Insights Oct 25, 2018

The day I cried:In 1986, I walked out of a three-hour tax exam after only 20 minutes. Everyone thought I was a genius for finishing early. But that was not reality.The truth was I couldn’t remember anything I had learned. My head was spinning wildly. I felt I was on the verge of a nervous breakdown. So, I went home, sat on the sofa, and cried. And cried. And cried.Miraculously, I passed.That exam experience was over 30 years ago. I’ve filled those years (and been fulfilled by them) by sharing that message with as many people as I can, delivering keynotes, writing books and presenting seminars.And I have also explained to accountants that when they focus on getting better at doing these things as well as making the world better, they also make their own world better. They enjoy extraordinary emotional rewards from knowing that they have made a difference.At the core of my work has been my unswerving belief — which is now supported by research — that accountants can make a profound difference. It works like this:

  • When we help our clients to get better data and do better analysis…
  • We help them to make better decisions
  • So, they achieve better results
  • Which helps to create better lives for them and the people they touch.

And, little by little, one decision at a time, one life at a time, we also help to build a BETTER WORLD.

Let me bring all of that together for you in just seven key lessons I have learned along the way so far. These are lessons that I hope help you make your world (and ours too) better:

  1. Put your family first. Don’t pay lip service to that — actually do it
  2. Work out what you believe in, and put that at the heart of how you make a difference at work and in your personal life.
  3. Accept that making small differences is fine. For most people, it’s not about grand gestures. It’s about understanding that small differences add up. And when we all make them, they add up to something big.
  4. Stick with it, even when it gets tough. Because it will get tough at times. As Martin Luther King once observed: “All labour that uplifts humanity must be undertaken with painstaking excellence.”
  5. Keep a ‘TTT: Things To Treasure’ folder because you never know when you will need a dose of positivity to lift you up and get you back on track.
  6. Find people who can help you. Don’t fall into the ‘I must prove I can do it on my own’ trap. No one can achieve their full potential on their own. Which is why, of course, every outstanding athlete has a coach.
  7. Pay-it-forward and back by helping others in return. Remember: one easy way to do that is to send them thanks and feedback that they can put in their own ‘Things To Treasure’ folder. As the name suggests, that folder is where I file all the lovely feedback, the kind words, the success stories and so many uplifting messages I receive. I turn to that folder whenever the backlash becomes tough to take: as you can imagine, simply reading a few of the messages at random always picks me up. It reminds me of two things: why I do what I do and (just as importantly) why I must keep doing it.


Better Business, Better Life, Better World: The Movement is an Amazon Bestseller. In this book, 52 amazing business owners answer one question:  “What advice would you give to your grandchildren to create a better business, a better life, and a better world?”Filled with unique perspectives and wisdom, this book promises nothing short of a life-changing experience.Get your copy of Better Business, Better Life, Better World now.

Steve Pipe

Steve Pipe is a bestselling author, keynote speaker, chartered accountant and founder of the AVN association of proactive UK accountants.

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