Looking back at my career path, I find myself reflecting on the decisions I made or actions I didn’t take along the way. This blog has been an excellent exercise in self-reflection as every experience I’ve had has led me to where I am at this moment – both professionally and in my personal life. Perhaps, you can relate.
#1) I would have started my own business sooner. There is nothing like the challenge of it – the energy, the motivation of building up your own organization. Hiring people and giving them an opportunity to prosper. I also thrive on controlling a bit of my own destiny. If the notion of starting your own business is strong and you’ve got that fire in your belly – let me tell you: go for it. Do it. Because you may be looking over your shoulder regretting you didn’t take the leap.
#2) I wish I’d learned more about money. For a big part of my career, my sole money strategy was this: to make more of it. But, that was it. I knew zero about investing, cash flow, asset allocation – really, how the money systems work. And, it took me way too long to start digging in on it. This is a problem for many people, probably because we think money is too complicated. And, there are those folks who want us to think that the complexity is too daunting because they gain from our confusion, fear and lack of knowledge. So, yes. I wish I’d learned more about money sooner.
#3) I was also late recognizing that organizations are limited by leaders. Fortunately, I’ve had the opportunity to work for great leaders and poor ones. Yes, it’s totally possible to learn just as much from the poor leader. Through these experiences, I learned organizations are most often limited by its leadership. It’s the root of success or failure. I recognize that leadership can actually be “the” problem if a business is failing. But, here’s the good part – leadership is also part of the solution. I wish I’d recognized that sooner: recognized that leaders of organizations are the driving force for success. As a business owner, I wish I’d studied facets of leadership earlier.
#4) I regret not recognizing sooner the importance of giving and receiving candid feedback. Regretting the notion I should have spoken up earlier or listened more. How many times in your life have you walked out of a meeting or an interaction and said, “Man, I wish I would have said …” It happens to all of us, right? I wish I would have been more candid earlier in my career – even today. I’d like to be more open to candid feedback than I am now. Less defensiveness on my part. I recognize how constructive it can be. The bottom line is: if someone is willing to go out on a limb and offer you his thoughts; there’s probably an issue.
#5) And, finally – I wish I’d had the self-awareness earlier on that I can’t compartmentalize work and my personal life. They are intertwined. They always have been. Believe me, the way you behave when no one is looking in your personal life affects the way you are going to lead your company or organization. And if you don’t believe that, then you are fooling yourself. It would have benefited me greatly to have learned earlier that compartmentalizing your work and personal isn’t possible. So bring everything you have at work and at home. Friends, family and colleagues will all know whether you are or not.