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  • Writer's pictureJohn Selzer

Hate to Say I Told You So

The cheapest lesson learned is one encountered by others.

We are a collection of our experiences. Some earn prominent placement on our CV or in boastful Facebook posts. Others not so much. Those we wish could be silently swept under the rug.

But each one matters.

We are empowered by the wins and made wary of those that left us scarred. Over time, our experiences are woven together, forming the second sense that unconsciously drives our decisions.

But often there is a gap.

We are constantly faced with challenges that we have not seen before. Moments of uncertainty. The road revealing itself ahead is unchartered territory. There might be untold bounty around that next bend, or maybe, Melisandre was right and the night really is dark and full of terrors.

That is when we can lean on others. To draw from their experiences, lessons learned and mistakes made.

Mentors are invaluable and can change your trajectory. Advisors can act as sherpas to guide us safely to the mountaintop. We can supplement our knowledge base and wire up those synapses by assimilating their set of actions and outcomes into our own. Think of it as crowdsourcing your brain.

Be mindful, though. Not all experiences translate directly, and advice should not be followed blindly. Instead, take it all in. Let it marinate. Log everything as additional data points against which you measure future decisions.

But sometimes, wires get crossed – or ignored altogether.

For some, hard lessons must be learned firsthand, not by proxy. Despite best efforts, you simply cannot save them from themselves.

And it can be painful to watch.

Based on your experiences and hard-earned battle scars, you anticipate they will soon be wheels up in the ditch. You wave your arms and try to call attention to their looming fate, but to no avail.

When the inevitable happens and they leave the road in spectacular fashion, take the opportunity to help them dust themselves off and try again.

A supportive hand on the shoulder is much more effective than a pointing finger. Saying “I told you so” might make you feel powerful in that moment, but it is not about being right.

Rather, be the tide that raises all boats.


My last post carried a title taken from a Hives song right up until I went to hit ‘publish’. At the last moment, I realized the narrative had taken a turn and that the title no longer fit. So to restore balance in the universe, I will now give The Hives their due. This band knows one volume: loud. And this song is no exception.

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Well said John... at the moment, I'm wondering if I'm not in the "wheels up" in the ditch career wise... and I'm thankful for a couple of people who over the next few weeks have offered to meet with me to help....

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