10 Business & Life Lessons From The Last 12 Months

August 4, 2010

To stop learning is like dying before you’re dead. Here are 10 business and life lessons I learned in the last 12 months.

1. Awesome People: If you know an awesome person – tell them how great they are. Life is fragile and if you don’t do it now, you may never get another chance.

2. Assholes: Don’t prioritize people who deliberately cause you constant stress. Laugh at their stupidity and put any response to their demands on your “shit to do after the important stuff” list.

3. Over Thinking: Try not to spend so long thinking about your goals that you don’t get anything done at all. Choose at least one priority and spend a bit of time each day working on it. Even if you’re not sure of your main life goals, at least you’ll get something done.

4. Sexism: Don’t waste your time trying to figure out how to deal with sexist assholes (aka inadequate men, with tiny dicks). Just refuse to tolerate them full stop – including sexist suppliers, customers and staff. Many workplaces are still rife with these tossers, and it’s about time more people in the workplace gave them the message that their behaviour won’t be tolerated.

5. Worrying:
Try to stop worrying too much about what might happen, so you can focus on what is happening.

6. Ignoring:
To turn a blind eye, or look the other way is just as bad as committing a crime yourself. Don’t be one of the 9 out of 10 people who do it.

7. Filtering:
Absorb as much useful information as you can, from newspapers, blogs, books and other media. But don’t allow them to do your thinking for you.

8. Belief: Pray. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God, or the Tooth Fairy, but if you believe in nothing, you’re screwed.

9. Distractions: Recognise when you’re being side-tracked. Mindless distractions can help you to cope with the shit in your life, but using them on a regular basis won’t help you to fix things.

10. Useless Information: Cut out the noise. Allowing unhelpful advice and opinions to filter into your own thinking can stop you concentrating on what is important to you. You can cut out the noise by meditating, or spending 30 minutes alone each day.

Did you learn any business and life lessons in the last 12 months? Please share in the comments section.

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50 Responses to “10 Business & Life Lessons From The Last 12 Months”

  1. Barbara Swafford on August 4th, 2010 6:39 am

    Hi Cath,

    I like the way you tell it like it is.

    I like #3 – over thinking. It reminds me of the saying, “we can analyze until we paralyze”. Sometimes we just need to jump in with both feet and just go for it.

    And #8. My faith is what keeps me grounded.
    Barbara Swafford\’s latest awesome post..One Blog Title – 52 WaysMy ComLuv Profile

  2. Tony on August 4th, 2010 1:04 pm

    I’m glad that I have only just started reading your blog, because that will make it easy to stop reading, especially after reading this:

    8. Belief: Pray. It doesn’t matter if you believe in God, or the Tooth Fairy, but if you believe in nothing, you’re screwed.

    There are many things that I believe, but none of them require prayer. “If you believe in nothing, you’re screwed,” is a dangerous point of view.

  3. Kathy | Virtual Impax on August 4th, 2010 2:09 pm

    Great list – very comprehensive. Of course, I’d reference your previous post – be sure you view a new business venture as a 3 year commitment. Launching a new business is more like getting married than going on a date.
    Kathy | Virtual Impax\’s latest awesome post..Blogging- Authority and TrustMy ComLuv Profile

  4. Betsy Wuebker on August 4th, 2010 3:35 pm

    Super list, Cath. Re-learning #2, which I seem to do periodically. I also like #8. If you don’t believe in anything that’s what you’ll fall for.
    Betsy Wuebker\’s latest awesome post..Knowing What We Know NowMy ComLuv Profile

  5. Mark Dykeman on August 4th, 2010 6:58 pm

    Another way of saying #3 – “get started already!”
    Mark Dykeman\’s latest awesome post..Maintaining Your Creative Edge When Life Takes OverMy ComLuv Profile

  6. vered | blogger for hire on August 4th, 2010 8:26 pm

    Worrying – that’s a big one for me. I love the way you put it. I’ve read somewhere that the happiest people are the ones who focus on the present – not on the past and not on the future.
    vered | blogger for hire\’s latest awesome post..My Reasons for Going GrayMy ComLuv Profile

  7. Andrew Heaton on August 5th, 2010 2:55 am


    I like your point about sexism.

    I guess that’s one of the benefits of the benefits for you about being self employed – if any clients, customers or staff who behave in a sexist manner, you can simply dump them.

    Unfortunately, those who work for someone else don’t get to choose who they deal with. Nevertheless, those in such positions should still show zero tolerance toward sexist behavior. Perhaps the HR department can help. If not, those subject to such behavior should have the courage to seek alternative employment.

