“If you don’t love what you do, your techniques for doing it don’t matter as much.”
This was only one of many insightful gems shared with us by Jeffrey Tucker at this Fall’s Praxis Opening Seminar.
Tucker, who is the CEO of Liberty.me , a publisher of Laissez Faire Books, and also a Distinguished Fellow of the Foundation for Economic Education, stopped by Seabrook Island to share a modicum of his practical wisdom and experience.
Here are some of the highlights along with my personal notes:
1) “If you don’t love what you do, your techniques for doing it don’t matter as much. Sales isn’t just about techniques. It’s about where your heart is.”
Let the “why” precede the “how.” So many success systems and sales strategies are designed around beliefs about what will work, but nothing works more than sincerely believing in what you do. Aim high, but don’t forget to feel deeply when choosing your professional path. If you don’t believe in what you’re selling, why should your customers? If you can’t put your heart into it, ditch it and dive into something that has real meaning for you.
2) “There is no such thing as menial labor. Every job matters. If you’re amazing at whatever it is you do, and if you add value, and if you strive for excellence, you will see progress happen.”
Don’t despise your work. That’s a self-defeating attitude. Use your job, even if it stinks, as an opportunity to improve yourself and others. If you focus on creating value inwardly and outwardly no matter where you go, your options will inevitably increase.
3) “‘Work ethic’ is the inner drive to achieve or perform independently of expectations and regardless of how you feel.”
Sure, hard work pays off in the form of recognition and other external rewards, but those aren’t the biggest dividends. The greatest value that comes from working hard is the character you build, the sense of self-esteem you develop, and the inner fulfillment that’s derived from knowing you made a difference in the world.
4) “If you want to be worth more, provide more value than what you’re taking out.”
No one is going to just hand you a raise or a promotion merely because you’ve been hanging around for a long time. If you want a greater supply of customers, connections, and resources, then become the kind of person who makes their time, skills, and presence highly demanded.
5) “There’s no better way to become valuable than by developing a reputation for being someone who gets things done.”
Talent is great and intelligence is impressive, but reliability is indispensable. Show up with persistence and punctuality. Be productive. Get really good at making yourself useful and people will cry when you leave.
6) “Avoid office politics. It’s tempting, it’s fun, it’s understandable, but it’s also dangerous to your longevity.”
Play the long game. Avoid passing fads and fleeting hot topics like “who’s sleeping with who” or “he said/she said.” The people who’ll still be around doing important work ten years from now are the people who know how to stay focused on their principles, priorities, and plans. Make your life simply by keeping the drama out.
7) “The least impressive thing an employee can ever do is fail to be available after work hours. If you make yourself radically unavailable, you’ll make yourself radically less valuable.”
You may not be able to work all the time, but it’s crucial, especially in the earlier stages of your career when you’re trying to get your foot in the door, that you go beyond doing the bare minimum. Fair or not, opportunity has always been prone to breeze past the person who counts the seconds until it’s time to clock out.
8) “I promise you that right now you are radically underestimating your capacities. Test yourself. Throw yourself out into some impossible, insane thing, and see if you can fly.”
Are you taking your potential seriously? Really seriously? Are you open to the idea that you CAN change the world? Are you open to the possibility that you CAN create a freer life? The odds are high that you’re capable of far more than you know. Don’t take my word for it. Take some leaps in life. Give yourself a chance to see what you can do through real-world experience.
9) “Never stop investing in your personal capital. Entrepreneurship isn’t just about making yourself more valuable. It’s about increasing your capacity to make a difference in the world.”
Investing in yourself will not only help you create a more successful professional life, but it’ll also help you create a better world. You have no idea who you’ll inspire, heal, or positively influence simply by taking daily steps to make yourself a better human being.
10) “Creativity is a learned thing. It can be triggered.”
Don’t say “I’m uncreative” and just leave it at that. You can learn how to be more creative. Study things that are fascinating to you. Go out and collect new experiences. Start hanging out with interesting people who do things differently than you. Start new routines. Read books about creativity. Talk to other artists and entrepreneurs. Creativity begins with you giving yourself a chance to be creative.
11) “Ideas are weird. They float by like little bubbles and if you don’t grab onto them fast, they’re gone. Creativity is like a dream. If you don’t write it down or tell the story soon enough, it slips away.”
Develop the habit of recording your ideas—even the crazy, zany, far out, seemingly stupid ideas. Send a message to your creative mind that says “I’m listening, I’m open, I’m available.” The more you practice paying attention to your ideas and creative insights, the more ideas and creative insights you’ll start to get.
12) “Keep your life simple. A high income lifestyle can be a trap that keeps you from being free to take risks.”
Having lots of money doesn’t mean you have to spend it. Always live below your means. The flexibility that comes from having savings or from not having too many demands is invaluable. If you pamper yourself with a lifestyle of luxury too soon, you may not be able to afford the sacrifices required by some very wonderful opportunities.