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Were All the World Looking

Part 2: Man in the Mirror Series

Originally published
Originally published: 10/1/2023

Thanks for all the emails regarding my last column The Man in the Mirror. It appears I may have struck a chord. I specifically selected The Man in The Mirror to open this series because I believe the first step in motivation is understanding the “real you.”

The underlying message is: You can’t cheat or lie to yourself. Or, as an old college buddy from Stone Mountain Georgia, who seemingly had a one-liner for every situation used to say, “Tank, you can’t bullshit your own damn self!” (Say this line with a thick southern accent. It will make you laugh every time).

Let’s Be Honest

Now that we’re being honest, we can freely admit which goals and objectives will get us engaged and keep us there. If it’s money, be honest with yourself and just say so. And, since we’re being honest and we’re entrepreneurs, there’s only one instance when it’s not about the money and that’s when you already have it. For those of you who would like to differ, I quote H.L. Mencken, the late author and journalist, who said, “When someone says it’s not about the money, it’s about the money.” 

If you take what I’ve said literally, you may say your motivation is anything from a new sports car or luxurious vacation house on the lake, or a new club membership, a Rolex watch, or just about any material thing you can think of. Or maybe it’s reinvesting in your business.

Success in the form of profit allows us to do a great deal with the companies we own which often leads to even more success. That list of actions is long. Chief among them is the ability to hire the right people and invest in training and education that makes the right people even better. Looking back, I don’t believe I’ve ever spoken with an owner, CEO, or president who achieved measurable success without having them tell me that the reason for their success was the team of people they assembled to help them accomplish the task.

So, yes, one way or another, it’s about the money. More importantly, it’s about how you spend the money. Or, maybe more accurately, how you invest it.

This month’s excerpt from Howard Ferguson’s book The Edge, presents Thomas Jefferson’s philosophy on being honest – primarily with yourself – and asks us to answer one of life’s most important questions.

A Philosophy of Life
Thomas Jefferson

In matters of principle, stand like a rock; in matters of taste, swim with the current.

Give up money, give up fame, give up science, give up the earth itself and all it contains, rather than to do an immoral act. And never suppose that in any possible situation, or under any circumstances, it is best for you to do a dishonorable thing.

Whenever you are to do a thing, though it can never be known but to yourself, ask yourself how you would act were all the world looking at you, and act accordingly.

He who permits himself to tell a lie once finds it much easier to do it a second and third time, till at length it becomes habitual; he tells a lie without attending to it, and truths without the world believing him.

P. S. You may want to ask the man in the mirror the next time you see him, “How would you act if the world was looking?”


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