favourite quotes though, came from USN Rear Admiral Grace Hopper: “its easier to get forgiveness than permission”.

So I say again, be bold – make decisions – ACT, LEARN!


photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/28045674@N02/4946214148″>EddieCola_2</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>

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