Abraham Lincoln once said, “I will prepare and some day my chance will come.” And for Lincoln, the opportunities did come in large part because he created them. He was known for his hard work and determination. But it all started with two things: his willingness to prepare and his understanding that opportunities will present themselves.
A few weeks ago, the San Francisco 49ers, with the 131st pick in the NFL draft, chose Marcus Lattimore, a running back out of the University of South Carolina. Considered by many to be the most talented running back in the 2013 draft, Lattimore wasn’t chosen until the fourth round because he had suffered not one but two knee injuries while in college. So while he possessed the talent, there was some question about whether he would ever be able to demonstrate it on Sunday afternoons in the NFL.
My oldest graduated from college this weekend. In addition to reminding me that I am, indeed, getting older, it caused me to consider what sage career and life advice I might have for him. My first thought was that I had the order of those two things reversed—that I should be providing him advice on life first and career second.
I was traveling last week and had tossed a couple of recent copies of Harvard Business Review (HBR) into my briefcase before leaving home. So on the plane, I dutifully grabbed the April issue and was greeted by a cover that said, “We Studied 25,453 Companies over 44 Years to Find the 3 Rules for Success.” As was HBR’s intention, they had my attention.
Finish every day and be done with it. You have done what you could. Some blunders and absurdities no doubt crept in; forget them as soon as you can. Tomorrow is a new day. Begin it well and serenely with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.
—Ralph Waldo Emerson
I’ve been reading Tell My Sons . . . by Lieutenant Colonel Mark Weber. The book is filled with the life lessons he has learned. After a routine Army physical revealed he had stage IV intestinal cancer, he began a battle for his life that he ultimately will lose. When he realized he wouldn’t be able to conquer his cancer, he began writing a letter to his three sons, which became this book.
I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.
If you’re like many, you have been watching the NCAA basketball tournament. And if you’re one of the lucky few, you might be on top of the leader board in your office pool or your team might be one of the Final Four.
When I was 12 years old, my family moved from Milwaukee to a small town in Iowa. How small? Well, we didn’t have a McDonald’s or even a single traffic light. On our first day in town, my brother, who was and continues to be a year younger than I, walked four blocks with me to the small grocery store that sat on Main Street. Our mother had sent us down to pick up a few items to feed the team of movers who were diligently unloading our belongings.
While in the store, we were approached by a very kind woman who happened to know exactly who we were. “You must be the new pastor’s sons,” she said. “I work up at the school. Why don’t you let me take you up there and show you around?” My brother and I quickly—and hopefully politely—countered that we had to get back home with the groceries for our mother.
Over the weekend, an adaptation of The Wizard of Oz was released. If you’re like me, you grew up watching the 1939 classic. The new film got me thinking about those wonderful characters created by L. Frank Baum. There’s the Cowardly Lion, the Scarecrow, the Tin Man, and of course Dorothy. Each one is etched into my memory from years of watching the film, even if I had to cover my eyes when the evil Wicked Witch of the West appeared on the screen.
As with many movies, there is much to be learned as a manager and employee from the characters in The Wizard of Oz. Each one teaches us something about what it takes to be a productive and successful businessperson.