A Very Wise Man Told Me This- It’s A Truth About Business And Life
David Gonski is a fixture in the Top 10 Most Influential People in Australia annual rankings. He’s on multiple boards, is much sought after as an advisor and is generally considered a very wise man. So when he laughed out loud at something I’d said, and then gave me a one sentence, sobering piece of advice, I listened. It’s a gem- and vital in business. This is what he said.
Let me be clear. I don’t know David Gonski. But I did manage to get a meeting with him once, where we sought his support in referring clients to our fledgling business (and to his credit and our deep gratitude, he did do exactly that. That major client is now a dear friend and a Possums reader from his bastide in Provence).
So- back to Gonski. A corporate shareholder in my business at that time had the year prior purchased a competitor of ours, and I was still upset about it, believing this broke an agreement I had had with the then CEO not to invest in competitors to my business. I told Gonski about this. He laughed, and then gave the advice that stings still today. He said:
“Staying pissed off is a luxury in business.”
I listened. I had to. It was David Gonski saying it for Heaven’s sake. Most of all, I reflected upon it. And over the years the wisdom in it resounds.
Of course things will happen that upset us in business. People quit for a competitor, they steal a client or person or two, someone breaks their word, lets you down, or lets themselves down. You feel hard done by, betrayed, disrespected or damaged in some way. Egos get hurt, business can suffer for a while.
The trick is not to brood on it: not to keep that angst and resentment with you.
Of course sometimes someone does something so outrageous that you simply cannot forget or forgive. There are those exceptions. But Gonski’s words are wise. Staying pissed off is a luxury in business. We all operate in small ‘communities’ and the people we know will come around again, either as a client or as a colleague again- or in some shape or form. Angst is simply lost energy, and depletes us.
I make it a priority to – with the passage of time- reconnect with those who have damaged me, or I have damaged. To reconnect, and rebuild. It is not easy. Sometimes it does not work out. But usually it does. And good things come from it.
Challenge to you
Who do you have ‘bad blood’ with in business? List them. Now- which of those relationships would be better ‘repaired’ rather than left as they are? Prioritise them. Make a few calls. Because, quite simply, staying pissed off is a luxury in business.