A few years ago we were at a conference where a very impressive entrepreneur stood up and talked about how he bought a mountain.
We were intrigued.
Can someone actually buy a mountain? Is that really a thing someone can do? Why would buy a mountain? How would they buy a mountain? We had so many questions.
Turns out, the speaker specialized in developing ski resorts.
And, as it turns out, you need a mountain to build one of those.
So yeah, you can buy a mountain, probably just like any other piece of land.
Anyway, this guy went into depth and detail about how he buys mountains and builds these extremely impressive ski resorts.
It was an amazing talk from a very successful entrepreneur.
However, we knew that nearly every entrepreneur has made mistakes. So, we asked him about it.
"What mistakes have you made and what did you learn from them?"
The entire room looked over, as if we had just insulted him.
Instead of being offended, the speaker smiled broadly and said something we will never forget.
"A friend of mine convinced me to invest in wind power, since that was the future. So I spent way too much money on windmills which are literally sitting in giant boxes somewhere in Colorado.
"The lesson I learned," he continued, "was to stay in your lane. I know nothing about wind power or windmills, so I had no business getting involved in that industry. I know how to buy mountains and build ski resorts, so I am going to stick with that."
Stay in your lane.
That one hit home for us.
Know what you are good at and focus on that. Don't try to be a know-it-all. Just because you are good at one thing that does not mean you are good at everything.
It is a profoundly humbling lesson.
Fortunately we are building a team of people smarter than we are. Why should we pretend to know everything? What does that really get us?
As Steve Jobs once famously said, “It doesn't make sense to hire smart people and tell them what to do; we hire smart people so they can tell us what to do."
Along these lines, saying "I was wrong" can be very difficult, but also very liberating. Because if you make a mistake, you can learn from it.
Clearly, Mr. Mountain-Buying-Man had no problem sharing his mistakes and clearly articulating valuable learning lessons from them. In fact, most successful entrepreneurs gleefully share their failures, because that's where the learning happens.
We humbly suggest you try the same.