Management Lessons You’ll Learn (Hopefully) With a Little Experience

“Success comes from good judgment. Good judgment comes from experience. Experience comes from bad judgment.”

I can’t verify the correct source of that quote, but I’ve heard many a version of this little axiom over the years. Makes me wonder how old I’ll be before my experience will pay off and I’ll stop doing so many stupid things. That day of enlightenment is nowhere in sight.

As you’ll see from my video below, my latest blunder involves a surgery that I could have easily avoided.

While rehabbing, I’ve rethought a few previously held convictions and behaviors. In an attempt to let my pain be your gain, I’ll share three aha’s:

1. Be Patient. Have Compassion. How many times have you ever burned your lip while drinking coffee or sipping soup that was too hot? How many speeding tickets have you received since you first got your driver’s license? How many times have you sat down at Thanksgiving, promised yourself to “take it easy” and then proceeded to over-eat to the point of indigestion? The reality is, we don’t always learn sufficiently enough from the first, the second, or even the fifth time we make a mistake.

Leaders need to exercise patience and compassion with others – especially when those others are 25 and younger. The lessons we’ve learned through years of experience aren’t automatically transferred to those who report to us just because we see a negative result and point out the error in their judgment.

2. Avoid the lecture. Allow the consequence. When someone on your team makes an error, resist the temptation to provide the moral and the lesson they need to learn from it. Not only does this get in the way of the learning, it’s annoying and will make others run from you.

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Instead, when someone admits a mistake, ask an open-ended question like “How has this impacted your thinking moving forward?” or “Care to share any thoughts on how others could avoid the same outcome in the future?” Let young people feel the full weight of their actions and allow the natural consequences to impart the lesson.

3. Follow Doctor’s Orders. You pay experts to help you get better and fix you when you’re broken. That doesn’t mean they are perfect, and you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions or get a second opinion. But don’t try to outsmart the professionals you surround yourself with, including attorneys, accountants, coaches, consultants, counselors, etc.

This was originally published on Eric Chester’s Reviving Work Ethic blog. His new book is Reviving Work Ethic: A Leader’s Guide to Ending Entitlement and Restoring Pride in the Emerging Workforce. For copies, visit

Eric Chester is a leading voice in the global dialogue on employee engagement, and building a world-class workplace culture. He's an in-the-trenches researcher on the topic of the millennial mindset, and the dynamics of attracting, managing, motivating and retaining top talent. Chester is a Hall-of-Fame keynote speaker and the author of 4 leadership books including his newly released Amazon #1 Bestseller On Fire at Work: How Great Companies Ignite Passion in their People without Burning Them Out.  Learn more at and follow him at @eric_chester


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