Successfully navigating one’s way through the world of entrepreneurship can be a difficult task. In fact, it is quite often sink or swim. The volatile, demanding, and fast-paced nature of business calls for an individual who is capable of inspiring respect and loyalty in others, working tirelessly to receive results, and, ultimately, turning their vision into reality.
Given the scarcity of these characteristics, there are many who claim that such traits cannot be taught. That the prosperous business owners are those that possess an innate savvy which can’t be shared, duplicated, or learned. As the founder and CEO of my company, Latitude 360, I can personally attest that this is not the case. While it may be true that there are some who have a disposition or affinity towards business, this is not to say that the skills and expectations that come with business ownership can’t be taught.
The time I spent in the Naval Academy is certainly a testament to this. Though the tumultuous and fluid lifestyle of entrepreneurship can be likened to life at sea, it is not exactly what I thought The Academy was preparing me for. Nevertheless, the important lessons and training I received from the U.S. Naval Academy that I use daily in building my company, leading my employees and navigating through challenges have been invaluable:
1. Leadership through example
There is no better way to command trust and elicit results from those following you than by setting a standard through your actions, and not just your words. More often than not, this is more effective than any command or speech you can give. If the work, or lack thereof, you are seen doing is mediocre, you can’t expect the work of your employees and colleagues to be much better. When there is a positive model to emulate, everyone will strive to perform at that level, if not exceed it. While all leadership styles are varied and unique, this should be something employed by everyone.
2. Crisis management and staying calm through the chaos
In all aspects of life, nothing should be expected to go exactly as planned. There will always be problems, trials, and unexpected situations. That simply cannot be helped. What you do have control over, however, is your response. Being able to keep a clear head and remain calm through a crisis is a valuable skill. One way to achieve this is through proper planning and training. Think about the industry or area that you find yourself in and the problems that can arise within it. Formulate a plan of action and practice it constantly. While your training may not be in the form of pushups, sprints, and long-distance swims, it will prepare you for the trials that come your way and help you maintain your cool when you face a crisis.
3. Understanding true mental capabilities beyond normal frustration or exhaustion
The mind is a powerful thing. Being pushed to and beyond your limit can help remind you just how powerful it truly is. People will often base their thoughts and decisions off of what they perceive to be their limitations. Those same limitations that people set for themselves are also usually much lower than where they should be. If you understand and believe that you are capable of achieving things far beyond what you previously thought possible, you will see a change in your mindset, actions, and overall success.
4. Time management and being more productive
While this is a skill that has been referenced countless times, it doesn’t make it any less true. Time is precious and knowing where and how to allot your time and efforts is crucial in maximizing your success. Many of those who put in work with or without any visible results can see an immediate change should they just learn how to identify and structure their priorities. With the Navy and business world alike, time you make can make or break you. In the Navy, you may have a split second between completing a mission and sacrificing your life. In the business world – time is money. Spending too much time making a decision could lose you the deal and change your company’s success. There are a myriad of different ways to improve your time management skills, such as buying a planner or making a daily to-do list. One thing is for sure, once you have acquired this skill, you will see all aspects of your life improve.
While I can directly attribute these values to my time in the Naval Academy, there are many other ways to gain these skills. Joining the Navy is not the key to entrepreneurial success -- hard work is. Whatever route you decide to take, combining your hard work, dedication, and the knowledge you gain from your experiences and the insight of others, makes for a very bright and successful future.