- Personal Responsibility. Personal responsibility is a MUST characteristic for any entrepreneur or leader. It requires taking ownership of your words, actions and decisions. Responsible people think before they act. They are clear on what’s expected of them, keep commitments, avoid making excuses, and own up to and correct their mistakes. People tend to judge themselves by their intentions and others by their actions. Entrepreneurs and leaders also take responsibility for maintaining the integrity of the company by establishing and holding others accountable for company values. By holding themselves to a higher standard, they establish a higher standard. Leaders get more of the behaviors they exhibit, tolerate, acknowledge and celebrate.
- It is more important to do the right thing than to be right. The customer may not always be “right,” but they are always the customer. Once you set a price and scope of work, your goal should be to be easy to work with and always exceed your client’s expectations. On many projects it may mean doing much more than you were paid for. That happens in business all the time. From those experiences you learn how to more clearly spell out the fee, scope of work, timeline and deliverables of a project. The right client will appreciate your commitment to the projects as well as your professionalism. They will also value you more for fixing a problem than for being flawless.
- Don’t burn bridges. In your business career, it’s inevitable that you will be hurt by many people, but regardless of the circumstance, don’t burn a bridge. Be careful not to let your emotions cloud your judgement and professionalism. Consider the consequences of your actions and always weigh them carefully against what you really want to achieve. Much to your surprise, many people who you part ways with at some point may come back to work with you again or refer you to someone else. That would not be possible if you burn a relationship. Over time good judgement and emotional maturity have significant and surprising returns.
What do all three of these simple behaviors have in common? Character and emotional awareness.
I’d like to share two Randy stories.
Two years ago Randy Jones came to me and asked me if I would be his coach. All he had was $5000, but he was willing to give me a check that day for the entire amount. It was at a time when I really needed the money. As a result I expressed my gratitude by giving him a year’s worth of coaching, including unlimited telephone and emails. He has become a great friend.
Another client named Randy was the first client to believe in me and hire me from Birthing of Giants over 10 years ago. I connected with him again earlier this year when I made a presentation in Raleigh, N.C. He had sold his business and was now a business coach. He asked me what my fee was and I told him how much it was on a daily basis. He said he wanted to buy a day of my time and would come to Austin to work with me. I said “Randy I can’t charge you my current daily rate. You were there for me from the beginning” and I charged him half. It was my way of showing my gratitude for someone who believed in me as I was starting to build my coaching career.
Randy is responsible for helping me pick up a new client in Raleigh who I started working with this week. As I write this I am returning from working with my new Raleigh client. While I was there I stayed at the home of another client who refused to let me pay for a meal while I was there. He also picked me up from and took me to the airport. We have become great friends over the years and he told me how grateful he was that when his business was in trouble I was always there for him and that I helped him get through his crisis.
Relationships like these and the opportunity to continue to grow as a coach and a person is what makes what I do so rewarding.
Your spirit shows in everything you do. When your values are clear, your decisions are easy. The most respected entrepreneurs and leaders know that being happy in life is more about the relationships you establish and the friends you make than anything else.