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If you’re not familiar with the program “The Shark Tank” it’s where people ask five “sharks” or successful entrepreneurs to invest in their businesses. The “sharks” are all successful business people such as Dallas Maverick’s owner Mark Cuban. While this program is focused on small businesses and entrepreneurship, I feel it teaches lessons that can also be applied to the “business” of succeeding at life.
Lesson #1: Know your goals
People who enter The Shark Tank must be prepared to state their goals in a clear and specific manner. They must be able to tell the Sharks exactly what they want. In this case, it’s the amount of money they want one of the Sharks to invest. For those of us not in The Shark Tank, a good, specific goal might be “to become debt free in 30 months” or to “save enough to put 10% down on a house next year.” The important thing is to have a clear and definable goal because if you don’t, there’s no way to know whether or not you’re making progress towards success.
Lesson #2: Know what you’re willing to give up to achieve your goal
The second thing participants must be able to do is tell the Sharks precisely what they’d be willing to give up to get at least one of them to invest in his or he business. This is stated as a percentage. For example, a recent participant said, “I want $100,000 in return for 25% of my company.” This tells the Sharks what they’re willing to sacrifice to achieve their goal. Once you’ve decided on a goal, you need to do the same thing, which is ask yourself what you’d be willing to do (or sacrifice) to achieve it. For example, if your goal were to get out of debt in 30 months, what would you be willing to do to achieve it? Would you be willing to take on a second job?
Lesson #3: Be tough minded
The people who are able to make deals with the Sharks are very tough minded. They know what they want and they stick to their guns. If you want to succeed in life you must be tough minded and even hard hearted about the choices you make. It might be excruciatingly difficult for you to move away from friends and family but if you’re offered a great job 1,000 miles away that will help you get what you want out of life, you need to be tough minded enough to make the move.
Lesson #4: Understand the importance of priorities
In The Shark Tank and in life, it’s critical to prioritize. You might have five or even more tasks you want to accomplish but you can’t realize all of them at once. You need to make a list of your tasks or the goals you want to accomplish and then prioritize them from the most important to the least important. This will allow you to focus with laser like intensity on your most critical task until you’ve accomplished it. You won’t have wasted time jumping on your horse and galloping off in all directions.
Lesson #5: Know what you’re good at
The Sharks are very smart. They don’t make deals outside their areas of expertise. For example, Damon built his fortune by creating a line of clothes called FUBU. If an entrepreneur is pitching an idea about toys, Damon is likely to say, “I don’t know anything about that space (type of business) so I’m out.” I believe the same thing holds true in life. You need to know your strengths and focus on them to achieve success. You might be tempted to take that high-paying marketing job but if the company is in an industry that’s outside your “space,” you’re just about doomed to fail. Take a pass on it and wait until that high-paying job matches up with your skills and experience.