I have been very fortunate to have been able to surround myself with some pretty impressive mentors from all walks of life. Some I talk with almost daily, others monthly, and one – just once a year. Either way, their advice has proven priceless over the years and I thought I would share some of their thoughts with you, perhaps you will find a nugget in here that will help you accomplish some of your goals too.
Only you know what you are truly great at.
This advice, though it sounds simple, was a thought I had never marinated over until it was said to me by the wealthiest person I know. We were talking about career goals and business goals and I told him that I was frustrated with so many opportunities that seem to appear to me, all of which look attractive – but I just don’t have time for them all. His first question was, why did the opportunities come to me? The common answer I gave him was “Someone noticed I’m good at X,Y, or Z, and thought I would make a great partner, owner, or employee for/with them.” Initially my mentor sat back and said “Feels good huh?” He was right, it felt great!
The next thing my mentor said was “Only you know what you are truly great at. All of your life people will offer you opportunities if you work hard and are not afraid to out work your competition. The challenge is that in your heart there is a very small list of things that will truly light your fire.”
I often see small business owners who lose sight of what they are truly great at. Perhaps it’s a bookstore who gets influence by the major chains and tries to open a cafe’ and a bookstore. Down the drain goes the entire operation…why? They lost sight of what they were truly great at.
This advice came from a mentor of mine I know very well and also an extremely successful guy – My dad. I cannot recall how many times as a child my dad would say to me “David, Think before you take the next move…” This simple word is not the easiest one to obey, but can help make or break your company.
Angry at a customer? THINK, before you send that email response. Pissed off about your competition? THINK, before you post that comment. Being pressured to lower your prices? THINK, before you take your next move. Sometimes it pays more to breathe before you jump.
Keep your focus on what new business you can earn, not what your competition is saying about you.
This little nugget was offered to me just last week while I was in the midst of closing a big client. We began talking about how he created such a successful company, and what types of distractions he would avoid. He shared with me that he stays focused on innovating and prospecting – not chasing his competition or comparing himself to larger company’s.
Do not sacrifice your family for recognition amongst your peers.
This was shared with me by a close friend who now lives in North Carolina. He has been a mentor to me for many years and he got his start in the computer industry back when computers took up entire rooms, he has since sold that company and now makes his living running a successful Amway marketing business. Many times we have sat on his porch to discuss the trappings of success and how easy it is to get caught up in your own success but one day turn around and see your house is empty and the only thing full – is your wallet. I do not remember who he would quote that said, “Do not get so busy creating a living, that you don’t create a life.
How often as small business owner’s do we choose a “fun” evening networking event over the challenges of a home life? Perhaps your spouse is sick, a child is acting up, or you have bills to pay. It is much easier to have a few suds till 8pm with some cronies who will not help your company actually grow…than it is to go home and deal with the issues that may be cracking the foundation of your family.
I can offer this advice as an offender of this rule. My wife has had pancreatic issues for roughly 5 years. When we first got married I would choose to work late or “make sales calls” till 7pm, rather than come home and have to face how scared I was of loosing her. This makes me sound like the ultimate jerk I know – but I justified it with the thought of “I’m providing for us.” Was I really?
What nuggets have you gleaned from mentors in your life? Do you agree with the advice I have been given? I would love to hear your thoughts and someday soon I will add some additional thoughts. In closing I refer back to what Dylan Thomas once wrote,
“Gather ye rosebuds while ye may,
Old time is still a flying,
This same flower blooming today,
Tomorrow may be dying.”