Leaders are successful not only because of certain things they do, but also because of things they intentionally decide not to do or to ignore. Here Dan Rockwell shares seven of them.

Originally posted by Dan Rockwell

7 Things Successful Leaders Ignore

Your leadership is doomed if you pay attention to everything. Urgency and priority may be separate issues.

Ignore things or waste your leadership on things that don’t matter.


#1. Ignore occasional failure in others. Let people fail and learn on their own.Pay attention to patterns not isolated incidents.

#2. Ignore insults. People won’t always understand your passion or vision. They may sin against your sincerity, let it go.

#3. Ignore people who say, “I told you so.” They’re jerks.

#4. Ignore guilt from isolated failure. Take responsibility, learn and move forward. Don’t waste energy beating yourself up. The worst failure is allowing failure to hold you back.

#5. Ignore counsel from advisors that don’t ask questions. They’re uninformed, misinformed, or close minded. (A word of caution. Sometimes wise counsel sounds stupid. When people with a proven track record sound stupid, listen again. Ask questions.)

#6. Ignore those who always see the bad and never see good. They’ll drain you.

#7. Ignore feedback that comes from people who don’t understand your role, mission, vision, or values.

Bonus: Ignore people who don’t challenge you. Too much compassion destroys potential.


Ignoring things may be dangerous. Jim Evans commented, “Another way to lose control is to ignore something when you should address it.”

Turn toward things that matter more in order to maximize your potential.


  1. What do values tell you to ignore? Focus on?
  2. What do stakeholders and top leadership expect?
  3. What do experienced leaders advise?
  4. What patterns do you observe?
  5. How are you making choices based on what you want rather than what you don’t want?
  6. What will make you proud six months from now?
  7. How are you moving toward agreed upon goals?

What should leaders ignore?

How do you decide when to ignore something?