Over the recent past, my real-world and virtual experiences constantly serve as a reminder of how rapidly the world is changing and evolving. Nonetheless, our Graduation Keynote Lecturer, Prof. Brad Killaly, also reminded me via his last lecture that the more things change, the more they remain the same. Regardless of which school of thought you subscribe, it is important to establish your most important ideas and principles that help you navigate this rapidly changing, yet history repeating therefore the same, world we encounter every wakening day.
The following 4 Mantras described below help me do exactly that. Specifically, these Mantras serve as my guide to manage business and personal relationships, handle the daily stresses of business and everyday life, and understand each interaction/incident encountered in business and life. Several folks have requested advice/guidance along these lines, so I decided to ink them.
1. People are at the core.
After 2 years of Business School and reading countless case studies on topics ranging from finance to high-level, global strategy, every business challenge, opportunity, or issue basically came down to people – the decisions people make, the biases people bring to the table, the motivations people want to fulfill, and most importantly, the incentives that make people behave the way they do. This got me thinking. As imperative as it is to develop a sound, logic & data-driven strategy to business or life situations, it is just as (if not more) important to understand the people involved. For more on Mantra #1, read here.
2. Trust, but ask questions.
Have you ever found yourself in your doctor’s office dying to ask a question? You’re so eager to ask the question, but end up not doing so because you don’t want to question the so-called expert, your physician. If people are afraid to ask questions regarding their health and well being, imagine how many questions go unanswered about their wealth, family, and careers. This is a lesson many people learn the hard way, and by the hard way, I mean by getting burned one too many times. Examples of getting burned are all around you – recessions, bank foreclosures, medical errors, and promotions /salary negotiations. So, learn to trust the experts, but strengthen and confirm that trust and educate yourself by asking questions. For more on Mantra #2, read here.
3. Life is all about tradeoffs.
Couple years ago on a high stress, mission-critical project for a huge client, I remember a colleague repeatedly reminding our project team that If everything is a priority, then nothing is a priority. This statement really resonated with me and extends this Mantra that life is all about tradeoffs. Some of you may be familiar with the term opportunity cost. Simply put and in layman’s terms, opportunity cost is the value of something foregone in pursuit of something else. Economists believe everything has an opportunity cost. How is this related to this Mantra? Well, tradeoffs create opportunity costs. And before making any decision in business or life, you’ve got to consider what you are trading off and the opportunity costs associated. Once considered and a decision has been made, you’ve got to accept the decision, tradeoffs, and opportunity costs and move on. For more on Mantra #3, read here.
4. Appreciate your experiences.
I’ll be the first one to say life is not easy nor is it fair. Nonetheless, there is an opportunity to learn, grow and appreciate each and every interaction you encounter on a daily basis whether it be business or personal. Assess every good, bad, and ugly happening in life from this point of view. For example, if you didn’t have to deal with traffic on your way to work, appreciate that you’ve been able to enjoy your drive into work without traffic. On the flip side, if there is tons of traffic on your way to work, take the additional time to plan your day, think about that important meeting, or listen to your favorite songs on the radio – appreciate the additional time you have. If you really put your mind to it, everything that happens in your life can be used to your advantage. All it takes to do so is the right mindset and attitude! For more on Mantra #4, read here.
So there you have it! These 4 Mantras took me time to develop, practice, and routinize in my life over a time period of 5 to 6 years. Interestingly, these Mantra not only serve as my guides in personal life situations but also in business situations such as meeting a consulting client for the first time, starting a new project with a new team or pitching a new strategy or implementation plan to a client.
Think about how they might apply in your life and let me know what you think!