Over the last couple of years, I’ve started to understand that things don’t need to be complicated to be effective.
Following a thought-provoking discussion with a founder last week, I have also realized that I unknowingly operate from a set of foundational rules that have served as my ‘tools’ for how I operate.
I’ve decided to outline these rules to share some practical advice with the community, and to demonstrate that keeping things simple and practical can be immensely powerful.
So here they are, my 11 practical rules for ensuring professional success
1. Respect everyone you interact with.
The first thing you need to be aware of is that the people you interact with have a lot more control over your success than you could ever have yourself. As such, everybody you deal with, by default, should be treated with respect. The long-term benefits of making this a core internal value will pay off immensely in the long run.
2. YouTube is the new Wikipedia
YouTube is one of the best repositories for information on the planet, and its only getting better. You can learn anything on YouTube and, best of all, a video can be consumed within a known period. Therefore you can plan it into your day.
3. Always keep a notebook, and use it.
I write, doodle, draw and think onto Warwick 1B5’s. They are still the most efficient way of recording information, especially when interacting with people. I remember more when I write things down on paper and physically crossing things off a to-do list is one of life’s unsung pleasures.
4. Don’t be afraid to cold call people (just be respectful about it).
If there is a person you look up to, don’t be scared to reach out. Just be clear on why you want to meet and, respect the time that they give you. Conversely, if someone reaches out to you, be respectful of them and their request. I always make time to meet with people who reach out as I never know what might come from it. (EMGN came out of one of those meetings).
5. Set yourself constraints.
Setting constraints and working within them is one of the best ways to simplify complicated tasks and is a foundation of being ‘lean’. Take your time to understand what your constraints are and be disciplined in keeping them. You’ll be astounded with what you can achieve.
6. Making mistakes is more than OK, as long as you fix them and learn from it.
Making mistakes is part of being human and it’s one of the most efficient ways people and organisations learn and evolve. Everybody makes mistakes. The key is to make sure you own them, fix them, and understand why they occurred so that you can learn from them.
7. No matter how upset you are, move on.
One of the hardest skills to learn is resilience and perspective, especially in the workplace. You might be having a bad day if the internet is slow, or if your co-worker isn’t pulling their weight, but learning to put these types of things in perspective is vital for long-term success. Ask an infantry soldier what a bad day means to them, and you’ll quickly realise you can let go of your problems. If you’re ever upset at work, just remind yourself that you’re not being shot at and move on.
8. Work can start as early (or late) as you need it to, as long as you get your job done.
The ‘workday’ is changing as the world moves to outcome-based tasking. If you can do some work from home in the morning, earn back an hour on your commute by leaving later, and be happier and more productive while at the office, then do so. A good boss should embrace this type of thinking if it leads to better work outcomes. If you are the boss, be open to this thinking from your staff and test if this may be appropriate for your team.
9. Criticism is your best friend.
People who don’t ask or accept feedback will never grow, and people who get upset by it are turning down the opportunity to improve. Being open to candid feedback from your co-workers and superiors is essential for development. Organisations should also seek ways to foster an environment where such feedback becomes an entrenched part of the company culture, as a way of leading to long-term success.
10. Always seek knowledge outside of your field.
Narrowing the focus of knowledge narrows the mind’s ability to think laterally. A diverse knowledge base canvassing a wide range of topics not only makes you more interesting but allows you to draw insights no one else may see. By staying curious and random with your knowledge accumulation, you will be amazed at how you ‘discover’ new ways forward for your business.
11. Everybody has a different way of doing things.
“This is the way we’ve always done it” has no place in a modern work environment. There can be many different ways to reach the same outcome, and they all have degrees of merit. Accepting diversity of thought is a foundational pillar of sustained innovation and is vital to successful personal and professional growth in a rapidly changing world.
About the author — Aidan Kenealy
My mission is to help those with high growth businesses realise their vision for success. I draw from the unique lessons learned growing EMGN to help founders and CEOs get the best out of what their businesses can be.
If you would like to discuss how I can help you and your business — please reach out via LinkedIn or email firstname.lastname@example.org