My Two Cents: Checklist of Things I Learned in 45 Years
September 22, 2008
My wife and I recently celebrated our 45th wedding anniversary. Besides being a very exciting and happy occasion, it also called my attention to the fact that I have now been full time in this business for 45 years. It was graduation, wedding, honeymoon, and start to work.
As I thought about the 45 years which have passed by, it occurred to me that surely I have learned some things in those 45 years that would be worth passing on to our readers.
And, in fact, I did come up with a list of some 20 ideas or suggestions that I have found, when practiced, will help both your business and your life. Some are more business oriented, some more life oriented, and many apply to both. Interestingly, none are really specific to the HVAC industry.
Does that mean I have spent my entire adult life in the business and have not come up with one good idea specific to that business? No.
In thinking of the important lessons we all have learned, I believe it’s true that the narrower, smaller detailed items, while important in some ways to the business, are not necessarily that important in the big picture.
I tried to keep the list to those things that really apply to all of us - especially in the grand scheme of things. So here we go. These are not necessarily in the order of importance.
• Don’t spend time worrying about things over which you have no control, i.e., the weather.
• Set goals - both personal and business. If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you know if you get there?
• Similarly, each day, or preferably the night before, prepare a plan for your activities that day so that you control the day rather than it controlling you.
• Learn to manage your business and your life and don’t let them manage you.
• Choose carefully the people you choose to work and play with. Employees will always be your company’s most important asset and the people with whom you choose to relax/play will help guide your life.
• Don’t be afraid to delegate or hand-off various jobs. Often someone else may be more capable at performing that function, and it will free you up to do the things at which you excel.
• Emphasize quality and doing the job right in everything you and your company does. The long-term results will amaze you.
• It’s very hard to be all things to all people. Find those things at which you and your company excel and concentrate your efforts there.
• On major decisions, don’t hesitate to ask for a night to sleep on it. Many times the perspective of a new day brings a different and usually better decision.
• Be prepared! The old Boy Scout saying still applies. Success results when proper preparation is combined with hard work.
• Remember the importance of the customer. Despite the old saying, the customer may not always be right - but he/she is still always the customer and should be treated like you can’t live without them - because you can’t.
• Despite all of the technology we have available today, people still like doing business with people. Don’t leave the people out of your business.
• Don’t send an e-mail, fax, or letter when your emotions are in control. Take the time to re-consider what you say or you may regret your words.
• When dealing with employees, praise in public and criticize in private.
• Be involved! This means your various business associations, local clubs, charities, etc. And remember regarding your involvement - you will only get out of an organization in proportion to the amount you put into it.
• Emphasize the importance of communications. The Lord gave us two ears and one mouth, so we should listen twice as much as we talk. You never saw a fish on the wall with its mouth shut!
• Never forget the value of common sense. I wrote a column about this, which ran May 28, 2007. It makes common sense to go back and read it.
• Things are not as much what they are, as what we perceive them to be.
These last two are personal but may apply to you as well.
• I only want to fly on airplanes where the pilot flies with me!
• Be as lucky as I was to find a lovely, wonderful spouse who has stood by me through thick and thin for all of these 45 years.
Publication date: 09/22/2008