    No one should put up with that kind of rubbish.
    Andrew Heaton\’s latest awesome post..Why Goldman Were Right Not To CelebrateMy ComLuv Profile

  8. Patricia on August 5th, 2010 3:06 am

    I watched my mum worry almost all of her 94 years and I vowed I would not do it….it is good to just get it out on the table and see it for real rather than playing it over and over in fantasy scripts.

    Great post and lists…I liked Betsy’s add on to #8 too..so true
    Patricia\’s latest awesome post..The WeddingMy ComLuv Profile

  9. Tweets that mention 10 Business & Life Lessons From The Last 12 Months | Catherine Lawson -- Topsy.com on August 5th, 2010 3:30 am

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  10. cathlawson on August 5th, 2010 12:14 pm

    Hi Barbara – Thank you. I like writing this kind of post, because they’re all mistakes I’ve made and learned from. Faith is so important isn’t it. I didn’t realize that until a year or so ago – I didn’t know what to believe in.

  11. cathlawson on August 5th, 2010 12:22 pm

    Hi Tony – I’m sorry you don’t like my point of view, but I would hate it if everyone shared my opinions – I’d be bored shitless. I can see how what I said might have a dangerous influence on some people – maybe people who were thinking of joining a cult or something. But I bet the folk who were recruiting them would have a far more powerful influence than my words ever would.

  12. cathlawson on August 5th, 2010 12:23 pm

    Hi Kathy – Thank you. That’s a good point, I should have linked to it. With it being so recent, I didn’t think.

  13. cathlawson on August 5th, 2010 12:28 pm

    Hi Betsy – I know the feeling. And I love that quote of yours – I wish I’d heard it before I wrote this.

  14. cathlawson on August 5th, 2010 12:29 pm

    Hi Mark – I like that too, and it would have been quicker.

  15. cathlawson on August 5th, 2010 12:35 pm

    Hi Vered – That can be sort of true. Up until a few months ago, I was the world’s worst worrier but reading the Power of Now helped a lot and also reading the Bible (a version I could actually understand).

    The thing with the Power of Now is, it encourages you not to keep thinking about things that cause you stress and worry, either in the past or the future. I found it useful for blocking out those thoughts, but not all thoughts, as doing that was harming my creativity. You should check it out – if you can get over the preachiness of the author in the first few pages, it’s quite good.

  16. cathlawson on August 5th, 2010 12:40 pm

    Hi Andrew – Yes, it is harder if you’re working for someone. I wish managers in all businesses would adopt a zero tolerance policy to that sort of behavior and nobody would have to put up with it. A few years ago, I was using a subcontractor who had made sexist remarks about me, to someone who worked for me. I didn’t say anything at first, then he spoke to a female member of my staff in a v unacceptable manner and she was really upset. So I phoned him and told him to go f… himself and switched to another company.

  17. cathlawson on August 5th, 2010 12:53 pm

    Hi Patricia – You’ve had a lot on your plate. But it’s good that you recognised how harmful worrying was to your mum and saw yourself going down the same path. And that has helped you to do something about it, which is fab – and it will all work out.

  18. Karen Swim on August 5th, 2010 1:35 pm

    Hi Cath, all great lessons and #2 is a big one. It’s never a good idea to allow negative or mean spirited people to divert our energy and distract us from our purpose. They don’t deserve our time or attention. One of the other things I’ve learned these past 12 months is to risk failure more often – growth rarely comes without failure and I always feel better trying and failing than doing nothing at all.

  19. Tess The Bold Life on August 5th, 2010 7:19 pm

    This is the year I’ve finally made no. 5 a part of who I am. Yeah! Only the present moment for me baby!
    Tess The Bold Life\’s latest awesome post..Be Wisely SelfishMy ComLuv Profile

  20. Jannie Funster on August 5th, 2010 9:48 pm

    Whoooo! Aweseom post, Cath!

    A couple of these — assholes and sexism remind me how freaking lucky I am not to have to work a “real” job anymore, and now that I’m back helping hubby a couple days a week it’s a great environment.

    LOVE teh one about thinking for yourself. It’s frightening how many people do not, passing on the same3 old same old b.s.

    In teh past 12 months I have learned that people can only hurt my feelings if I let them. Feeling “bad” really is a choice


    Sorry bout the typos, this strange-acting cursor here at the library won’t let me go back today. weird.

    Super list — fun too.

