Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

As I was looking through my new “ABCs of Business Success” book – which includes 13 ABC lists on various subjects – one letter kept standing out to me: F. Folks generally believe that F-words have no place in business, but there are many outstanding words beginning with F that drive success.

Consider the following – some of my favorites:

Fight. You not only need to fight for yourself but for each other if you want to have the best teamwork.

Focus. Tune out distractions. I love to watch and study athletes as they are getting ready to compete. You can see them running through their races or routines in their minds. Nothing can distract them. It’s easy to maintain focus when everything is going well, but great athletes keep their focus when they are staring at defeat. A sure way to fail is to lose focus.

I’m convinced that one of the top reasons that keeps people from getting what they want is lack of focus. People who focus on what they want to achieve, prosper. Those who don’t focus, struggle.

Failure. As any successful person will honestly admit, I’ve had my share of failures. But from every failure I have learned equally valuable lessons. The first lesson is that there was at least one reason I failed. The second lesson is that I can rebound from that failure. If we don’t know how to lose, we’ll never know how to win. We can learn a lot from failure.

Fearless. Every crisis we face is multiplied when we act out of fear. Fear is a self-fulfilling emotion. When we fear something, we empower it to become fearsome. If we refuse to concede to our fear, there is nothing to fear. Fear is a disease that rots our will to succeed.

President Franklin Roosevelt said it best: “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself.”

First. My father ingrained in me that second is last, so I have always strived to be first in whatever I attempted. It doesn’t always happen, but I always give it all I’ve got.

Feedback. Listening to advice or criticism is not easy for most people. In fact, some people just can’t accept any criticism, even if it’s constructive. Learning how to accept feedback is a key skill for advancing. Rather than viewing feedback as judgment, consider looking at it as an opportunity to grow, learn and acquire a new skill. Be grateful for the suggestions.

Flexibility. I can’t stress enough the importance of flexibility in today’s ever-changing business environment. The more skills we learn, the more valuable we become.

Follow up and follow through. The sale begins when the customer says yes – every sales person knows that following through after the order is written is what earns customer loyalty. Checking in to see how the product is working, fixing problems, listening to ideas for improvement, calling to see if it’s time for another order – it’s just Business 101.

In other areas of business, not just sales, the same principle should also hold true. Unreturned phone calls and emails, late deliveries, failures in completing paperwork or other snafus that cause delays are unprofessional and unacceptable. Follow up requires another F word – fanatical attention to detail.

Faults. Everyone has faults and weaknesses. The only way we get better is to work on them.

Faith. Don’t ever let anyone tell you that you can’t accomplish your goals. Who says you’re not tougher, better, harder working, smarter and more able than your competition? It doesn’t matter if they say you can’t do it. The only thing that matters is if you say it. If you believe in yourself, there’s hardly anything you can’t accomplish.

Fun. For years at our company, our motto has been “TGIM” – Thank God It’s Monday. We want our employees to look forward to coming to work as much as I do. We will always take our work seriously, and our customers’ needs seriously, but what we do isn’t brain surgery. Work should be fun, but fun shouldn’t be work.

Finish strong. Finishing strong helps you to put your mind at rest knowing that you did your best. It also helps you more accurately assess situations in the future based on your effort.

Mackay’s Moral: First and foremost, you frankly can’t flourish without learning how to function with F words.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.