How To Learn Good Things From Bad People
By Mike Fitzgerald
We see stories almost every day about being the best version of ourselves that we can be. It’s the kind of story that’s inspiring, uplifting, and motivating.
It’s the story that gets published most often. What can we learn from the most remarkable leaders? How can our best managers and the people who have shaped our lives along the way mold us into better leaders?
The story we rarely see, although equally valuable, is about how to make working for a total jerk a great learning experience. And let’s face it- we’ve all worked for one at one time or another.
Watch. Learn. Listen. Keep a journal. Make the most of the opportunity but don’t falter in your integrity.
Wear resilience and perseverance like shields. You may not see the end of the tunnel at times, but stay focused on the tunnel.
Envision your future success. Don’t allow the experience to shape you, but embrace the opportunity to know more about who you don’t want to be when you lead people in the future.
- When you see a lack of empathy, be empathetic.
- When you see overbearing pride, be humble.
- When you see unhealthy excitability and volatility, be even-tempered.
- When you see belittling, build someone up.
- When you see someone who only speaks of “I,” speak of “We.”
- When you see someone who channels fear, inspire hope and enthusiasm.
- When someone focuses on weaknesses, point out the strengths.
- When someone takes credit, give credit.
- When you hear gossip, stay on the high road.
- Never abandon the truth, no matter what you hear.
In his book, Ego Is The Enemy, Ryan Holiday says this about Steve Jobs:
“He was a petulant, entitled [man] who bullied employees and nearly destroyed his own company because of his immaturity.”
We think it is enough to learn simply from the people we admire—but anyone can do that. It leaves half the lessons out of the equation. The other half—and perhaps the most important half—requires that we learn even from the people we detest or find appalling.
As Plutarch writes, “fire burns him who touches it, yet it furnishes light and heat, and is an instrument of every craft for those who have learned to use it.”