My son turned 3 recently. I know it’s a bit early to teach him about business and life lessons — but it’s never too early to start thinking about it. And besides, he’s already starting to show entrepreneurial tendencies — he hates not knowing how to do things, and he never gives up.
Here are the things I hope to instill in my child someday.
1. Gather knowledge… but also gather knowledgeable people.
You can’t know everything. But you can know enough smart people that together collectively know most of what you need to know.
Work hard on getting smarter. Work harder on getting smart people on your side.
Together, you will be able to do almost anything.
2. The memory of work disappears like the memory of pain – all anyone remembers are results.
Experience is valuable – to you. Experience yields skill and skill helps you do things and get results. These results are what other people care really care about.
Focus on racking up achievements, not just years of service.
3. Take responsibility for outcomes.
Occasionally someone will intentionally try to screw you, but a lot more often you’ll do things to screw yourself. Learn to take responsibility when something doesn’t go well… and then to immediately start thinking of ways you will do better next time.
4. Share credit for accomplishments.
Most of your great accomplishments will be the result of both your efforts and those of others. Learn to recognize this — and share the credit.
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The more you are willing to share credit for great accomplishments, the more you will achieve great things.
5. Celebrate your achievements, then move on.
When you achieve something, it’s important to take a moment, reflect — and even celebrate sometimes. But, don’t bask too long in the glow of success. Be gracious, be appreciative, be thankful… but always feel you could do even better.
6. Don’t expect life to be fair. Life just is.
You will often think “That’s just not fair…” especially when you didn’t get your way or things didn’t turn out like you hoped.
You should always treat people fairly. You should expect to be treated fairly. But don’t be surprised when you aren’t treated fairly.
Never expect life to be fair. To paraphrase Yoda, “Do or not do. There is no fair.”
You may not always receive what you put in, but roughly speaking the more you put in the more you will receive. Which is fair enough.
7. See ‘boring’ as a springboard to success.
What appears to be the boring thing to do is almost always the responsible thing to do. What seems like drudgery actually builds the foundation for success. The people who achieve the most do a lot more of the boring stuff.
Routine, rigor, attention to detail, chugging away day after day… those are the path to eventual success. Elite athletes? They’ve put in thousands of hours working on fundamentals. Elite entertainers? They’ve put in thousands of hours of practice.
Successful businesspeople? They’ve put in thousands of hours of effort and hard, often tedious work.
Do the tedious, mundane, “ordinary” stuff better than anyone else – that’s what will make you great.
8. Don’t think you’ll always get a trophy.
Everyone doesn’t deserve recognition. Everyone doesn’t deserve praise. We don’t all deserve awards.
Think of it this way: Do you praise everyone you know?
If you want a trophy, earn a trophy.
You’ll enjoy it a lot more than any of those participation trophies you tossed in your closet.
9. Don’t expect someone else to boost your self esteem.
No one will automatically believe in you. Why should they if you haven’t done anything yet?
If you want to feel great about yourself, achieve something great. In the meantime, use any feelings of inadequacy to make you work harder. Instead of complaining, put your head down, work hard and prove everyone wrong.
Why do you think so many “outcasts” wind up being so successful? They have something to prove.
Go prove yourself – especially to yourself.
10. Understand that amazing overnight success is amazingly rare. And overrated.
As Mark Cuban says, everyone envies the overnight successes, but no one envies the five years in the garage that led to “overnight” success.
And even if you could strike gold in a few months, are you prepared to manage that gold? Early struggles, effort, and desperation forms a valuable foundation that gives you the skills to maintain long-term success – and gives you the fortitude to handle adversity.
Because there will always be adversity.
11. Know when to stand-out and when to fit in.
School was in part a journey of discovery and exploration. (That’s why you got to take electives.) School was designed to help you figure out who you are.
School’s out. No one will help you find yourself. They want to find out how you can help them.
Learn to be part of a team and to fit in when necessary. Once you do, the people around you will be more than happy for your individuality to start shining through.
12. Count yourself lucky to have 3 or 4 great friends.
Social networks are fun, but your real friends are the people who will take your calls at 4 in the morning. And actually listen to you.
And actually help you.
Work hard to find them. Work harder to keep them.
Dharmesh Shah is founder/CTO at HubSpot and blogs at OnStartups.com. You can also follow him on twitter — @dharmesh