1. Don’t settle for being money rich and time poor. Often we spend a lot of time at work making money. This means we spend less time with our family, with ourselves. We work harder. We work longer. We have more disposable income. And we do not have the time to spend it. We have a higher standard of life and a poorer quality of life. We might have to work very long hours at the beginning of your career-to get noticed, to impress a little, to earn some appreciation. We cannot do that all our life. If you do that everything suffers-your work, your family, your friends and your body. You work starts consuming you. You family and friends go farther away. You body becomes ill. Therefore do the following things. Reduce income or expenditure to lead a less pressurised lifestyle. Don’t stop doing things-just do different things, less expensive things. Remember it is not the hours you put that count but what you put into the hours. Say no to a lot of things. Create a work culture that honours achievement and not long hours. Do not settle long-term in a company that demands your soul or tries to buy your years with money or power. Have three people you respect that will give you good counsel and direction.
2. Believe that the job you do makes a difference. Believe that every job has worth and you should do it as well as you can. One of the fundamentals of business life is: If the customer gets the message that you don’t care, then pretty soon that customer will begin to doubt the quality of your core business. You have to have dignity-you cannot buy that; you cannot guarantee it by education or social status. You also have to have honesty and integrity-the foundation of your character. You should-
- Never compromise on matters of principle or standards of excellence, even on minor issues.
- Be persistent and never give up.
- Have a vision of where you are going and communicate that often.
- Know what you stand for, set high standards, and don’t be afraid to take on tough problems despite the risk.
- Spend less time managing and more time leading. Lead by example.
- Bring out the best in others. Hire the best people you can find, then delegate authority and responsibility, but stay in touch.
- Have confidence in yourself and those around you; trust others.
- Accept blame for failures and credit others with success, Possess integrity and personal courage.
The truth is duplicity and manipulation produce rewards, otherwise they would not be so attractive. But they can never sleep in real peace. Live so that your character matters more to you than success. Then people will trust you. In the long run, trust pays dividends. They may not be as large as duplicity and manipulation would give but they would be sweeter.
3. Play to your strengths-find your factor X.the fastest way to succeed is to find what you are good at and find somebody to let you do it. Factor X is that ability in a man or woman that is a natural strength-it sets them apart from others. We spend our life pursuing the dreams of others rather than ours. We often, have not had the opportunity to consider, let alone discover what our natural strengths are. Think of what your main gift or skill is. Ask yourself what you love, who you do easily. Ask yourself what steps you could take to use that skill more effectively. Ask yourself where your skill might be used and how you could make a living out of it.
4. Believe in the power of dreams. We have to dream. We also have to combine the power of the dream with some rather more down-to earth strategies that translates wishes into reality. We all should have a dream catcher- a person with whom we can share our dreams, who will encourage us, sometimes bring us a little nearer earth and occasionally tell them they are in ‘pink flamingo’ mode. Dreams don’t immediately turn into reality- it takes time and a lot of stumbles on the way and we should have courage and persist. Dreaming alone is not enough. You have to take small steps to realise the dream TODAY, not LATER. Do not allow things to steal your time. Do not allow the fear of failure to immobilise you.
5. Put your family before your career. Success and achievement are two different things. We live in a society that so often measures success by what we own, the kind of house we live in, the car we drive and where we can afford to go on holiday. But we would do well not just to ask the price of these things, but the cost-how much extra time we have to work to pay for them. Even if your goal is to accumulate as much money as possible, you still have to have enough time to spend the stuff. Work is important but family is even more important. We have the illusion that there is a race to be won and for that we do a lot of things that gives us an incredible standard of living but a very poor quality of life. Finally we come to the realisation that there is no race and what matters is not money. There is no point in being so busy being “successful” that you miss life with your wife, your children and your family. This story illustrates:
A boat docked in a tiny Mexican village. An American tourist complimented the Mexican fisherman on the quality of his catch. “How long did it take you to get those?” he asked.
“Not so long,” said the Mexican.
“Then why didn’t you stay out longer and catch more?” asked the American.
The Mexican explained that his small catch was quite enough to meet his needs and feed his family.
“So what do you do with the rest of your time?” asked the American.
“I sleep late, fish a little, play with my children, and take a siesta with my wife. In the evening, I go into the village to see my friends, have a few drinks, play the guitar and sing a few songs. I have a full life.”
The American interrupted. “I have an MBA from Harvard and I can help you! You should start by fishing longer every day. You can then sell the extra fish you catch. With the extra revenue, you can buy a bigger boat.”
“And after that?” asked the Mexican.
“With the extra money the bigger boat will bring, you can buy a second boat and then a third boat, and then more until you have an entire fleet of trawlers. Instead of selling your fish to a middle man, you can then negotiate directly with the processing plants. Pretty soon you could open your own plant. You could leave this little village and move to Mexico City, Los Angeles, or even New York! From there you could direct your whole enterprise.”
“How long would that take?” asked the Mexican.
“Twenty — perhaps twenty-five years,” replied the American.
“And after that?”
“Afterwards? Well, my friend,” laughed the American, “that’s when it gets really interesting. When your business gets really big, you can start selling stocks and make millions!”
“Millions? Really? And after that?” said the Mexican.
“After that you’ll be able to retire, live in a beautiful place near the coast, sleep late, play with your children, catch a few fish, take siestas with your wife and spend your evenings drinking and enjoying your friends.”
With just the hint of a twinkle in his eye, the fisherman said, ‘Senor-are these business degrees hard to get?’
Hence, rather than waiting for someday in the future, spend time with your kids and family and do things with them. Also make sure you have a work-life balance.
6. Keep the common touch. Remembering the common touch involves not taking ourselves too seriously, and making a habit of treating people with dignity, whatever their status in the company. Don’t change your behaviour depending on who you are dealing with.
7. Don’t settle for success: make a difference – strive for significance. We have made a lot of progress scientifically and materially. But death is certain-it is 100% to date. Despite all progress we have not been able to add more to what a Jewish poet once said: The length of a man’s life is three score years and ten, perhaps a little more by strength. One day we are all going to die. What will matter then is not money, power or prestige- it is how significant our lives have been and what difference we have made. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, yet lose his own soul? The future is very, very short. It is short for all of us.
notings from ‘ The Heart of Success’ by Rob Parsons