“You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.”
I’m not sure who originally said this, but I think Wayne Gretzky is credited it for it the most. Whether he did or did not. The statement is true in the game of hockey, which Gretzky is considered to be one of the best at, or the best. And it also pertains to life.
I think there is another version of the quote that says “You will regret that of which you did not pursue, more than the things you did pursue.” For me this is the more relevant statement when it has come to my life.
I am not sure when it started, but I know as an adult I have always had this willingness to be willing to take a risk, even when it wasn’t the best risk to take. I know there are people saying as they read this, that you have to take calculated risks and not be dumb about it. But I am not sure where that line is drawn.
I believe most of us spend too much of our lives questioning, thinking, discussing, instead of doing. Look around at the meeting you are in today. How many times have you and your colleagues talked about this same issue? This same person who is an issue?
My guess is a lot, and you will continue to do this until someone says “I’ve had it.” “We can no longer allow this person control the culture of our organization.” “We can no longer be paralyzed by our indecisions and fear of the worst.” Until someone steps up and says this, you will continue to do what you have always done and you will continue to get what you have always gotten.
Two times in my life now, I gave up a very substantial six figure salary to go out on a limb and bet on myself. The first time, the risk was a little premature. The lessons I learned were priceless though.
The second time I did this, it was a success. When I say success, I mean in general it was successful, but it had a lot of bumps in the road. And the road continues to be bumpy. But that is just the reality of life if you are going to play in an uncertain game and you put all of your chips on the table.
The best lessons I have learned by going to zero dollars twice are lessons I couldn’t learn playing it safe. We all know how it ends. When I get to the end, I want to be able to say, you did it all. You have nothing left to try.
Where is it in your life you need to take a risk and prove to yourself you can do it? If for nothing else, to learn.
I am not saying you have to go to zero dollars to learn what you are capable of or to take a risk. I am saying you have to be willing to go to zero though. If you aren’t willing, the chances are you will never do anything that is too far out of you comfort zone to know.
Jim Rohn one of my first mentors said it this way. He said “The pain of discipline weighs ounces, and the pain of regrets weighs tons.” I don’t mind the discipline, but I don’t want the regrets.
To your success and your future.
It’s that time of the year in America where the grass is green, the flowers are blooming, and college seniors are graduating. Which means they have earned the opportunity to sit through a two to four-hour event called their graduation. They get to listen to some politician, alumni, business owner, author, etc. tell them that their life will be whatever they want it to be.
Over the years there have been many commencement speeches that have gone viral. A few that come to mind is the famous Steve Jobs at Stanford, the Conan O’Brien address, Oprah, and a few others.
Since I have not been contacted by any college or university to provide a commencement speech, I thought that I would write one instead. There may be some variations of what I am about to say in some of the speeches given this year, but these are my words. These are the words I think college graduates need to hear.
Congratulations on your accomplishment today. I want to congratulate you on your successful completion of another hoop you jumped through on this path in life.
Although many people started the journey with you four, five, six, seven, and maybe even more years ago, you are the ones that stuck it out and finished your requirements. You showed up everyday, and provided answers on tests that your teachers and professors already knew the answers to. You finished what you started. And that is what we are here to celebrate. Because that is the one thing that you can takeaway from your time here at your college or university. The rest of it you will now learn on the job.
Here are the five things I want to share with you that will be more important to you than anything you have learned up until this point. These five things weren’t talked about by your professors, they weren’t discussed because school wasn’t set up to teach you things like this. These things are things you have to learn on your own. And I want to share these things with you now.
Pay back your student loans:
You borrowed the money. You have to pay it back. You can complain about it all you want. But you made a choice to take the money out. You made the choice to sign the papers. Now you have to pay them back. Don’t expect anyone else to pay them for you. Don’t expect the government to forgive them for you. You borrowed the money, so pay it back.
And my suggestion is to do it as quickly as possible. Don’t go and buy a car. Don’t go and get an apartment to fancy shoes. Take any and all money you get and pay back your student loans as quickly as you can. The sooner you get this debt out of your life, the better. You owe to yourself and you actually owe the country, or whoever else you borrowed the money from to pay this money back.
Learn a skill as soon as you can:
Yes, I know you just spent the last several years in college learning. However, college, well most colleges and universities, are just teaching you how to learn. They also teach some principles that you have hopefully learned along the way, like showing up on time, prioritization, time management, making decisions, etc. But for the most part you haven’t really learned anything else. I am not discounting these skills, they are important, but they are the standard in the real business world.
You now have to learn how to influence other people. You have to learn how to sell. You have to learn how to effectively lead people, learn communication styles that work, etc. Yes, these are all skills that are not taught as well as they could be at the post secondary education level, but are the skills that are required in the workplace and the marketplace to get things done.
I encourage you to find a great company as soon as you can, and start learning the skills that lead to results for your company. This is what the marketplace will pay you for.
You can’t say whatever you want:
I know we live in America and our first amendment right is the right to free speech. However, something that you might not have learned, is that there are consequences for you saying whatever you want.
For example: If your company provides tools and materials that are used in the coal industry, and you think coal is a bad thing. You can’t go around saying that the coal industry is bad. You can and will be fired. My hope is that you wouldn’t take the position to begin with, however if you find yourself in that position, remember, that whoever pays your company is the customer. And if you make your customers mad, they will no longer want to pay your company. Which means fewer people will work there, and if you are the reason for this, then you will no longer work there.
