Always bring two

I witnessed one of the most beautiful moments of coaching five years ago. I was an observer as one of my team members gave an intern a piece of advice that I will never forget.

We were pulling together critical pieces of a leadership meeting for the CIO and his senior staff.

The task at hand was assembling folders for each attendee containing reference material and items like red and green cards to take a group vote at important decision points.

My team member (we’ll call her Carmen) asked our summer intern (we’ll call her Lucy) to go to the supply cabinet for another piece of cardstock.

When Lucy returned, she had the cardstock.

Carmen said, “Lucy, thanks. Yet, I’m going to tell you something that is critical in the world of work. When your boss asks you to bring one…

…you always bring two.”

Carmen continued, “That way, if there was a mis-count or a mistake is made, you won’t have to go back to the cabinet. You will already have what’s needed, and will have thought ahead in case there is a need for a Plan B.”

Lucy looked a little stunned. She had just delivered what had been asked, and instead of receiving appreciation, she was told there was a higher bar.

20 years into my career, I still think of Carmen’s words at least a few times a week.

These three simple words are a constant call to action:

  • To exceed expectations
  • Do a little more
  • Think about what could happen and prepare for it

Instead of meeting the requirement, doing just enough, or planning for the best case scenario…

Always. Bring. Two.


  1. Great point of view for always being ready. The most interesting part is that this doesn’t apply only to work but I can see it doing so in my personal life as well.

    Thanks for sharing!

    1. Thanks for inspiring me with this wisdom and many other nuggets over the years.

  2. Sure wish I read your blogs (and advice) 40 years ago! fyi…for some reason there is a section where text is black (after ‘you always bring two…’) and I had to scroll over it/highlight it to make words appear.

    1. Thanks, Patrick. Not sure what happened with the formatting, but I have corrected this now. I appreciate you being my editor! 🙂

  3. There is something similar in the military that goes – ‘One is none; two is done.’ Always have a backup in mind or on-hand.

    1. Love this. Same concept – said in an even catchier way.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may also like...