March 2014 was a bitter-sweet month for me: my mother died early in the month and I became a first time grandad on 23rd March to Alice Mae Reeves. The close proximity of the two events inevitably gave rise to thoughts about life and how you live it. Alice Mae is at the beginning of her life and is therefore surrounded by the good will and optimism for the future which occurs when there is a new birth. I wonder if my mother reflected on her life in the moments before her death and felt satisfied with what she achieved and if she was happy with how she will be remembered.
Co-incidentally, yesterday I watched a “botcast” from Nigel Botterill, of the Entrepreneurs Circle. He was podcasting from Newport Beech, California, where John Wayne is buried. In the “botcast” he showed a shot of John Wayne’s gravestone. The epitaph reads “Tomorrow is the most important thing in life. Comes into us very clean. It’s perfect when it arrives and it puts itself in our hands. It hopes we’ve learned something from yesterday.” This, I think, is a lesson that we can all take on board. If we learn from our mistakes then we will see cumulative marginal improvements in our lot. The converse of this is not to learn from our mistakes, we will have the same experiences year on year and in the end we cannot look back with satisfaction as to what we have achieved.
What is true for our personal life is also true for our businesses. If we learn from the inevitable mistakes that we make in our businesses then there is a good chance that the business will grow. If not, then it will stagnate.
So, are you making those cumulative marginal gains or are you stagnating? When the time comes will you be able to look back with satisfaction or regret?