You and you alone are responsible for success or failure. It might seem harsh, but that’s the bitter truth. In fact, it’s liberating! Knowing that you can count on yourself first and foremost is perhaps the most important realization in one’s life. So much for being self-reliant and having confidence in yourself. Can you succeed all by yourself? We have been all been fascinated by stories of lone geniuses like Leonardo da Vinci, Isaac Newton, Albert Einstein, Nikola Tesla or Bill Gates- men who have changed the world. Indeed, they all fall on the introvert spectrum. They all share a knack for spending time alone, tweaking with instruments or electricity, programming, inventing, etc. Truth be told, the stories of lone geniuses who have cracked some of the world’s biggest mysteries belong more to the folklore. The myth of the lone genius is shoved down our throats the moment we begin to make sense of the world, until we unplug from the Matrix. Leonardo Da Vinci was a truly brilliant inventor, but he did not isolate himself in a cave, waiting and praying for inspiration to strike. He was an integral part of the Renaissance community. There’s no way he would have come up with the Mona Lisa or the Last Supper from living in a cave or a cabin in the woods! Isaac Newton was a true loner, but he did not invent calculus out of thin air. As he put it “If I have seen further than others, it is by standing upon the shoulders of the giants.” So much for the lone genius part.
In today’s ever-competitive world, you should be flexible, adaptive, think long-term, prescient, resilient and able to keep your cool under any circumstance. Else, be prepared to fail. Long gone are the days when a business could survive by just enforcing austerity measures. Entrepreneurs need to be proactive. There’s no getting around it.
Successful leaders take full responsibility for failure.
Self-serving biases, so much common among most people, do not apply to most leaders. A leader does not deny responsibility when things go south. Proactive people do not merely take more initiatives. Henry David Thoreau famously put it “I know no more encouraging fact than the unquestionable ability of a man to elevate himself by conscious endeavor”. By the same token, proactive people deliberately put themselves out of their comfort zone. What is the best way to lead an organization or business? Leading by example. Simple as that. Successful entrepreneurs walk the talk. Talk is cheap. Action is supreme.
We react to bad news. We react to events. We react to almost everything. Unfortunately, reactive is where most people live. Entrepreneurs and leaders, on the other hand, know better. Proactive companies or organizations are constantly fine-tuning their strategies. They listen to their customers and they anticipate their needs. These companies don’t just respond to news and events. Proactive businesses are fluid and able to adapt to any situation. They foresee and influence changes. No, they don’t have a crystal ball. Microsoft didn’t have one. Neither did Apple, Amazon, Google, eBay, Facebook or Twitter for that matter. Innovative companies have proactive leaders. Make no mistake, they are not control freaks. Contrary to popular belief, entrepreneurs such as Bill Gates, Jeff Bezos, Larry Page, Sergey Brin or Mark Zuckerberg know that total control over things and events is just an illusion. Companies come and go. Nothing lasts forever. You might argue that they have set standards, and that is true. After all, that’s what proactive companies do.
Proactive entrepreneurs inspire others. They forge a culture of cooperation in their team. When things go wrong, they don’t go around cursing and blaming other people. Or worse, wallow in self-pity. That belongs in the resume of reactive entrepreneurs, people with a bad temper. Proactive people take action. They listen carefully to every feedback, suggestion and opinions. They encourage decision-making among team members. Proactive entrepreneurs are not afraid to seek advice from staff members. They keep their cool under pressure. And what’s more important, they learn from their mistakes.
The world is a cruel and vicious place, and business is no exception.
Being proactive means you don’t let your company at the mercy of market’s ebbs and flows. You adapt. You anticipate change. Remember, it’s evolve or die. Life might throw you stones at you, but you don’t react in the same manner. You’re smarter. Why throw away stones, when you could build bridges?