Your boss, and yes you will always have a boss, if you work for a company you will have a manager. If you work for yourself, you will have a customer. Customers are kind of like bosses. If you don’t provide them what they asked for, they will no longer pay you. If you insult them or hurt their business in any way. They will no longer pay you. It is kind of like being fired. Except they don’t tell you that. Your boss on the other hand, will just relieve you of your duties.
I am not saying don’t communicate your message if you disagree, but once again this is a skill that requires tact and practice to perfect. You didn’t learn this in school, you will need to learn it on the job.
Your company pays for value
For every hour you work for your company, they will pay you accordingly to the value you bring to that company during that hour. If you show up on time, can speak to customers, and help them resolve their problems. The company will pay you a wage for your services. The value will be determined by what the company things that task is worth.
If you can show up, speak to customers, help them resolve their problems, and identify other products the customer could be using with your company. Your company will pay you more because you are bringing more value to their company. Instead of two skills, you now have three or four.
So the lesson here for you is if you want to make more money, find ways to bring more value to your company.
This season is over, but don’t wait too long to start the next.
No matter how long it took you to graduate college, this season is now over. It is no different from a NFL Football Season or a College Football season. They don’t last forever, and once they are over, they are over.
In the NFL and College football, as soon as the season is over the next season begins. Which means after about a week off, if that, the players are right back in the weight room, back on the field, or back in the film room studying schemes to prepare for the next season. You have to do the same thing.
Although your college season is over, your new season begins. And you have to study and invest time and resources into your skill development so you are ready to take on the challenges that will surely come in this new season for you.
I have watched too many people over the years rely on their college education and what they learned five, ten, and even twenty years ago to still be relevant for them in the present. If you don’t enhance your skills, you will be left behind. You wont be able to keep up.
I wish all of you luck in your next steps on your journey.
Thanks Brian Willett
To your success and your future.
As a kid growing up I am sure I was told by much smarter people, grown ups, of things that I should do or shouldn’t do. And I didn’t listen. Because I was young and dumb. But the older I get the more I realize that those grown-ups knew more because of their experiences. And nothing can replace experience to teach us lessons.
With all of those lessons that I may have missed along the way, I did pick up a few lessons that I did listen to that were completely wrong. And these people didn’t intentionally lie to me. It wasn’t their fault. But I learned them, and as I have gotten older I now realize they didn’t know what the heck they were talking about.
Money isn’t as important as you think.
If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me, I wouldn’t have to worry about money. I am sure it was told to me as a child at times as well. But more importantly, and more critical, was the fact that money wasn’t discussed. Look, I know my parents did all they can. I didn’t go without food, water, shelter, and clothing. And I know for a fact that my parents did whatever they could to provide us with everything they could. I had a great childhood.
I also know that there were people around me that were better off. Their parents had better paying jobs. Which meant that they got the newer and nicer things. Kids are smart enough to look around and see the reality of situations, but instead of them only seeing the realities of the situation, I think parents can use that as a motivator to encourage their kids to understand the realities of the situation better by explaining to them the realities of the situation.
My parents didn’t talk about money which meant we didn’t think about money. At an early age, I knew that money was important, because when I had it, I felt better, and I could go and buy all the damn candy I wanted. And for me to be able to do that I had to have money.
I can remember poor person after poor person telling me that money wasn’t everything. There are more important things in life. But just as I learned as a kid and I know it to be more true as an adult, money is necessary for everything. I need money just to leave my house. Gas is expensive, food is expensive, dry cleaning is expensive. Everything requires money. Not only do you need it to live, but if you have any desire to help other people, you will need money as well. Never tell anybody that money isn’t that important, because it is.
Formal education is the most important education:
Do good in school, pick a great high school, and be sure to go to college. I don’t want to discount any of these things. We all need to understand the basics of which education teaches and provides. I think most people get this. Where it goes wrong though, is to only focus on this.
I never had a teacher, parent, counselor, etc. tell me that skills are more important than education. Skills that I can use in the marketplace that can help me get what I want from the marketplace.
Here are just a few skills, that should be overtly taught, instead of hoping students get them through the process of pursuing a formal education.
Skills such as influencing other people, selling their ideas, being a leader, communicating with tact and candor, taking initiative, problem solving, critical thinking, how to get attention for the things you want, marketing, etc.
Yes, you get some of these skills through the process of a regular classroom, but there wasn’t any course on how to get attention (marketing) in the marketplace. And if there was, the people teaching the course, my teachers, didn’t know how to exactly do it themselves. They were reading it to you out of a textbook, which meant their examples were weak and not very compelling.
Yes, a level of formal education is important, but skill development is what is even more important. Children should learn how to make money, manage money, talk to people, take initiative, take risks, problem solve, etc. These are the skills that are more important.
Everything I learned by watching everyone in my life was all about security. Find a good paying job with benefits. Go to college and get a good education so you can have opportunities. Save your money. Don’t get noticed, stay under the radar. Do what you have to do.
Not once did I learn that everything in life that is worthwhile will be just out of reach of my comfort zone and my willingness to expand that zone is what will allow me to get whatever it is that I wanted.
Nobody taught me to seek discomfort. To seek challenges. To challenge myself to learn new skills and to be entrepreneurial.
Again, it wasn’t anybody’s fault that I learned these things. This is what the people I was around the most were taught, and this is what was taught by everyone they knew. We really are a product of our environment.
As the great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says: “You will be the same person you are today, five years from now, except for the books your read and the people you meet.”
As a child growing up, I didn’t read very many books outside the ones I had to read. And I only met people who were in my circle of friends and family.
My suggestion to parents is to look for unique ways to challenge your children and get them experiences with what they will eventually be exposed to in the marketplace. Teach them the skills that will help them get ahead and stay ahead.
To your success and your future.