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Business Lessons I Learnt from The Battlefield

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Business Lessons I Learnt from The Battlefield

I was raised in a strict European environment, brought up to believe in excellence and determination. My father was born at the end of the Second World War and he would tell me the story of waiting in a crowded line just to get an apple from the food depot. Hours would pass waiting in that line but no one was game to step out of it and risk losing that apple, my father would tell me, “you had to stay there, no matter what”.

I always remember his story and even at that young age of seven, I understood that determination and persistence are keys to excellence. Throughout my academic life, while I was never hitting the illustrious heights of a Rhode scholar, I always persisted, and remained determined to never give up.

After finishing school I chose my path and enlisted in the army. My motives at the time were truly of a patriarchal nature, however what I received was much more. My cadetship spanned three years and during that time I saw many recruits come and go; some were smarter and some were fitter, however few were more determined, and one by one they all threw in the towel. 500 men and women applied for officer training, 24 were accepted into the program and only 7 graduated.

The key difference between those that succeeded and those who did not, was an intrinsic determination an unwavering ability to be an eternal optimist (as my wife puts it). I spent 10 years in the army as an artillery captain and my military training has definitely cemented the belief that determination and desire to never give up is critical to achieving your own success.

Business today is not for the faint hearted and you have to earn your stripes on the battlefield of competition. Sometimes it can feel like you are fending off assaults from all sides while still having to maintain your position as figure head of the business; responsible for the strategic direction and growth of the business, while at the same time acting in a somewhat parental role to your staff.

To be an inspirational leader in today’s world you need to possess the Swiss army knife of emotions. Today, employees look to their employer, not just to be successful in the business score board, but someone they can follow and be inspired by; someone that shares their passion and vision and gives them a reason for coming to work that extends past them being paid.

Today’s entrepreneur poster boy, Elon Musk spoke in his recent 60 Minutes interview of never giving up. Could you imagine a world today if he had lacked determination? There would be no Paypal, no Teslar. The future rests on the leaders of today, who are determined to leave their mark on the world and be brave and courageous enough to push past the barriers and naysayers who tell them that something can’t be done.

Sometimes what inspires me most is trying something that has never been done before. I dream often about the things I would do if there were no rules. Could you image a world where anything is possible? Unfortunately, as business owners we can be the biggest chokehold on our own business, as it can be our perspective that holds us back.

The funny thing about perspective is, it is the one thing that you can never have from the position you are in. Perspective must always come from looking outside of your current position and seeing things from a different angle.

To my fellow business owners who day in and day out put everything on the line to make a difference, not just in this amazing world we live in, but in this country we call home, I say believe in yourself, dream big, and above all else, never give up.

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Showing 14 comments
  • Joy
    Reply

    Your words are very inspiring Karl. They apply to not just business but all aspects of life.

  • Chris
    Reply

    Karl – A big idea – coupled with the determinism – and an acceptance that failure is the shortest way to finding a better solution is the key difference between small business and big business. Many thanks for your words.

    • Karl Schwantes
      Reply

      Thanks Chris,
      We are who we are based on our life’s experiences. Wouldn’t have it any other way. 🙂

  • Claudia Kardaras
    Reply

    Excellent article. Thank you for sharing this.

  • Lynn Hill
    Reply

    Great article Karl. Inspirational…

  • Anna
    Reply

    Well said Karl. Focus and determination gets results. Can’t happen any other way

  • Daniel Jacuk
    Reply

    Hi Karl that was great reading !!! I’m continually inspired by you and all the other great doers in our industry. Cheers Daniel

  • Therese
    Reply

    Gave me a lump in my throat. As a SMO some days I have lots of fight in me and others, it seems like a battle.
    I agree that persistence does pay off. I believe my passion fuels my purpose and my values are non negotiable.
    I salute you Karl.

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