Are you a business leader, entrepreneur, or CEO who has had to overcome obstacles? Has it been hard to think positively during these uncertain times? Well, you are not alone. Every business leader, entrepreneur, and CEO has had to persevere through times of uncertainty. And, you would be surprised at how these times of uncertainty lead to unprecedented amounts of success… as long as you handle them right.
Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg, and Jeff Bezos are unstoppable entrepreneurs and CEOs who have navigated their business obstacles with grace. You may learn a thing or two from how they handled their times of uncertainty, but also how they rebounded from them!
Steve Jobs, the co-founder of Apple, faced many uncertainties throughout his time pioneering the groundbreaking technology company. Starting the company in the first place put Jobs at a lot of risks. He did not know what the outcome would be, especially that his company would become one of the greatest innovations of all time. Yet, his time at Apple was a rocky road. He got fired from the company at 30, only to come back a few years later to help run it all over again.
He says, “Sometimes life hits you in the head with a brick. Don’t lose faith. I’m convinced that the only thing that kept me going was that I loved what I did.”
Even though he loved what he was doing before the age of 30, his Board of Directors felt that he would not be suitable to run the company. His perseverance and love for technology grew, and as he saw even more potential in the company, he was able to convince his Board that he had enough knowledge and attachment to Apple to return.
Jobs claims, “I didn’t see it then, but it turned out that getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. The heaviness of being successful was replaced by the lightness of being a beginner again, less sure about everything. It freed me to enter one of the most creative periods of my life.”
So, getting fired from Apple was the best thing that could have happened to Jobs. Ironic, right? Usually, when you get fired from the company you started and one that you love, it is the opposite of the best. It could be thought of as hitting rock bottom. And yet, because of this rock bottom – he could only advance forward.
Finally, Jobs discusses a quote he read when he was 17. The quote went something like this: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” This quote left an impression on the young entrepreneur. Jobs says, “Since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: ‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been ‘No’ for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”
So, what can we learn from a business leader and entrepreneur like Jobs during his time of uncertainty?
Here are 3 of Jobs’s techniques for perseverance in times of uncertainty:
- Never lose faith in what you love. Your business is your passion. And yet, sometimes, that passion tricks you – and eventually hits you in the head with a brick. Jobs’s advice is to never lose faith when this occurs. If you love what you do, you’ll persevere. Because after all, you don’t quit your passion – so, you won’t quit your business.
- It’s not too bad to get fired. Sometimes, the best things that happen to you are, at some point, the worst ones. You may think that getting fired from your dream job is the worst-case scenario, but you will never know what that firing will lead you to in the future. In the end, your actual dream job may be waiting around the corner. So, don’t lose hope! Keep an open mind, and try to think of these frustrating setbacks as a part of the path to success. After all, Jobs was most creative after he got fired. And then, he pioneered his company all over again!
- Live each day as your last. Jobs thinks it is important to constantly question what you are doing. Always strive to be doing things that you find important or worthwhile. The second you find yourself living a day that is not as valuable as the rest – change your course. This will make you as unstoppable as possible, able to persevere through any time of uncertainty!
Mark Zuckerberg has faced many uncertainties with Facebook. At times, Facebook has been thought of as controversial when it has come to nationwide debates, such as elections or other political campaigns. This is because Facebook is thought to be rigging the democratic system by providing its users with fake news, but also an algorithmic newsfeed that may be changing people’s opinions.
Yet, Zuckerberg believes that “the biggest risk is not taking any risks… In a world that is changing really quickly, the only strategy that is guaranteed to fail is not taking risks.” Sure, this could be a useful tip on how to be a successful business leader. Or, you could see it as inspiration for when you are failing. In order to not fail even more, or to find your way out of your time of uncertainty, take a risk!
Zuckerberg also believes that “figuring out what the next big trend is telling us what we should focus on.” So, when Zuckerberg is facing times of uncertainty, the way he finds stability is through focusing on the right things. Focus on the things that will advance your business even more, regardless of the obstacle at hand. If you do, you’ll find success, and that the obstacle will now be in your rearview mirror.
