Without learning from other people’s mistakes or taking wise advice along the way, we’d likely fumble through adulthood with little success. I’ve done plenty of both, and a bit of fumbling; but the wise quotes I’ve lived by and built my business on weren’t given as explicit advice.
Instead, these little gems were takeaways from conversations with people whose opinions and life choices I respected. While their stories inspired my own interpretations and conclusions, I’ll always remember the origins of these lessons.
3 Beautiful Wise Quotes To Live By
1. “Financial literacy really matters.”
I have an ex-boyfriend’s father to thank for this one. Growing up in an immigrant household that hailed from a communist nation, I entered adulthood with a less-than-minimal understanding of personal economics and finance.
As the result, I entangled myself in unfavorable situations – which were supposedly avoidable, like student loans taken out at the highest interest rates. I had no knowledge of investing, insurance, mortgages or any other financial “adulting” realities.
My ex’s dad was always happy to give actual advice and explain, for example, the math behind why buying a home was better than renting. But hearing these wise sayings from a successful, older, trusted person about how his own initial financial illiteracy stunted his success was the real eye-opener.
It forced me to accept that I knew unacceptably little about managing money. If my long-term goal was to minimize financial hardship in my life, I had to start learning.
In time, this made it easier to adapt to running a business. And, although this journey began some 15 years ago, I still make it a point to continue learning. Financial literacy makes me not just a better entrepreneur, but a better-informed human: more competent at understanding and interpreting everything from current events to news to global trends.
2. “This too shall pass.”
This phrase was dropped by my older brother when I was going through a personal crisis, as he related how he’d dealt with some difficult moments in his past. Now, it’s what I mumble to myself most frequently at the desk.
I don’t think my brother envisioned his wise quotes applied to crashing software, unrealistic revision requests, or an overwhelming amount of work to finish in a week, but they are perfectly suited to professional difficulties – simple to recall and hard to argue.
Bad days end. Problems get contained, minimized, and eventually solved. There are definitely life situations where this may not hold, like serious illness, or loss of a loved one. Barring that, all will be resolved, and much faster if I’m able to keep a calm, open mind towards the problem.
3. “Don’t get bigger than you need to.”
This is one of the wise quotes I took away from my full-time employers well before I even dreamt of running my own business.
While they were happy about the growth of the company, the partners lamented the early days, before massive rent, numerous payrolls and the constant stress that expansion often brings. “I miss when it was just two of us, in the basement,” was a line dropped occasionally after a couple of drinks at happy hour.
I recalled their regrets on my every entrepreneurial step. It didn’t hold me back in fear, but it made me seriously question every decision I made with respect to greater responsibility and risk.
I made sure that I truly needed every big expense, every person I hired, and every financial commitment I considered. In good times, this kept the company efficient and lucrative. And even in bad times, we were still profitable because we were used to running so lean.
Better yet, I maintained control over my personal life by not chasing after quick, big growth. I’m able to take plenty of time off and pursue my other interests while making a good living doing what I love.
There’s a popular tendency in modern entrepreneurship to shoot for the moon. This may be imperative for those who can’t help but dream big, or whose idea of success tends to run large. But I believe that, for most people, success in business isn’t measured simply by how big you’ve grown your company.
It’s about freedom, lifestyle, opportunity – all the “quality of life” rewards that running your own business can bring, provided that you let it by setting the right goals.
Which of these wise quotes struck you most?
People’s stories contain much more than facts, dates, and names. They’re full of concrete examples of what went wrong and what went right, and reasons behind the results. A piece of personal experience can easily apply to your professional dilemma.
Hence, my explicit advice is LISTEN, then ask questions and reflect to find and keep the wisdom that puts you on the right track.
October 7, 2017 12:00 AM EST