The Archangel PR [business] Blog

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Posts Tagged ‘1 Year to Live

Time to Learn from Your Mistakes!

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Whether we like it or not, we are all moving forward into the future. Some of us cling to old memories and stories of days long gone. We hold on to pictures of ourselves when we were young and compare them to recent pictures where we are decidedly less than young.

Last night I cleaned out the filing cabinets that hold my entire collective entrepreneur and business history. While I was looking through the invoices, the receipts, and the e-mails, I began to separate the papers into the ventures I considered successful (the ones that made me money) and the ones that I thought were epic bombs (the ones that lost me money).

I wasn’t stunned by what I saw.

The “failure” pile was immensely bigger than the “success” pile. I’ll tell you in all honesty, I was a bit crushed. The first decade of my business existence looked like a history lesson in “What Not To Do: 101.” In all, my failures should serve as a warning to others. Better yet, these failures should serve as a lesson for myself.

Both my success and my failure have brought me to the place I currently reside.

My success provides money and livelihood. It sustains me and allows me to purchase goods and even provides a shot of confidence. But my failures allow me something just as valuable: experience.

I value experience as much as I value education and/or money.

Everyone is different, but I hope that if you are ever at a point where you can stop and examine the last few years of your business or personal life, that you’ll count it all joy. These things are making you the person you are. The trials and tribulations of this (business) life will make you stronger if you allow it to.

If you learn a lesson from each failure, as well as each success, you’ll be that much stronger in the end.

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Great Leaders Inspire Trust

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Great post by Ray Silverstein.

Silverstein, a recognized small business expert, is president and founder of PRO: President’s Resource Organization, a network of advisory boards for small business owners.

Silverstein founded PRO in 1993, after selling his multi-million dollar tool and hardware manufacturing company. Today, he facilitates PRO groups throughout the Chicago area and in Phoenix. He has facilitated over 1,000 such meetings to date, making him one of the leading authorities on business peer groups.

I’ve copied the story below but click here if you want the original post on Entrepreneur.com.

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What does it take to be a compelling business leader? We hear all this talk about leadership styles but, really, is any one style preferable to the others? In my observation, there is no single, universally superior leadership style.

That being said, there are some universal qualities that successful leaders share, including the ability to inspire trust, the vision to move a company forward, and the foresight to provide the training employees will need to realize that vision.

Inspiring trust is critical. People are not willing to recognize someone as their leader unless they trust them, not just intellectually, but ethically and morally as well. Likewise, people won’t follow someone unless they’re convinced that person knows where they’re going.

When ask to define their leadership style, entrepreneurs often reply, “I lead by example.” What they mean is, “I work long, hard hours and will take on any task.” Leading by example is terrific, but it’s not the be all and end all. Employees aren’t dumb. They can recognize effective activity versus meaningless busyness. That’s why one of my favorite pieces of leadership advice is “don’t do well what you shouldn’t do at all.”

I suspect that leading by example may sometimes mask a fear of letting go. A true leader doesn’t just inspire trust, he or she returns the favor, trusting those who follow. To lead effectively, you must overcome your fear of losing control and allow others to step in. When an employee sees the boss has confidence in him, he becomes more willing to accept responsibility, therefore making a greater contribution to the organization.

Ironically enough, true leaders understand that their business requires more than one leader; someone other than themselves. They know that, ideally, every employee within an organization should take the lead in some situations. And–here’s the kicker–true leaders assume responsibility for training and guiding their followers into leadership roles.

I have a friend, a business consultant, who likes to talks about “the three Ps”: program, process and people. The program is your vision, your plan. To achieve it, you need to develop a process that allows to you achieve the desired results consistently. To see the process through, you need the right people, people who trust your leadership.

In other words, real leadership is not necessarily doing (i.e. leading by example) but creating a process where average people can consistently achieve better-than-average results.

One of the toughest tests of leadership is the ability to make personnel changes. Rather than do so, too many entrepreneurs will accept mediocre performance. True leaders are willing to make sure they have the “right people on the bus,” even if it means ushering some people off. If you are willing to tolerate mediocrity, what does that say about your leadership style?

Over the years, I’ve encountered many leadership styles with interesting labels: The Benevolent Dictator, Rah-Rah Type, Open Book Manager, Theory X, Theory Y, Autocrat, and Team Builder, for example. They all offer certain pros and cons, which I’ll be discussing in more detail in future columns.

More importantly, regardless of what your leadership style is, it can work, providing you employ people who are comfortable with it. And, of course, who trust you.

One Year…

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If you were told an irrefutable truth that 1 year from now you would be dead, what would you do?

I know most would naturally ask, “How do I die?” For this moment look past that.

If you had one year left to live, what would you do? How would you spend your last year?

Would you wake up and go about in the same routine? Would you drag yourself out of bed and make your way to the job that you hate? Would you lock yourself in your house out of fear of the unknown? The questions abound: Do I go to church? Do I go back to church? Do I get angry at the world and plot to take people with me into the unknown?

Believe that for a moment there are no right or wrong answers.

If you could do anything, what would it be?

Where would you go? Who would you talk to? What new experiences would you try for the first… and last… time?

Would the grudges you have been holding for years suddenly seem so inconsequential? Would you lose all hope and end it now with the unknown an bearable given?

Could you find it in the deepest parts of yourself to embrace it and truly live life the way it was meant to be lived? Could you bring yourself to experience the unknown horizons and uncharted waters?

The truth is a truth that no one wants to admit: We do not know which day will be our last.

We make plans and build “toward the future” when in reality, our futures are never guaranteed. We are not promised a tomorrow. We are not promised success. We are promised nothing.

Here’s the damnable misery of it all: If we so choose, “nothing” is exactly what we will get out of life.

This is not an original concept at all. I am no philosopher. I am 26 year-old, small business owner. I don’t have a right or wrong answer for you. Only questions. So all I can speak about are my own experiences and thoughts.

The way I live my life is what most “logical” people call foolhardy. I think of my goals and dreams in terms of months, not years. I am defiant of the social-norm for life, love, and responsibility.

I am a family man through-and-through. They are a huge reason why I live the way I do. Don’t get me wrong, I try not to engage in foolish activities or unsafe practices (drugs, etc.), but I absolutely, without a doubt, live without reservation.

I have lost friends because of this. It’s sad. My heart truly breaks for the friends I’ve lost. Although I’ll offer an apology whenever someone believes that I have wronged them with my “stupid sense of urgency about all matters”, I do not apologize for wanting to embrace the life I have left.

However long that may be.

What about you? What would you do with your year? Where would you go? What do you think you would see? I honestly want to know, because you may give me a clue about where I’ll be headed.

Jonathan Fields, himself a family man and life renegade has a great blog up about making an impact. Do read it if you have a moment.

Neither of us invented these thoughts, but never the less these thoughts remain.

Let’s start sharing some thoughts on the subject…