12 Things I Believe

Ed BurghardI  had the opportunity to talk with a class of students at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio about the principles of branding your community.  I always get energized when I get to chat with highly talented people who have a genuine passion for making a difference in their community.  These are the leaders of the future and it is rewarding to stimulate their thinking by sharing the expertise I’ve gathered over the length of my career.

This was a unique class of hand-selected students who are exploring the assets, infrastructure and public policies of Portsmouth to better understand the challenges and opportunities for economic prosperity.  It is exciting to listen to the observations and ideas of minds that have not been jaded.  The optimism for positive change is infectious.

I have every confidence this group of students will make a meaningful and sustainable impact on the direction of economic development in Portsmouth.  And, I hope some of the students will elect to pursue a career as an economic development professional.

I have another opportunity coming up to speak with students at Cleveland State University, and I am confident I will feel just as jazzed from that experience.

If you get a chance, I would encourage you to make yourself available to interact with students at your local College or University.  I guarantee you will find it personally rewarding and it will recharge your enthusiasm for your job.

If you do opt to engage with students, please consider giving the gift of your experience.  Shared what you have learned as the “secrets of success”. They want (and need) the benefit of your knowledge.

To that end, I thought I would share with you (and the students at Shawnee State University who have actually been assigned my blog posts as required reading), 12 things that I have learned over my 35-year career.  Hopefully many will ring true with you.

12 Things I Believe

Superior insight is the key to winning in business.

It begins with genuinely caring about meeting the true needs of your consumer or customer, and then delivering against them. Insight requires you to suspend your beliefs, listen, empathize, and walk the mile in their shoes.

Writing improves thinking.

I’ve learned it is better to fail on paper than in the market. Writing forces you to expose your logic to critique, and flaws are more easily identified. Writing is a means to an end. It takes courage to commit thinking to paper for others to judge.

Integrity and trust are earned by one’s behavior, not words.

I believe what is said behind someone’s back is a truer measure of the individual’s character than what is said directly to their face.

Success is best measured by sustained performance.

Leaving a personal mark requires focus on building organizational purpose and capability. Winning once may be simple luck. Winning time after time requires skill, passion, and clear vision.

Teaching somebody to fish is the greatest gift you can give.

Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.

Truth has boundaries.

My professors in theoretical mathematics taught you not only need to understand the conditions under which something is true; but, also the conditions that make it false. Many times when reasonable people disagree, it is because they are not looking at the same facts. Getting clarity on the “truth” of a situation by looking at it through another person’s eyes often leads to a third alternative solution. As boundaries are understood, they are often expanded. The only limits are those of vision. Seeing beyond your own horizon is key.

There are some choices that are always wrong regardless of circumstances.

A mentor of mine positioned this as choosing the harder right versus the easy wrong. As an Eagle Scout, I have learned the importance of having a strong moral compass to guide your actions. In business, it is sometimes helpful to leave your ego at the door; it is even sometimes helpful to suspend your personal values to understand another culture’s view; however, it is never right to abandon your morals.

People begin each day with the hope of contributing value and being valued.

Nobody consciously chooses to fail. The key to success is to help people achieve the greatness that is inside them. To see that greatness, coach it and nurture it so people can maximize their personal performance.

It is always better to inspire than inform.

People intellectually committed can achieve impressive results. But, great things are achieved when people are emotionally committed. I have always been impressed by the underdogs who defy the odds and win. They play with passion and often will their way to success. They inspire greatness in others because of their actions.

Agreeing to disagree is a valid outcome.

If two reasonable people cannot find a win: win solution that benefits both, then it is appropriate to “agree to disagree agreeably” and have no deal. This position avoids the destructive behaviors of manipulation, pushing for your position at the expense of others, and disrespect.

When you plan to win, and prepare to win, then you have a right to expect to win.

A disciplined process of thinking dramatically increases the odds of success.

Service above self is true leadership.

A servant leader is willing to place self-interest behind the goal of achieving the Organization’s objectives and helping others to win. It is a method for empowering people and enhancing Organizational productivity.

Your Turn

There is absolutely no way I have captured all the “secrets of success” in my 12 Things I Believe list.  What have you learned that you’d add to the list?  Please share your wisdom and help make the list more complete.  What is the most helpful advice anybody has ever given you that has helped you be successful, or that you discovered on your own?

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13 Comments so far

  1. Peg Stookey

    October 22, 2011

    I believe that…Lack of awareness is the root cause of all failure. So, in order to be successful we need to heighten our awareness. What is my vision and what are my goals? What are my strengths, gifts, knowledge, purpose? What/who else is needed?

    A good friend taught me this philosophy: Replace certainty with curiosity. It serves me well-every day of my life!

