By Samantha Scott, APR
President / Grand Poobah
I recently had the opportunity to attend The News-Press’ annual People of the Year event – a time when business and community leaders alike come together to recognize those making a difference in Southwest Florida. It’s an inspiring morning to say the least.
For those of you who couldn’t attend, I’d like to share. Tom Uhler was the keynote speaker, and he offered his “10 Life Lessons“. I’d like to share them – and add a few thoughts of my own – with you.
1. Do the right thing.
This sounds so simple. Most of the hardest things are. Admitting when you’re wrong; saying you’re sorry; learning to say “no”, but they are often the most important. At PTE, this is one of our critical drivers. Ethics is a key component in our culture and we subscribe to a “reputation above riches” belief system. (Proverbs 22:1)
2. March to your own drummer.
Just because someone says you can’t or you’re made to believe you’re different – so what? No one believed the Wright brothers either. It’s okay to stand out from the crowd. In fact, in business that’s exactly what you want to do!
3. Say please & thank you – and mean it.
Maybe it’s because I’ve lived in the south so long, but this is important to me and something I try hard to do, both personally and professionally. Sometimes you’ll even hear me say ma’am or sir! It goes back to the little things, the simple things. Saying “please” and “thank you” communicates respect and appreciation. Couldn’t we all use a little more of that?
4. Optimism is the only reality.
This can be a hard one to swallow when wars are being waged, innocent people are hurt or when life just seems hard. But it’s true. Things may be different now than they were 30, 40, 50 years ago, but overall, we’re better off. Just consider the vaccines, new protective measures in cars and new technology created every year!
5. Take yourself seriously if you want others to.
This one is for the young professionals out there, the up and comers, our interns and future leaders. Life is fun, it’s good to enjoy yourself, but it’s also important to be professional and take yourself seriously. Dress for the job you WANT, not the job you have. Don’t be afraid to work hard – even if you don’t feel like your effort is being noticed right away. Think and act like a leader if that’s what you strive to become.
6. We’re never alone in our efforts.
As a Type A personality, I’ve often been guilty of either taking everything on when I didn’t have to, or believing I’m alone because I was too naive or open to see others who were there to help. Whether it’s a project for work or volunteering, there’s always someone else who’s capable and/or interested in the same thing. Tom’s advice is to enlist the skills of others that are complimentary to yours – then you both succeed.
7. Chance favors the prepared mind.
This is one of my favorite quotes, and I’m sure many of you reading this have heard it before. It’s short and sweet, but speaks volumes. We must be ready for opportunity and open to accepting it. We have to remain curious. The example Tom provided was of Sir Isaac Newton. Many had seen apples (or other objects) fall to the ground. No one asked before “why does stuff always fall?”. Newton did. He was curious.
8. Give back.
This also ties into our company culture and the culture of many of our clients. One of which, Scott Fischer Enterprises, was a finalist for the Business of the Year category at the People of the Year awards. Giving back can be anything from time to talent to funds. We ALL have room to give a little. It may be inconvenient, it will cost us something, but in the end each one of us can make some kind of difference. One easy way is to become a Literacy Buddy or to donate blood.
Not only does smiling make you more pleasant to look at, it’s also good for you. In fact, according to Fast Company, it changes your brain! It improves your mood and can improve the mood of others. Just think about how you feel on a rough day when someone you don’t know smiles at you at the grocery store or is nice to you in traffic. It’s a nice change, isn’t it? Why did we start scowling all the time anyway?
10. “We become what we think about”
Earl Nightingale coined this concept, and it’s true. If we think about positive things, life doesn’t seem so bad. If we focus on all the things that have gone wrong, how our health could be better, that the weather isn’t that great or are generally negative, then we have a negative outlook on life. Don’t get me wrong. I’m not saying some days the glass doesn’t get knocked over or spring a leak, but let’s commit to a glass half full mentality.
In the end, Tom’s life lessons aren’t anything new. We’ve likely heard or read them all before, but are we living them? If not, why not? As business leaders, professionals and active parts of society, why can’t we try to? We each have the same opportunity to be a “person of the year”. We just need to live up to our full potential – and support each other in doing the same.
Congratulations to all the finalists and to all the winners! You are inspirations to all of us in Southwest Florida and shining examples of how good humanity can be. May we all take a lesson or two, or ten, from you.
So, I leave you with this… We have a choice about how our day will turn out. No one else controls that. Be happy and people will want to be around you – and they’ll be happier. Sounds like a good plan to me. Will you join me?