Cowboy Wisdom For Business Redux
Some time ago, I wrote a piece on cowboy wisdom for the business world. (You can find it here.) I recently stumbled on some additional Will Rogers quotes that are wonderful observations about a successful life in business. See if you agree with me.
- “Even if you’re on the right track, you’ll get run over if you just sit there!” There’s no coasting in the successful executive’s life. The guy or gal who says, “I could do this with my eyes closed” is closer to disaster than he or she thinks. You need to keep learning and moving ahead.
- “Be thankful we’re not getting all the government we’re paying for!” One of the areas I often explore with my CEO clients is federal versus state rights. Not the actual government (though I enjoy politics) but rather whether you control activity and make decisions at headquarters or in the field. There’s not one right answer. But just like the government, when you give someone control, you’ll have to fight like the dickens to take it away — and there may be unintended consequences!
- “Diplomacy is the art of saying ‘nice doggy’ until you can find a rock!” I’m not a cynic, but when business relationships are lopsided, someone will eventually take a rock to the head. Underpaying or underappreciating your team and not providing value to your customers are the equivalent of saying, “Nice doggy!” Change, or duck your head!
- “That’s the trouble with a politician’s life — somebody is always interrupting it with an election.” It’s really not all about you, regardless of how high on the food chain you are! Positional authority (e.g., the title CEO or owner) doesn’t mean you can ignore others. Your customers or your co-workers might not be able to dislodge you overnight, but they can vote you out of business!
- “We can’t all be heroes because somebody has to sit on the curb and clap as they go by.” There’s a time to lead and a time to follow, and you often have to do both. Sometimes making others looks good (particularly your customers!) is the fastest way to personal success. When you finally get to the mountaintop, it’ll be because you’re standing on the shoulders of a bunch of talented people. Don’t forget it!
- “The worst thing that happens to you may be the best thing for you if you don’t let it get the best of you.” It’s difficult to make the mental transition from “I failed” to “I learned” in the heat of the moment, but the trick is to look forward as quickly as possible. Show me a leader who has never failed and I know he’s one of two things: the real Superman or a liar. Fear of failure holds back too many of us. Go ahead — make some mistakes! Then celebrate them.