10 Life Lessons from 10 Years in Business

Wanting to bring something new to share at a recent London book launch, I wrote this list on a train. They are my experiences only, rather than ones where I attempt to speak for anyone else.

  1. Unhappiness can be a powerfully useful lever

While none of us ever wants to be miserable, if I had not been so unhappy as a school teacher I would never have had enough of a push to change. I would not have taken the time to read career books, take aptitude tests and be open to alternatives.

Being in the dumps can cause us pain to the extent that we are driven to seek something better. I wanted to believe that there was more to life than feeling mediocre.

  1. I am incredibly glad I didn’t give up and get a day job.

There were more times than I care to recall that I hoped I might be ‘rescued’ with a so-called real job (as if working for someone else assures long-term stability!). While it took me years perhaps, I’m glad I learned that ‘failure’ and ‘rejection’ are generally frequent stops along the way and often useful lessons or tests of resolve.

  1. I’m glad I brainwashed myself in the car listening to audio programmes and took the leap of faith that the ‘gurus’ were right

Having had no role models of business owners in my family, I owe a lot to the authors who wrote about following your passion, making mistakes and expecting setbacks. However, I had to hear this message over and over before their way of thinking became my way. Perhaps YEARS.

  1. Our beliefs and our picture of the future either mostly inspire or limit us – not our ability, intellect and personality.

For years I remember having what seemed like completely unrealistic visions of the future. I remember in 2004 having a piece of paper hanging from my kitchen wall that proclaimed in black marker pen that I was an international speaker and best-selling author. This felt mostly like a complete pipe dream. Fantasy. While true 6-8 years later, back then I was lucky to get a free speaking gig at a local Rotary club.

I wanted it then, I doubted it frequently and pictured it fairly often. Understanding the power of what you believe and what you picture for your future is worth spending your time on.

  1. Business is more fun when you’re as true to yourself as you know how.

Being really transparent and myself with others in business settings has not been easy for me. I don’t think I grew up in a culture that encouraged it so I spent years keeping my cards and my personality close to my chest.

I admire Gen Y-ers who seem to have little issue with being more comfortable in public with who they really are.

  1. Family may not be the first ones standing but they’re the last.

My family thought I was crazy giving up on teaching just three years after getting my Masters in Education. I was impressed I had lasted three given how unenjoyable my life had become!

But in time I have drawn great support from my family. It is ‘friends’ living an unchanging professional life that have dropped off over the years as my business has grown. Much of that may be my fault but what I’ve learned is that I want to be around people who support and encourage me to grow, not ones where I feel apologetic for what I’ve accomplished or having to play down things I’m proud of.

  1. A love of learning is a big competitive advantage

I am surprised how few people read, attend conferences and/or apply new things they’ve learned. This one habit has helped me set myself apart on many occasions. And much of it was from someone else’s book. You can do the same.

  1. Don’t wait seven years to improve/address your personal life

It’s not necessary. I created silly beliefs about dating and fun that resulted in me becoming a workaholic to numb the pain. Please don’t make the same mistake. And don’t try to figure it out on your own or – interestingly – only by reading books.

  1. It’s worth learning how to fake that you don’t need business

While you can’t fake your enthusiasm for what you do, I am quite sure there are times when (maybe) all of us have to pretend that business is great, that we don’t need more and that we just like helping people – even though we DO need business really badly!

It’s worth being able to develop that casual tone when prospecting that is concerned and persistent but not needy.

  1. Ask for help.

You can’t live long enough to figure everything out yourself. Nor will you do it very well. I still find this hard at times but always know when I am doing something that’s not my strength and it’s never enjoyable.

Please forward this on.

Author: Matt Anderson, The Referral Authority, Author of international bestseller: Fearless Referrals


Copyright 2012


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