Following direction is a fundamental skill, taught from an early age. While it may seem logical and even straightforward to follow directions--be they navigational directions, product-usage directions, or procedural or instructional directions, failure to follow directions can be a waste of time. Other times, though, failure to follow directions can be harmful or even fatal.

Saving Lives

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In the military and in trades like firefighting, the ability to instinctively follow directions saves lives. The discipline and training to follow directions or, along the same line, instructions, give a person a focal objective in a situation where fear or indecision might otherwise cripple one's ability to think clearly.

Product Safety

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Not following the directions on a bottle of medication can lead to poisoning, overdosing, or clashes with other medicines, which could kill you. Not following instructions on products like caustic chemicals or aerosols could cause accidents, injuries or death.

Education

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Students should learn how to follow directions so they can learn how to perform skills efficiently. According to Education World, if students don't learn, teachers waste time fixing direction-following issues that could have been used to educate the students.

Efficiency

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Numerous facets of modern life require the ability to follow directions. Filling out your tax form using the directions can save you the cost of a tax preparer or the cost of penalties or additional taxes owed. Filling out Department of Motor Vehicle paperwork properly means your paperwork will be processed more quickly.

Navigation

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“Directions" can also refer to navigation. Failing to follow directions can get you lost. This may lead you to dangerous places, may cause you to be late to your destination, and may create marital discord--particularly if your spouse is in the car with you.