In my mid twenties, I didn’t know very many really successful people. Despite my parents regularly reminding me that you have to choose the right friends and mix with the right people if you want to get anywhere, I wasn’t really exposed to much of an entrepreneur mindset.
Oh sure, I knew some business people, but their thinking revolved mainly around making enough cash to live on. There was no focus on building asset value or tax minimisation.
Then I met someone who opened my eyes – even though it took me a long time to realise the influence he had on me. This person was a highly successful Australian sportsperson. A household name now, you’d know him from his TV work. My accountant at the time introduced us both into a small venture, which taught me more than I realised at the time.
There were a number of things that struck me as a little strange about this person – and all the people he associated with – given my limited experience to date.
Firstly, they were extraordinarily happy. Even though they were working hard, they were enjoying the journey and seemed to appreciate the little things in each day. They didn’t talk about the past. Their focus was on the present and how that would affect the future. They were successful, but at the same time humble and grateful for the opportunities that life had given them.
This was at odds with what I had been accustomed to. Whilst I knew some reasonably successful business people, they seemed to be constantly groaning under the burden of their efforts. Some were bitter about things that had happened in the past – sometimes the dim distant past – and held onto grudges of relationships or deals gone bad. Some were arrogant about their success and used it to position themselves as somehow superior to those who were just working to carve out a living for themselves and their families.
In contrast, my new associates were much more down to earth. No doubt they were big thinkers who knew they had lots to offer, but were more interested in adding value than feeding their egos. They weren’t just focused on our business, but on the good that it could do and the contribution it could make.
There were other qualities too.
They were more disciplined than most. Maybe it was the rigours of training and competition that taught them that focus on the goal is critical. With each goal firmly in mind, working on the right things, teamwork, repetition, systems and processes became the drivers of success.
They weren’t afraid of problems. In fact, they seemed to relish facing and solving them. It was a different mindset; one that seemed to know that problems were just part of the journey. It was almost a game to overcome them. Importantly, they encouraged everyone around them to do the same. Coaching came naturally and they made great mentors, sharing their knowledge and positivity with the others in their team.
No matter how many issues, setbacks or challenges, they seemed to have the ability to stay positive. Rather than throw their hands up in frustration or change direction, their response was usually along the lines of, “that’s interesting, how can we fix that?” Somehow, they seemed to have the ability to stay relaxed and focused, even when the stress levels should have been high.
These people were fun to be around because they were excited, motivated, and passionate about what they do. Never once did I hear one of them moan about having to work late or it being Monday morning. They didn’t see their business as work. It was more about who they are, than what they do.
It seems to me that these qualities are just as important as they ever were – maybe even more so! Successful people still display the same characteristics and put them to good use each day in building their wealth.