Summary for Week 8

I’ve struggled a bit with enthusiasm this week. I think it’s just one of those weeks that sometimes arises in the middle of a semester, when you’ve gone on for awhile and look ahead and see still a ways to go; it’s one of those plateaus of learning that we read about recently.

That said, I kept moving ahead. This week’s material seemed to focus on getting started, finding that initial energy to say, “yes!” It was coincidentally timed for me because I had several opportunities at work this week to accept work that I might otherwise have turned down or redirected. Thanks, Class! Now I’ve got several new projects at work.

But that’s kind of the point. Opportunities don’t arise if you turn everything down or plan everything to death. You’ve got to step up when the chance arises and then do your best. We read the Acton Guide, A Message to Garcia, and that was the lesson that stuck out to me. I appreciated the approach the guide taught for turning “Yes, I will do it,” into productive action, and I started applying it with some success at work.

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Summary for Week 8

Summary of Week 7

This week’s reading and videos focused on trials and obstacles and how we overcome them. I was particularly struck by a talk given by Elder Jeffrey R. Holland at BYU in 1983. His talk, as are all of his talks, was very powerful, but it was the story that he shared about the building of the Salt Lake Temple that was most instructive to me.

I won’t recount the entire story, but I gleaned from it the following principles to succeed against difficult times and troubles:

  1. Have a grand vision
  2. Do what is needful
  3. Mind the details
  4. Deal with obstacles when they arise
  5. Be patient
  6. Have faith in God
  7. Rejoice in gratitude at success

The key to motivating ourselves in times of difficulty is the first point: have a grand vision. In his talk, Elder Holland shared the stirring words of Winston Churchill early in WWII:

You ask, What is our aim? I can answer in one word: Victory—victory at all costs, victory in spite of all terror; victory, however long and hard the road may be.

-Winston Churchill

That vision of victory – of the prize won, and the glory to be had at the end of it all – is a powerful drive when the odds are stacked against us and the nights are dark and cold.

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Summary of Week 7

Summary of Week 6

This week we revisited the 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I first encountered the 7 habits when I served a mission in Budapest, Hungary. There was an elder there who everyone admired, and I couldn’t understand why. Then, during a zone conference, he was tapped to teach the missionaries about effectiveness, and it was there that I first learned of the 7 habits.

After my mission, I bought a copy of the 7 habits, and while I can’t say I’ve followed them religiously, they have been an important factor in how I have seen the world ever since. When I’ve been down in life, I’ve harkened back to their lessons, remembered that I have the power of responsibility and can be proactive, that I can see a better course and take action to pursue it. As I’ve grown and my work has taken on an increasingly social element, I’ve had to practice the principles of Win-Win and empathy.

While the 7 habits aren’t new to me, I appreciated the refresher, and I’m glad to have a nice summary of the book that I can look back on now and again. In particular, I was glad to be reminded of synergy. This is a habit that I haven’t worked on very much, but that is important in the work I do now.

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Summary of Week 6

Summary of Week 5

The readings and videos this week had a lot of practical advice. An article from the Harvard Business Review, How Entrepreneurs Craft Strategies That Work, in particular provided direct advice and encouragement also; I’ve feared that entrepreneurs are all of a certain breed, possessing certain attributes in common, and if I don’t have those attributes then I’ll never succeed, but the article notes:

Our evidence suggests that there is no ideal entrepreneurial profile either: successful founders can be gregarious or taciturn, analytical or intuitive, good or terrible with details, risk averse or thrill seeking. They can be delegators or control freaks, pillars of the community or outsiders.

The article points out that it doesn’t so matter what the entrepreneur’s attributes are; what matters is what the entrepreneur does with those attributes. If I can be honest with myself about my strengths and weaknesses, I will be more successful at finding and acting on the right opportunities for me.

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Summary of Week 5

Summary for Week Four

This week the lesson is perseverance. It was a thread that stretched through much of the reading and videos. The road to entrepreneurship can be long and challenging. We have stars in our eyes and imagine we’ll start a company that will be wildly successful, and then we’ll sell it for millions of dollars and retire. This happens very rarely, but it’s the story we’re told, so we believe it’s common.

The reality is that many businesses fail, and those that succeed often have only modest success. One lesson that rang out to me this week was the idea that successful entrepreneurs aren’t successful because they’re wealthy, they’re successful because they’ve learned to live within their means so that they have the time to do what matters to them. This is the essential idea that drove me towards the path of entrepreneurship, but it can be easy to forget if I am not careful.

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Summary for Week Four

Summary for Week Three

The material this week was more diverse but the focus was on a life well lived. I mentioned my thoughts on one article, Clayton Christensen’s How Will You Measure Your Life?, in a separate post. As I said there, I read Christensen’s book of the same title awhile back and it had a profound impact on my impression of business; it’s part of why I’m pursuing a degree in business management. My key takeaway from that article was one of Christensen’s final comments: Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people. That comment nicely sums up what I’ve learned so far in this course.

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Summary for Week Three

Measuring My Life

A year or two ago, I read Clayton Christensen’s book How Will You Measure Your Life? It was a transformative book for me not only because of its good advice but because it helped me see that business can have a moral impact. Until that point, I had eschewed ideas of a business degree and viewed business’s focus solely as money-making, but after reading it, I saw that I could apply theories and models from business to help me make decisions in my life that have nothing to do with money and everything to do with living a meaningful, impactful life.

This week, I read Christensen’s article of the same title in the Harvard Business Review. I assume the article predates the book and is likely the basis of the book. Regardless, the article was a good refresher on the content of the book and a reminder of the importance of people in all that I do. In particular, he concludes his comments with this note:

Don’t worry about the level of individual prominence you have achieved; worry about the individuals you have helped become better people.

— Clayton M. Christensen

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Measuring My Life