In my 20s, I started my career as a supervisor. I’ve often thought about the lessons I’ve learned and mistakes I’ve made back then at work. So, I’ve decided to write myself some tips from my current self to my past self. Maybe you can find some use from these lessons.

Hi Don,

Surprise! It’s me from the future! Congrats on your new position at ADM! You’ll do really well, but I wanted to send you some thoughts that will help you do even better.

1) Time is your Friend – Look, I know you are anxious to solve problems and rally your people around a cause, but you don’t have to do it all at once. Sometimes, time is your friend. This is true when working with anyone. Sometimes its best to float a thought or an idea and let the other person think it over and add their own ideas to it. Slow down a bit. Its not about the idea as much as it is getting buy-in from people you work with. This is true for employees, co-workers, and managers alike.

2) You Don’t Have to Have the Answer – Try these 3 words out for size. “I don’t know”. Say it to yourself. You know that its true, but you might think that you need to have the answer because it is your job. Actually, that is not your job. Your job is to work with your team to find the answer. Do you know how you can tell the most experienced and knowledgeable people at work? They are the most willing to admit that they don’t know the answer.

3) Let Your People Win – Sometimes, the best way to develop your team is to let them solve problems. You may come up with the solution quickly, but let them figure it out and take the credit. When your team is successful, you will be successful.

4) It’s Complicated – People are complicated. On TV, there are heroes and villains. You will want to put people in those categories because it is nice and convenient. The truth is always more complex. Sometimes good people do bad things, but they do it for their own reasons and often for good reasons. Its hard to be a manager. Don’t be overly judgmental of people.

There it is. I wish I could send you some even better info from the future, but I think these tidbits will serve you well. I’ll leave the rest a secret so that you can enjoy the adventure.