- By Tim Ball
- 7,603 Comments
The best advice I was ever given wasn’t from any of the CEOs or successful entrepreneurs I’ve met. Nor was it from any business book. It was from my dad. I was doing my Law Society Finals, which is basically the final exam you have to take to qualify as a lawyer in the UK. It was a difficult year, lots of hard graft, and when all my friends had already started working, I had gone back to studying.
Just as I was about to start my final revisions, I remember telling my dad that the pass rate was only 60 percent, i.e. that 40 percent of people fail, and that I was really struggling with this statistic. It was doing my head in that after so much hard work I still had nearly a 50 percent chance of failing.
That was when my dad gave me his best advice: “Just do your best and let God do the rest.”
It had such a strong effect on me that, 26 years on, I remember exactly where I was standing in my childhood bedroom and I remember my knee grazing against the corner of the little guest bed I had in my room. I remember my brain taking it in. It gave me an extraordinary sense of calm and reassurance that I didn’t have to grapple with the statistics, with the “what ifs.” There was no point fretting about the bits we have absolutely no control over. All that was in my power was to study as best I could. Full stop. It was so simple and yet life-changing for me.
I have taken this advice with me throughout my life and believe that it is because of this advice that I have had the confidence — or more like freedom — to try new things, venture out, start businesses, write books. The essence of this advice is not about notsetting goals. Goals are empowering. Goals are energizing. It is our life blood to strive, to aim, to dream. Instead, it’s about letting go of the attachment we so often have to the outcome of those goals.
Why? Because it’s that attachment to the outcome that is debilitating. It makes us powerless because it puts our attention on the future — something we have absolutely no control over. Think of it this way. You know the expression “if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.” So many of our plans get totally diverted and uprooted, but often for the better. We do something and it ends up somewhere we never ever expected, a totally new direction and an outcome that is bigger than we would have ever imagined. That’s the beauty of life.