I was reflecting today on my journey as an entrepreneur. It feels really good to be doing the work I’m doing at this stage in my life. I feel very fortunate to have the opportunity to talk with so many different types of people in different businesses and industries. It’s quite invigorating. While I’m clearly still on my own path of continuous learning, I learn things from everyone, and there are some things I’ve learned from entrepreneurship that I wish I’d have paid attention to sooner.
Actually, there are 7 things I’ve learned, to be exact. I hope some of them resonate with you as they have with me.
1. Don’t get the last word in.
I am a passionate, fiery kind of guy. Somewhat stereotypical “Type A” if you will. Over the years I’ve fought to the bitter end on some things that, upon reflection, really weren’t that important. I had to win. I had to have the last word. How silly. I wish I’d have known that sometimes the best “last word” is nothing at all. Let it go and move on.
2. Learn to enjoy the small things more.
It’s easy to enjoy the big stuff. Most people can get excited about significant events in their life. What about the little things though? The small victories along the way are not often celebrated. I can think of several “small” things in my career that I now look upon quite fondly. I wish I’d have spent more time enjoying them when they were happening. Not everything comes with a big red bow on it. Look for one anyway.
3. Don’t worry as much about what people think.
Notice I said “as much” at the end of that sentence. Those that say they don’t care what anyone thinks about them, ever, are either way too comfortable with themselves or quite the opposite – extremely insecure. I have insecurities, too. I look back on life I think there are times I let them weigh more on me then they should have. It’s healthy to “care” about what others think of you (in my opinion). However, it’s unhealthy and a waste of time to spend too much time thinking about it.
4. Take more risks sooner.
I’ve taken my fair share of risks over the years. I still wish I had taken more and taken more sooner, too. For most people, the older you get, the tougher it is to take risks. While entrepreneurship is by no means only for the young, the younger you are (in theory) the less responsibility you have. With less responsibility comes the opportunity to take bigger risks since less is at stake. I would have done some really big, crazy, wild business stuff in my 20’s if I had it to do over again.
5. Make time for service.
Notice I didn’t say “find time” – you have to make it. In the past few years I’ve started spending time during the work week doing service on a few non-profit boards and such. The occasional opportunity to speak to schools and other groups come up now and again as well. It is a lot of fun. Service is something that you can search for, and find, very easily. There are a lot of people who can benefit from whatever skill or time you are willing to share. Don’t wait until you can “afford” the time or money to help. Do more now. The more you serve others, you more you actually help yourself. Funny how that works, eh?
6. Spend more time with fewer people.
I am very fortunate to have a couple of friends that I’ve been close to for over 20 years. I’ve realized that while I love meeting new people and spending time at certain events, the most fun I have is when I’m with old friends. Time is finite and you have to choose where you spend your “free time” especially carefully. My first choice is always to spend time with my family. When I’m not with them though, I find myself choosing to hang out with old friends more and more. That means I go to less events, do less “networking” and meet fewer people. That’s okay though.
7. Embrace change.
I have always known that change would be a part of my professional life. It’s the path of an entrepreneur, right? Even still, sometimes I’ve fought it. I realize now that not only is it inevitable, it is often healthy. Spend more time thinking about where you are going and less time thinking about where you are. Viewing the life ahead of you instead of the life beside you makes change a lot easier to understand. I’ve grown to enjoy change and that’s made life a lot more enjoyable.
So those are the 7 things I’ve learned. I’d love to learn from you. So would other readers. What have you learned that you’d like to share? I hope to read some good suggestions in the comments.