With another year in the books I wanted to recap 44 of the most important lessons I’ve learned or have been reminded of recently. Some of these I’ve shared before, as so many ‘truths’ will show themselves over and over again…while others are lessons that have recently come into focus. Enjoy!

  1. Think Bigger. Most people settle for so much less than there capable of achieving. We place these ceilings on ourselves about what we can accomplish, how much we can earn…almost everything.

You know what is the main difference between the average entrepreneur and the one who thrives is? It’s not their talent or ability. It’s what they’ll settle for. It’s what that think they’re worth.

We often can do much, much more than we give ourselves credit for.

  1. Play to Your Strengths. I talk about this one a lot, but it’s because there is rarely a day that goes by that I don’t see the difference that it can make first hand.

Virtually everyone I know who achieves big things takes this approach and most everyone I see who underachieves spends too much time on things that fall outside of their strengths.

Let me give you just one personal example of this…

Back when I was leaving a company that I co-founded and was in the process of starting PatRigsby.com, I would hear ‘through the grapevine’ about many of my former employees or even partners doubting that I would be successful in my new endeavor.

Their logic was that my weaknesses or the areas that I hadn’t focused on would be my new path’s demise. I get this line of thinking because it’s common…people focus on what someone can’t do rather than what they can…but what I knew was that I could easily outsource the things they thought would be stumbling blocks to people that were strong in those areas…and do it for a fraction of what we’d spent on it in that business – all so I could focus on my strengths.

The result…within a few months I had more than tripled my personal income and had 4X higher profit margins…and was focusing almost exclusively on my strengths.

But it’s not just me. Look around at anyone you find to be successful in any endeavor…they’re more of a specialist. Focus on being the best in a few areas and fill in the other areas of need with others (and freelancers are fine) who are strong in those spots.

  1. When you feel overwhelmed, don’t try to do everything — just simplify things and do something.
  1. You can do almost anything you want…but you can’t do everything you want…at least right now. Any achievement of significance requires focus, so you have to dedicate the time and effort needed to make it happen. That doesn’t mean you can’t accomplish everything that you want to…you very well may be able to…but you just can’t do it all simultaneously.
  1. Take Action Daily. We’re either getting better or worse…every day. Small actions compounded over time will guarantee your success.
  1. No One Succeeds Alone. I had a mom who believed in me at every turn. Even when my dad questioned my direction, he supported me. I’ve had the same best friend since the 4th grade and he’s offered unconditional support every step of the way. Holly has believed in me even knowing that a failure on my part would adversely impact her too. I’ve had a number of friends and colleagues who have believed and supported me along the way too. The truth is that we may choose our own path and our actions determine our outcomes…but without a support system in place – it’s far, far harder to stay the course.

Now I’ve been lucky in that regard…but I also have sought out friendships and masterminds to help make me better and that would inspire me to push ahead toward my goals. We can all find people who’ll support us, even if they aren’t with us today.

  1. It doesn’t matter what you know…It matters what you apply. If you don’t apply something it’s wasted knowledge.
  1. As an Entrepreneur, we need to have a strategic plan that factors in our life as well as our business. The strategic planning approach that big corporations use doesn’t fit for small, owner-operator businesses. At best, it just doesn’t fit and is useless. At worst, you get a full bank account and an empty life.
  1. Never compromise your integrity, for anything or anybody.
  1. If you want to know who someone really is…give them money or power…or see them in the face of adversity. For some, it will will spotlight their greatness, while for others…well – it will expose their warts.
  1. Deadlines are the difference between getting stuff done and just talking about it. All of my biggest successes have come with deadlines attached to them.
  1. Don’t make promises you can’t keep.
  1. Saying ‘no’ is the toughest challenge for an entrepreneur…but the truth is that success comes far more often to those who are great a a few things rather than those who are jacks-of-trades.
  1. There is a much stronger correlation between your practical education and your professional success than there is a relationship between your formal education and your professional success.
  1. 9 times out of 10 your biggest limiting factor is your own mind.
  1. Find Mentors. In person. From a far. It doesn’t matter. Learn from those who’ve done it. I consider everyone from Abraham Lincoln and Walt Disney to the people who moderate the Mastermind I’m in now and my best friend my mentor.
  1. There is almost nothing better than a workshop, product or a great book for accelerated progress. Someone is basically condensing a decade of their work into a day and teaching it to you.
  1. The only thing better is private coaching. It’s more expensive…but if you can get that same expert to customize their advice for you it can potentially save you years of work. I’ve started taking this approach more recently and it’s incredible.
  1. Time is Life. Plain and simple.

It’s often said that you can tell what’s important to someone by checking their bank statement and their calendar…and it’s true, but the calendar is 80% of it. Money is a renewable resource. Time is not.

That’s at the core of why I started my Ideal Business and then started teaching that concept. I didn’t want to miss my kids growing up. Their growth feels like it happens in the blink of an eye and if I missed it – I wouldn’t get a ‘do over.’

So when I’m not interested in something or someone…they just no longer get any of my time because that’s time I could be spending one people and activities that are important to me.

  1. Invest early. Compound interest is magic. I didn’t and have had to make up for it later…and while it’s gone well for me, it could have been much easier.

