True Story: ‘A Reason Why Not’ Isn’t Good Enough

I can't say I liked my first boss. But I learned a lot from him. Some of it worth sharing.

He was bureau manager of United Press International in Mexico City in 1971. He was about 45 years old, just beginning to turn gray, an ex-Navy man with a butch haircut.

When he sent me out on my first reporting assignment, he first took me aside, and said:

"Look, one thing you have to understand. You come back with the story. Don't come back with a reason why you don't have it. If all you have is a reason why not, don't come back at all."

I didn't like that much that day, but I like it now. It was a good lesson to learn. How often do we think a reason why not is as good as the deliverable?


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