I like to think I have some pretty good habits as an entrepreneur. I talk to a lot of people, listen to even more people, and I pay attention to what’s happening around me. I take a few suggestions from here and there as I read and listen and talk, and I add them to my life.
But some people will tell you that they “aren’t readers.” I can’t even fathom what this means since I don’t go for a day without reading something. In fact, I’m reading three books simultaneously as we speak. I hear it quite often, however. And some people just sit in their offices all day and crank out work, so how often can they talk to other entrepreneurs and learn from them? It blows my mind.
I was thinking about my top five entrepreneurial habits, and I feel strongly enough about them to recommend them as immediate pick-ups for you. Here they are:
1. Read. I mean, read your face off. I know that days are full of work/stress/life/creativity and it’s a challenge to sit down and read. But come on….are you not sitting in a line someplace, or waiting in a lobby, or on hold, or someplace where you could find time to read something? I make it my goal to read at least 20 books a year, and this year I’m raising the ante. Come join me! Ask me what I’m reading, and I’ll happily recommend as many books as you can handle.
2. Listen. This sounds stupid, but did you know that hardly anyone listens (really LISTENS) to what you say? I used to think I was a great listener, but then I figured out that I was great at listening to respond. How often do you have someone ask you a question, then you feel yourself taking a deep breath as if to say “OK, I’ve got something to say! Hold on!” I still do this, but I don’t do it as often as I used to. Learn how to listen to someone with the sole purpose of hearing them, and not for providing an answer.
3. Talk. When you’re not busy listening, talk to other entrepreneurs and ask them what they do. Hell, talk to anyone. Just talk. Don’t be annoying, but talk to people with the intention to learn about them. I have never had a talk with someone where I didn’t learn something. No one does this anymore…which leads me to….
4. Unplug. Put your damned phone down. I was in the doctor’s office the other day, having my annual blood-letting, and I was on a bench with six other men. I was the only one with my head up, not looking at a phone. And I was the youngest person there! What the heck is happening to us? I left my phone in the car, on purpose, so I wouldn’t just sit there and crane my neck down. I wanted quiet and some time to just sit and be. Look around you the next time you’re in a lobby or a waiting area. Put your phone away and count the others in the room who aren’t staring at their phone. I bet you’re in the minority. Want to really blow their minds? Pull out that book from point 1.
5. Share. I love to blog, and while I don’t have a huge reader base, I get some very nice compliments on my blogs. People enjoy the fact that I’m willing to share stories with them. And man, I share all my stories with clients. I tell them about everything…my victories, my miserable defeats, and what I’ve learned from all of them. I love to share, especially if someone will learn something from one of my mistakes. So, get out there and tell people how you screwed up or did something amazing. Be an inspiration or a cautionary tale. Either way, you’re a valuable voice.
I love stories. I encourage my clients to tell me their stories, and I tell them mine. In a time when we are so caught up and absorbed in our own junk, I think it’s so refreshing to share a story and then learn from someone else.
There’s so much static around us, so why not make a plan in 2017 to teach and learn, at every opportunity you get? I guarantee someone can learn something from you today, and that you can learn something from them. Don’t give into the static. Make your own beautiful noise, and make some changes in the world!
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