As a business owner, it can be hard to know when to learn from the experts and when to use your own judgement & expertise.
Company president, Heidi Reimer-Epp shares her story about how a life motto motivated her to adopt an attitude of thankfulness and independence when it comes to expert advice.
Fifteen years ago, I was a new entrepreneur. Every business how-to book was a revelation. Every speaker, every blog post was filled with "the best way to…." and a system that promised to make me happier, make me more money, and make my business thrive. I was a voracious reader with the vague sense that if I just found the right ideas, I'd find success.
Today, I still read business books and I still attend seminars on entrepreneurship, leadership, and management. But I take everything with a grain of salt, I pick and choose what applies to my business and I never, ever buy into any program whole-heartedly. This is all because of my motto that I stumbled upon some years back.
I was reading a parenting book and came across this motto:
Learn from others, decide for yourself.
As it applies to parenting, the author was warning us expectant moms that we'd be deluged with advice. Friends and strangers shared their best parenting take-aways and this would continue throughout the child-rearing years.
And it was true - from "they grow up so fast" to "she should be wearing socks" and advice relating to every aspect of parenting, I heard it all. And a lot of it was contradictory. What to do?
The motto "Learn from others, decide for yourself" helped me maintain an attitude of thankfulness and independence. I could feel thankful for the person sharing the advice, I could feel curious about how it applied to me and then I could choose what, if anything, I wanted to take from it.
As I practiced this attitude as a new parent, I came to realize that it was also applicable to my business. My earlier mottos could be better said as "Learn from others and feel badly about how you've been doing things". Maturing as a business person meant taking control over the information and applying it to my unique situation.
Here are some examples:
- I read the book Getting Things Done and knew that this was a system that would be useful. So I took the elements that worked for me (getting clear, doing regular reviews) and incorporated them into my daily routine.
- Lean Manufacturing is a brilliant concept for us manufacturers and we apply the parts that work for Botanical PaperWorks.
- For strategic planning and accountability systems, we could be using the Rockefeller Habits, EOS, Results.com and so many other systems. Instead, we've crafted a process and system that works for us. It's a combination of annual plan written, regular reporting, and meetings with set agendas. It works.
Every now and then, I get swayed into the promise of a Better Way of Doing Things like when I was on a Lean tour and got all jazzed up. "We've got to do this!". But then I channelled the enthusiasm into continuous improvement of our existing systems. We got amazing results for less effort and everyone inside the company was happy.
Learning from others while deciding for myself has become a powerful way to be open to new ideas while checking with myself and holding fast what I know to be true about myself and about how I want to run my business. It keeps me from being distracted by the latest idea and big promises, and it keeps my business running in a consistent manner, ever improving, ever evolving, and always staying true to my vision for the company and for myself as a leader.
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