Bathwater and babies

“Don’t throw the baby out with the bathwater”.

That’s a grim sounding idiom, isn’t it?

It comes from an era when you literally threw your bathwater outside, but it turns out to be quite applicable to a modern phenomenon in our professional careers.

In responding to negative events, we can over-correct and end up diminishing ourselves in the process i.e. the baby goes out with the bathwater.

We diminish ourselves by dropping standards, retreating beneath our potential, downgrading our habits and losing belief in our ability to contribute.

Setbacks are setbacks, but they don’t need to define us. We compound the setback by moving down a gear and allowing the circumstances to dictate how we respond.

Dirty bathwater shows up in different forms:  pandemics, asshole bosses, economic downturns, personal crises, market disruptions and so forth.

We have to move past all of these things eventually. And we do that by honouring our own capabilities, by building on our hard-earned assets and by remembering our own worth.


This post was adapted from one of Aodan’s Sunday morning newsletters, eagerly anticipated by hundreds of readers. Give yourself the gift of that weekly wisdom by signing up here.

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