Life experiences, even if they’re unrelated, can give you valuable lessons that you can apply to vastly differing scenarios.
These are some lessons that have stuck with me from unexpected sources that I’ve found to be surprisingly useful when building and running Aequilibrium.
I’ve been practicing tai-chi for decades and in my first martial arts class, I thought I was going to learn how to fight others, and defend myself. I was pretty disappointed to find that I wasn’t going to begin learning the action-packed moves I saw in the movies, but instead, the first thing we practiced was falling—over and over again. We practiced falling so many times that the feeling of uncertainty while falling, diminished. It wasn’t until later in life that I related this intentional practice of falling to the fear of failing.
Failure, much like falling, is going to happen—you can’t control it. But the more you go through it, the less daunting it becomes.
Your drive to get up and keep going outweighs the fear of hitting the ground hard. As a CEO, you’re often out of your comfort zone and failure becomes a recurring friend. The less you fear it, the more drive and resilience you’ll gain.
My approach to leadership has evolved quite a bit over the years. What I’ve seen is that acting as a leader with the sole intention of being powerful doesn’t invite others to see you as a leader they would want to get behind.
Sticking to my values and acting in ways that align with them has naturally attracted others with the same morals.
Looking back, theWheel of Time fantasy book series really showed that ordinary people, like shepherds, may not be looking for leadership roles, but because they acted in ways that were true to who they were and what they believed in, others followed suit because of their shared values.
As a project manager, I wore many hats. I knew the clients, I worked with sales, I planned and strategized, and had a lot of tasks that I was simultaneously working on. As a CEO, the workload didn’t go away. What I’ve had to learn is how to delegate.
No matter how badly I want to, I can’t do it all—no one can.
Trust me, I’ve tried. What I’ve learned is that things don’t get done and time gets wasted. The concept of “lazy leadership” is something that I’m becoming more familiar with. If something needs to be done quickly, I need to hire the best person to do the job. Yes, I need to ensure that the business model is sustainable and that I’ve shared values that help guide my team to make the decisions, but it’s the CEO’s essence, not his presence that should be involved in each decision made.
Only from reflecting did I realize that each of these scenarios taught me lessons that I’ve used to help me be a better business owner and CEO. They’re also lessons that have been at the core of Aequilibrium’s culture. Fail often, fail fast, and learn from it, live by your values, and trust your team to do what they are there to do—these are all elements of what make Aequilibrium, Aequilibrium. As your life unfolds, the lessons that come out of them may not be clear. I’d suggest taking some time to look back and see what’ve you learned along the way and how it has helped shape you and your business!