4 life lessons that help you operate on a higher level
I genuinely feel that I’m operating at a higher level. I feel sharper in my thinking, more focused and purposeful in what I’m doing, I’m having richer conversations, and I’m more in the moment.
Why? Well, quite a lot of it is down to the FFWD pre-accelerator programme I’ve been doing, the tutoring phase of which has just come to a close. The 6 weeks of lectures and mentoring have been a fascinating experience for me, which I was keen to undertake for two reasons.
First, as someone looking to scale and optimise my own offering, all feedback and advice from informed people is very welcome.
And second, because founders and start-ups are a target audience for my business, I wanted to get to know some of them better. In sales, you can’t really help others address their pain points unless you’re prepared to really get in among the weeds and really understand your prospects challenges and priorities.
So here, beyond all the knowledge and skills we’re learning about what’s required to build a business, are four key takeaways that I think are relevant to anyone looking to operate on a higher level…
1. Learn to fail forward As someone who considers himself a professional and who works hard to get it right every single time, this programme has taught me that it’s not only OK to fail — it’s actually a crucial part of the learning process.
Week after week, we had to present our version of the previous week’s lecture as it relates to our new business. Very few people nailed it and no one got it 100% right. But I found that failing forward — embracing the feedback knowing that I have a lot to learn — is a vital part of my learning process.
It’s about embracing vulnerability as a strength, showing authenticity, stripping away the the ego mask, and getting on with solving the problem with a clear mind.
Some of the best leaders I have worked with demonstrate a level of vulnerability that results in them being completely OK with saying that they don’t know something. Don’t confuse this with being stupid: saying what you don’t know and being open to others’ ideas and feedback helps you learn quickly. And the day you stop learning, however senior you are, is the day you start dying.
2. Never neglect the power of the network When you’re focused on building a business on your own, it’s easy to forget how valuable it is to have others to bounce ideas off. But thanks to the programme, I have a whole new support network. I’ve personally benefited from this support both in terms of boosting my morale during tough times and in getting practical feedback and help in refining my Revcelerate proposition.
Seeing our group come together and how they have supported each other has been a great experience. Though I shall miss our regular get-togethers, I’ve forged several relationships that I know will develop and grow over the months and years to come.
While some people excel at relationship building, others have to work at it — but that doesn’t mean you have to be the most outgoing person in the world to build meaningful networks. The key in my opinion is to give more than you get. Often, just being there to listen makes all the difference.
3. Embrace openness One thing I’ve really noticed over the past few weeks is how amazingly open and supportive entrepreneurs are. I’ve met so many people working on building their own business and am amazed how willing they are to take time to share their experiences with me, and how open they are about what they are doing, what works and what does not.
It seems to me that being an entrepreneur is about operating on another level, a higher level in my opinion. And even if an entrepreneur is working on something that might compete with your offering, they are amazingly open because they know that even if you have the verbal playbook, it’s nothing without the execution.
It’s flipping hard to succeed, so if I can share knowledge and experience and in the process discover something about my ideas that help me shape them for the better too, then all good.
4. Eat some humble pie They say entrepreneurism is not a job but a way of life. But although I’ve worked in several startups with brilliant founders, you don’t really appreciate what it takes to build a business until you try and do it yourself.
The process of working with people who have been there and done it, as well as my great cohort friends that I’ve made on this journey, has made me realise that it pays to listen and support rather than to tell and instruct. I come away from this process a much more humble person and intend to hang on to that in the future.
Everyone has entrepreneurial traits, whether you’re innovating from within an established business, working on solving a sticky customer issue or forging out on your own to build something new. Perhaps the biggest takeaway for me is a whole new level of self-awareness that I’ve learned from meeting like-minded entrepreneurs who are willing to help each other. It’s lessons and behaviours like these that get things done — they’re helping me to up my game to a whole new level and they can do the same for you.