As Christmas approaches and we gather loved ones near, it’s a good time to reflect on some of the larger things in life. Holidays bring out the desire to be a better person, help others, and be appreciative of blessings that aren’t packaged in bright paper or festive bows. Sometimes the best gifts are hard-won lessons, a changed outlook, or a spark of insight about how to approach a given situation.
We often refer to three attributes we consistently see in clients who reach the highest levels of success. These clients are humble, teachable, and focused.
While some come by these traits naturally, others stumble upon them after some serious mistakes or trials — only to return to their old ways after the difficulty has passed. Business owners who are able to retain that humility, stay teachable, never lose their focus — even during prosperous times — and enjoy a strong advantage in future endeavors.
Let’s take a look at why these traits matter.
GPS: Roadwork: Being humble, teachable, and focused — the prerequisites for success
For a business owner looking to improve, humility is the most important of the three traits. Nothing happens — and nothing ever will happen — unless you are humble enough to admit you aren’t yet where you want to be.
Humility is not a lack of confidence, it’s a sign of awareness and experience. Business owners who think they know everything already have willfully shut off their minds to new solutions and good ideas that might come from others. Building a team requires collaboration and open dialogue, and humility is a key ingredient in both of these processes.
Many people begin a business with an abundance of confidence, then must learn humility when things take a bad turn. If you are in this position now, remember you can use this lesson to permanently change your mindset. By adopting a humble outlook as your baseline, you will open yourself up to far more opportunities and paths to success.
A humble mindset leads to questions such as, “What can I be doing better?” or “Is anyone in my organization not being fully utilized because I am standing in their way?” Any business leader who wants to foster continual growth should be asking these questions, and more, on a regular basis.
Once humility has opened a leader’s eyes to what they can learn from others, good advice can come from consultants, employees, or even competitors. Being humble goes hand-in-hand with being teachable, as these lessons will only benefit those who can digest the information and work it into their own operations.
Being teachable means having your scope widened, seeing what can be learned from every encounter, every market development, every success or failure. These lessons are not spelled out in a syllabus and delivered with a lecture, review sheet, and test. But learning how to learn from your experiences and those of others will pay dividends for the life of your business.
Teachable business leaders often ask, “What is the lesson here?” or “How can this experience be used to fine-tune my procedures?” Translating both failures and successes into real change is the secret to leveling up.
Making positive changes in how a business runs can be a complex process with many moving parts, so focus is vital in seeing things through. The excitement and optimism that leads many to change can become a detriment if it leads to distraction and constantly veering off in different directions. Some businesses have trouble even deciding which segment of their industry they are in.
“Avoid the squirrel” is a good mantra to adopt. Pick a target and stay on it, no matter how many other shiny objects show up to entice you. Zeroing in on why you are in business can help you focus on each step of a plan.
Questions such as, “What is the next step toward my goal?” and “Why is this action plan more important than other ideas I might want to develop?” can help business owners strengthen their focus.
How these all work together
Like a stool needs three legs to be stable, a business owner needs to have all three attributes — being humble, being teachable, and being focused — in order to make solid improvements and successfully grow their business. Each trait relies on the other two to yield real results.
Once you choose humility, a world of opportunity and growth opens up. This leads to becoming teachable: asking questions and paying attention rather than simply waiting for the next chance to speak. By expanding how you learn, you will also start seeing the logic and value in trying a new approach.
Once you recognize the value in a new tactic, gaining more focus is often a natural result. It’s also a necessary element — all the humility and teachability in the world won’t matter if you lack the focus to bring it all together. This means being present and invested in each deliberate step, rather than jumping from idea to idea and blaming failure on outside circumstances.
“Everyone you will ever meet knows something you don’t.” – Bill Nye
Before he guided children on scientific adventures, Bill Nye was a successful mechanical engineer at Boeing. About 30 years ago, at the very beginning of his public success as Bill Nye the Science Guy, he heard the above advice from a cab driver (someone who obviously knew something he did not).
No matter your level of success, remembering that others around you have knowledge and expertise you don’t possess is a keystone of humility — which, in turn, paves the way toward improvement.
These three traits are not just ideals we expect of others. Being humble, teachable, and focused is something we expect of ourselves first and foremost. We are striving for it, always, as our goal — but never assume we’ve reached it.
Eagle Corporate Advisors works with business owners, like you, ready to overcome obstacles and transform your path to success. Throughout the journey, we work together to create value across your organization and unify your team toward sustainable results.
There’s always more that can be achieved, a next level to reach. Once you have decided you want to pursue the next level for your business, together we can map out a path. There is always a way to Perform Higher.