My 5 Wishes


By N.D. Brown

How many times have you looked over your shoulder and thought “I wish I had done that”?  You are probably like me and have lost count.  The good news is that it’s never too late to make those missed wishes come true.  You’ve learned from every missed wish.  When you analyze every wish that didn’t happen you will find a way to make it happen.

This article isn’t about wishing on a star, tossing coins in that famous Roman fountain or make believe wishing wells, the lottery ticket you impulsively bought the last time you filled up, or your thoughts as you rubbed the old lamp you found in the attic.  This is about the wishes you make hoping, in spite of what you have done, the future will bend in your favor.

Remember the exam you didn’t really study for and as you looked for your name on the list of posted grades you were wishing for a miracle?  Of course the grade next to your name proved that there are very few miracles so then you wished you had studied harder.

I call these regret wishes – when you wish you had read the entire book before taking the test; when you wish you had done more research before writing the report; when you wish you had listened more closely when they were explaining how the gadget worked.

The future is not bendable but the past is loaded with knowledge.

Here are my 5 regret wishes that helped me get smarter:

  1. I wish I had communicated with employees better.

Early on, a wizened client taught me about upward management.  It’s the act of letting the people who gave you the assignment know what you are doing.  I wish I had taught more of my employees that simple task.  It makes them look smarter and lets that group of upper management know that the work is going well.  It also lets them know if it is going badly and help is needed.

  1. I wish I had shown appreciation better.

I was good at saying thank you and giving deserved pats on the back and even those sometimes barely deserved pats.  Now I know it is much more than that.  Employees need to know how integral they are to your business’s success.

  1. I wish I had demonstrated teamwork better.

I was the leader but that doesn’t mean taking the credit for every success.  In fact, I think leadership means making sure everyone knows the value of their individual participation.  Every idea starts in a single brain but its life comes from the team that nurtures it to life.  It is one thing to verbalize teamwork.  The trite saying, “There is no I in Team,” should be restated, “In a team, there is no such thing as that’s not my job”.  Everyone, including the team leader, needs to do whatever needs to be done.

  1. I wish I had used circles of excellence, the action of group thinking.

Once a week, the entire team should be gathering for no more than 30 minutes highlighting the challenges for the next week.  It should be a session discussing what needs to be accomplished and examining where help is needed.

When my group was asked by a Fortune 500 company to prepare a video showing how their NEW group thinking tactic was working

I was flabbergasted because what they were doing was not a new idea.  Books about changing production line thinking to group support were being published in the ’50s!

The answer was that they had been outgrowing their small business roots.  They had lost sight of how teamwork helps.  They had made the expression “It’s not my job” the company mantra.  That negating phrase is a self-fulfilling prophecy.  Soon, nothing is anyone’s job and your small business can get smaller and smaller.

I vividly recall the time that I showed up at a major package shipping company store.  It was a warm, summer morning and the door was invitingly open.  As I stepped into the store, the only visible employee shouted, “We aren’t open yet”.  I looked at my watch which displayed 8:47AM.  Then I looked at the store hours of operation sign which had written on it “Open 9AM”.  As he closed the door, he said, “It’s not my job to open the door.”  I wondered if the small business franchise owner knew that he was paying people who didn’t realize everything was their job.

  1. I wish I had realized the value of outside mentors.

My favorite description of an outside consultant is someone you hire to tell you the time and they ask to borrow your watch.  I wish I had realized that even though it may seem funny, it is important.

Some of the best time I have spent has been with smart people who barely understood my business but who definitely understood business.

Use your regret wishes.  It’s amazing what you will learn.


N.D. Brown, Principal of Brownchild Ltd., Inc. can contacted by phone at 713-807-9000 (office) or 713-822-8370 (mobile), by email at, or visit his company website at  His office is located at 3754 Sunset Blvd., Houston, Texas 77005.


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