When I was growing up, in my junior years, I was always in a cocoon of ignorant bliss, as any small child is. I grew up mostly in Oxfordshire in the middle of England. My parents both worked, my dad was head of maintenance in a private boys school and my mum was a secretary in private girls school (there are a lot of private schools in Oxford!) - I spent a lot of time with my grandmother. We went on picnics, took family holidays and led a very normal kind of life. So far so good...
When I was about 8 my parents announced they were getting a divorce, and my mother and I moved to the south of England, Bognor Regis to be precise, where we stayed in my grandparents house, they had moved there some years before. I remember being upset that I had to leave my school, my friends, my hobbies, my ballet lessons, and most of all, my father.
2 Things I Learnt Back Then.
The first, was that in life, you can really only depend on yourself, and placing your fate in the hands of another is not ideal - at that age I was a minor and of course had no choice but to place my life in the hands of my parents, and I was raised well - but once we become adults, we essentially become dependant on ourselves, unless you're an ant and live in a colony of course.
I probably sound terribly cynical, in fact I know I do, but because of this line of thinking, I don't sit around and wait for things to happen to me, and I don't wait for the right people to come into my life to make them happen. Where possible, I make them happen, and I seek out the right people to help me make them happen. It's not a passive activity.
The second lesson I learnt was that I had to adapt to my new environment, and if I didn't adapt, I would just be miserable, wanting something I could no longer have in my life. Do you know how much anxiety it can cause when you want something but have no control over achieving it?
Whilst I'm of the mindset we can be and do anything we want in life, we cannot make other people be and do whatever we want, so therefore, when a situation is out of one's control, it's better to adapt. Adapting has helped me get through some of the toughest of times.
What happens to things that don't bend? They'll likely break.
The Impact On My Business.
The first lesson, essentially that I should be self-dependent or independent if I want to get what I want out of life has given me a very strong sense of responsibility. When I'm the one in control of my business, I'm the one that needs to take ownership of this. My choices of who I'm to work with, who I listen to, who I take advice from, and who I don't take advice from, what knowledge I should be passing on, what mistakes I've made that I need to learn from - and that any improvement will come from me, and the actions I take.
I don't always get it right, but the more I've slipped up in the past, the less I slip up as time goes along.
Don't get me wrong, I am not saying you can't or shouldn't depend on others, in fact, I have needed to depend on other people almost constantly throughout the development of my business, and I have an incredible support network - but that's what they are there to do, support, and I don't hold those people responsible for the outcome of my own goals, I hold myself responsible, and I am always looking to train myself to make the best decisions in business, usually that training comes in the form of making less than ideal decisions, gaining first-hand experience and learning from it.
The second lesson, let's call it adaptability, has allowed me to keep an open mind, learn to be flexible where I need to be, and stick to my guns when I don't need to be. When do you need to be adaptable? When you have no control over the situation. If you have an issue and you can't do anything to resolve it personally, the issue is entirely outside of yourself, you simply have to go with the flow and make the best of it, otherwise you'll crack up or be miserable...
In business I have become a solutions person, if I can, and I want to, I will resolve anything, either by relying on myself to find a solution (often with the support of others), or knowing when it's time to let go and adapt to the environment or situation.
As the years go by and particularly whenever I travel to live in a new country, I always learn new life lessons, but I find it interesting that the 2 lessons that have carried me through almost everything in life and business, are the very first life lessons I remember learning as a kid, and for that, I am truly grateful...
What's your first or most valuable life lesson?