I have sat on the selection committee for The Calgary Business Hall of Fame for many years. During that time I’ve had the extreme good fortune to learn about the significant difference these entrepreneurs make in their businesses and communities.
Every year at the gala I find myself tearing up at the stories of the personal journeys of these leaders, told through many perspectives – their own and from the point of view of their families, peers and friends. I always find myself enthralled by the business stories and inspired by the sheer guts and determination of the laureates. As the audience learns more about their journeys, and the video clips roll, the entire room falls silent as we all contemplate the great challenges these leaders have overcome to get where they are.
Last year I left the event thinking to myself, “Exactly what heights are attainable in business? What’s not possible when you have the boundless energy and endless enthusiasm demonstrated by strong entrepreneurs as they work towards building their dreams?” Leaders are many things, but the true measure of these entrepreneurs, as honoured by The Calgary Business Hall of Fame, can be summed up quite simply: their work has been their life, in a positive and meaningful way. Like all great leaders they have spent their lives in the service of realizing their dreams.
These leaders have many amazing characteristics, but here are the ones I feel shine through time and time again – perhaps the traits we can all work harder on to become better entrepreneurs ourselves:
- An unwavering commitment to a set of core personal values.
- A view that opportunity is present everywhere.
- A belief that failure is not only always a risk, but that quite often it is the best teacher.
- The knowledge that nothing is accomplished alone.
- The insight that there is no one right way to achieve your goals, but there is always a wrong way.
- A unique self-awareness that allows room for others to be strong, while still having the strength and courage to lead.
- A willingness to accept responsibility when things go wrong.
- A desire to share triumph when things go well.
We all have great leadership potential, and once we allow ourselves to be unafraid of that potential, we do indeed lead. A friend of mine once said that successful entrepreneurs have a fierce intensity, but that the best entrepreneurs have a warm intensity. I frankly could not agree more.
Ultimately it’s not a race against anyone but ourselves and the more we work towards personal success, the more we’ll be able to provide leadership for our businesses and our communities. And the more we will find exactly how high is high for our own personal success stories.
Each of us are, in our own right, business hall of famers. We may not ever get on a stage and reach the same heights as these stellar laureates but we can, in our own way, reach heights we may have dreamed of and then made possible. Turns out the secret ingredient to success really isn’t so secret. It starts with believing in yourself.