It’s not easy to achieve something worthwhile. The odds are stacked against you. You’ll have to change the existing order, shake things up and overcome competitive challenges while dealing with long hours, lack of capital and many other risks plus the minutia of endless daily problems.

Everyone who has been successful over a long period of time has overcome these challenges and in doing so has lived up to the five toughest words in business – “you can count on me”…

Before my entrepreneurial career started I worked for a couple of very large companies. I did ok but I wasn’t a star by any means. One day my boss pulled me aside and gave it to me straight – “you’re talented enough and smart enough to make it to the top but you’re not committed enough. Other blokes, less talented, will get the good jobs ahead of you unless you step up and engage yourself fully and demonstrate that you are serious. If we can’t count on you then you won’t make it and that would be a terrible waste.”

That was about 17 years ago and I never forgot what he said to me. He was absolutely right too – I was half-committed and coasting along and my career progress reflected it. I realised then and there that if I wanted to achieve something meaningful then I needed to get serious.

A year later I left to start my first business. From the first day I attached a small sign to my computer that said “You can count on me.” It was my promise to myself and my business. I did not take that sign down for 10 years. Unwittingly it turned out to be the greatest challenge of my business life (and still is). What I didn’t know at the time was that the standard was much higher than I ever thought it would be. I’m far from perfect but it has helped guide my actions and I do my best to live up to it every day.

But what does “you can count on me” really mean? Simply it means you can be counted on to produce a specific outcome no matter what else is going on around you. It means you are dependable and that you keep your word. It means that you stand behind your team and have their backs at all times. It means you are fully engaged and committed – not a spectator. In the end it is about doing what you say you will do.

Five simple words – “you can count on me” – can change your fortunes and propel you forward. It’s not easy, however, but neither is doing something worthwhile. So ask yourself (honestly) – can you be counted on?

Artwork courtesy of Bryan Barham Design