When you’re in business, the lessons seem to come from every direction – it’s true in life as well. In fact, the more we learn and apply, the better our lives can be – and the more quickly we can move our businesses forward. Here are some quick lessons from three of our Small Business Trends experts.
Experience: Does It Cost Too Much?
In “On Experience, Reflection and Change in Business” John Marriotti says, “The worst thing about experience is that you have to live through things to get it, and that can sometimes be painful.” Of course, just because you lived through it doesn’t mean you learned from it. Sometimes people go through the same types of situations multiple times before the lessons click and stick. Personally, I’m trying to get it the first time, if I can. Pain is not fun.
John says, “How the situations turn out makes a lot of difference in what kind of learning occurs—positive (‘do that again’)—or negative (‘don’t do that again’).” My dad called them “from now ons” and “never agains.” Many of the systems I use in my business now come from these “from now on” and “never again” moments.
But if you really want to leverage your learning, then gain knowledge from your experiences as well as the people around you. That’s what books, training, videos, conferences and the like are all about—gaining knowledge from another person’s mess and/or success. The people we study and spend time with mentor different areas of our business and save us the cost of learning the hard way.
Emotions: What Can They Tell You About Yourself and Your Business?
We have been taught to leave emotions out of business. But the human condition comes with emotions, one way or another. Passion and excitement are emotions that can sometimes fuel a team’s creativity. Anger and rage are emotions too.
We can’t get away from emotions, because we’re human. It’s the way we are wired. But we can pay attention to and regulate our emotions. In “Are Your Emotions Helping or Hindering You?,” Susan L. Reid highlights the relationship between emotions and energy. Here are some key points that stood out to me:
- Your Focus Determines Your Energy. Susan says, “Low-energy feelings of lethargy or boredom indicate that there is very little focused energy being summoned at the moment.” She explained that the high energy of being passionate and excited and angry are directly connected to your focus. More focus leads to more energy.
- If Your Energy Is Low, Change Your Focus. Susan discusses what happens when you have an idea that excites you (high energy) but in the coming days you find yourself afraid, in doubt (low energy) and ready to abandon it. “Instead of discarding your great idea as ‘wasn’t meant to be,’ Susan writes, “consider what your emotions are telling you from an energetic perspective. . . Before you give up on implementing your great business idea, experiment with focusing your thoughts exclusively on what you want.”
We are in control of ourselves. I love the idea that we can change our minds about fear, our business, our dreams. Choose to focus on the things and the actions that lead to success.
Attitude: Are You the Only Important Person in the Room?
In “Why You Should Start With a Smile,” Yvonne DiVita explains some lessons she learned from a conference she attended in Toronto. She shares “Five ways to connect without really trying” and “Five ways to really screw things up.”
They are simple tips that ultimately suggest how and why you should “Start with a smile. End with a firm handshake,” as Yvonne puts it. In others words, act like people matter. It’s good for business.