Lessons Learned From “Screw It, Let’s Do It” By Richard Branson

The well-known Richard Branson is the founder of the Virgin Group. Being a school drop-out did not make him a failure, on the contrary, his attitude towards success made him one of the elites in the business world.

He started student magazine when he dropped out of school and sold advertisement spaces over the pay phone. He then started Virgin Music and things rolled on from there.

His family was a big reason for him to be successful. His mother always encouraged him to do new things and to challenge himself and rely on himself. His aunt also taught him how to throw himself into a challenge and stay alive. I have come to realize while reading the book that his mindset is shaped by the way he grew up. School really did not have a big impact on his success.

Screw It, Let’s Do It is a pocketbook. A hundred pages only. But believe me, the book is full of lessons. I could have easily chosen 50+ lessons from the book, but I chose only 12.

Lesson #1: Set goals, then set more goals.

One of the many things that I have realized that successful people have in common is goal setting. Richard Branson sets his goals and figures out how to reach them. Once he does. He sets other goals. It is ok to have dreams. But dreaming and working without knowing the direction is not a positive thing. It’s like starting to drive the car to go from Paris to Bordeaux but I don’t know how to get there. I won’t reach my destination. You should know how to get there. Which leads us to the second lesson.

Lesson #2: Take action.

Dreaming is good as we mentioned before. Setting goals is great. Knowing how to achieve your goals is wonderful. But taking action is perfect. Dreaming and wishing are not going to get you anywhere if you don’t take the first step. Which is the hardest step. The beginning is always hard. But hard is good. Hard is a challenge in itself. Which leads us to the third lesson.

Lesson #3: Challenge yourself.

You won’t grow unless you challenge yourself. Get out of your comfort zone and try new things. I am actually doing so right now. I grew up poor. And since I was a kid there were a lot of things that I wanted to do but I never had the money nor the time, I was either working to pay my school’s tuition or at school! So now I am doing all the things that I always wanted to do. Even that I am actually 28 years old (29 in 12 days) but I want to do them. Something always felt missing from inside of me. I am challenging myself to do all the things that I always wanted to do. Which leads us to the fourth lesson.

Lesson #4: Let go of your fears.

I am not afraid of what people will say. Yes, I am old, and yes I will do the things that I wanted to do when I was a kid. Getting out of your comfort zone, of your shell will help you let go of anxiety and memories. It will help you grow into someone you never knew that you would become. We are shaped by the experiences that we go through in life, the lessons that we learn, the books that we read, the music that we listen to…Know that you can. Which leads us to the fifth lesson.

Lesson #5: Rely on yourself.

Your parents will change your diapers when you are two weeks old. But they will stop doing things for you sooner or later. They will be there for you emotionally. They will be there physically to support you. They will be there after they pass away in the way you act and raise your kids. But once you grow up, you need to take care of yourself. I remembered that time when Allen (the father from Boy Meets World) fired Eric (his son) from his store because Allen took care of him more then he should, so Eric relied on him every time he faced a problem. You need to know that relying on yourself is a part of challenging yourself. When you face a problem at work, find a solution and then suggest it to your manager. But do not go for him for advice on every little thing. Hold yourself accountable. Which leads us to the sixth lesson.

Lesson #6: Don’t gamble on things that you cannot control.

So you faced a problem at work and decided to solve it. That’s what every manager wants from his team. To take initiative. But beware of falling in the “I can do it” trap. Let’s suppose that the solution that you found can change the direction of a part of a project. You cannot control what will happen next. You would think that you have done a good thing, but I don’t think that your manager will be happy. Which leads us to the seventh lesson.

Lesson #7: Take initiative.

Another common trait of successful people is that they take initiative. I have found this lesson to be common between Jeff Bezos, Richard Branson, Steve Jobs, Sam Walton, Ray Kroc and many more. I really think that taking initiative is directly related to being a great leader. Many of us do what other people do. Probably because they are afraid of not fitting in or to feel not in place. Others do what they see appropriate. They do what needs to be done. They take the lead and be the first to do the thing that they have to do. Which leads us to the eighth lesson.

Lesson #8: Have fun.

I once saw a video of a guy on the beach who started dancing in a really weird way and people followed him one after the other. Suddenly the whole beach was dancing. I added the video after this paragraph. Taking initiative. Being a leader. Managing projects. Relying on yourself. Does not mean that we cannot have fun. We spend most of our life at work. WORK SHOULD BE FUN! We work more than we see our family! It does not make sense to me, to be honest. And that leads us to lesson number 9.

Lesson #9: Keep learning.

The best learning happens when we are having fun. Life is serious, but don’t take it too seriously. You’ll die young. Every day is a new chance to learn new things. Every day offers new possibilities. Without learning, we cannot grow. When we challenge ourselves, we learn. But learning is not only by challenging ourselves. Read articles. Watch online educational videos. I live in Tripoli, Lebanon and we have a salon that I attend every two weeks. It’s called Philosophical Salon of Tripoli. It’s a place where we share ideas and lessons. A place where we disagree and give our own point of view. The salon is a great learning experience.

Lesson #10: Find a way.

The word “Can’t” or “I Don’t Know” should not stop you from doing something. Such a small word does not and should not have such a big impact on your life. If you don’t know how to bake a cake, it does not mean that you should not do it. Learn how to do it. If you don’t know how to code. Find a way to build your project. It’s not about if you know how to do it. It’s about how much you really want it to happen.

Lesson #11: Keep trying.

Even if you made it happen but you did not succeed, you must have learned something. If you fall off your bicycle, you don’t stop riding it. You keep on trying until you learn how to ride it. If you did not succeed at your first startup, it does not mean that you are a failure. Do it again, in a different way but don’t forget the lessons that you learned.

Lesson #12: Focus on the long term.

Smart people always work to see results on the long-term. Instant gratification is not always possible. Making the first big sale in the first month is not always possible. Breaking even the first year is not always possible. And sometimes, the solution is not healthy. Can you lose 10 Kg in a week? I don’t know. But what I do know is that it’s definitely not healthy. However, losing 10 Kg in 3 months is possible and healthy. (Please don’t my word, check with a nutritionist first : ) )

And these are 12 lessons that I have learned from Screw It, Let’s Do It by Richard Branson. I hope that this article was beneficial. If it was, don’t forget to share it with your friends. Maybe you’ll change someone’s life.

Richard Branson image courtesy: https://www.biography.com/business-figure/richard-branson

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