What's the single most valuable lesson you've learned in your professional life? originally appeared on Quora - the place to gain and share knowledge, empowering people to learn from others and better understand the world.
I woke up this morning with a big smile on my face. I know everything will work out.
In fact, everything already has worked out.
I look out the window, and it's a beautiful sunny day. I see trees everywhere.
There is no wind, just stillness and quiet.
I've survived. I've made it through the darkest period of my life.
Like a train going through a tunnel, I've come out the other side. My lights are shining bright.
It feels great to be alive.
How did I make it through the abyss? How does anyone make it through the abyss?
You have to dig deep. You have to forgive. You have to make the decision to let the past go and be happy.
This is where your philosophy of life comes in. Here are twenty one nuggets that have helped me navigate life. I hope they serve you well too:
A. Don't worry about money; worry about the opportunity and money will follow. This is my favorite piece of advice my Dad ever gave me. It's such a great way to look at your career choices.
Chasing money, especially early in your career, is usually a bad choice. You are much better served building up your skills and knowledge. Taking this longer-term career view pays off both in more money and more happiness.
B. Take your chances when you are young. My second favorite piece of advice from my Dad.
I'd take the risky path with great upside potential every chance I could when I was young. You can grow faster and make a lot more money taking the risky path.
I'm not saying you should take foolish risks. I am saying take smart, calculated risks. You have the rest of your life to recover if things don't go as planned.
C. Stay focused on the prize. The art of focus is so important in life and business. You multiply your effectiveness when you focus on a limited number of tasks.
Conversely you spread yourself way too thin by focusing on too many things at once.
D. "Perseverance is worth 10X its weight versus ability" or "Eighty percent of life is showing up." The first quote is mine. The second quote is Woody Allen's. I'll let Woody do the talking from here:
"People used to always say to me that they wanted to write a play, they wanted to write a movie, they wanted to write a novel, and the couple of people that did it were 80 percent of the way to having something happen.
All the other people struck out without ever getting that pack. They couldn't do it, that's why they don't accomplish a thing, they don't do the thing, so once you do it, if you actually write your film script, or write your novel, you are more than half way towards something good happening. So that I was say [sic] my biggest life lesson that has worked. All others have failed me."
For more on the power of perseverance and grit read:
E. A positive mindset allows opportunity into your life. Opportunity is all around us, and we just need to see it.
Negativity makes the world so cloudy that you can't see the opportunity right in front of you. You can see all the opportunities for a happy and successful life when you are positive. Try it for thirty days, and you'll see what I mean.
F. Go forward, fast. One of my favorite pieces of business advice. You'll never have all the pieces to the puzzle. Success relies on your ability to fill in the pieces you don't have.
You'll be killed if you wait for every piece of data. Especially in today's world because the market will have already changed before you take action.
G. The difference between being a success or a failure is the ability to get up, time and time again, after you've failed. I should know because I've had a lot of practice with this one. Failure is painful. Failure hurts a lot. You've just got to fight through the pain, the hurt, and the negative thoughts.
Each one of us has failed many times. The successful people shrug off the failure and keep moving.
H. Don't live someone else's life. Don't let your parents, friends, or anyone else tell you how to live your life.
Take their advice and then do what you think is right.
I. It doesn't matter what the role is, do your best always. Sometimes we don't get the job we want. Sometimes we don't get the promotion or the raise we deserve.
None of this should change your performance.
You only hurt yourself if you don't give your all. You are guaranteed you will never get the job, the promotion, or the raise if you don't give your all.
J. Don't give up until your dying breath. One of my personal favorites. Never, ever, ever quit on yourself. I am not saying you should just blindly move forward without taking in the feedback you are receiving.
I am saying keep working the problem and take in the feedback you are getting. Then you will be unstoppable.
K. You have the ability to control how you feel about any situation. Two people (each in a different car) are driving to work. Traffic sucks. They are moving at maybe 5MPH.
At this rate, they will not get to work for two hours! One driver is cursing the traffic and his miserable life. The other driver is making use of the time "reading" a book on.
Same sucky traffic for each and the same two hour commute. Yet, they have different feelings about the situation.
You can control your emotions about any situation. It is unbelievably powerful (and freeing) when you master this skill.
L. Make money and have fun. This is a great career check test. Ask yourself every year, "Am I making the money I want to make, and I am having fun making money?"
You are on course if the answer is yes. You need to make some changes if the answer is no.
M. Handle yourself with class and grace. My personal favorite and the guiding principle to how I now live my life.
This doesn't mean you can't be tough. On the contrary. Handling yourself with class and grace is especially crucial to doing the tough things.
Take it from someone who didn't always handle himself with class and grace, this is a game-changer.
N. Don't worry about what others are thinking of you because nobody cares. Blossom and I were watching The American President (the movie with Michael Douglas, Annette Bening, and Martin Sheen) the other night.
There's a great scene where the President (played by Douglas) is asking his Chief of Staff (played by Sheen) about whether Bening is attracted to him.
Sheen says, "I could pass her a note in study hall if you like."
We're out of high school. No one is spending their waking moments laughing at you because you didn't get the promotion. Everyone is too busy with their problems and their lives.
O. You can learn something from every situation you are in, good or bad. I worked at a company that was not well run. The CEO was a bigot, but I didn't want to quit for various reasons.
I decided I was going to learn how not to run a company from the experience. I took it all in, and I used the lessons learned as guideposts to avoid.
P. Family first is the best way to run your business. Put the families of the people you work as your top priority when you run a business or manage a team.
You will build tremendous loyalty putting family first, and...
Your team will bust their butts for you when you are really putting family first, and...
You will feel good about yourself and the culture you are creating by putting family first, and...
Even though it will cost you more money (in healthcare costs, time off, etc), putting family first will be the most profitable move you make as a leader. Trust me.
Q. Just admit you are wrong. All of us make mistakes. Just admit the mistake. Apologize, learn from your mistake and move on.
R. You can never regain trust once you've lost it. I interviewed someone years ago for a senior management position. He had a gap in his resume that he said he was a consulting for a company.
It turned out I knew a board member at the other company. The candidate's story did not check out.
I ended up passing on a really highly qualified candidate because I couldn't trust him.
S. Master the power of the 80/20 rule. 20% of your effort will give you 80% of your results. In other words, make your time count. Work on the stuff that matters.
T. Be grateful for what you have and be grateful for what you don't have. My Mom taught me this one, and I had to really think about it before I got it.
Go ahead and think about it for a second.
Okay. The gratitude for what you have is obvious. But think about all the bad things you don't have. It could be a lot worse.
U. The longer the wait, the greater the satisfaction. Have you been waiting a long time for things to go your way? This one's for you.
Just keep working hard, getting feedback, and adjusting course along the way. Remind yourself of how great it will feel when you finally win.
Success is great, isn't it!
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