When you work in business as long as I have, you pick up a lot of sayings, clichés, idioms, what have you that can be useful to drive points home or make analogies. Some get practically beaten to a pulp (No one’s “thinking outside the box” anymore), but others can really stick with you and ultimately start shaping who you are as a professional.
Maybe it’s due to being a child from Kentucky, but I’ve always loved leaning on some of the sayings I’ve picked up over the years. I honestly can’t remember whether these were said to me or whether I conjured them myself, but regardless I’d like to share with you three sayings that have helped shape my career:
1) Be right, be wrong, but never be in doubt.
Confidence is a powerful force. While often mistaken for arrogance, I’ve found that living a confident life can take you very far both personally and professionally.
Ultimately, confidence is about being able to commit to things and not let fear hinder your ability to make decisions and execute on new ideas. Are you going to fail sometimes? Of course! We all do. But every failure is a learning opportunity, and no one’s found success by merely riding the fence. You’ve got to pick a direction and run in it.
2) A finish line is just a moment.
If you want to better yourself, whether it’s personally or professionally, you need to accept a simple truth: every finish line is just a moment. A happy moment, a celebratory moment? Of course. But a moment is all it is. Give it its due fanfare, then start work on finding the next mountain to climb.
Throughout my career, I’ve always chased that next challenge—it’s one of the primary drivers behind my entrepreneurial spirit. Whether it’s starting a new company, building and launching new products or simply reimagining how we operate, I never allow myself much time to rest. You can never let yourself get lulled into professional complacency by thinking that if you could just get over that next horizon, you can let yourself rest. The truly successful never rest; they merely take a breath while already planning their next race.
3) Sometimes you’ve got to touch the stove.
(Please don’t take this one literally.)
I’ve always tried to push the boundaries when building companies and testing out new ideas, products and strategies. Sometimes you know deep in your heart that something is likely not going to work but you’ve just got to try. You have to test the edges. You know the stove is going to be hot, but curiosity gets the better of you and you touch it anyways.
You may not always get burned, but if you do then you’ve learned something about yourself and your ideas. And learning is the name of the game, folks; every decision you ever make in life will be shaped by what you’ve learned from your past failures and successes. I still learn new things every single day I come into the office.
I hope you’ve found these sayings useful. While some of you may regard them as kitschy, there are deep-rooted truths behind some of the clichés we turn to that can often get overlooked.
Do you have favorite sayings of your own, ones that have helped shape your life? Share them with me in the comments below or tweet me @bolandjones.