Don’t Should On Yourself 2021-10-04T02:05:06-04:00

Don’t Should On Yourself

For many years I was fortunate to be friendly with the chaplaincy team at Georgetown University Law Center. As many of you know, I served as an assistant dean there for 32 years.

One of my chaplain friends at the law school was Father Alexei Michalenko. Alexei is known for his wisdom gained over many years as a priest and his dry sense of humor.

I will never forget the day he taught me a phrase I had never heard previously I was bemoaning the fact that I thought I had made a wrong decision. Alexei interrupted me and said “Don’t should on yourself. “

I laughed heartily at his pun and told him I had never heard that expression before. He smiled knowingly and encouraged me to reflect upon it.

Since that day many years ago, I have taught that phrase to my wife, my two sons, good friends, relatives, teammates, and now, leadership coaching clients.  Why?

The phrase contains significant wisdom for all of us. The word “should” is one of the most unproductive words in the English language. In past tense, it implies second-guessing, regret, and, sometimes, guilt.

We ought never miss the opportunity to learn from our mistakes. The best leaders know that we learn more from our mistakes than we do from our successes. Learning is what helps us grow as leaders.  The key is to apply what we learn going forward.

But when we bemoan the fact that we should have done this or we should have done that, we are not helping ourselves. Instead, we are wallowing in negativity.

So focus on your lessons learned:

-Keep a journal of daily or weekly lessons learned
-Discuss those lessons with a confidante, a significant other or trusted teammate
-Reflect on how you can apply your lessons in future leadership decisions
-Share your lessons learned with your teammates, especially the next generation of leaders

Please follow the wise advice of my dear friend Alexei: Don’t should on yourself.