Small Business

Bettering yourself

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When I was young and easily influenced by the clichés that many of us live our lives by, I was content to not face the brutal truth. So, on important matters, where I appeared weak, I’d dismiss them as being activities I was simply not born with the competitive advantage to do much about.

I was wrong when it came to too many crucial areas, which can make a big difference to your life successes and failures. Fortunately, this condition that might have held me back, did not last for a long time.

Accept change

I no longer believe you have to be a natural born leader to lead. You don’t have to come from money to end up wealthy. You don’t have to be left a business from a wealthy family to build a massive business. However, you do have to be lucky and open or flexible towards change.

On the other hand, I don’t simply believe passion and hard work will always deliver unbridled business and wealth accumulation success.

Believe in yourself

All of these reflections and some of my newer views on the building blocks for high achievement came back to me after reading Malcolm Gladwell’s book — Outliers — over the Christmas break.

I love this time of the year as I get to read books that will power me through the ensuing year. Last year I read Richard Branson’s Losing My Virginity and it had a similarly positive impact on me and my 2009.

As I sit tapping out this story, I have an overwhelming belief that this will be my business’s greatest year ever. By the way, having this kind of self-belief is the starting point for success.

Jim Collins, the author of Good to Great, says the business success stories always had a big, hairy audacious goal or a BHAG. The guys who started Gloria Jeans — Nabi Saleh and Peter Irvine — admitted they established an unbelievably big goal because they knew if they achieved only half of that goal they would have been happy.

Sporting success

Gladwell’s goal was to deconstruct highly successful people and work out why it happened. One of his early conclusions is that when it comes to many sports — not all but many — your birthday is really important.

He researched Canadian ice hockey teams and champions and many of them were born in the early part of the year. Why should that be so important?

He worked backwards after seeing so many champs with early- year birthdays and his reasoning made a bit of sense.

First, kids born in say January and start school with kids born in November the same year have nearly a year’s growth, strength and learning on their later-born class or team mates (this works in America, but of course in the Australian case the months would change with the school year starting at a different time).

They then can end up in better sports teams or classes, which means they could get better teachers, teaching, sports training and role models. These opportunities that some people get over others cannot be played down in understanding the success of many high flyers.

Support is key

Microsoft’s Bill Gates was academically smart but also came from a very rich and well-connected Seattle family. A lot of this was important to his success story.

Branson was dyslexic and poor at school but he had a well-off family and their greatest asset was their support and very positive attitude towards their son.

Our own Aussie Home Loans founder, John Symond, had no family money to rely on to build his business dreams but he had a supportive family who made him work in their many fruit shops, after school and on weekends.

When you ask him, he tells you it was hard work compared to what most kids did but he thanks his parents for their work ethic and the strong lessons they taught him.

Gladwell argues that having a supportive and educating family can be the critical reason why some kids do well, and others don’t, in school, in business and in life. But that’s water under the bridge.

Invest in success

The more important question is: “If you were born late in the year, did not have parents who gave you schooling as well as business success encouragement and have not been given a competitive advantage leg up, anywhere, what are you going to do about it?”

I know the answer as I encounter people who are disappointed with their success or lack of it and when I ask what have they done to change their results, it often is precious little.

I know people in business who need a business coach but are too lousy to invest in success. I know company executives who need to study at a higher level but refuse to lose money this year to study and work part-time, because they are short-sighted.

They ignore the money that comes from investing in success. 

Get active

I bumped into a friend who was struggling with his business and his investments. I put him in touch with a great accountant and now his money life couldn’t be better.

In fact, he says he wants to sue his old accountant for the deductions he ignored in the past and for the lack of good advice, which all had bottom line implications.

Now, my mate was not given the right business support when he was young but the person he should sue is himself! He knew something was wrong and he did nothing about it until I made him act.

If you want to be an outlier, get off your bum, be realistic and get help where you are weak.

If you’re looking to work on your business rather than being stuck in it, book in for a complimentary business assessment today with Switzer Business Coaching

Important information: This content has been prepared without taking account of the objectives, financial situation or needs of any particular individual. It does not constitute formal advice. For this reason, any individual should, before acting, consider the appropriateness of the information, having regard to the individual’s objectives, financial situation and needs and, if necessary, seek appropriate professional advice.

Published on: Wednesday, July 27, 2011

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