‘No pain, no gain…’ more Bad Advice

By | April 2, 2019

[April 2, 2019] I was working out at the local gym when a new and very young trainer came up to me. She said to improve my physique and stamina, a harder workout was necessary. If you are around people trying to get and stay healthy, I’m sure you’ve heard her advice at some point; no pain, no gain.

If you’re over the age of 30, the idea that nothing is gained without some pain is not a good idea at the gym. Such an idea also holds for those who wish to make improvements in their leadership. A wise leader is one who learns most from the mistakes (the pain) of others and minimizes unforced errors.

1How blessed is the man who does not walk in the counsel of the wicked, nor stand in the path of sinners, nor sit in the seat of scoffers!” – the Bible, Psalm 1

Learning to be a good leader has its pitfalls. One of them is to “graduate from the school of hard knocks.” I had a politician tell that to me one time as he explained his qualifications to be a town council member. I wasn’t impressed, and neither were the voters who defeated him in that election.

It’s simply bad advice to tell leaders that to do well; they must experience “pain” to get some payoff or “gain.” I have found it overly simplistic advice; often misinterpreted and misapplied. The old idea that hard work, discipline, honesty, etc. work to make us better should not be forgotten in the latest fads to quick improvements.

There are no shortcuts to leadership. Building trust and confidence in others takes time and effort. It is the key to success in leading others; whether that is in a military unit, family, campout, and the like. If you put in the work (while learning from others), take calculated risks, then your chances of being a good leader are much improved.

Giving leader advice is not hard. What is hard is doing the job. We don’t need to experience pain to get better.

This short series on ‘bad advice’ is a way to ensure junior leaders don’t go off in a direction that takes them down a path to frustration. It is much easier to ride the train and learn from others than to walk the dusty path of their own painful mistakes. Below are three other articles I wrote on bad advice.1,2,3


  1. Forget about it…’more Bad Advice
  2. ‘I want it done Yesterday…’ more Bad Advice
  3. ‘Take Care of It…’ is Bad Advice
Please follow and like us:
Author: Douglas R. Satterfield

Hello. I'm Doug and I provide at least one article everyday on some leadership topic. I welcome comments and also guests who would like to write an article. Thanks for reading my blog.

18 thoughts on “‘No pain, no gain…’ more Bad Advice

    1. Shawn C. Stolarz

      Good one! About a guy who got off illegal drugs and started writing books.

  1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

    Good advice is often annoying – bad advice never is.
    French proverb

    1. Otto Z. Zuckermann

      Ill Customs & bad Advice are seldom forgotten.
      Benjamin Franklin

  2. Max Foster

    We all know we need to do these things to be successful – the problem is that we don’t know how to do them. We need steps. We need specificity. We need someone to tell us where to start. Advice that tells you what to do without bothering to tell you how to do it is utterly pointless.

    1. AutisticTechie

      Good point, Max. Thanks. We do NEED to be given the specific steps to execute, not some generic comment.

    2. Fred Weber

      So, what’s the lesson here? The lesson is simply this: be careful giving advice that’s based solely on your personal experience, and always be very specific about exactly what needs to be done differently – the specific behaviors the person should or shouldn’t engage in.

  3. Willie Shrumburger

    Most advice is terrible. Whether you get it from a best-selling author, your boss, or your neighbor, nine times out of ten it’s about as useful as a screen door on a submarine.

    1. The Kid 1945

      “While most people are genuinely trying to be helpful, a lot of the advice you get needs caution tape around it, says relationship expert April Masini, author of the Ask April advice column.” Good quote from the article.

  4. Army Captain

    I see you’ve started a new mini-series. Best of luck. Today’s was a good article.

  5. Lynn Pitts

    I could spend all day talking to young people about how they will be getting a lot of bad advice during their lifetime. That is why we have to use good judgment so we don’t follow it.

  6. Maureen S. Sullivan

    Even more bad advice, loving it!

    1. Anita

      When you look for advice it’s because you want objectivity, a thoughtful second opinion. But if the person’s input is filled with feeling, it might be a good idea to pass.

    2. Yusaf from Texas

      Yes, I think this is one of the big problems in society today especially among young people.

Comments are closed.