Being Right vs. Being Successful

Today I want to share with you a bit of advice that my mom gave me long ago. It took me a really long time to be able to actually hear this advice and apply it, but ever since I’ve started to, things have gone so much more smoothly in my life and I know it will help you in your business as well.

So, what’s that bit of advice? When my mom shared it, I was venting to her about someone, I honestly don’t even remember what exactly it was about because it was inconsequential, and she said to me: “Well, yes, I can see why that bothers you but is it more important to you to prove that you’re right or more important to you to get xyz thing?” – whatever it was I had been trying to accomplish.

That seems like such a simple statement but it’s life changing. Do you want to prove that you’re right or do you want to get xyz thing done? Now, the answer might sometimes be that it’s more important to you to prove that you’re right but the vast majority of the time, especially when you’re a business owner, it’s more important to get xzy done.

If a customer is acting like a crazy person, is it more important to show why you’re right or more important to calm them down and make them happy?

If a big buyer has a convoluted process to become a vendor, is it more important to explain to them why their system is silly or is it more important to win a contract?

Now, working with women-owned and minority-owned businesses all of the time, I know that this can really dicey. There is a long history of underrepresentation of DBE firms with most of the big buyers out there and there is a lot of anger surrounding that. Please be clear, I am not saying that there isn’t a reason to be mad; all I am saying is that lobbying for procurement reform and winning contracts for your business are two different goals with two different paths to success. It’s vital that you figure out which is more important to you right at this moment, because pursuing one will likely take you off the path to the other in the short term.

So, the next time you’re in the midst of a conflict stop, take a deep breath, and ask yourself: “Is it more important that I prove that I’m right or is it more important that I get xyz?” If it’s more important that you get xyz, let go of trying to prove that you’re right and strategize about how to make xyz happen.


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