I was at a retirement gathering for a friend of mine and an Executive was there as the guest speaker talking about my buddies 38 years of service at BMO Financial Group. He talked about my buddy’s great work ethic and the deep knowledge that was irreplaceable for the bank. He backed the talk up with specific stories that supported up how valuable that knowledge was to the organization. On one hand, I was impressed that the executive cared enough to do the work to get to that level of personal detail and bring the human side to the conversation, but on the other hand the experience made me ill.

It made me ill because I saw my “default future”, the future I didn’t want and the one that was inevitable. I had the striking feeling that my tombstone was going to read, “Mike was a BMO Lifer.” I knew I needed to immediately reflect on this insight.

While I loved most of my experience at BMO and I remain very thankful for the opportunity and experience I gained, I know deep down that my life purpose was more than just BMO, and that these gifts and skills of mine had a place in the marketplace as an entrepreneur. So the reflective part was to consider what my purpose is and there has not been a week that goes by without me validating and/or updating that purpose.

“Reigniting the human spirit and bringing organizations to life” is not a marketing pitch or slogan. Every word has been carefully considered, torn apart and put back together with a few close associates of mine. I continue to reflect on this life purpose and its implications on a regular basis and examine, where I am succeeding and where am I failing and what am I going to do about it to live up to its potential.

I am here to share to you that I fail more often than I succeed and most of the time the gap that I distinguish inspired me to pull up my socks and get moving to the next level.

One of my mentors is Dave Logan and he shared the idea with me that you know you are an entrepreneur when you used your personal credit card to make payroll. Well I can tell you a few more stories about myself and my clients doing these types of things in pursuit of their purpose. But is it worth it? No question!

When you have a purpose (or as some would put it a Nobel Cause) there is no other choice. You are inspired to take action, inspired in ways that has you get past the failures, the 60 plus hour work weeks, the learning curves you must go through.

Then there is the unscheduled late night client calls with anyone of my clients when they share some wonderful news and/or want to discuss a breakdown. Last week a client share with me that a female professional stated that this was the best job she ever had in her 20 plus career. My client made that happen and we were both thrilled. It is satisfying to replicate your purpose.

I enjoyed the 6-figure salary I earned at BMO but I did not have the sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that colours each and every day. Even the difficult days when I struggle to “meeting the payroll” are energized with purpose, the people/associates I work with and most of all my clients.

The Year That Was: Celebrating Wins, Learning from Losses, and Moving Forward

As the year 2023 draws to a close, it may be time for businesses to engage in the age-old tradition of reflection. Looking back at the year’s results provides a valuable opportunity to learn, grow, and set the course for future success. In the ever-evolving landscape of commerce, this introspective journey is crucial for businesses to adapt and thrive.

One of the essential lessons gleaned from this year’s business results is the significance of adaptability. In a world marked by unpredictability, businesses that embraced change emerged as the frontrunners.

As Charles Darwin famously said, “It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.” This rings true in the business world, where agility and adaptability are key to navigating the turbulent waters of uncertainty.

Harvard Business School conducted a comprehensive study that underscores the importance of innovation in driving business success. The research highlights that companies that consistently innovate outperform their peers, enjoying higher profit margins and sustained growth.

This year has been a testament to the resilience of businesses that dared to innovate, introducing new products, services, or processes to stay ahead of the curve.

Achievements, both big and small, deserve celebration. Perhaps your team successfully implemented a new strategy, achieved a sales target, or forged valuable partnerships. Reflecting on these accomplishments is not just a pat in the back but an exercise in recognizing what works well and why. Understanding the factors that contributed to success can be instrumental in replicating and building upon those achievements in the future.

On the flip side, challenges are equally valuable teachers. If your business faces setbacks, use them as stepping stones for growth. Analyze the root causes, identify areas for improvement, and develop strategies to mitigate risks. Remember, failure is not the end but a means to refine and strengthen your business model.

This year has also reinforced the importance of fostering a resilient and motivated team. The human element in business cannot be overstated. Employees who feel supported, motivated, and valued contribute significantly to a company’s success. Recognizing and nurturing talent within your organization is an investment that pays dividends in the long run.

In conclusion, reflecting on this year’s business results may not just be an optional activity but a strategic imperative. It provides the insights needed to adapt, innovate, and thrive in an ever-changing business landscape. As we turn the page to a new year, let’s carry forward the lessons learned, celebrate our achievements, and face the future with resilience and a commitment to continuous improvement.