When I first pondered this question I thought “How can I possibly choose just one lesson from the thousands of major mistakes from which I’ve learned?” But then the answer became very clear very quickly – there is one which stands above all the others. And interestingly, it is the same lesson for both my personal and business life.
Life today is all about speed and fast action. The rate of change continues to accelerate, so we have to think, move and act faster and faster. But there are some things I have found it is much more appropriate to slow down.
The biggest mistakes I have made have been when I have not taken enough time to establish a trusting relationship before making a further “investment”. And the times I have taken the time, I have gotten it right.
Often when we meet a person for the first time we can be inspired (business) or infatuated (personal) and this can lead us to rush into an over-commitment. The ultimate result is very often a fizzle and/or no productivity.
From my experience, when I have taken the time to develop trust and loyalty before going for the “payoff” i.e. by building a substantive relationship, this has provided a very solid foundation for the future. And the productivity in the relationship follows.
Think of it like a courtship or an engagement. Sometimes it can happen in 5 minutes and sometimes it takes years. But the key lesson is that building the relationship first is the most important – whether it be with a life partner or a business partner.
People do business with each other when they like and trust each other.