    Jannie Funster\’s latest awesome post..18 More Amazing Things I’ve Done LatelyMy ComLuv Profile

  21. Jannie Funster on August 5th, 2010 9:49 pm

    oh — the worrying one — BRILLIANT!!!!

    xo again
    Jannie Funster\’s latest awesome post..18 More Amazing Things I’ve Done LatelyMy ComLuv Profile

  22. cathlawson on August 6th, 2010 2:52 pm

    Hi Karen – I made that mistake a lot and it really does drain the energy from you.

    Taking risks is so important – as you say, you need to risk making mistakes to grow (I don’t like calling it failure – the only type of failure is doing nothing).

  23. cathlawson on August 6th, 2010 2:53 pm

    Hi Tess – Good for you – it makes life a lot easier.

  24. cathlawson on August 6th, 2010 2:57 pm

    Hi Jannie – I did not know you were helping your husband. Are you doing sales?

    That is so true about being hurt. It’s tough to learn, but we can choose how we respond to things.

  25. Hilary on August 6th, 2010 7:21 pm

    Hi Cath .. the last three+ years .. I’ve learnt to just do because that’s all I’ve had time for with the elderly sick & all that went with & still continues to go with it. I’ve learnt about the Power of Now .. and not being upset by things past (difficult quite often!) .. and not thinking about the future – just doing what’s important now. Especially in the last two weeks with Mum in hospital and me moving house .. temporarily into a friend’s house .. until I find myself a place ..life is fun!

    All of your points make absolute sense .. good to read .. Hilary
    Hilary\’s latest awesome post..Could this be a sitcom – or a break out sitcom Ever had a one word – at a time – conversation Fish and Chips – how do you spell itMy ComLuv Profile

  26. Christine on August 8th, 2010 1:41 am

    LOVE this post Cath – thanks for the kick in the @ss! Over thinking is definitely my biggest problem…. or at least it manifests as over thinking, when it’s actually fear of failure. You rock!

  27. J.D. Meier on August 8th, 2010 2:55 am

    Life is incredibly fragile .. precious too.
    J.D. Meier\’s latest awesome post..Day 6 – Friday Reflection – Identify Three Things Going Well and Three Things to ImproveMy ComLuv Profile

  28. Davina on August 8th, 2010 6:59 am


    Number three jumped at me. I’m a thinker… big time! Can easily get caught up in visioning, creating and planning. It’s very easy to stay in that place and not get the manifesting stage of the process :-P What I’ve learned is to take a break and do something else; just to break the steel-like concentration on that one task. Makes a huge difference.
    Davina\’s latest awesome post..I’m Not Blogging You AreMy ComLuv Profile

  29. Alien Ghost on August 8th, 2010 7:27 pm

    Hi Cath,

    If I ever need a business advisor I’ll come to you! I love the way you tell things the way they are, straight to the point and in a clear language :)

    My favorites from this list:

    #1 It is so easy yet so neglected and the damage could be huge.
    #3 The difference between dreamers and doers
    #8 Dreamers that are also doers
    #10 recognize your uniqueness

    Alien Ghost\’s latest awesome post..The Problem With LifeMy ComLuv Profile

  30. Rose on August 10th, 2010 5:24 am

    Great list. Love the sexist comment. I ran across a sexist blogger the other day. So that’s hois problem.

  31. Ricardo Bueno on August 11th, 2010 10:21 am

    Sometimes, I suffer from over-thinking things :-) But then again, we all do right?

    One of my goals this month is to revisit and prioritize my 1-year plan. Where do I want to go, where do I want to be, etc. I want to break it up into monthly goals/tasks.
    Ricardo Bueno\’s latest awesome post..START A BLOG TODAYMy ComLuv Profile

  32. cathlawson on August 11th, 2010 11:21 am

    Hi Hilary – The Power of Now is quite difficult at first isn’t it? Especially not thinking about things that have upset us in the past, as they have a nasty habit of sneaking up on us in present. It sounds like you’re focusing on what you need to do now and moving in the right direction. I hope you get to move into your flat soon.

  33. cathlawson on August 11th, 2010 11:36 am

    Hi Christine – Over thinking is often fear of failure. And I’m betting you won’t fail – you have achieved heaps in the last few years and your story has inspired so many people.

  34. cathlawson on August 11th, 2010 11:36 am

    Hi J.D – it certainly is.

