[April 11, 2019] As a kid, I had a cousin named Carter (not his real name) who had all the greatest toys, but he would never share them with us. My brother, sister, and I were quick to learn that not sharing made Carter unlikeable and that meant no one would play with him. Learning what not to do as kids is all about growing up.
“From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.” – Publilius Syrus, ancient Latin writer
Leaders must place their ego aside to learn lessons from others; ‘what not to do’ is one of the most important. That is a common theme here at theLeaderMaker.com where I’ve repeatedly expressed a view that it is better to learn from the mistakes of others than to error yourself first.
Frenchman Napoléon Bonaparte is considered one of the greatest military and political leaders of all time. Even he failed to learn from the many ancient leaders who cautioned on overextending one’s army and underestimating one’s enemy.
In 1812, thinking that Russia was plotting an alliance with England, Napoléon launched an invasion against the Russians that eventually ended with his troops retreating from Moscow and much of Europe uniting against him. In 1814, Napoleon’s broken forces gave up, and on this date, April 11, 1814, Napoleon stepped down and was exiled.
“From the errors of others, a wise man corrects his own.” Publilius Syrus also said this and gave wise counsel to many successful political leaders throughout his lifetime. One would think that major mistakes of leaders of the past would never be repeated, but alas, that is often not the case. It may be a human condition that we think we are better, more moral, and less prone to corruption and error than the other guy.
I may have been a slow learner as a kid but my cousin Carter taught me a lot about what not to do. He was always trying to get us to play with him. Most of the time we just ignored him. Napoléon, on the other hand, didn’t learn from his past mistake either and at the Battle of Waterloo in 1815, his army was again defeated; followed by his permanent exile.