When anyone becomes a parent, they instantly want the best for their child and hope that they can achieve more in life than they ever did… I’ll be sharing something a little personal. Since before my son was born, I began somewhat of a journal to keep a chronology of his life events… Something to share with him when he gets older to reflect upon his life experiences, but through my eyes. Honestly, it’s extremely gratifying how he has progressed so much over the past few years and that we have a way of capturing those life moments. Recently, I wrote a passage of life and professional lessons learned over my years. My hope is simple: one day he will read them, and hopefully they will help propel him in his personal life and professional career. As I reviewed these lessons that have taken me a lifetime to learn, I thought others might benefit from them as well.
- There is a difference between what people say and what they do: In life and business, people will say almost anything… The reality: it is easier to say something vs. actually doing it. Don’t be fooled into believing that what someone says will actually happen.
- Actions speak louder than words: Generally, people recognize the difference in what someone says vs. what they do… As a result, they will always remember you for what you did vs. what you said you were going to do.
- Always under-promise, and over-deliver: In the same respect as above, always set proper expectations… Then, don’t just meet those expectations, crush them. In the end, it is better to surprise someone by going far and beyond the call of duty vs. disappointing them, simply because you failed to meet expectations. Under-commit and over-deliver, always!
- Speak up and be heard: Actions may speak louder than words, but the squeaky wheel gets the oil… I’ve learned over time, the more active you are in life and business, the more attention you get. Just don’t be a pain in the ass.
- Always be thankful: Never take anything or anyone for granted; always be thankful for the time people spend helping you out… Gratitude is always appreciated and remembered.
- Business is business, never take it personally: It took me a long time to figure this one out. Doesn’t matter how much you love your job, boss, or co-workers; business is business. There are honestly too many people out there that will take advantage of you for their own gains or put their priorities over yours. I’ve personally heard a CEO stand in front of a company and say, “No one is going to lose their jobs”, and less than two weeks later, they laid off 25% of the workforce… I’ve had a manager recently tell me, “Trust him that he will not change sales quota”, only to change them a week later.
- Never talk ill of someone: It can be easy to be pulled into gossip; we’ve all done it… But whatever you do, resist it at all cost. What you say can and will make it back to that person.
- Don’t let anyone tell you what you cannot do: Set your own limits for how high you want to go in life and business. There will always be people around you that will set imaginary limits of what you can achieve; don’t listen. I’ve personally lost count of how many people have told me certain things were unobtainable, and I’ve proven them wrong more times than right!
- Know when to stop: It is way too easy to get enveloped into a project, forgetting all sense of day and time… Know when to stop and take a break. Family and personal life are far too important to work your life away. That project and work will always be there tomorrow.
- Work smart and hard: Do not be confused by hard work; it is always easy to find something “to do,” but it might not be the most productive use of your time. Regardless of what you are doing, be calculated and be smart about it… but work hard at it too. Nothing can stop a smart worker that works hard.
- Learn from others’ mistakes: Everyone makes mistakes, and you’ll make your fair share of them in life… Constantly watch and observe how things are done and the outcome… You’ll make far less mistakes by learning from others.
- Failure is okay: We will all have failures in our lives—some small and others big. It’s OK, no one is perfect… Pick yourself up, brush yourself off, and move on. Failure is okay, but giving up hope or stopping is not.
- Seek a life of continuous improvement: Never stop learning… There are always ways to learn and find new and better approaches to improve something.
- Never be afraid to ask questions: Never make assumptions, and don’t pretend to be the smartest person in the room. It is okay to ask questions. It is better to have clarity on something vs. proceeding forward with an assumption, only to be wrong in the end.
- Try new things: Never be afraid of trying new things… You can never expand your horizons if you do not take the risk to try something out of your comfort level.
- Be flexible but not a pushover: Things are going to happen and change over time… Refusing to change will lead you down a path of failure. But do not be a pushover when it comes to change either. People are going to point you in whatever direction serves them best. Ensure you do enough research and homework to guarantee it will serve you as well.
- Always have cash reserves: If it’s anything the past few months have taught me, it is to always have enough cash in reserve that would allow you to move forward without income for at least six months (in life and business). What has happened during the COVID pandemic of 2020 has taught us that you never know when business will come to a screeching halt. Countless businesses of all sizes have found themselves in extreme hardships during this pandemic, simply because they didn’t have the reserves on hand. Once you see the money in the bank, it is easy to want to spend it.. When times of hardship come around, you’ll be happy you didn’t.
These were written to my son of three and a half years. Some day in the future when he reads them, it will help him avoid some of the hardships that I’ve had to endure in my personal and professional life… What other tips would you add to the list that have helped you in your personal or professional lives?