  35. cathlawson on August 11th, 2010 11:38 am

    Hi Davina – I know what you mean. You’ve got to force yourself to a point where enough is enough. Taking a break and doing something else is wise. When you have a big project on your plate, it’s too easy to forget that you have other important things you need to be doing.

  36. cathlawson on August 11th, 2010 11:40 am

    Thanks Raul – I try my best :)

  37. cathlawson on August 11th, 2010 11:49 am

    Hi Rose – Thanks. There are plenty of sexist bloggers out there unfortunately.

  38. cathlawson on August 11th, 2010 11:52 am

    Hi Ricardo – I think it’s definitely a common problem. Breaking down your goals like that is a smart idea. I just wasn’t achieving what I set out to do and it worked for me.

  39. cheska on August 13th, 2010 1:57 pm

    Hi, I especially like #8 Belief. Not many people are believers but I am really grateful that I am. I believe that a day should start and end with a prayer. start – to guide us throughout the day, end- to thank him or to just tell him what happened that day. #2 is a reminder. I am always affected by such people. and I agree that they give is so much stress who needs them anyway right? very, very strong point in #2. Note to self: read #2 everyday and let it be a reminder. P.S. please read http://sn.im/103mim it’s an article on maintaing a balance lifestyle. very interesting as well.
    cheska\’s latest awesome post..Mind Your SkillsMy ComLuv Profile

  40. Andrew Heaton on August 14th, 2010 3:09 am

    Good on you, Cath.

    I hope you used those exact words – they are exactly what he needed to hear.
    Andrew Heaton\’s latest awesome post..Why Goldman Were Right Not To CelebrateMy ComLuv Profile

  41. Cath Lawson on August 14th, 2010 8:40 am

    Hi Cheska – I guess 2 is something that some of us have to keep reminding ourselves to do.

    Thank you for the link to the article. I will check it out.
    Cath Lawson\’s latest awesome post..10 Business &amp Life Lessons From The Last 12 MonthsMy ComLuv Profile

  42. cathlawson on August 15th, 2010 11:31 am

    LOL Andrew – I did use those exact words, and a few more. I was giving the guy a lot of regular work, so he should have had more respect.

  43. Jannie Funster on August 16th, 2010 9:16 pm

    Where’d ya go, ya old ass-kicker?

    Miss ya over at Funsterland!


    Jannie Funster\’s latest awesome post..Angel Of Delight In The GardenMy ComLuv Profile

  44. Cath Lawson on August 16th, 2010 10:13 pm

    LMAO Jannie – I am still here. Just not been around much, cos I started a new business. See you v soon – and thank you for thinking about me. x
    Cath Lawson\’s latest awesome post..10 Business &amp Life Lessons From The Last 12 MonthsMy ComLuv Profile

  45. Annie Anderson on August 21st, 2010 4:41 pm

    Hey Cath!

    GREAT list! I love it. And it’s so true.

    I would add a #11 – Get rid of the people in your life who are draining your energy (if possible) or causing you upset. There’s nothing worse than dealing with someone who drains you emotionally and physically. You don’t have to deal with that.
    Annie Anderson\’s latest awesome post..Sneak peekMy ComLuv Profile

  46. Jamie on August 21st, 2010 7:58 pm

    No 12
    Do a good deed every day.

    Not only to ease your conscience but to make clear that everyone is able to be a sunbeam in s.o. elses life.
    Jamie\’s latest awesome post..Ein neuer Käfig für die WellensitticheMy ComLuv Profile

  47. Nadia Ballas-Ruta ~ Happy Lotus Lifestyles on August 26th, 2010 4:06 pm

    Hi Cath,

    Great list! I recently started my own business and that has been a huge teacher.

    One important lesson that I have come to see is that if you run a business, respect your audience. People are not stupid. I think a lot of business owners are so concerned about making money, they forget to be real and create an awesome product.
    Nadia Ballas-Ruta ~ Happy Lotus Lifestyles\’s latest awesome post..Project Revealed- Welcome to the Launch of Happy Lotus Lifestyles- LLCMy ComLuv Profile

  48. cathlawson on August 29th, 2010 1:10 am

    Hi Annie, That is a good one. Some people are v hard work, and it is draining.

  49. cathlawson on August 29th, 2010 1:11 am

    I like that one too Jamie :)

  50. cathlawson on August 29th, 2010 1:15 am

    Hi Nadia – I was wondering when you were going to launch your project – I will come and have a look.

    That lesson is a good one too. I couldn’t do it, if I was only concerned with financial goals. Some people do, but I’m guessing most of them aren’t v happy.

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