There are those who seek self-improvement and those who live it. Odd as it may seem, most highly successful people don’t make special New Year’s resolutions. It may stem from some Eastern belief systems which suggest what you concentrate on is what you experience. Could that be the key? If you continuously want to win the Lotto, that’s exactly what you will get - a continuous yearning to win the Lotto. If, however, you concentrate on doing the best you can at a task, you have to actually do the work in order to reach your purpose.
It is a subtle, yet critical difference.
Research carried out at the University of Scranton in Pennsylvania suggests that only 8 percent of people achieve their New Year’s resolutions. Are you one of the remaining 92% who succeed at confirming Scranton’s findings, or are you in the 8% minority who fail to be unsuccessful? Do we need selfhelp books or the terabytes of available self-improvement information from every possible expert?
Just like Napoleon Hill, Walt Disney and many others, Oprah Winfrey, one of the world’s best known selfimprovement megastars promoted the concept of “If you can dream it, you can do it!”
Every week, TV audiences in their millions witnessed the Queen-of-Dream weave her magic.
If you were fortunate to be an audience participant, you left with something - sometimes even a paid-off house. But that was luck, not achievement.
As a concept, “If you can dream it, you can do it” is nonsense and even horribly misleading. Who exactly became the billionaire philanthropists – the audience of a billion dreamers, or Messrs. Winfrey, Disney and Hill?
Did they dream a billion dollars into existence, or did they do the hard work of selling people the dream of billions?
So in addition to imagining and dreaming about personal goals, what about gifting your newly awakened business with A New Year’s present and some task-orientated commitments? A little like a ‘from dad, to dad’ gift for your enterprise with an entire year (or more) to do it rather than to dream it?
Shortly after the 1994 transition to majority rule, businesses could consider longterm goals, anticipating a future for the Nation with the proverbial pot of gold at the end of a Rainbow.
Unfortunately, South Africa’s current topsy-turvy industrial policies and uncertain regulatory environment makes most traditional strategy plans for businesses fall flat. Many enterprises would do well to simply plan for the year ahead (I hope some of our elected policy-makers are reading this).
So in a celebratory spirit, here are three suggested timeless gifts from you to your enterprise: First – to seek wisdom. Second, keep it simple. Third, maintain a learning spirit. In the 1840s, British publisher T. Pettit, said, “There are but two things required to enable you to learn to profit or learn profitably… first, a heart to receive instruction, and second, a great teacher for your instruction.”
To conclude, I’d like to share my three business resolutions for 2017:
First, during productive hours business comes first. Look after your business and restrict your charitable endeavours to your own available resources.
Second, wherever possible avoid doing business with the government.
Third, never do business or partner with someone who relies on political connections and influence to make a living.
All three of the above have something in common: they do not spend an unearned wealth or resource. Nor do they rely on resources begged, borrowed or stolen from someone else and they are easy to implement and maintain.
Of interest is that these resolutions were originally made some years before the current regime was voted into power.
Party politics are temporary, principles are not. I repeat them every year because I find them a great antidote to stress and unmet expectations. They can also serve to prevent bankruptcy or even a jail term.
As for personal New Year’s resolutions, think of discarding them today and substituting for some ageless guidance instead: If it is important enough to you, you will find a way. If it is not, you will find an excuse.
* Ron Weissenberg is a Grahamstown resident who started his first (unsuccessful) business at the age of 7. Ron sits on the Boards of various companies and is a recognised orator on entrepreneurship, economics, commercial law