AgendaMeditations on Business 

Meditations on Business 

Some thoughts from today’s thought Gurus

A while ago I was given a book called Meditations.  It was written by Emperor Marcus Aurelius around 160AD and is a collection of thoughts on how to live a good life.  It is well worth googling.  When Gallery asked for contributions, I wanted to help but didn’t know what I had to say that was really that interesting without breaking client confidentiality!  

Over the past 15 years though, I have done thousands of hours of research into what makes businesses and careers successful and I thought why not share some of the most useful “meditations” I’ve seen. 

“If we realized the pain and suffering [involved] and just how vulnerable you’re going to feel, the challenges that you’re going to endure…and the list of all the things that go wrong—I don’t think anybody would start a company.  Nobody in their right mind would do it” – Elon Musk 

It’s surprising to see how few children want to take over from their parents.  Perhaps it shouldn’t be though.  They have seen the long hours, client demands, painful employee exits and “often online” holidays up close – so perhaps they are the clever ones!  That said, it’s staggering the number of people wanting to leave well paid jobs in finance for something less regulated and more local.  Where is the balance between money and stress?  Is it the “journey or the destination”? 

“People with high expectations have low resilience, and resilience matters in success… I don’t know how to teach it to you except for… greatness comes from character & character… is formed out of [suffering]… I wish upon you ample doses of pain & suffering” – Jensen Huang 

That’s harsh Jensen!  

Billie Ocean said it best: “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”.  All the successful people I know find the energy to take on the world each morning despite the setbacks they know are coming. Still, “I wish you ample doses of pain & suffering”. Ouch. 

“If everything is important, then nothing is”Patrick Lencioni 

Lencioni’s business, The Table Group, focus on organisational health. The corporate values identified determine how everyone behaves in the business.  If you work for The Table Group they will fire you for breaking one of their corporate values.  They encourage their clients to do the same and as a result only have values which they truly believe in.

They want businesses to only have values which they are willing to lose high performers for violating.  How many would that be in any business? 

“Everything going wrong in your business is your fault” – Michael Gerber 

When I first read this my response was “no it’s not, shut up Michael it’s everyone else’s fault”!  When I understood though, that if it’s my fault I can do something about it, I turned from victim to master of my own destiny. 

“Facts don’t care about your feelings” – Ben Shapiro 

Most struggling business owners I’ve met believe they know everything about their business.  Its margins, its performance and its (lack of) growth but then rely on what’s in their bank account at any one time to define success.  Those who’ve had excellent management accounts, which regularly provoke change, know this is nonsense and that they achieve more with ambitious written goals and performance indicators. 

“Compare yourself to who you were yesterday not who someone else is today” – Jordan Peterson 

The most successful people I’ve met reflect on the past, look after the present and work towards a clearly defined better future.   They don’t dwell on what the competition is doing and look to make consistent progress in how they deliver to customers, look after team members and create a more valuable business in the future. 

“I should watch less YouTube” Luke Smith 

The whole concept of this article is a little pretentious and it’s clear the algorithm is selecting “right of centre old white men” for me to watch.  It is though my only intention to give those wanting to improve their work life some things to ponder.  

When it comes to small business, 20 years ago I believed I knew better than everyone else and my colleagues will tell you I still believe that (!), but continuous learning has helped me with my working life and I hope this article acts as a catalyst on your learning journey. 

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