There is an old cliché that states “I wish I knew then what I know now.” Hindsight is 20/20. We have all said this to ourselves as we take time to reflect on the journey we travel as CEO’s.
After fourteen years as a CEO, I have had my fair share of lessons learned. My colleagues, both those in the chamber and association industries share in similar moments of realization. These lessons, some humorous, some humbling, have guided us along our paths to where we are in our careers today. Whether you are just beginning to walk down the CEO path, or you are further down the road in your journey, the lessons below are shared commonalities from both my experiences and those of my colleagues:
- Have passion for what you do
- Understand your weaknesses and learn from them
- Understand your strengths and capitalize on them
- Always keep a volunteer between you and the situation
- Never take credit for success until it is time to upgrade your resume
- Find a mentor that will give you true feedback
- Laugh and have fun
- Learn how to unplug at the end of the day
There was an insightful article that appeared in Forbes a number of years ago entitled The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives. This article took a different approach at learning our lessons and what to avoid. The article included such habits as:
- They see themselves and their companies as dominating their environment
- They think they have all the answers
- They underestimate obstacles
- They stubbornly rely on what worked for them in the past
I encourage you to take time and reflect on the lessons you have learned throughout your journey. Not just the moments where you have succeeded, but also the moments where there has been an opportunity for improvement. Talk with your mentors and colleagues. Ask them about their top 3 lessons learned. You will never stop learning as a CEO.
When I was a new CEO, a mentor of mine shared one lesson we all need to learn from. He said it is simple, “Keep the five directors who hate your guts away from the five who are undecided about you.”
Enjoy the journey.
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