[January 26, 2019] In 2007, on my first trip to Brooklyn, New York, I saw a huge traffic sign that read, “Fuhgeddaboudit.” I thought to myself that it was strange to have an unintelligible word so prominently displayed in this famous city. Fuhgeddaboudit (i.e., forget about it) is a quote from television character Ralph Kramden of 1955-56 The Honeymooners show. It’s also the worst advice I’ve ever gotten from another leader.
We’ve all gotten bad advice at one time or another. Usually, bad advice comes from a well-meaning friend or careless family member. Advice from our boss in the workplace, however, comes under conditions that could affect our future employment and life. Thus, most people are willing to take their boss’s advice, even when it appears to be foolish.
“All of us make mistakes. The key is to acknowledge them, learn, and move on. The real sin is ignoring mistakes, or worse, seeking to hide them.” – Robert Zoellick, lawyer and past President of the World Bank
‘Forget about it’ is not too uncommon advice by leaders who have good intentions. Generally speaking, this is bad advice. Ignoring a problem or any issue will have unintended but frequently deleterious effects. The risks of forgetting about things are too irresponsible for a real leader.
I have been personally amazed that so many senior leaders would give such advice. Is it intellectual laziness? Is it some unseen moral corruption? I would like to know the answer, but ultimately the reason is irrelevant. My advice is simple; never ignore a problem or issue. To forget about it is to drive off the road of good leadership.
You can watch many of The Honeymooners on the Internet. Find them on YouTube or other video website specializing in older television shows. Watching a few is highly recommended.
While this article is not yet part of an official series, there are two other articles on bad advice.1,2 They can be found below.