By Scott Farrington
Sometimes, the best business lessons are the ones we have know the longest but cannot remember.
Success at business is no easy chore. It takes discipline, focus and a set of core values that guide you around the emotions and daily stress. Combating daily stress and fires that pop out of nowhere, while trying to strategise for what’s coming down the road, is not easy.
Indeed, it is all too easy to get sidetracked by the latest new strategy for business - such as social media and digital marketing, sales automation or sales advice from different gurus etc, etc. One after another there is always an alternate way of doing, adding, changing, tweaking something. It appears the horses are running wild in many different directions. The question is: Which one do you ride to head in the right direction?
And what about those fires that pop up? Eventually, you will run out of extinguishers because they never seem to stop.
When one tactic/horse does not work, you throw it away, quickly adopting another. As you repeat that cycle, the idea of success and direction becomes blurry.What used to be very clear now seems fragmented. It is likely you need a return to core business strategies.
You need a new philosophy. The one your mother (or father) taught you many years ago. Here are a few of those business lessons:
- What goes around comes around
In any area of your business, what you do has consequences. Sometimes these are good. At other times you are left with regrets. Actions have results. That is a universal truth. It never changes. You will always get the results deserved by the activity that you are doing. You might not like those results, but you will 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. Honesty matters. Candor, personal responsibility and fairness, good service - they all matter. Because the environment you create is the environment that ultimately determines how successful you become. Make sure you’re doing the right things.
Helping someone no matter how small it is makes a difference.
- Mr or Ms ‘know it all’
Ever remember your parents telling you: “Thank you Mr Know it all”? When you were young, did you think you knew it all at some point?
Don’t be that person that cuts everyone off mid-sentence or pretends that you know something about every subject. 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 take the cotton out of your ears and listen long enough, you’ll hear some really important information that will help you be more successful. Listen for those moments. Ignore everything else.
Oh yeah, and watch less news.
- Cry Baby
“Ohhh, stop being a cry baby!” Remember hearing that?
It’s that simple. Stop complaining and crying poor me. Stop being the person who is always complaining about something. That’s just an excuse for you to whine and mope. No one likes a whiner/complainer.
It impacts more than the people around you at the time of your whining. It directly impacts who you are, how you work, who you hire and how you manage yourself and your business. If you whine, everyone around you will whine. And the last thing you need when you’re trying to be successful is an army of crybabies, wimps and whiners, so stop.
- Life isn’t fair
Stop pretending like you’re the only one who has bad, unexpected circumstances happen to them. Someone, somewhere always has it worse than you. Everyone lives in the same, sometimes unpredictable, crazy universe.
You can’t act like the professionals in soccer games, and the moment anyone slightly touches you, you drop to the ground, grab your leg and start rolling around pretending you are injured. I used to play college soccer, and we called those guys ‘Hollywood’, because they always acted like they were injured. Enough already with the Broadway/Hollywood theatrics.
A lot of things that we like to call “unfair” are really life circumstances. We make decisions that don’t pan out and then cry that it is “unfair”. Which is unfortunate, because there is a valuable lesson that could be learned if we stopped pouting and started listening.
- Just because everyone else is doing it doesn’t mean you should, too
I recall hearing this one a lot. Remember: “Monkey see, monkey do”
Monkeys do stupid things. Sometimes a lot of monkeys 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 is the results of monkey behaviour.
- Learn from your mistakes. Don’t make the same mistake twice.
How about this one? The old definition of insanity is “doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results”. Stop making the same mistake. Try something different. Better to fail at trying than not trying is what I believe.
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 did not achieve. It does you no good to pretend like you are more successful than you really are. It stops you from being REALLY successful.
Running your business successfully isn’t so much about having one brilliant Einstein idea and executing it. It is more about consistently taking tiny steps forward. When you are wrong, you change course and keep moving. Mistakes lead you towards success.
- Say “I’m sorry” or apologise when you’re wrong
This is often the most important business lesson that leaders overlook. You are going to make many mistakes if you wish to attempt anything remarkable. You are going to hurt people, step on their toes, create disappointment and cause confusion and chaos. The best way to make this right is simply to apologise.
And the best way to apologise is to say “I’m Sorry…” No excuses. No drawn-out Hollywood theatrics. Just powerful words and be sincere. And when you do, the results are mind-blowing. After all, we are human? You resolve the problems faster, win back the confidence of your clients, friends and co-workers better, and make yourself more accessible to everyone around you.
- Would you just grow up
You need to be tough if you’re going to stay in business. That means you’re going to get kicked in the teeth when you least expect it, and need to get back up fast. That’s why you need to grow up.
Instead of getting offended (which I do sometimes), or being a cry baby, you need to focus on the “actual issues/problems”. 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. I’m still growing up! And let’s just say I am not a kid any more. If you can’t say you are making better decisions and learning better lessons, then you know that you need to grow up. And fast.
Your mom (dad) were/are as pretty smart, right? The basic life lessons you heard from her (him) 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 the latest and the greatest new technique. Often, it’s about the old school basic values you were taught years ago.
Right now you’re making decisions that impact the future of your business. Maybe it’s time to revisit the life lessons your mom (dad) taught you.
Thanks mom (dad). Remember, those who market will make it.
• NB: Scott Farrington is president of SunTee EmbroidMe, a promotional and marketing company specializing in uniforms, embroidery, silk screen printing and promotional products. Established over 27 years ago, SunTee EmbroidMe has assisted local businesses from various industries in marketing themselves. Readers can contact Mr Farrington at SunTee EmbroidMe on East Shirley Street or, by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by telephone at 242-393-3104.