The title of this blog refers to a lesson I learned early in my military career. It is equally appropriate to any daily life where decisions are required. On many occasions I have heard others state, when encountering a mistake, error, accident based on human choice, or any other event even remotely related to the orator’s life lessons learned: “I could have told you”. The usual response to such statement in mind, if not in voice, is a sardonic “thanks for the heads up”. ‘I could have told you’ is of no use in a situation when what one knows is valuable to the event’s solution. The statement comes across as a defiant declaration of superiority, e.g. ‘If you had been smart enough to ask me, I could have told you how to avoid the result you have endured’.
A dear friend who was to be my boss told me that there was only one thing I needed to remember if I worked for him. He said: You will be confronted with many decisions in this job. You will wonder often if you should bother me with some knowledge you have learned thinking I am too busy or the information is of little value. When that occurs you have only to remember one thing: “Never be an I could have told you so man. Always tell me. If I make the wrong choice, you have my permission to say ‘I told you so’. But never, never say ‘I could have told you’.”
That lesson has served me well over the years even though it has occasionally created angst and discontent for the persons receiving the comments I was sworn to not disregard. I recall one good friendship that disintegrated because I spoke my mind in the spirit of discourse. The inability of the other person to accept differences of opinion and an ingrained penchant for biased, sanctimonious hypocrisy based on unfounded beliefs drove her to caustic accusations and declarations. How sad. Reality and truth, are often lost when faced with stout-hearted preconception.
I do not want to be accused of failing to warn someone of imminent danger. I do not want anyone to accuse me of failing to tell them of something they needed to know before a decision. And I do not want to stifle my ability to write about anything I choose. I will never be an “I could have told you so” man but I may be a “You should have listened” man.
Do something good today.