Do Over

If your boss says this sentence, run.

“We don’t want our employees to get too good at their jobs, because then they might leave.”

It’s hard to believe a boss, manager or leader would ever say that sentence. It seems foolish that someone would have that attitude about the people who work for them.

And yet, I’ve heard it said.

More than that, I’ve seen leaders live out that sentence. I’ve seen them cut training, refuse job related conferences and shot block skill advancement for fear that an employee will get too good and leave the company.

That’s the equivalent of finding someone terrible to date so that they never cheat on you because no one else would be interested. If your significant other starts improving themselves, instead of joining along, you get nervous that she just might get healthy enough to realize she’s too good for you and leave.

What this guarantees in relationships and in companies is mediocrity.

Other people trying to steal your employees is a good sign. You want a team so sharp, talented and hard working that every vendor they work with tries to hire them away.

I’m thinking about this issue a lot lately because for the first time ever, companies like Microsoft are hiring me to teach their employees the principles in one of my books. Do Over shows you how to be amazing at your job, no matter what you do for a living. Know who likes that?

Leaders who know that it’s a lot easier to run a company full of people who are great at what they do.

If your boss doesn’t want you to get better, it’s time to get a better boss.

But, if he or she offers opportunities for you to learn and grow, you better take them up on every single one.

Go to the conferences. Attend the training sessions. Read books that stretch you. Spend every educational dollar they offer if you’re at one of the rare companies that still offers support like that.

It’s not your boss’ job to make sure you have a great job. It’s your job.

Own it like it matters, because guess what? It does.

You’re going to spend 40-60 hours a week, for 40-60 years of your life at a job.

Make it count.

About Author

Jon Acuff
Jon Acuff


  1. Spent 4 grueling years under a boss who practiced this methodology.

    Once he retired, a new manager was hired and I took another job within 2 months. I could have left the company prior to that, but I didn’t want to damage my career because of one bad manager.

  2. Oh my goodness this so perfectly describes my old job! They always promoted incompetent people and forced the best people to stay where they were because they didn’t want them to have a chance to improve their resume and therefore think about leaving. I was told when I was hired that they promoted from within on a regular basis and that it shouldn’t take long for me to be moved back up to the level I had been at, at my previous position (which I only left because the business closed). However when that level had an opening, I was passed over for a total outsider even though I found out from our HR person that I was more qualified than he was. My boss stonewalled any chance I had of moving out of her department because she didn’t want to lose me. Two weeks later I left even though the only thing I had lined up was a 6 month temp job. I haven’t regretted it once and I would have to be starving to ever go back there.