The first year in business seems like a blur. With three little kids at the time and leaving the safety of a good paying job and benefits, I will admit it was scary as hell, many days wondering if I had made the right decision to go solo. As I compiled this list of 16 lessons, I reflected upon a lot.

These lessons, in no particular order, have flowed through the journey to help shape who I am today and the creative work that flows from it. Hopefully, you will pick up a nugget or two of wisdom and inspiration.

#1: Stay Hungry. You’ll never really arrive, and if you think you have or will, let 2020 be the biggest kick-in-the-ass reminder that everything can change without warning or reason. Last year was a major paradox: The most difficult year on some levels of my career and also the most exciting rolled into one.

#2: Adversity is the only thing you can count on. Life changes and business changes. You must be nimble and able to deal with change, both when you plan for it and when it crashes in unexpectedly.

#3: Deadlines are your biggest ally. Without them, nothing gets done. Books don’t get written or finished. Events are delayed indefinitely. Clients get shiny and won’t keep hiring you. You’re either consistent or you’re non-existent in a nine-second attention span world. Read that again.

#4: Turn inward to move upward. Yes, time away from distraction, noise, and interruption is where the big breakthroughs happen. Quiet the mind, get away from the chaos, and that’s where the gold is often found. Being “too busy” is a recipe for mediocrity, burnout, and missed opportunities.

#5: Delegate or stagnate. You must release the grip and bring on key people to assist you with the journey of expansion and influence. It can be scary at times, but worth it. To scale and expand, you need a great team to make it happen.

#6: Give back. If you’re stingy in business, you may make a few extra pennies, but you’ll lose out on so much more. The joy of sharing your talents—without always needing to be thanked or recognized—is priceless. Givers gain on levels far beyond just monetary. A major part of our growth is based on this principle.

#7: You will be misunderstood. I left the steady paycheck, and company benefits a long time ago. I could have sold out myself many times to work full-time again for someone else and it’s damn tempting, especially in early 2020. However, I’d rather create, inspire, and pursue my passion and gifts with freedom, joy, challenge, and autonomy.

#8: Focus on the people that get it. Haters gonna hate, critics will always complain, and trolls will always be present. You are not for everyone! That’s a good thing. Stay in your lane and keep pushing forward. Excessive people-pleasing is both draining and a fool’s game that you’ll never win. Immunity to criticism is often disguised as wisdom. My inner circle gets it. We’ve paid the price on many levels.

#9: You will fail and you will also succeed. Ah, the yin and yang of life and business. I’ve had some serious setbacks these past 16+ years and some incredible good fortune, experiences, and opportunities. I choose to focus on the wins more than the losses.

#10: Have fun each day. Life moves quick. For many years I was uptight and took myself too damn seriously. Man, that was exhausting. The past few years have reminded me to laugh more and create DAILY with the gifts God has given me. We are not guaranteed tomorrow.

#11: Make multiple moves daily. Engage the market. You must be proactive. Market. Believe. Hustle. Opportunity comes via action, not reaction and waiting. Yes, option-based thinking combined with a positive disruption mindset gets both attention and results.

#12: Give thanks and often. Gratitude inspires. It lifts you and others up. People are begging to be noticed. To be heard. But most importantly, to be appreciated. You’ll meet the same people going up the ladder as you do coming down it. Business runs in cycles. Relationships, not transactions, are the key to longevity.

#13: Referrals are the highest compliment you can receive. When someone refers you to another person or business, their reputation is on the line. Positive word-of-mouth, doing quality work on-time without excuses or drama, and keen follow-up are the keys.   

#14: Watch who you surround yourself with. Are you surrounded by wise counsel and people who lift you up and have your back? Do you have a safe harbor to bounce ideas off and to receive candid, frank advice when warranted? You need a good balance of both positive and pragmatic people within your inner circle.

#15. Defend your time and mind like a hawk. I turn 50 next year. Holy shit! Where did the time go? As the Beatles sang “Life is very short, my friend, so there’s no time for fussing and fighting, my friend.” I’m looking at life and opportunities with a whole new lens of focus and priority. I reserve the right to say “no” more often and selective a “yes” to projects, people, and clients that excite me and best resonate with my talents and goals. If I see a pattern of excessive drama with a client or project, I will pull the plug quickly and swiftly. No exceptions.

#16. Work daily on your body, mind, and spirit. The power triangle. If one side is broken or weak, an imbalance in the system can take you out. I’ve lived it, seen it within many others, and have learned many lessons. When all three areas are functioning properly, the improved quality of life, work, and creativity help to make each day even more fulfilling.

There you have it. As we begin year 17, much is happening including work on book #8, the 10th Annual Mind Capture Bootcamp in November, and a few other surprises. Again, a BIG thank-you for being a part of this fascinating journey of Capturing Minds worldwide!

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