As any veteran CEO, manager and entrepreneur knows, there are many business lessons to be learned—and many of them can only be learned the hard way. While we’d all love to experience instant success, we learn so much more when we mess up, pick ourselves off the ground, and try again. That said, there’s nothing wrong with receiving advice that helps take some of the bite out of muddling through day-to-day business. From smarter negotiations to enhanced productivity, here are five essential maxims on leadership, sales, time management and other vital topics that will change your life.
There’s no such thing as failure. It’s funny how many successful people won’t mention the multitude of failures they experienced before reaching the top. Don’t get discouraged: You’ll be greeted with a lot of hardship, but at the end of the day, perseverance is a very big part of success. Failure is just another word for ‘learning opportunity,’ and a temporary state—try, observe and react until you get things right. Let others laugh at your misfortune: While you’re busy learning, they’ll quickly become an unwitting punchline.
Start with the finish in mind. Success requires a roadmap. Figure out your ultimate goals, and prioritize tasks every single day that get you there. Never forget where you’re headed, constantly re-assess your end desires, and make sure all your strategies align with that goal.
Time is your most important asset. Always work towards your desired objectives. Don’t organize your tasks according to what’s most urgent—rather, focus on the most important ones that will get you to your goal more quickly. The general sentiment in the business world is “Busy is good,” but that’s not necessarily true. You need to consider whether you’re expending precious energy to power someone else’s desired outcomes.
Either you’re essential, or you’re expendable. It’s critical that you keep your skills sharp and stay in the know regarding trends in your industry and what’s going on in the world. Carving 30-60 minutes out every morning to read a book, research new insights or reach out to prospective contacts can make a world of difference in your ability to keep yourself up-to-date.
You get what you negotiate. Everything in life—even arguing with your kids to try and make them see the importance of doing their homework—is a negotiation. But not all relationships are equally weighted. All too often we go to the bargaining table and snatch up the first offer that’s shoved in our faces. You, as the negotiator, need leverage in order to help you advance. Luckily, there are many forms of equity that can help us bargain from a position of equality, including financial, professional, or educational. Above all else, don’t be afraid to ask for something you desire: While it won’t always be given, if you never even make the attempt, you’ll never get what you want.