This morning I came across an interesting post from Amber at Brass Tack Thinking. Six Career Beliefs That I Got Wrong discusses how your perspective on life changes as you gather information, intelligence, and experience over the years, and how you realize that some ideas previously held don’t turn out to be true after all.
Here are a few things I’ve come to understand about business and life after slogging through each for a while.
It’s Not the End of the World
I have a pretty creative mind, which is usually a good thing – until I start thinking about how spectacularly wrong something could go. We’ve all been there while considering the risk of a possible course of action: how quickly we can progress from hope and excitement, to trepidation and worry, and finally to outright fear and “OMG, I’ll be living in a van down by the river” thoughts.
I’ve passed through a few spots in my life where I thought it would be the end of the world. And I’m not talking about possible business opportunities or losses, either – I’m talking about the real stuff. The big stuff. And I can tell you that many times what you think will be the end is only another beginning. Which I know sounds trite, but it happens to be true. Sure, that beginning may be riddled with pain, and irrevocably change some things for the worse, but it also opens up the door for new opportunities that you never would have had the chance at otherwise.
Also remember that the worst-case scenario is usually A) terribly unlikely to happen, or B) not nearly as bad as you think. Naomi from IttyBiz wrote a great piece on that here: How To Stop Being So Goddamn Scared All The Time.
There’s Always Another Deal
When I first started out in business and philanthropy projects, I was so excited to jump into any deal that came my way. Big or small, I wanted in. My reasoning at the time was, “You never know if another opportunity like this will come your way”. Well, I’ve done a complete 180 on that over the years, because I’ve realized that if you’re doing it right, another opportunity like that will almost always come your way.
If you feel like a business deal is not the best fit, or it becomes obvious that you’re shouldering all of the responsibility, or the other party has lost interest, or the risk may be too great, then by all means drop it and start looking for the next thing. If you keep your eyes open and keep hustling, looking for connections that work, you’ll find them. It’s a big world out there.
Mean People Suck
I used to spend so much time dealing with angry and confrontational people, trying to either prove my point or at least get us to a mutual understanding and respect of each other’s opinions. And sometimes I still do, if it’s something really important. But I realize now that most of the time it’s not worth it. These people – and you know who they are – will steal your time and sap your emotional energy. Leave ‘em alone.
Seriously, even if they’re coming to you with a sweetheart deal, but it requires you to work with someone that you don’t feel comfortable with, get out of there with the quickness. I guarantee you that in the long run it’ll be better to ditch the uglies and find people with whom you have a real connection.
You Have to Take Care of Yourself
I have learned this lesson the long, hard way. I used to think that if I could just take care of all the important people in my life, and accept every responsibility and “do my job” in all aspects, then everything would work out. But it doesn’t.
If you put everyone and everything else first, you have nothing left for yourself. And once you start going down that path, something takes a hit. Your health. Your happiness. Your relationships. All the things that truly matter are often the first to go . . . and if you aren’t healthy and whole, you’re not in a position to take care of all the people and things you’re sacrificing to help in the first place.
It’s easy to miss this one when you think “I can do it; it’s just one more thing,” but trust me, too much of this and you’re going to end up in a world of hurt. Remember that it’s not selfish to take care of yourself, and only you know what that looks like. Find a way to get it done, and the world will be better for you and for those you love.
What About You?
I encourage you to take a little time thinking about this and coming up with your own lessons learned. If you write them up in a post and share it with us, I’d love to read it. Or feel free to leave a note in the comments below with any of your thoughts. Let’s see how wise we’ve all become.
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