Know Better, Do Better

My guest today is my son Brandon. Brandon is a professional dog trainer. His practice is based at PetSmart, at the Tatum and Shea location in Phoenix. If you live in the Valley, stop by and say hello sometime, and if you need some expert dog training assistance he is the man to see.

by Brandon McCarthy

I tie my shoes with a double knot. I have always tied my shoes with a double knot. I don’t remember exactly where I picked it up, or from whom (maybe you, dad?), but for as long as I can remember, I have tied my shoes with a double knot.

My wife does not. She ties a single knot. My first thought when I learned this was: “That’s not how you tie shoes. Her shoes are going to come untied!” So naturally, like the loving husband I am, I asked her why she did this, intent on educating her on the superior shoe tying method.

Her response was something along the lines of: “I don’t know, it’s just what I do. It’s always worked for me.” She continues to single knot her shoes to this day.

As people, we are easily set in our ways. We learn how to tie our shoes as children and we never think twice about doing it any other way. This is just how it’s done.

Every skill that we know, from work, to relationships, to basic life skills like tying our shoes, we learned from somewhere. But the thing about people is that we all have different opinions and perspectives. There is no person in the entire world that will fully agree with you on everything.

We as leaders need to learn how to adapt to these different perspectives.

One of my favorite quotes is by the late, great Maya Angelou. You’ve likely heard it before: “Do the best you can until you know better. Then, when you know better, do better.”

It is so easy for us to get set in our ways, or have a “my way or the highway” line of thinking. But just because you are doing something the way you have always done it, does not mean it is the only, or even the best way to do it. Even if someone is doing something completely different from your approach, it is not automatically bad or wrong. After all, my wife’s shoes have never actually come untied.

Whatever your field or your leadership role may be, make sure you are actively seeking to improve yourself and your skills. Be open to hearing new approaches to skills you know. Along the way you may find that something you were doing can be improved on.

If this happens, swallow your hubris and adapt. Now that you know better, do better.

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