Finally, Zuckerberg says that you should “move fast with a stable infrastructure.” This is a great tip for any business leader because, in order to overcome an obstacle, you have to move fast around it. As long as your infrastructure is steady and strong, you’ll eventually find your way out of the time of uncertainty.
Here are 3 of Zuckerberg’s tips for working around uncertainty:
- Take risks. This may sound ironic, considering that a risk may have led you into this time of uncertainty. However, take more! If the risk puts you in a bad position, another risk may actually get you out of that bad position. For Zuckerberg, the risk he took was starting Facebook – a brilliant one. However, he also took risks that led to lawsuits. But, in order to get out of those lawsuits, he had to take even more. The main rule is that you will never be unstoppable without risk-taking.
- What is trending right now? If you’re a business leader, you’ll want to ask yourself this question every day. Figure out what your clients are consuming, even if that means researching another industry. If you’re facing an obstacle, you may find a way out of it by staying up-to-date with the latest trends. These trends can definitely lead to some creative, innovative ideas that will help you navigate your business ventures a bit better!
- Stability. Is your business infrastructure stable? Zuckerberg believes that one of the most important aspects of your business is its infrastructure. And, if your business is failing in this domain, it may be why it’s facing a time of uncertainty. So, restructure! If you do, you may have found your way out of the obstacle.
Jeff Bezos, founder and former CEO of Amazon, has faced many times of uncertainty in his past – especially with planning in the long term. Because Amazon has achieved massive growth in such a short period of time, it has been hard for this CEO to foresee the future and plan ahead. He believes that there are so many variables out of your control, including trying to understand what your business will become in 10, 20, or even 1,000 days.
One of his strategies to plan ahead of time is to identify the control intertwined with all of the variables. He says, “Well certainly, in 10 years many things will evolve; technology will change. Machine-learning technology, in particular, will evolve very significantly over the 10-year time horizon. But I would always encourage people, when they think about ten years, to ask the question, what won’t change? That’s actually the more important question. You can build strategies around things that will be stable in time. In that 10-year vision, there are a bunch of things at Amazon that are not going to change. One of them, maybe the most important one, is that we will stay customer-obsessed instead of competitor-obsessed. We will work on maintaining that culture.”
For Bezos, what won’t change is the fact that his company is customer-obsessed rather than competitor-obsessed. It may be hard for a business leader to think this way, considering that making it to the top is very much thought of as making your business the best out of all the other businesses alike.
Since Bezos established this baseline, it has allowed him to make plans for the future. He may not know what his company will look like in years or even days, but he will know one thing for sure: that he will constantly strive to put his customers first. So, even as he faces times of uncertainty, he is aware that his main priority is his customers – and that that is his purpose.
So, how does Bezos come up with an aspect of his business that won’t change… or that shouldn’t change?
Here are three areas Bezos focuses on in order to instill stability through uncertainties:
- Purpose. Find your business’s purpose. Sure, you may have passion for your business – but passion does not necessarily correlate with purpose. What is it that you are trying to do? Is what you are doing changing peoples’ lives by making them easier? Find that purpose, and then make it a control. This purpose will remain constant even during times of uncertainty and may also inspire you to find efficient solutions for your obstacles!
- Priorities. Your business’s priorities should never change, regardless of changing circumstances. Yes, some circumstances may be on the negative side, but you should never let these circumstances influence your business’s priorities. The values that are important to you and your business today should not change in the future – unless they were not as important, to begin with. So, not only should you stay on top of your business’s purpose, but also its priorities!
- Culture. You should always strive to set up the best work culture you possibly can. If you treat your employees well, they will return the favor – and help you in times of uncertainty. If you identify your priorities and values, include them in your work culture. Deciding how you want your employees to interact with one another, but also you – the business leader – may eventually save you from future obstacles. If your workers have passion, feel rewarded, and are in a positive work environment – they may indirectly or directly prevent bad things from happening!
These three founders, entrepreneurs, and business leaders are all examples of unstoppable people who have worked hard through times of uncertainty. They were only capable of achieving such success and power through remaining calm and focusing on the quality of their business’s future. If you are an aspiring entrepreneur who is keen on being successful, do not forget that obstacles will come your way! But, do not fear, because there will always be a way around them – as long as you work hard and remember why you started working in the first place.