In business, there are always traps waiting to ensnare us. Sometimes they are clever schemes that others have elaborately concocted to bring us to ruin, or otherwise simply cheat us. But even more common are those we unwittingly set for ourselves.
Blindly we stumble forward into pitfalls resulting from arrogance, laziness, naivety, or just sheer incompetence. The only way to prevent this—apart from luck—is to cultivate a mind-set that helps us to see the traps before we step into them.
So if you learn to recognise when you are being arrogant, you can avoid the trap that waits for you on the other side. If you can see when you are being lazy, you will not be caught in the trap that would be waiting for you. When you are aware of your naivety, it gives you a chance to do something about it. As for incompetence, well obviously you will have to work harder to overcome it, but when you can be honest enough with yourself to admit your own incompetence, it puts you on the right path to recovery.
All of this is neatly encapsulated in the Buddhist practice of mindfulness or “conscious awareness”. If you want a less spiritual understanding of the concept, perhaps De Bono’s “Six Hats” will suffice. Whatever floats your boat. The actual philosophy that you follow or believe in is not the important part. What really matters is that you become fully aware of your actions as you are doing them.
This means thinking about your motives (intention), the thing you are doing (action), and the consequences of that action (karma, or “cause and effect”). It is a simple law of science, and all religions, that you cannot do anything without it creating some kind of effect. Even a random thought has an effect, perhaps only on your own mind and development, but an effect nonetheless.
So in every business decision you will make, you have to consider the three components of the formula: intention + action = karma. Whether this is good karma or bad karma is entirely dependent on the motives and action. The karma is an unavoidable part of the equation. When the karma is good, it will result in greater profits. When the karma is bad it will result in loss, maybe even scandal. And of course, when this karma comes back to you, you will then face new decisions where you will again have to be mindful of the three components.
One man who knows more about success and failure than most of the world’s population is Reuben Singh. He has been through every level of building, breaking, and rebuilding a business, so he knows what he is talking about.
Helping to guide us through the difficult maze of traps that surround us, Singh has shared his insights through a series of articles at the Huffington Post. There is some really good advice in there, and these articles are well worth checking out.
But the most important lesson in business is to observe every decision you make (something Singh defines as “helicopter view”) and as you get in the habit of doing this, you will find that your decisions become better ones.