5 Proven Principles Can Improve Your Professional & Personal

Lessons to Share

My personal life is so intertwined with my business life that I value the lessons that apply to both. Here are five principles that I try to practice as much as possible:

Simplify your Business and Home Life

I’ve trotted out this concept once before in an earlier blog but it is worth repeating. The truth is that it is challenging to identify what really matters in business and in life. This principle requires me (and our company) to focus on what our engineering software is designed to do and not waste time and resources on product features that detract from the software’s core mission. Move to the home and in that cluttered space toss the stuff you haven’t used in years. Focus and keep that which is most significant. Two young guys, Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus, aka The Minimalists, are speaking to sold out crowds across the United States and Canada about exactly this. Adopt a business (and social) life that asks you to direct attention to what matters most.

Be Prepared to Work Hard Because Tenacity and Discipline Pay Off

Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon.com, said, “A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last.” We all know that a product can be successful one day only to lose market share the next. Staying on top requires a proactive mind-set and a commitment to working hard every day of the week. But this doesn’t mean you can neglect the other part of your life. This approach works for home as well: Never presume that a family will survive on a fraction of your attention.

A company shouldn’t get addicted to being shiny, because shiny doesn’t last

Be Grateful for What You Have

A documentary released in 2011 on Netflix called Happy and directed by Roko Belic interviewed residents of 14 countries to determine the qualities and lifestyles that led to a greater sense of well-being and yes, happiness. Most of those interviewed had strong communities, families and social networks. All of those interviewed had positive attitudes and made the act of giving a daily habit. Finally, all were grateful for the blessings in their lives. Nothing was too small to appreciate.

Foster Innovation. Give people Room to Experiment with Their Ideas

Early in its corporate history, the manufacturing company 3M adopted a policy known as the 15% rule. This translates to allowing each employee to spend up to 15% of their work time on an idea he or she considers promising. Some of 3M’s most successful products were launched through this program. In the book, Innovation, Breakthrough Thinking at 3M, DuPont, GE, Pfizer, and Rubbermaid, an anecdote is shared involving a researcher who experimented with and applied a new technology to sandpaper, yielding a metal-finishing paper that outperformed existing products. I’ve applied a similar approach to home discussions, encouraging my children to offer their solutions during family meetings.

Don’t allow Failure, even if it Borders on the Disastrous, to Trip you up

I’ve had some wicked experiences during my lifetime including situations where I was nearly bankrupt and others that involved serious family issues. I made it through these events thanks to something I can only attribute to positivity and an unflinching will to succeed. We can always find someone who has greater difficulties than our own. Putting our circumstances, however dire, in perspective and moving on is the only way forward.

Bibliography:

Kanter, Rosabeth Moss, Kao, John and Wiersema, Fred (1997). Innovation, Breakthrough Thinking at 3M, Dupont, GE, Pfizer, and Rubbermaid, New York, New York, Wordworks, Inc.

About the Author Chris Maeder

Chris Maeder

Chris is an experienced civil engineering and software technology leader, with over 30 years industry experience. With proven expertise in global software development, he has built engineering teams that adapt quickly, focus on what’s important and, most importantly, deliver. He is a licensed professional civil engineer with extensive experience in water resource engineering. He has performed and supervised engineering projects in urban stormwater drainage, transportation and roadway drainage, storm sewer design, detention pond design, stormwater quality, green infrastructure, watershed management planning, wastewater sewers, water distribution networks, pump stations, FEMA flood studies, bridge and culvert design, bridge scour and armoring, dam failure analysis, seepage and groundwater modeling, and environmental permits.