People who seem to have their life together generally followed some piece of advice or learned lessons along the way that brought them to their successful position. The U.S.’s Fortune 500 CEO’s are no exception. They all took different paths and had different experiences earning their honorable and prestigious positions today. There are lessons to be learned from those who have already paved their own paths to success, so why not take advantage of lessons learned by some of our nation’s top leaders?
1. Exxon Mobil CEO Darren W. Woods
"I'm real confident on where we stand. I hope whoever comes in steps back and takes an objective look...and comes to a different conclusion."
When we are invested in something, we oftentimes struggle with taking a step back and looking at it from other angles. Never underestimate the value of others’ new and fresh ideas.
2. Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren E. Buffett
“In the business world, the rearview mirror is always clearer than the windshield.”
Hindsight is always 20/20. It’s hard not to beat ourselves up for past mistakes. At this point in time, though, nothing can be done about the past so it’s important to move on and improve your decision making in the future.
3. Apple CEO Timothy D. Cook
“You want to be the pebble in the pond that creates the ripple for change.”
One thing I’ve struggled with is understanding my purpose in different aspects of my life. I often struggle with understanding the purpose or doubting that my actions will make an impact in the whole scheme of things. But, just remember that good things take time and your actions, no matter how small, will impact the future in one way or another.
4. McKesson CEO John H. Hammergren
“The spirit of ICARE is embodied in the innumerable, every day, unobserved actions and decisions that we choose to execute with diligence and integrity.”
Your work ethic is so important. Even if you do not have a job, how you choose to act in your clubs, organizations, and school speaks volume about your character.
5. Amazon.com CEO Jeffrey P. Bezos
“The common question that gets asked in business is, ‘why?’ That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, ‘why not?'”
The enemy of creativity is fear, and many of us fall into that trap daily. Asking the question “why” causes us to think too much on what has already been done and what people will think of us instead of thinking “why not.” Think outside the box, do something different, and do this with confidence. The world needs your creativity, so don’t be afraid to challenge others’ ideas.
6. AT&T CEO Randall L. Stephenson
“I’m not asking you to be tolerant of each other. Tolerance is for cowards. Understand each other.”
Taking the time to intentionally trying to understand someone will transform your relationship with that person. Be it a coworker, family member, or whomever, it’s worth it to understand their point of view, past experiences, and personal culture.
7. General Motors CEO Mary T. Barra
“If you do every job like you’re going to do it for the rest of your life, that’s when you get noticed.”
People hired you for a reason—because they needed that position filled and they thought you were the best for that job. Even if your heart is not in that job, treat it with the respect and focus on your drive to do the best that you can do. You don’t have to do that job forever, but those real-life work experiences play a crucial part in propelling you forward to what you actually want to do.