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Leadership Thought #366 – Celebrate Your Peers

June 7, 2012

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It’s good to acknowledge your peers.

Tonight, I will be participating in an annual event that recognizes high-performing entrepreneurs in my county.  It is a privilege to be a part of this process and have the opportunity to acknowledge the accomplishments of many talented individuals.  Some of the business leaders I personally know well, others I do not.  The common bond that connects all of them for me is their willingness to bet on themselves, take considerable personal and professional risks and persevere through the most difficult recession in 70 years.  They just didn’t survive these past few years. They managed to keep a success mindset and keep pushing forward.

It’s important to celebrate the successes of your peers and build a sense of community among like-minded people who share a common experience.  Being an entrepreneur is extremely challenging work.  Depending upon how you interpret the numbers, only about 5-10% of the population every takes the leap and becomes self-employed.  Even rarer are the individual leaders who manage to hire people and build a company.  Success is much more difficult than survival and if you want to look at businesses that grow their top and bottom-line year over year, especially after the first 5 years, the number is closer to 1% of the population.  The last time I looked at the data more than 600,000 businesses declare bankruptcy every year.   In addition, very few businesses ever exceed the $1M mark.  So, when you identify someone who has defied the odds and grown a successful business it warrants your attention and respect.

There is a dark side to our competitive nature as individuals that often has us begrudge the success of others.  I’m not sure why this and there are many possible psychological explanations.  What I do know is that individual success is good for a community.   In business this means more people get hired, employees have a steady and stable incomes, more vendors get paid, tax revenues go up, charitable giving increases, and more discretionary dollars are spent on other things.  The good news about entrepreneurs is that most of the fruits of their success usually stay in their local community.  We should root for as many people to be successful as possible. My guess is that your community is full of talented peers.

Life isn’t a zero-sum game.  Even if the other person is your competitor, it’s best for them to push you to innovate and perform at a higher level yourself.   Just look at gas stations.  Somehow, they manage to coexist, often operating in the same intersections targeting the same customers.  Success that isn’t properly earned is usually built on a shaky foundation.  When it comes to business, I often believe the more the merrier.  Healthy thriving communities have healthy thriving businesses.  I wish more politicians and civil servants would make this connection.

I was raised to look for good in people not the bad.  My parents genuinely appreciated the talents of others in many different walks of life.  I also believe that “a rising tide lifts all boats.”  I encourage you to be on the lookout for people doing something good in your community and acknowledge their accomplishments.  Spend equal if not more time identifying what’s right with the world rather than what’s broken.  Celebrate your peers!