I’m far, far from a financial planner or personal finance expert, but I’d look at these three books for personal finance to get you started:

The Wealthy Barber

I Will Teach You to Be Rich 

Your Money or Your Life

  1. It’s Not What You Make, It’s What You Keep. I’ve had 23 businesses. Some very profitable. Others…not so much. I’ve coached thousands of business owners…many who had a big gross revenue number and struggled with the net.

Focus on profit and paying yourself first once you’re past the start up phase. Here are 2 books that will help reinforce the message:

Profit First

The Millionaire Next Door

  1. You’re Not Entitled To Anything. You get what you earn.
  1. We are a Product of our Choices. Everything matters. It all adds up. Big choices, little choices. We’re a product of all of it.
  1. Invest Time, Energy and Money in Yourself. When you invest in yourself you can never lose, and over time you will change the trajectory of your success, your leadership and your life.
  1. The is far more Opportunity available to us than we need to be successful. It’s what we do with the opportunity that determines our results.
  1. Creating More Opportunity For Yourself Is Simple. Do good work. Be trustworthy, loyal and dependable. Help others without expecting anything in return. Opportunities will start appearing…almost as if by magic.
  1. The ‘Bank Account Approach’ To Content & Marketing Is Real…and It Applies To Life In General Too. Are you making more deposits that withdrawals in your relationships? Are you giving more than you’re taking? For me – success always comes when my relationship ‘bank account’ has a big balance and I’ve made far more deposits than withdrawals. Business or personal…it all works pretty much the same.
  1. Luck is when preparation meets opportunity…and there is plenty of opportunity. The key is being ready for it and observant enough to notice it when it’s there. Sometimes it’s not obvious.
  1. Successful people implement stuff quickly. The faster your speed of implementation – they bigger your bank account.
  1. Everyone Needs A Coach. I’m not sure that everyone needs a trainer…but we all need a coach.
  1. You Are What You Surround Yourself With. Think about the type of person and business owner you want to become. If you surround yourself with people and education that align with what you want to be…you’re far more likely to get there.
  1. What Can YOU Do Better? I’m not oblivious to the fact that things outside of our control impact us…but until we’ve done everything we can to move toward where we want to go…why worry about those external factors?
  1. I Have Little Patience For The ‘Victim’ Mentality. It’s really an extension of #32…but most people who aren’t happy or fail to achieve their goals almost always have a ‘victim mentality’…suggesting that someone or something else is to blame for their situation.

It’s easy to blame outside circumstances. It’s harder to be self-aware and realize that you may be the problem.

  1. Focus On – and Enjoy the Process, not just the Goal. I can remember thinking it would be awesome when the franchises I co-founded hit the Entrepreneur Franchise 500. Well…it was cool for a day, then it was business as usual.

Set out to build a business that you enjoy building instead tolerating what you do and hoping that when you get to the finish line things will magically be better. In most cases…if the process was miserable, the result will be unfulfilling.

  1. Enjoy Other’s Successes. There was a point when I probably didn’t enjoy seeing entrepreneurs that I coached move on and become business coaches themselves. Now, few things make me prouder. I even sometimes saw other succeeding as something I should envy rather than something that should inspire.

I can tell you that viewing others success as a source of enjoyment and inspiration is much, much better.

  1. We Don’t Get Clean Slates…But Our Past Serves To Teach Us. I can’t go back and start investing for my retirement 23 years ago…but I can learn from it, do better now and teach others.

You cannot hold on to the past, but you can learn from it. Don’t make the mistake of trying to stay in the past—life is about learning lessons and taking those lessons forward with you into your life.

  1. Life isn’t always fair.  Accept it and move on to making the most of the hand you’re dealt.
  1. You can’t help people until they want to help themselves. You can’t want success for them more than they want it for themselves.
  1. But ‘No’ Often Really Just Means ‘Not Right Now.’ That’s why I love sending my daily newsletter. I often will have someone purchase a product, join VFM or even inquire about consulting and say ‘I’ve been reading your stuff for years.’ So if I’d have judged their interest in doing business with me a year ago…it would have been ‘no’ when in reality it was just ‘not right now.’
  1. The Most Successful People in Our Field or Any Other Are Often Not Any Smarter Or More Talented. They just actually do the things everyone else just talks about doing.
  1. Do the same thing you’ve always done and you’ll get the same thing you’ve always gotten. The people I’ve enjoyed watching achieve tremendous growth all have stepped out of their comfort zone to get there.
  1. Reverse Engineer The Business And Life You Want. Figure out what it looks like and work backwards from it to where you are today. That’s your map.
  1. You Decide. You decide what your business will be known for, how you’ll spend your time and pretty much everything else.

For me, business supports my family…not the other way around. With that in mind, I block out time for the family stuff first and then what’s left is where my business is built.

So if you want more income, more family time, more vacation time, more clients…you begin by deciding that it will happen instead of saying you wish it would happen. Then to take the necessary actions to get there.

  1. YOU Are Your Competitive Advantage. No one else can be you. You’re already different – and in some areas you’re probably already better. Plus, you can continually develop, gain knowledge and improve. All too often we relinquish this competitive advantage and settle for being a mediocre imitation of someone else.

So as I say goodbye to 43 and am on to 44 I look forward to all the challenges my life will throw at me and all the new lessons I’ll learn. Thanks for being part of it!


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