Monday, January 2, 2012 2011

With every New Year there’s a new beginning. It’s a time for reflection. Reflections on the things we did or didn’t do, the promises we made or didn’t keep, and more importantly reflections of lessons we learned to make us better.

It’s common to see in television sitcoms an episode that highlights memorable moments and characters, probably to celebrate its first 100 episodes. This blog is my flashback to the 170 lessons I learned in 2011.

The Ten Things I Learned in 2011

1. I learned to start small like Gandhi did.
Gandhi is best known for his nonviolent movement in India against the early British rule. However, his story began in South Africa as he fought for Indian rights before taking on the task of representing his people in his native land – a fight that lasted 30 years. Doing great things takes time and practice. Starting small allows you to master the skills you need before moving on to bigger and more complicated projects.   

2. I learned the importance and value of diversity by watching Sesame Street
From its early start, the popular TV show has been home to many characters beyond your commonly known puppets. Its cast of Hispanics, African Americans, Seniors and more is an example of an inclusive workplace that excels because of the diversity it has. Having a diverse work place will allow you to better connect with the continually changing audience and potentially be in business as long Big Bird and friends have.

3. I learned to turn a weakness into a strength from watching Rocky Balboa’s fights
Rocky is the story of a Philadelphia boxer with a will to win, but beating the champion Apollo Creed wouldn’t be easy for this underdog fighter. The "Italian Stallion", who was known as a left-hand fighter, trained day and night his right arm to throw his opponent off and knock him out in Rocky II. Developing your weaknesses is what sets you aside from other fighters and gets you the championship title.

4. I learned to see things through a different lens while practicing Photography
Get a fancy camera that switches lenses and you’ll see things completely different with every change. Scenes can go from far to close, from narrow to wide, from unfocused to crystal clear. Take a minute to look at things differently and see them from a different perspective, you might get a better view and a more breathtaking result.

5. I learned to reconsider my every move by playing Poker Texas Hold’em
In this form of Poker, you get multiple chances to reconsider your game, the more common ones are three cards dealt referred to as The Flop, The Turn, and The River. With every turn of the card your chances change, so you take a minute to revisit what you want to do next. In business life, it’s hard to take a step back and look at your bets but you could be cutting your losses (or gains) short if you don’t reconsider your every move.

6. I learned to keep things simple like Steve Jobs’s Ipod.
The death of Steve Jobs was felt around the world - the same one he changed multiple times during his life. During an early trip to India, while pursuing spiritual enlightenment, he came up with the principles later found it many of his products: keeping things simple. We tend to believe that adding makes our work stronger which in turn creates a habit to complicate our emails, our presentation, our work loads, and ultimately our life. Take control back by keeping thing simple. You, your family, and your consumers will appreciate it.     

7. I learned to do things differently from Sam Walton and his ideas behind Walmart
The basic idea of doing things differently led an Arkansas entrepreneur to create today’s largest company in the world: Walmart. From putting an ice cream machine outside his first shop to pioneering the lowest prices through distribution efficiencies across America, Sam Walton left this idea behind along with his business principals and memoir. To be different, you need to think and act differently.   

8. I learned to correct my mistakes by watching the Death Star blow up twice on Star Wars
The Star Wars Empire (bad guys) created the most powerful war weapon in the Galaxy called the Death Star. Long story short, the good guys blow it up in the 1975 film and years later, after the Empire rebuilds it, they do it again pretty much because it had the same flaw: a hole (different in size) that gave access to shots that started an explosive chain reaction. Look at your mistakes and fix them before they make you vulnerable to others. 

9. I learned that we can all be Superheroes
Every summer brings a new wave of superheroes to the movie screen. This was the year of Green Lantern and Thor, and next year we’ll be reliving the stories of Spiderman and Batman again. The interesting lesson behind these stories is their different backgrounds -sometimes human and sometines not - and that despite their differences they all became heroes. In your business, in your community, in your home, so can you.

10. I learned the importance of making people feel special from my most Memorable Bosses.  
The bosses that had the most impact on my career were those that genuinely cared and made me feel special. I keep very vivid memories of those people because they went above and beyond their job to show they were committed to developing me professionally. Treat your employees and/or peers with respect and go beyond your daily duties to make everyone feel exceptionally well.

As the year ends, I look back to all the lessons I learned beyond just these ten and I hope that, with more than 3000 page views, someone out there is learning with me.

May the New Year bring everyone the lessons they need to become better employees, betters managers, and ultimately better people.

Happy New Year.

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