I remember as a young twenty one year old I would look across at my manager on the desk behind me. I wanted her job. She hardly looked busy. I could put my feet up on the desk and perhaps fall asleep for a wage of over 5,000 extra per year. Being a manager always seemed like a walk in the park; people would give you respect and you would tell them what to do.
I was thirty-four and eyeing my business associate with surprised eyes, almost hurt-like. I sat in shock, mouth agape, as that all too familiar coldness in my ball-sack came rushing back. I listened in horror as my colleague rolled off all that was wrong with my piece of work that I had handed to her in a meeting. Our manager had asked every one of us to give their opinions on each others projects. A kind of team bonding exercise, but for me it was like someone had taken a sledgehammer to my fucking temple. I didn’t say much as I gulped loudly, perhaps a timid thank you, and went off to list all the comments in my mind that she made, to be reviewed when I was back at my desk.
Three weeks I had worked in this job and already I was being shouted at were the kind of thoughts that were running through my head. I mean I thought my work was amazing and now I was being told by someone that had no power over me to rethink what I was doing. She was right though, the changes she thought would improve my branding was in fact some really fantastic ideas. A curve that I hadn’t thought off before, and now I was having to swallow my pride and make the changes for the greater good. I always hated having to swallow my pride. Until I got used to it of course.
A good businessman swallows his pride for the greater benefit of the goals of his company/project. Swallowing my pride was never personal though. I can remember walking a few of my team members home after work, or giving them a lift in my car and they were always jovial and nice — but when that work clock slammed down to begin the day it was all seriousness and no messing.
I had to roll with the punches when I began my business life. I had to learn when to be direct but also when to be soft. Being soft and gentle was easy for me but giving and taking directness wasn’t my strongest suit in life, but I reached my destination in the end. I was never one for handling conflict well; mostly I’d run away and hide under the blankets where no-one could find me. At some point in my life I had to learn to be fierce though, and that came at a price because it wasn’t easy. The price was forcing myself into incredibly uncomfortable situations; daring myself to stand up and talk to 1000+ people, sitting in a room being scolded and having no option but to stand up for myself in a respectful way. Situations that were it just five years ago I would have quit on the spot and found something else, but I was determined to beat it. I had shied away from conflict for too long.
Yeah, business isn’t easy. I remember back to my youth when I’d look at my manager and chuckle to myself that she did not much and her job was super easy, but now I understand that she was responsible for moving people and that’s an entirely different ball game altogether. The amount of times I have left for home worrying about someone because of an issue they might have at work, or at home, and how the hell am I going to solve it for them? Was many. Being a good businessman isn’t just about getting the highest figures it’s about running a well-oiled team. If my team isn’t well oiled enough then I am not getting the highest figures. We always had a saying at work: invest in your team, and they will give that back ten fold.
Personal development is a great tool in business. If I am constantly growing with the business then I am modelling great behaviour to my team and our customers. I always had my head buried deep in some form of learning. I enjoy expanding my knowledge. Those barriers were removed from me a long time ago. I realised that learning was a fun and enjoyable thing to do, and rewarding at times too. A good manager can make you feel that the whole world is at your grasp. I had such a manager. In fact, that’s how I survived through the turmoil and grew immensely. I watched and learned from my manager.
I started off my online journey back in the beginning of 2015 with a good few contacts under my belt. I remember that we all got into writing and networking together. There was a good twenty to thirty of us. I’m sad to say that most of them have gone back to work normal jobs. It’s not their fault of course, it’s just that their expectations didn’t meet the reality of the situation, and people need to eat if they haven’t any savings, right?
Business is tough, it takes no prisoners, and sometimes you have to spread yourself thin to meet the right people. You have to hold no judgements either because you’ll never know what’s going on in someone’s personal life to make them say the things that they do. It’s never personal; they are just trying to make sense of the world in the same way as you are. Try and work with people, not against them. It’s better to have an ally than someone that’s intent on fucking you up!
So when you’re ready to start the big journey of change please remember my five essential pieces of advice. Swallow your pride, get your sleeping bag because it’s a long haul to success, business is never personal, learn (and fail) constantly, and most importantly respect others. With these three snippets you’re onto a winner!
Good luck my friend!