Typically, leaders see and do. Surprisingly, successful leaders also learn to ignore things.
Edward de Bono correctly observes, “An expert is someone who has succeeded in making decisions and judgements simpler through knowing what to pay attention to and what to ignore.”
Six things leaders ignore:
Ignore occasional failure in others. Let people fail and learn on their own.
Ignore occasional insults. People won’t always understand your passion or vision. They may say things that feel like insults, let it go. In addition, people who say, “I told you so,” aren’t worth your attention.
Ignore your own failures and successes. If past failures discourage more than instruct, forget them. If past successes inspire arrogance, forget them. Sometimes it’s better to forget what is behind in order to move forward.
Ignore stupid counsel. Say thank-you for the input, forget it, and move on. A word of caution, sometimes wise counsel sounds stupid. When people with a proven track record sound stupid, listen again, reconsider, and ask questions. Their counsel may not be stupid.
Ignore persistent critics. Turn away from those who always see the bad and never see the good.
Ignore rules. Innovation is rule breaking. Helen Frankenthaler said, “Go against the rules or ignore the rules. That is what invention is about.”
Warning: Ignoring things can be dangerous. Jim Evans commented, “Another way to lose control is to ignore something when you should address it.”
Ignoring things may take you further than acting on them. You may be more effective and more efficient when you turn away and let some things go.
What should leaders ignore?
How do you decide when to ignore something?