20 Business Truisms That Can Change Your Life

Last Updated Jun 3, 2011 3:08 PM EDT

20 Business Truisms That Can Change Your LifeOnce in a great while, experience teaches us a lesson that can only be described as an axiom or a truism. It just is. You can try to understand its origins or debate its basis in theory, but if you ask me, that's just a waste of time. You're better off just taking it for what it is - an empirical observation - and benefiting from its implications.

Now, I know some of this stuff straddles philosophy and psychology, but there's a good reason for that. While they are indeed "real world" observations, they were perceived through a subjective filter - my brain - which, for better or worse, includes all kinds of strange and diverse influences.

So, while you will find elements of Taoism, Freudian theory, Ayn Rand, and What They Don't Teach You At Harvard Business School, make no mistake: they're all practical lessons that can help your career ... or even change your life:
  1. If you don't know, say so. If you don't know what you're talking about, stop talking.
  2. Whether negotiation is strong or weak depends entirely on your goals.
  3. Don't jump ship before you hit the iceberg.
  4. Anger is never about what you think you're angry about.
  5. Confidence comes from success, knowledge comes from failure.
  6. A**hole is a subjective noun.
  7. If you're miserable, quit and do something else. If you're still miserable, it's you.
  8. Success is based on current behavior, not past performance.
  9. If you protect your domain or CYA, that's all you'll accomplish.
  10. Thin-skinned people are actually thick-headed.
  11. People won't perform for those they don't respect.
  12. If you're not passionate about what you're doing, you won't be successful at it.
  13. When you have problems with others, look inside yourself for answers.
  14. The workplace is about business, not you.
  15. Conflict is healthy; anger is not. Get some help for that.
  16. No matter how smart you are, wisdom only comes from experience.
  17. Whine and complain all you want; nobody gives a crap.
  18. You can BS others but you really can't BS yourself.
  19. The boss isn't always right, but she's still the boss.
  20. The customer isn't always right, but he's still the customer.
If any of this comes across as sort of preachy, just so you know, that's not my intent. I'm not interested in indoctrinating anyone, just helping you to navigate a complex and challenging working world.

Come to think of it, while I think their meanings should be self-evident - at least after some reflection - I'm probably not the best judge of that. So if you don't get it, ask and I'll provide additional color in the comment section.

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Image courtesy Flickr user MAMJODH

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