I have an idea to share with you today, from a weird combination of sources. It involves mistakes, birthdays and billionaires.
My friend Amy has a landmark birthday today. One of those birthdays with a zero at the end. She said she was now “officially old” and that it’s the first time she’s not felt like celebrating a birthday.
I offered her another way to look at things, as she was clearly feeling down.
- Imagine you’re just a penny away from becoming a billionaire. Nothing really changes on the day you earn that final penny. You were already pretty-much a billionaire and probably extremely wealthy for decades. You may feel different now you have that extra penny, but you’re just a penny richer than the day before. That’s all.
- Landmark birthdays work the same way. You may feel very different. In reality, you’re just a day older than yesterday. That’s all.
What does this kind of thinking have to do with business?
Every year in business, you make countless decisions, have thousands of conversations, give numerous presentations and send lots of proposals… it’s an almost endless stream of activity.
- When you make a poor decision, it’s just one decision.
- When you have an unproductive conversation, it’s just one conversation.
- When your proposal is rejected, it’s just one proposal.
- When a meeting doesn’t go the way you want it to, it’s just one meeting.
In the same way as the final penny doesn’t make you rich, and the day your age has a zero on the end doesn’t make you old, a negative commercial outcome must be seen in context.
- When you make a poor decision, learn from it and make better future decisions.
- When you have an unproductive conversation, unpack it and make the next one more productive.
- When your proposal is rejected, look for ways to make the next one stronger.
- When a meeting doesn’t go the way you want it to, review what happened and improve.
A recent failure does not define us as failures. The last penny doesn’t make us rich. And I hope Amy now has a very happy 20th birthday.