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The ten points of advice of a dying transportation owner 


A very successful and brilliant transportation owner in his early 70’s whose business I sold the year previous received his last payment from the US buyer that acquired his company.  He wanted to give me my final commission cheque and provide me some business advice. Since he was gravely ill, I sat by his bed and listened to his words of wisdom. He said that he wanted to pass on these gems to me so that I could benefit from his experience. He summarized it into 10 key points. I took notes.

Here is my spin on them.

1). Do not worry. Worry is the most unproductive of all human activities. 

You can not saw sawdust. A day of worry is more exhausting than a day or work. People get so busy worry about yesterday or tomorrow, they forget about today. And today is what you have to work with.

2). Do not be fearful, for most of the things we fear never come to pass.

Every crisis we face is multiplied when we act out of fear. Fear is self-fulfilling emotion. When we fear something, we empower it. If we refuse to concede to our fear, there is nothing to fear

3). Do not cross bridges before you come to them.

Solve the problems presented to you right now. Tomorrow’s problems may not be problems when tomorrow comes.

4). Face each problem as it comes. You can only handle one at a time.

My client referred to one of his favourite comments he heard from a supplier. The supplier said “there is no problem so big it cannot be run away from.” Funny, but problem solving is not easy so do not make it harder than it is.

5). Do not take problems to bed with you.

Just remember that all your problems seem worse in the middle of the night. If you wake up thinking of a problem, it always seems lighter in the morning and always is.

6). Do not borrow other people’s problems.

They can better care for them than you can. I must admit that I have wanted to help somebody out, without being asked, or I thought I was more equipped to handle their situation. Unfortunately, I would not want to deal with the consequences either.

7). Try not to relive yesterday. For good or ill, it is gone forever.

Concentrate on what is happening in your life and be happy now. We seem to convince ourselves that life will be better after we get a better job, make more money, get married, have a baby, and buy a bigger house and so on. Yet the accomplishments of those events may not make any difference at all. You are responsible for your own happiness.

8). Be a good listener. Only those that listen hear the better ideas from their own.

You can win more friends with your ears than with your mouth. Hearing is one of the body’s five senses, but listening is an art. Your success could hinge on whether you have mastered the art of listening. Most people will not listen to you are saying unless they already feel that you have listened to them. When we feel that we are being listened to, it makes us feel as if we are being taken seriously and what we say really matters.

9). You should not be bogged down by frustration. Over 90% is rooted in self pity and will only interfere with positive action.

Ask yourself. Has frustration ever improved any situation? Better to take a break, collect your thoughts, and re-direct our attention to a positive first step. Then go on from there.

10). Count your blessings. Never overlook the small ones. A lot of small blessings add up to a big one.

We all have something to be grateful for, even on the worst days. After all, my client reminded me, despite being very ill; he was still on the green side of the grass. What about you?

This advice may not apply to all of us. If you think about them, they make your life less complicated.

The owner of the company died two days later.

Editor’s Note: The name of the owner is not revealed to protect the identity of the company and family.


Mark Borkowski

Mark Borkowski

Mark Borkowski is president of Mercantile Mergers & Acquisitions – a mid-market M&A brokerage firm in Toronto specializing in the transportation industry.
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