I recently stumbled upon the adage, “Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.” Although I’ve heard it at least a hundred times, it really caught my attention. The saying – one I believe to be very true based on my personal experiences – eloquently and succinctly expresses a complex philosophy in a single sentence.
Adages survive, becoming timeless and oft repeated because they are simple, easy to remember and, most importantly, right. Much like learning from the mistakes and successes of wiser business leaders, we can use these ageless lessons to help accelerate our own professional development.
1. Good things come to those who wait.
We’ve all read stories about the “overnight” success. Those are the companies that, out of nowhere, take the business world by storm and instantly grow revenue from zero to millions or billions. But more times than not, that growth spurt is the result of years of deliberate preparation and massive execution.
There are times you want to take quick action to capitalize on favorable business conditions but whatever the circumstances, grow at the right pace for your company.
2. Every dog has its day.
Most leaders face rejection along their professional journey, whether they were passed over for a promotion, lost out on a big sale or even let go from a job. Failure is not just a part of growth, it is necessary for growth.
Learning from these experiences is often the catalyst one needs to tackle more substantial challenges. When the chips don’t fall my way, I take solace that life always has a way of evening things out. I keep the faith during times of challenge, certain the ball must eventually bounce my way.
3. A chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
The theory of constraints recommends focusing mainly on strengthening weaknesses. My preference is play to your strengths, but when a flaw in a key area of your business is potentially exposing your entire operation, reinforcing there should be the priority.
4. A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.
“One day, I’m going to do….” How many times have we said or heard that phrase? The world is full of dreamers who don't reach their full potential because they never pushed themselves to begin moving toward their vision. The first step is often the most difficult, but nothing happens without it.
5. Don’t cry over spilt milk.
Handling adversity is a key to life. Many individuals and organizations are unable to deal with unexpected challenges because they can’t move past the gravity of previous failures. Winning teams and leaders, however, focus on what they can control – their future actions – instead of wallowing in the defeat of mistakes already made.