Richard Branson isn’t your average billionaire.
And despite the fact he has probably accumulated enough life and business experience for several lifetimes, he always gets back to a piece of advice that his mom once shared with him:
Never look back in regret. Move on to the next thing.
He began learning this lesson early on in life. As a young boy, he struggled in school due to dyslexia and was painfully shy around people. When he was five, his fearless mother decided it was time to teach her son a tough life lesson. On the way back from a shopping trip, she stopped the car on the side of a countryside road and gave little Ricky instructions on how to get home (about three miles away). Then, she drove off.
Ricky spent the first few minutes regretting causing such a fuss in the backseat of the car, which was probably why he was being punished. But he soon realized that lamenting the past was doing nothing to serve his future. So he mustered up the courage to ask people for directions and eventually found his way back home.
It was a bold parenting move, but it paid off. Richard Branson began to go through life always looking at challenges as just new opportunities. It was so clear now. Just move onto the next big thing. There’s no point in wasting time looking back on your mistakes and feeling sorry for yourself. Dwelling on the past is counter-productive, it’s stressful and negatively impacts your self-confidence. Use that energy to fuel new projects instead.
Using this childhood lesson to fuel his entrepreneurship journey
As a young boy, he dreamed of entrepreneurship and made his first business move at 16 by founding Student magazine to give ’60s youth a voice on issues such as the Vietnam War.
At 20 years old, he set up his own mail-order records operation. Nowadays, we know him as the business magnate behind the Virgin Group, which controls over 400 companies and has a revenue of over 20 billion dollars (as of 2016).
Branson has also been awarded for his humanitarian initiatives, made cameos on various TV shows, set the world record for fastest crossing of the English Channel, and even been knighted at Buckingham Palace for his “services to entrepreneurship”.
And he has also made a reputation for himself as quite the compassionate leader. The act of donating half of his 5 billion-dollar wealth to charity gives us a tiny peek into his altruistic views on the meaning of wealth, which essentially boil down to: “Stuff really doesn’t matter.”
It also applies to his personal life
When talking about his immensely generous act, he described how he and his wife used to live on a boat, and one day it sank. They realized they missed nothing except their family photo albums. They felt the same detachment after their London house caught fire, destroying everything inside.
Not everyone would be able to move on so easily after losing all the personal possessions they collected over their lifetime. But Richard Branson follows one small piece of advice, given to him by his mother, which he applies to both his career and his personal life.
How you can use this knowledge to improve
Here’s some quick and easy advice for you to follow in Richard Branson’s steps. When you catch yourself focusing on lost opportunities or past mistakes, stand up and take a deep breath. Interrupt your thoughts by changing your actions.
Take a walk somewhere peaceful, play with your pets, listen to upbeat music and dance like you’re drunk at a concert. Then sit down, take a notepad, and write what you’re going to focus on next. That’s when the real magic happens.