Awards and Self Knowledge

Geoff Smith Portrait

BY Geoff Smith


This has been a big year for awards at EllisDon: My father has been inducted into the Canadian Business Hall of Fame. We got on the list of Canada's Ten Most Admired Business Cultures, which has a lot of people here really jazzed up. Perhaps most importantly, we were recently recognized by the Ontario General Contractors Association as Ontario's Safest Contractor.

And I won a big award. I'm writing this blog to talk about the 'reasonably unsettling' thing I learned about myself when I was named Canada's Entrepreneur Of The Year last week by Ernst & Young, because I'm wondering if other people might have the same issue.

First, I'm confident that everyone at EllisDon absolutely understands this was entirely a team award. When a construction company builds over $3.0 billion in buildings a year and the CEO can't build a one storey sand castle with a plastic pail, it's obvious that it's all about everyone here. It's a company full of great people and tremendous expertise. And most of the structure and culture was here when I arrived. I'm a very lucky person.

But I've always had this very consciously constructed self image. I've always felt strongly that I had confidence in myself, but that I've had to struggle to get other people to have confidence in me. Not in my teens or twenties, but for my whole life pretty much, that's the way I've viewed my world.

What I finally realized this week-end, walking the dog, still in a bit of shock, thinking about everything, is that I've had it completely, totally backward: Other people had confidence in me, I just didn't have confidence in myself. That's the reality. (And looking back, it explains a lot.)

That's mostly a good thing to realize of course, I just wish I'd figured it out before I was fifty-eight years old! That's why I'm putting it here: I'll bet I'm not the only one who's made that (big) mistake. I bet that if you can accept that everyone has a lot of confidence in you, and let that build your own self confidence, very good things will happen. And the earlier in your life you can accept that happy fact, the more very good things will happen. Just don't wait until you're fifty-eight, whatever you do.

Thanks for that, have a great holiday season.