I grew up in rural Ontario as a third generation farmer. I was home schooled in a small schoolhouse, and learned to work with my hands out in the fields by my mid teens. For my family, the objective in life was to lead a simple life. Looking back, I can trace much of my success back to the lessons I learned back then.
We learn by observing. I learned a lot growing up by observing my family do things and emulating them myself. Doing this over and over by repetition is what developed those skills more. There was no ego about what we did – the only way you got recognition was to do good work. And our mantra was “whatever you touch, make sure you leave it better than you found it.” It is a culture of controlling what you can control and not worrying about what you can’t.
The only choice I could make on a day to day basis was to pick what color I wore. Everything else was more or less determined by what everyone else was doing. And I learned that what represented me was the quality of my work. I only controlled a tiny percentage of my life and the results in it in that environment. For example, we can’t control the weather, the cost of what we need to farm, or the cost of the land we have to buy or rent. All those factors are very important in determining what our yield would be, and they were all out of our control. All we could control was the dedication we had to the quality of the work we did.
As an entrepreneur, you have a very different situation. You have control over the vast majority of variables that determine whether you will be successful. Unlike farming, you can choose to create an environment every day that gives you a greater likelihood of success (as opposed to being at the mercy of the weather, land prices, and other variables that you can’t affect.) And that’s where your POWER comes from.
Each of us has a choice to distinguish ourselves every day. At any given moment, you’re being one of two characters, and the decisions you make in that character determine what you do. And the more often you make that choice to be one way versus the other, the more those choices will influence what happens to you. Your choice is this: am I being a leader, or a victim?
What that boils down is whether you’re being proactive or reactive. Leaders are proactive; victims are reactive. If you make the decision to control what you can control and do what you can do, you’ll be proactively constructing your day instead of being reactive to what happens to you that day. Staying in a productive, proactive, responsible mindset is what makes you a leader and gets you to where you want to be. 99% of people don’t do this; they choose to be victims and let their circumstances dictate to them what they can achieve. They give the decision making power over their own lives to factors they choose not to control. And that’s not how to get to where you really want to be.
Most things will never go exactly the way you want them to. That’s life. You have to be clear about the things that aren’t in your control. But just because you can’t control certain variables in life doesn’t mean you have to let those things stop you! Stop being a victim, and just do it.
There’s any number of things you can choose to do today to proactively build the life you want for yourself. But you’ve got to have fun doing it. How do you structure your day to get things done and have fun? At the end of the day, if you’re not having fun with what you’re doing, you’re not going to be successful at it. Productive people find ways to have fun doing what they love, and the value of what you do will always be greater when you’re enjoying yourself as you do it.
Value is created by solving a problem and providing a solution. The awesome thing about being an entrepreneur is that we can create a benefit for ourselves out of thin air by solving problems for others. Entrepreneurs have the ability to change their lives and become successful because of the value they provide to others in the form of the problems they solve. Serve the needs of others, and your needs will be served in turn. That’s how you be a good leader and entrepreneur. And that’s how business should be!