Sometimes the best business lessons are the ones we’ve know the longest.
Success at business is no easy chore. It takes discipline, focus, and a set of core values that guide you around the emotions and stress of daily combat.
It’s all too easy to get sidetracked by the latest new strategy for business — like social media or digital marketing or sales automation. You find yourself chasing tactics. One after another. Hoping that you will be successful with one of them.
When one doesn’t work, you throw it away. Quickly adopting another new tactic. As you repeat that cycle, the idea of success becomes blurry.
What used to be very clear now seems frantically out of reach. It’s likely you need a return to core business strategies.
You need a new philosophy. The one your mom taught you many years ago.
Here are a few of those business lessons:
1. What goes around comes around.
In any area of your business, what you do has consequences. Sometimes those are good. Other times you are left with regrets. Actions have results. That’s a universal truth. It never changes. You will always get the results deserved by the activity that you’re doing. You might not like those results, but you’ll always get them.
That can be a good thing. See, you need to believe that what you do can make a difference. A kind word matters. Honest matters. Candor, personal responsibility, and fairness — they all matter. Because the culture you create is the culture that ultimately decides how successful you become. Make sure you’re doing the right things.
2. No one likes a “know it all”.
Don’t be that person that cuts everyone off mid-sentence. Don’t interrupt your employees or your customers. Don’t roll your eyes and stomp your feet while you wait for the person who is talking to stop. That’s selfish and shortsighted. And besides coming off completely arrogant, you are missing out on important lessons by acting that way.
Let’s be honest, a lot of things you hear are unimportant — facts you already know or criticism that is hurtful and unusable. But if you can listen long enough you’ll hear some really important information that will help you be more successful. Listen for those moments. Ignore everything else.
3. Stop being a whiner.
It’s that simple. Stop complaining. Stop being the person who has to help “keep everyone else’s feet on the ground”. That’s just an excuse for you to whine and mope. No one likes a whiner. That’s just the truth.
It impacts more than the people around you at the time of your whining. It directly impacts who you hire and how you manage your teams. If you whine, your people will whine. And the last thing you need when you’re trying to be successful is an army of wimps and whiners. So stop.
4. Life isn’t fair.
Stop pretending like you’re the only one who has bad, unexpected circumstances happen to them. Everyone lives in the same sometimes-erratic universe. You didn’t get it any worse than anyone else. Enough already with the theatrics.
A lot of things that we like to call “unfair” are really life gambles that we lose. We make risky decisions and then cry “unfair” when our gamble doesn’t turn out with us hitting the jackpot. Which is unfortunate because there is a valuable lesson that could be learned if we stopped pouting and started listening.
5. Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should too.
Idiots do stupid things. Sometimes a lot of idiots do the same thing together. And you can feel like there are so many people doing something that you are missing out if you are not doing it too. The only thing you are missing out on are the results of idiot behavior.
But it’s not always that extreme. Many times your industry is heading is a good direction. And it feels safe to follow the leader. But instead of achieving greatness you get the “success left-overs” of everyone else in your industry who gets to the finish line first. Take the time to go your own way.
6. Learn from your mistakes.
Success doesn’t mean that you need to be perfect — or anything close. You just need to be honest about those mistakes and learn from the results that you achieved. It does you no good to pretend like you’re more successful that you really are. It stops you from being amazing.
Running your business successfully isn’t so much about having one giant brilliant idea and executing it. It’s more about taking tiny steps forward continuously. When you’re right you keep moving. When you’re wrong you change course and keep moving. Mistakes lead you towards success.
7. Say “I’m sorry…” when you’re wrong.
This is likely the most important business lesson that leaders overlook. You are going to make many mistakes if you attempt anything remarkable. You are going to hurt people, create disappointment, and cause confusion and chaos. The best way to make these right is simply to apologize.
And the best way to apologize is simply to say “I’m Sorry…”. No excuses. No drawn-out reasons. Just powerful words and an attitude of sincerity. And when you do, the results are mind-blowing. You solve problems faster, win the confidence of your clients better, and make yourself more accessible to everyone around you.
8. Grow up.
You need to be tough if you’re going to win in business. That means you’re going to get kicked in the teeth when you least expect it and need to get back up on your feet. That’s why you need to grow up. Instead of getting offended, insulted, or misunderstood, you need to focus on the “real dramas”. You’ll know them when you see them. Whining, wimping, and complaining isn’t what big kids do. Simple as that.
Part of growing up involves learning from your mistakes, being more mature, and getting better at making decisions. If you can’t say that you are making better decisions and learning better lessons, then you know that you need to grow up. And fast.
Your mom was pretty smart. The basic life lessons you heard from her growing up are the same practical lessons you need right now to be more successful as a business leader.
It really is that simple. Being successful isn’t always about your S.W.O.T. analysis or your “go to market” plan. Most often it’s about the core values you let guide your day-to-day decisions.
Right now you’re making decisions that impact the future of your business. Maybe it’s time to revisit the life lessons your mom taught you.
By Dan Waldschmidt
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