I wrote an article (see here) that summed up the top 10 things I learnt in 10 years of business. They are still relevant and lessons being unlearnt and relearnt every day. In the last five years, as my life changed dramatically, parenting became front and centre, and the world changed around us, the lessons got harder, the challenges steeper and the insights more valuable.
Here are my top 15 lessons learnt.
- Business is people and people is the business. We can call it a million things, but it always comes back to this.
- You can’t go through something as significant as becoming a parent, losing a loved one, having an illness or experiencing trauma and think it won’t change the way you work, what you value and how you wish to spend your time.
- Business is personal (especially small business). We are making personal decisions all the time. Not paid that bill on time? That’s personal. Didn’t do something you said you would for a colleague? That’s personal. “It’s business not personal” is an idiom that belongs in the past.
- You can change your story (and that of your company) and change your life and those around you; in fact, it is the only way it is done.
- You can’t fake what you value. What you spend your time, money and energy on, reveals more than what you say.
- The answer is always to focus on living your ‘why’. Working to add value to your team, your company, your world, through your ‘why’ is the only strategy you really need.
- A ‘good idea’ is something that binds people and moves them forward together.
- Communication is still the life source of success in business and life. Most of our problems are due to a lack of it.
- Time away from work is essential to do good work.
- Giving honest advice is just as hard as receiving it. We need more empathy for those who have the courage to call out what is really going on.
- A good metaphor makes the distance between two people smaller.
- Working to change the fabric and culture of a sector or industry is both brutal work and a gift of immense proportions.
- There is no such thing as a project. Only people doing different things that inter-relate. Managing people is the project.
- Maya Angelou was right. People will always remember how you made them feel, over what you said. Those who acknowledge the emotion in the room, in the email or in the team and address it with empathy will be remembered fondly.
- The tenacity and courage of people who have had their livelihood and industry ripped out from underneath them is breath-taking. The awe I experienced witnessing the way many of my friends and colleagues dealt with – and continue to deal with – the impacts of the pandemic on their business and life has left an indelible mark on my heart.