The Stages Of Life and Business

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When I was younger I remember everything being so large and intimidating. From the buildings, to all the people, and all the situations in life that seemed so difficult to navigate at the time. When I was a freshman in high school I would sit next to the seniors at lunch. All that I could ever think was that they were just absolutely enormous. I was only 3 years younger than they were but they were twice my size. I did the math and it didn't add up, I wouldn’t ever become as big as they were. And actually I never did. (Considering that they were on steroids, I don’t think many people did.) But all of that is gone now.  So what happened? Now everything seems so small that I could just crush it with my hand.

The parallels of life and business are numerous. A successful person’s life can be compared to the same three basic stages that any successful business goes through. And the same holds true for an unsuccessful person compared to that of the same in business. Childhood and our youth are very similar to the early days of any great business. We are, in our own way, our own business and we share a lot of the same growing pains. Remember the first time that you learned how to ride a bicycle by wreaking it 10 times? In business you also make a lot of mistakes as you learn. But if your structure and mission statement are solid, your life and business will continue to grow and succeed. 

It was my turn in life to learn how to ride a bicycle. I was a pretty coordinated and smart kid, so it shouldn't be that hard? I convinced my dad to take those stupid training wheels off; I was ready for the big leagues! I’m sitting on my seat at the top of the hill; dad is holding me up along with the bike. This didn’t seem so bad? So we will slowlllllly walk down the hill together and I will learn how to balance this thing as we go, simple enough. Now we are getting going aaaaaaaaand… see ya later dad?! I crashed. There was no better way for me to learn how to ride a bike than to experience the pain of a crash.

Now that’s debatable, but I can tell you that I didn’t crash very often after that first time of feeling how much it hurt! I felt the pain of failure. I learned very quickly how to ride a bike. I thank my father for not sugar coating things when he raised me. I thank him because that is EXACTLY how everything in life works. In life if you fall, dad isn't going to be there to save you... So why would he walk beside me while I rode that bike down the hill? Life isn’t going to provide me a safety net all the time to catch me in case I fall. No, it’s swim or die, so learn it early. 

Imagine that you are young, in life or in your business. There are many characteristics that are similar but I want to focus on a few fundamental areas.  Your business and your body both start off small. Your business is maybe family owned with a few employees, your body weighs 80-100 pounds. But beyond the physical and tangible dimensions, is your mentality. You are taking risks, and a lot of them. You’re taking your bumps and bruises along the way, while learning with every success and failure as you go. And correctly so... you are full of energy so you can recover from all of these mistakes. However life and business are also very volatile. More often than not, this stage of life and business will determine the ultimate success of you or your organization.

If your risks are smart, your structure is stable, and you learn from your mistakes, then you are likely to succeed and develop into a massive corporation. Too often a person’s life narrative is largely determined by the early stages of their life. This is also true in any business. If you don’t have a supportive family as a child, or the business doesn’t have effective and stable management, it’s very hard to achieve long term success. You can find outlier’s, but they are the exception. Statistics prove that if you don’t have both parents to raise a child in a structured environment, or the management is bad at your business which creates an unstable atmosphere, you are less likely to become great.  The decisions that are made in the early stages of any person or business will greatly influence later outcomes. Moving on.

Lately I've found it becoming more and more difficult to ‘out work’ other people, at least physically. Granted, I need to get in a gym but some of the things that used to come natural are starting not too. My rigid weekend routine of cleaning, laundry, etc, etc, etc, is starting to become tedious, especially after a long week at work. I've started to find myself enjoying days of doing nothing.. Something that I could never imagine before. I've always had way too much energy, now I don't. But just as it seems that my energy is decreasing, my ability to achieve things by utilizing my mind has increased. I'm now getting things done with my intelligence, something that I rarely utilized before. Just like in any business, you learn what works in life and what doesn't. It’s the tricks of the trade.

Assuming that you made some good choices in your life/business you’re moving on to the second stage of successful development. A small company, or early adulthood have some of the same risks and characteristics. You are past the beginner stages and now you have some experience to base your decisions off of. You are taking fewer risks than before but they are smarter. Let’s call them more ‘calculated risks’. But just as you start to feel like you have the world at your fingertips, you notice that you have much less energy?

Transition to the second stage of your life or business, your body begins to slow down as your mind speeds up. In business, this is when you reach the point that you can’t handle everything on your own (body slowing down) but you begin to achieve more by learning how to delegate to others (mind speeding up).Some people or businesses never reach this point. They either never grow up in their lives or never learn how to delegate in business. These are the unsuccessful people (never moving out of their parents’ house) or businesses (never grow larger than what they can handle themselves because they are not able to successfully delegate to others). Don’t get stuck in your life or business being the big fish in a small pond; learn how to achieve more with your mind instead of your body.

Stage #3, luckily I don’t have any first hand experiences to share with you from this stage so I will have to theorize. Now you are much older and entering the last stage of your life or (now) corporation. You have become a well-oiled machine at both, a self-sustaining operation. (Too bad you can’t live as long as your well managed business can). Risk is now a thing of the past! Why would you want to risk anything now? You have achieved everything that you ever wanted and things are running on their own. In life, you are married, kids, kids have kids, and you are retired. Your business is now publicly owned and traded, and your influences on day to day activities are minimal in life and business. You have broad strokes of influence instead of small decisions. Everything you achieve is now with your mind, or delegates. Energy, along with risk, is almost nonexistent. Your time to learn from mistakes is over; your job now is to teach others how to avoid making those same mistakes. You achieve with your mind, not your body.

Lately I’ve started to see some tendencies and traits in other people that I used to share myself when I was younger. I see other’s taking some of the same energetic risks that I used to take and it makes me smile. I envy their energy but I’m smart enough to know better now. I’m sure it’s a sign that I’m entering the second stage of my life. I think that I got the most out of my first stage. Thinking back, I can’t believe that I changed light bulbs at Mondawmin Mall on an overhang sign 100+ feet above solid concrete without any support. That was an un-calculated, beginner stage risk for sure. One of many that I’m lucky didn’t end my business in its early days..