When I was learning how to be a counselor in graduate school, there was a phrase we used quite a bit: It’s not what you do… It’s what you do with what you do that counts.” The person who originally coined the phrase was named Jack Corazzini. He worked at the Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) Counseling Center for many years.

The Key is What You Do Next

The idea was this: When you were counseling, something unexpected might happen, or you might make a mistake. Instead of getting anxious or beating yourself up, the key is what you do next. What can you learn about what happened? What can you learn about your client? What can you learn about yourself? What can you take with you moving forward?

This was a great lesson for counseling, but I think it’s also a great lesson for life.

Life Doesn’t Always Go According to Plan

Quite often, life doesn’t go according to plan. Maybe you wanted a close and loving family growing up, but one of your parents was absent or abusive. Perhaps you had a certain career goal in mind, but then you lost your job. Maybe you wanted a storybook marriage, but then you went through a divorce. Perhaps you wanted a strong relationship with God, but something happened along the way and you gave up on the whole religion thing.

What You Do With What You Do

I think what matters most in life is not so much what you do, but what you do with what you do. When you make a mistake, do you learn from it? What do you do with your obstacles? Do you incorporate and share the broken parts of your story, or do you shut down? When you get knocked down, what happens next?

When something good happens, do you celebrate it? Are you grateful for the good things in your life? Or do you rush through the experience, wanting to quickly move on to the next thing?

And when something bad happens, do you bounce back? Are you resilient? Do you incorporate your brokenness and pain into your story? Do you think and reflect on what the bad thing might have to teach you? Or do get depressed, quit, or hide the more difficult parts of your story?

Remember: It’s not what you do. It’s what you do with what you do that counts.


What do you think about the motto “It’s not what you do. It’s what you do with what you do?” How do you react when good things happen in your life? Perhaps more importantly, how do you react when bad things happen in your life?


Subscribe To My Newsletter

Join my mailing list to receive the latest blog posts.

Receive my e-book “The Mental Health Toolkit” for free when you subscribe.

You have Successfully Subscribed!