He came, he saw, he conquered...and he left behind some words to live by:
1. “I’m convinced that about half of what separates successful entrepreneurs from the non-successful ones is pure perseverance.”
Everyone says they go the extra mile. Almost no one actually does. Most people who do go there think, “Wait...no one else is here...why am I doing this?” And they leave, never to return.
That’s why the extra mile is such a lonely place.
That’s also why the extra mile is a place filled with opportunities.
Be early. Stay late. Make the extra phone call. Send the extra email. Do the extra research. Help a customer unload or unpack a shipment.
Don’t wait to be asked—offer. Don’t just tell employees what to do—show them what to do, and work beside them.
Every time you do something, think of one extra thing you can do, especially if other people aren’t doing that extra thing.
Sure, it’s hard. But that’s what will make you different. And over time, that’s what will make you incredibly successful.
2. “My favorite things in life don’t cost any money. It’s really clear that the most precious resource we all have is time.”
Deadlines and time frames establish parameters, but usually not in a good way. Most people given two weeks to complete a task will instinctively adjust their effort so it actually takes two weeks—even if it shouldn’t.
So forget deadlines, at least as a way to manage your activity. Tasks should only take as long as they need to take. Do everything as quickly and effectively as you can. Then, use your “free” time to get other things done just as quickly and effectively.
Average people allow time to impose its will on them; exceptional people impose their will on their time.
3. “My model for business is The Beatles. They were four guys who kept each other’s kind of negative tendencies in check. They balanced each other, and the total was greater than the sum of the parts. That’s how I see business: Great things in business are never done by one person, they’re done by a team of people.”
Some of your employees drive you nuts. Some of your customers are obnoxious. Some of your friends are selfish, all-about-me jerks.
Stop whining. You chose them.
If the people around you make you unhappy, it’s not their fault. It’s your fault. They’re in your professional or personal life because you drew them to you—and you let them remain.
Think about the type of people you want to work with. Think about the types of customers you would enjoy serving. Think about the friends you want to have.
Then change what you do so you can start attracting those people. Hardworking people want to work with hardworking people. Kind people like to associate with kind people. Exceptional employees want to work for exceptional bosses.
Be the best you can be, and work to surround yourself with people who are even better.
4. “Sometimes when you innovate, you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations.”
Ask most people why they have been successful. Their answers will be filled with personal pronouns like “I” and “me.” Only occasionally will you hear “we.”
Then ask them why they failed. Most will revert to childhood and instinctively distance themselves, like a kid who says, “My toy got broken...” instead of, “I broke my toy.” They’ll say the economy tanked. They’ll say the market wasn’t ready. They’ll say their suppliers couldn’t keep up.
They’ll say it was someone or something else.
And by distancing themselves, they don’t learn from their failures.
Occasionally, something completely outside our control will cause us to fail. Most of the time, though, it’s us. And that’s OK. Every successful person has failed. Numerous times. Most of them have failed a lot more often than we have. That’s why they’re successful now.
Embrace every failure. Own it, learn from it, and take full responsibility for making sure that next time, things will turn out differently.
5. “Your work is going to fill a large part of your life, and the only way to be truly satisfied is to do what you believe is great work. And the only way to do great work is to love what you do. If you haven’t found it yet, keep looking. Don’t settle. As with all matters of the heart, you’ll know when you find it.”
Don’t know what you’re passionate about? No problem. Pick something interesting. Pick something financially viable—something people will pay you to do or provide.
Then work hard. Improve your skills, whether at managing, selling, creating, implementing...whatever expertise your business requires. The satisfaction and fulfillment of small victories will give you the motivation to keep working hard. Small victories will motivate you to further develop your skills.
The satisfaction of achieving one level of success will spur you on to gain the skills to reach the next level, and the next, and the next.
And one day, you will wake up feeling incredibly fulfilled—because you’re doing great work, work you’ve grown to love.
6. “Innovation distinguishes between a leader and a follower.”
Ideas without action aren’t ideas.
Every day, most people let hesitation and uncertainty stop them from acting on an idea. (Fear of the unknown and fear of failure are often what stop me, and they may be what stop you, too.)
Think about a few of the ideas you’ve had, whether for a new business, a new career, or even just a part-time job.
In retrospect, how many of your ideas could have turned out well, especially if you had given it your absolute best? Would a decent percentage have turned out well?
My guess is, probably so—so start trusting your analysis, your judgment, and even your instincts a little more.
You certainly won’t get it right all the time, but if you do nothing and allow your ideas to become regrets...you will always get it wrong.
7. “Bottom line is, I didn’t return to Apple to make a fortune. I’ve been very lucky in my life and already have one. When I was 25, my net worth was $100 million or so. I decided then that I wasn’t going to let it ruin my life. There’s no way you could ever spend it all, and I don’t view wealth as something that validates my intelligence.”
Money is important. Money does a lot of things. (One of the most important is to create choices.)
But after a certain point, money doesn’t make people happier. After about $75,000 a year, money doesn’t buy more (or less) happiness. “Beyond $75,000...higher income is neither the road to experience happiness nor the road to relief of unhappiness or stress,” says a study published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.
And if you don’t buy that, here’s another take: “The materialistic drive and satisfaction with life are negatively related.” (In layman’s terms, “Chasing possessions tends to make you less happy.”)
Think of it as the bigger house syndrome. You want a bigger house. You need a bigger house. (Not really, but it sure feels like you do.) So you buy it. Life is good...until a couple months later, when your bigger house is now just your house.
New always becomes the new normal.
That’s because “things” only provide momentary bursts of happiness. To be happier, don’t chase as many things. Chase experiences.
Someday you won’t remember what you had, but you’ll never forget what you did.
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Photo courtesy of Joi Ito.