25 Key pieces of advice for everyone in business
No matter what they say, no-one is at the top of their game all the time.
And yet that’s what being in business requires of you; to be as sharp at 7am as you are at 10pm, directly after a difficult phone call with a demanding client, or when there are tough business decisions to be made.
That’s when you need to remember that you’re not the first who’s felt the pressure, and you certainly won’t be the last.
Generally we’d agree that when your back’s against the wall, being told that someone else is suffering at least as much as you is of scant help – but other people’s experience can give you a fresh perspective and renewed vigour for the task in hand. That’s why we’d like to share these 25 pieces of insight from people who’ve been there before. We hope they lift your day and give you the power to be the kind of person you know, deep inside, you have the potential to be.
These comments are our selection from many thousands of possibilities. It doesn’t mean they’re the best, or the most appropriate, but we think they have influence. The theme that runs through them is that they have something to say not only about making a better business, but improving your inner wellness.
It might seem odd that we start by talking about failure, but there’s a reason for that. It’s when you most need someone to say: “OK, you lost that battle. How are you going to win the next one?”
1. Everyone gets knocked back. No one rises smoothly to the top without hindrance. The ones who succeed are those who say right; let’s give it another go. James Dyson, inventor
2. Failure is only an opportunity to begin again, only this time more wisely. Henry Ford, motor magnate
3. Success is not final. Failure is not fatal. It is the courage to continue that counts. Sir Winston Churchill, politician
4. Sometimes by losing the battle you find a new way to win the war. Donald Trump, entrepreneur
5. It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default. JK Rowling, author
6. Sometimes when you innovate you make mistakes. It is best to admit them quickly, and get on with improving your other innovations. Steve Jobs, founder of Apple
7. It is no good getting furious if you get stuck. What I do is keep thinking about the problem but work on something else. Sometimes it is years before I see the way forward. In the case of information loss and black holes, it was 29 years. Stephen Hawking, physicist
8. Success is the result of perfection hard work, learning from failure, loyalty and persistence. Colin Powell, politician
9. Yesterday’s home runs don’t win today’s games. Babe Ruth, baseball player
10. My dad said to me: ‘Work hard and be patient.’ It was the best advice he ever gave me. You have to put the hours in.” Simon Cowell, music producer
11. Behind every no entry sign there’s a door. Peter Jones, businessman and TV dragon
12. Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work. Thomas Edison, inventor
13. Working hard is important. You’re not going to get anywhere without working extremely hard. George Lucas, creator of the Star Wars franchise
14. You are capable of more than you know. Choose a goal that seems right for you and strive to be the best, however hard the path. Aim High. Behave honorably. Prepare to be alone at times, and to endure failure. Persist! The world needs all you can give. E.O .Wilson, Biologist, and the world’s leading expert on ants
15. Desire is the key to motivation, but its determination and commitment to an unrelenting pursuit of your goal – a commitment to excellence – that will enable you to attain success. Mario Andretti, racing driver
16. The golden rule for every businessman in this: Put yourself in your customer’s place. Orison Scott Marden, American author and magazine publisher
17. The magic formula that successful businesses have discovered is to treat customers like guests and employees like people. Tom Peters, quality guru
18. There is only one boss. The customer. And he can fire everybody in the company from the chairman on down, simply by spending his money somewhere else. Sam Walton, founder of Walmart, owner of Asda
19. The simple act of paying positive attention to people has a great deal to do with productivity. Tom Peters, quality guru
20. Everyone has an invisible sign hanging round their neck saying ‘Make me feel important’. Never forget this when working with people. Mary Kay Ash, cosmetics company founder
21. Businesses need to go beyond the interests of their companies to the communities they serve. Ratan Tata, owner of a multi-national business empire
22. Creativity involves breaking out of establish patterns in order to look at things in a different way. Edward do Bono, lateral thinker
The following are of unknown origin, but we’d suggest that’s no reason for them to be left out of this collection
23. Every accomplishment starts with a decision to try.
24. Look for the right attitude in new recruits; it’s the only thing you can’t teach.
25. Always ask, the worst that can happen is that they say no.