Business Lesson: When You Have Never Done Something Before

Joshua was an amazing general and leader of his people. One of my favorite quotes from him is something I say whenever I have to do something new: “Now pay attention, because we have never been this way before.”
Simple words, but full of wisdom. There are many situations in life in which we find ourselves doing something new. This is when we must pay real attention.

Maybe you’ve just been promoted to supervisor, manager, or even CEO. You might even have just become a member of Parliament or a Minister of Government for the first time: ‪#‎Pay‬ attention, because you have not been this way before.

Perhaps you have been asked to serve on the board of an organisation or a company: #Pay attention, because you have not been this way before.

Then again you might be about to leave your job to start a business as an entrepreneur: #Pay attention, because you have not been this way before!

People who go into something for the first time without the humility to admit that it’s new, and that it requires learning the ropes, often pay a terrible price. In the process, they sometimes inflict suffering on themselves, the business (or government or NGO), and even those who follow them.

The Tentmaker said: “Don’t be like them.”
A friend of mine was a senior executive in a global company for many years. When he decided it was time to start his own business, he passed by my office to announce his plans.

“I think those are great ideas, but why don’t you do a short course at a local college or online on entrepreneurship first,” I suggested.

“My friend, I have been running large international businesses. Entrepreneurship courses are for kids!” He replied with obvious indignation. I shut my mouth.

Not long after, I sadly learnt that he had started something that failed dismally.

The other day, I learnt that one of the greatest football players had enrolled in a course to get a coaching certificate. When asked why he felt he needed such a course, he replied: “I was a player not a coach. As a player, I saw things as a player, not as the coach. Now I want to see as a coach.”

__This is the attitude you must always have.
Finally, don’t measure yourself against others by saying things like, “If so and so can do it, I can do it, too. After all, he was not so smart at school.”

That is the talk of someone who is not wise.

You can become a great entrepreneur. But first go invest in learning everything you can about it. Take some courses. Join associations and clubs of entrepreneurs. Read their magazines and newspapers. Immerse yourself in understanding how an entrepreneur thinks, and reacts. Read books about or written by entrepreneurs. Attend conferences. Learn their language. Spend more time with them, every day. That is how you pay attention.

When you’re about to go somewhere you’ve never been before, study the terrain carefully. Even if you plan to chart a whole new course, learn all you can from the maps and the mapmakers that have gone before you.

This piece was written by Strive Masiyiwa on his Official facebook page. Strive is the founder and executive chairman of Econet

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