  2. Franklin Wallbrown

    October 22, 2011

    First, I would like to thank you again, Ed, for taking the time out of your busy schedule to come to Shawnee and present to our Asset Mapping Class. Your presentation was phenomenal.

    As far as Public Policies are concerned, we had never actually discussed those until your presentation. So, thank you (again) for that.

    I enjoyed your list and thought that it held a great deal of truth. I also enjoyed your math references.

    Buzz Lightyear said it best: “Never give up, Never surrender!”

  3. Mandie Maxwell

    October 23, 2011

    Thank you for shout out Ed! We loved your presentation.

    As far as your list, I especially noted “Writing Improves Thinking”. Before
    attending the university, I used to dread writing. I now understand what an
    important tool writing is and your insight further proves how powerful it is.

    After listening to your presentation, I also promised myself to always keep studying, even after graduation.

    Thank you again, for all of your ideas. They spark inspiration!

  4. Cheri crothers

    October 24, 2011

    All the above are very nice, but one thing young people seem to lack is belief in themselves to achieve their goals and lack of commitment
    . They are not a self reliant as they should be- too afraid to offend, too afraid to be aggressive and too afraid of what other people think of them. One has to rely on themselves because help from others is not always forthcoming and the strings attached to that help may not be desirable.
    Now, to succeed, one must use every avenue to acheive their life’s ambition- personal, financial, government, etc. Learning should never stop-outside your field and within it.
    Curiosity is badly lacking these days and if one isn’t curious about how things work or how things are done, you will learn nothing and know nothing.Taking someone else’s word for something doesn’t make it right, correct or written in stone. One must explore and be curious and not be afraid to ask embarrassing questions.
    I’m retired now, but I’m always learning, exploring and love being curious 🙂

  5. Jim Le Mon

    October 24, 2011

    * Commitment to the “cause” doesn’t start at 9:00am and stop at 5:00pm, it’s 24x7x365.

    * The “early” bird catches more opportunities by being prepared at 7:30am.

    * The “plum” assignments are typically distributed at/after 5:30pm. Harvesting plums is easy by being dedicated to the cause/mission of your company and being in the “line of sight” when end-of-day discussions are happening.

    * Face-to-face discussions are preferred over emails.

    * Be cognizant of “time” when dealing with colleagues, so you increase your personal efficiency coefficient each day

  6. John (Jack) Cartor

    October 31, 2011

    Lessons learned in both the military and during my career realtive to managing to desired outcomes:

    If we are ever disappointed in an outcome, it will be traceable to one of two factors:
    1. The failure of intelligence
    2. The failure of leadership to act on the intelligence.

    While simple in its structure, this refers to the imperative to be a persistent student relative to learning – going beyond the obvious, and never being satisfied you have enough knowledge for ongoing success. Never be afraid of what you will find, including and most importantly your own weaknesses or those of your organization. If you feel you are the best – you have met the test for failure.

    Finding data and turning it into knowledge is never enough. Too often rationalization is offered for a reason not to act. Often it takes courage to act on the intelligence one has found. Personal risk is often associated with such courage. Never be afraid to take a position on what you feel is right – regardless of the perceived consequences. Most often, it is the single voice in the room not agreeing or saying “yes” along with the rest of those present defining or driving towards a successful outcome. Ignorance is not knowing something. Stupidity is knowing something and not acting on it!

  7. […] from any organization you will need to use your personal judgment. If you’ve read my “12 Things I Believe” document, you know I believe that “Truth has boundaries”. In this case, since the strategic […]

  8. […]   […]

  9. Karl Ohrman

    May 22, 2013

    FOCUS
    I’m a huge believer that focus is the secret that most people miss. Too many people try to do too many tasks in too little time. Focus on your key mission and keep at it.

  10. Ed Burghard

    May 22, 2013

    Karl – I think you are right 🙂

  11. prof.sitesh dutt

    May 22, 2013

    One of the first things to do is to define “what is Success FOR ME?”Mind you I emphasise the “for me” part.
    Success has been called “the bitch goddess”.Now just think about that!
    So it might be a good idea with defining Success for you…honestly and seriously to begin with.
    Over a period of time check if the same parameters hold or have changed
    and ,if so, how?
    Now the never-ending journey starts.Happy journey!Cheerio!

  12. […] the things you believe and are willing to lead your life by.  I wrote a document titled “12 Things I Believe”.  When I share it with people, it has a huge impact on how they view and deal with  me. […]

  13. […] consistently with them.  That was a scary proposition, but I did it.  I titled my document 12 Things I Believe and added it to the back of my speakers biography. After sharing the document I found people […]

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