Pace Yourself: Part 3 of the 12 Things I Learned about Business from Living in Asia

When there are many opportunities, it is best to choose the opportunities that speak to your personal interests. It is even better to manage the opportunities by only agreeing to accomplish what is reasonable and by taking on responsibilities that provide concrete results. By having concrete results, you are able to work at a pace that keeps parity between effort put in and reward taken from employer / partner. In Asia, the start-up mentality and the entrepreneur lifestyle is often confused with making reckless promises to people. Since relationships are sometimes obscure and because not all people are open to questioning, someone will always have a story to tell about how so-and-so is just around the corner with money, or next quarter an agreement with someone else will be finalized, making way for your promises to be met. Many people will hold out these kind of half-filled stories and they will string together a narrative that has no real starting point and no end. They will want you to help them, or will offer you a chance to help them, and sometimes these offers come thick and fast, with no real solid promise of payment or resolute compensation. Say no. Pursue your self-interest, no matter how grand the big plan looks. You can become so busy doing what other people want you to do that you can lose track of what you want out of the experience. You will reward no one if this happens, least of all yourself. As an entrepreneur you know that your abilities are endless and your potential for change and creativity is infinite. Absolute ability should not mean absolute disregard for enjoying your life and seeing your productivity bear fruit. It is better for you, the person who best knows how you manage time, your work, your ideas, and expectations, to do only what you know you can achieve at that moment. Do not reward their promise with promises of your own. Instead, ask them to clarify exactly how that promise they are giving you will be made concrete. The ultimate lesson to be learned from managing your own desires and your own expectations is that you see that by working in the present, by limiting your grasp to what is right in front of you, you will build a future where more opportunities come into your grasp.

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