[Note: Mark Ashton is one of the newest members of the Cornerstone family and already a passionate blogger.]
I started writing blogs a few months ago not because I have any particular wisdom, knowledge or skill, but because I’m a student of those who do. I strive to use these insights to slowly, painfully become a better person myself, a better leader and a more successful businessman.
Inspired by the attitudes and behaviours of the Top 1% whom I strive fiercely to follow, here are my thoughts on why you should courageously seek and speak the truth at all times in business, sensitively, intelligently, but without compromise.
I’ve entitled them 10 great reasons to stick your neck out! I hope they help you to make the most out of 2015.
- We each have only one piece of the jigsaw puzzle. We need each other’s perspectives to avoid unnecessary pitfalls and to succeed more often and more consistently.
- Life is too short to tolerate 2nd, 3rd or 4th best, or worse. Don’t risk having regrets because you failed to do what you know you should have done.
- Others need the courage we can give them by our example. Noted political thinker Edmund Burke famously said 300 years ago: “Bad things happen when good people do nothing”. It leaves an empty playing field for cynical, bullying, sociopathic takers. Adam Grant’s powerful study ‘Give and Take’ (2013) found the vast majority of us are givers in our private lives and, lo and behold, respond best to givers at work. Be visible and influence others by positive attitudes and behaviour.
- Negativity is corrosive. We’re all guilty at some point of gossip, cynicism, and of undermining others, often unthinkingly, sometimes deliberately. Research conclusively demonstrates that organisations in which people support and collaborate with each other perform much better.
- Seek the meaning of things. Depression has become a modern epidemic as society fragments and people abandon traditional moral and religious structures. The essential human search for meaning in life has been severely compromised and we have to find something nourishing to fill the chasm. Seeking and applying wisdom pays dividends in all areas of your life – put simply it makes you a happier person.
- Be prepared to challenge. “Staying out of trouble” is another way to spell mediocrity. You will not achieve your destiny by avoiding pain. You will be nowhere near as happy as you will be if you are prepared to swim against the current in the name of your own integrity.
- Don’t be afraid of making mistakes. Being frightened of making mistakes is no excuse. We all inevitably commit sins of commission or of omission so stop trying to avoid mistakes and get stuck in! There is no better way to learn.
- Face down the fear of embarrassment or humiliation. This is one of the most deep-seated and damaging of human traits and responsible, I believe, for much of the abuse we witness from those in positions of power. But don’t run away from it. True leaders who have been subjected to career threatening humiliation – Churchill over Gallipoli in 1915 to name one – emerge as stronger and wiser leaders. To be humiliated is literally to be made humble, and the research evidence that Top 1% leaders are humble is overwhelming.
- There is a reward. Humiliation, making mistakes, searching for meaning may sound like a hard road to follow but, you know what? People will admire and love you for it – and what could be better than that?
- Above all it is massively liberating. Yes, there may be some pain, but when was that a barrier to improvement? You’ll feel more alive than ever and you won’t regret it. So stop holding back, grit your teeth, and dive in!
2015 will not come round again. Make the most of it!