Where will you be two years from now? How about 20? What short-term and long-term goals are you currently working towards? About 19 years ago, at age 32, I put it all on the line and became the fourth generation in my family to take the entrepreneurial plunge when I started my first company – the CBI Group.
As I look back, I get emotional. I have had servers stolen, office roofs collapse, floods and fires on Superbowl Sunday, the list goes on – and the show went on. Through all the good, the bad, the blessings in disguise, and the outright disasters, there are four life lessons I learned from 19 years in business that can help you close the gap between where you are and where you want to be.
1. Lesson: You need a greater purpose.
Here’s the truth – any work you do without first identifying (and believing) in your purpose will lead to burn out. If you drive to work just to trudge along until your next payday – you’re not going to be fulfilled. I’m not suggesting you buy a one-way ticket to go volunteer at an elephant sanctuary in some exotic country (although you certainly could) – I am saying you must at least work to define your greater purpose – or your “WHY.”
Call to action: Define your “WHY.”
Why do you get out of bed in the morning? If you have a business, in what ways does it impact those who interact with it? What causes are you pouring your heart into every working day? Understand that through your work you’re given a platform to make a difference in ways that aren’t always clear. Examine your personal values and passions – define your “WHY,” and then make a point to integrate it into your everyday life.
I’ve created a guide for helping to define your “WHY” along with your goals called The Life List Plan – download it here.
2.Lesson: It won’t be easy – but it will be worth it.
When my businesses were in their early growth stages, I did everything…sales, marketing, customer service, hiring, billing, taking out the trash, you name it. I started CBI Group with a flip cell phone, a card table desk in a friend’s office break room (Thank you, Jim!), and a business plan that I believed in. We grew, added staff, and then one day when nothing worked, we adjusted. The lucky ones get a chance to learn from their mistakes and live to fight another day.
Call to action: Fail. Then get back up.
Failure paves the path of every great story. Expect it. Learn from it. And thrive from the lessons that failure teaches you. It will be an uphill climb – but the view from the summit will be better than you could imagine. The next time you “fail,” you better not wallow. You better not quit. Learn from it and get back out there.
3.Lesson: Everyone needs help.
I’m stubborn – this one wasn’t always easy for me. One of the most important lessons I’ve learned through business is that vulnerability and strength go hand in hand. For years I solved all problems my own way using only what I had at my disposal – this didn’t always get me where I needed to be (it rarely did). Now, I tap into my network to help navigate challenges. I talk to folks that have been there, done that. So much time, energy, resources, and money have been wasted on starting from scratch when all I had to do was ask someone for a hand!
Call to action: Rely on your network.
If you find yourself stuck in a rut – tap into your network. With the collective experiences and resources of your trusted contacts, you won’t need to waste time scratching your head wondering what to do next. Don’t have a solid network? I discuss how to build one, here.
4.Lesson: Success is all relative.
The funny thing about success is that your definition of it is always changing. Once you reach your initial destination – the trumpets rarely sound your arrival as a red carpet is rolled out in front of you. Instead, you’re reminded that you have new goals to work toward.
Call to action: Set micro-goals.
As you work towards your long-term goals, set micro-goals for yourself, your employees, or your business to make every day as successful as it can be. If you give 110% every single day, you’ll surpass what you ever thought was possible. “Success” comes with hard work, luck, perseverance, and fortitude that few can stomach. I think you’re up for the challenge, friend.
Do you have a seemingly crazy idea? An ambitious plan you’re waiting to hit “‘go” on? Perhaps you’re in a rut, or you’ve reached a plateau? Keep fighting. Don’t take no for an answer. Strive to be the perfect balance of confident and humble. Redefine your idea of failure. And reach out to me – I’m always available to discuss the lessons I’ve learned over the years.
Let’s make 2020 the year you make those dreams a reality.