A bazillion years ago someone said to me “David, do you know the difference between wisdom and experience” This was one of those poseurs a bit like as I was last month about the difference between leadership and management or as my daughter Minnie asked me what’s the difference between tangerines and satsumas or was it a clementine?!?!?
I am meant to know, anyway and as usual I talked without taking breath for about 15mins whilst my inquisitor (in all cases, yes Minnie too) screwed up their face. So the difference between wisdom and knowledge as regular readers of my blog will testify…. Ha !! is; Experience is your own personal encounters that form knowledge and decision making whether in life or business, whilst Wisdom is observing someone else fail OR succeed and learning from that. As my accountant can testify that is a more cost-effective and time-efficient way to go through your business life. He is very wise my accountant and he will probably say that wisdom is definitely tax-deductible.
If I am being honest, dear reader, I think it has taken far too many years for me to realise that you have to take learnings from both successes and failures as well as keeping stones in your pockets whilst inside your glasshouse when laughing at others short-comings. I wish I could have told the 27yr old newly married embarking on a new career to do exactly that. Hey-ho !
So can I encompass some of what is the way to shortcut the shortcut to success and more importantly is it a 550 page tome on the New York Bestseller list. The answer is Yes to the first and No I won’t be writing a book anytime soon. So I can distil it down to my 5, let know if you have a 6th and/or if you vehemently disagree or agree with me. I love a bit of feedback.
So here goes…… first up is….
Accepting mistakes: An old business adage is “Show me someone who never made a mistake and I’ll show you a failure” True !! We have done three pivots this year, 2 awful ideas and 1 a cool one. That’s life.
Be reflective NOT critical: Another old saying is “They don’t build statues to critics” This is so true, as I walk up Wembley Way and see Bobby Moore at the front of the stadium with his arms aloft he is not surrounded by statues of disgruntled fans or tv pundits. Critiqueing things is good, character assasinations and sarcastic barbs mean you can’t be learning. I have worked with two people who had a huge impact on my ability to reflect, assess situations. I look back and both of them would be what we would now call Contrarians. I think always being in that mode makes you hard to work with but trying to view things from different angles, particularly when projects go wrong or hiring results in failure or a customer relationship goes bad is paramount.
You can always extract a positive: My wife says I am relentless positive, full of energy. I never know who she is comparing me to but I think I get what she means. I think no matter what has happened, I avoid a witchhunt, resolve the situation and ensure it never happens again. I spoke to someone earlier in the year where we’d had a problem with a contractor, it was the oddest sequence of events and resulted in a financial hit. It would be really easy to say (as this person said) That will never, ever happen again but I said it will and worse, we can only control our own universe. Very sage-like of course but I know it to be true. What was way more important to me was 1) putting in a process to mitigate it in the future and 2) our people learned from it and could spot it on the horizon rather than after the event
Be Curious: I have this debate all the time, are you born curious or is it a learned skill. I am not sure but you can definitely be more inquisitive. I find the term ‘continous improvement’ a little exhausting but from a self-development perspective, it is the way home. Be Curious.
Avoid Witchhunts: or as it is sometimes called “…the blame game…” It clouds judgement and is too binary – hero – villain, good v evil. Life is not like that and is not black or white but more importantly you lose the perspective to improve and turn your failures into learnings and future success.
Have a great festive break and I look forward to catching up again in ‘21