40 Lessons The World Has Taught Me In 40 Years
I was once told as human beings we spend the first half of our lives collecting, and the second half determining what to keep.
Having just celebrated my 40th birthday, I figured there would never be a better time to get the lessons I have decided to keep down on paper.
1.What gets communicated the best, gets done the best. Think like a philosopher, but speak and write like a truck driver.
2. The people who listen to understand others, instead of listening only to respond, seem to be doing alright for themselves. There is nothing more powerful than the feeling of someone truly listening to you, and this can only happen when you prioritize your two ears over our one mouth.
3. The answer to most of our problems is found in subtraction, not addition. Bruce Lee got it dead right when saying, “It’s not the daily increase but daily decrease. Hack away at the unessential.” Simple is forever cool.
4. There is real value in doing something that others recognize took time on your part. The best way to make new friends, and a sure way to keep them, is to be thoughtful. Nothing compounds faster than kindness.
5. The more time you make to “sit and think” the faster you will move. If you take the time to sit and think about who you are, and what you want to do, you will be rewarded with all the time in the world. Goals are reached by getting clear on your vision, being decisive in your actions, and being true to your values, and sometimes the fastest way to achieve this “Holy Trinity” is by slowing down.
6. The best way to get a mentor, is to first be a mentor. Don’t make it harder than it has to be. Giving equals getting. Speaking of mentors…..
7. Gurus teach to the masses and mentors teach to the individual. Save yourself the time — choose mentors.
8. The best way to respond to something bad is by getting up and doing something nice for someone. A few years ago I was talking to my dad about how horrible my first world life was going, and before I could get really get the mustard on the bread, he stopped me and said, “Michael, shut up and go buy that pretty wife of yours some flowers.” Looking back on all the advice he has passed onto me, the idea of getting out of my own head, by getting into the hearts of others, has been the single most important regarding my day to day happiness.
9. Steal other people’s ingredients, but make your own recipes. The people that do the best work, learn what works best for them. So stop worrying about making something great, and instead focus on getting great at your making.
10. An unexpected gift at an unexpected time is the way into a persons heart. There are no words more powerful than, “I saw this and thought of you.” Long lasting relationships are formed by small consistent actions.
11. Going through the motions never got anyone anywhere. Passion is not something you find, passion is something you bring — so suck it up and try to smile.
12. When you put your own health first everything else becomes so much easier. I used to do a decent amount of drugs, ate horribly, and rarely exercised. Needless to say, I did not make much of a contribution to society.
13. If you screw up, recognise it, admit it, ask how you can make it right, and then bury the worry so you can both move forward together. Some people do the first two, but few see through the last two.
14. Practicing gratitude is a good way to start the day, but not as effective as showing it. Every time you make your list of who you are grateful for, take it one step further and tell the person. Your life will be better for it.
15. Speaking of mornings, grab your partner first thing instead of your phone. Human contact is the most important part of a morning routine that no one ever talks about.
16. Make your most prized possession your notebook. There is no better way to clarify your thoughts, and learn how to better express them, than by putting pencil to paper.
17. Not all great friends make a strong first impression. Give people time to show themselves. Despite what people say — life is long.
18. No other productivity hack can compete with reading. The beauty of getting older is that patterns begin to emerge, and one of the most glaring ones is that those who read, succeed.
19. The best way to connect your dots is to have a lot of dots to play with. Idea in equals idea out. Curiosity will always be king.
20. Make it a point to reach out to one new person a week. This is hands down the best decision I have ever made for my career. That shit adds up. Fast.
21. The solution to most people’s problems is a handshake away. Connect people, connect people, connect people.
22. Your life is not measured by the number of people who inspire you, but rather how many people you inspire. If you proactively compliment, support, and lift up the people around you, you will never have to watch another inspirational video again.
23. The best way to get comfortable in your own skin is to open yourself up to uncomfortable conversations. A time will come in your life when you recognise that the people who tell you “how it is,” and “how you are,” is not an attack, but the ultimate form of care, your life will go on the offensive.
24. Never stop seeking out varying points of view. Too often, we listen only to what we want to hear, and read only to reinforce our own deep-seated beliefs. However, in order to grow we must seek out other people who are traveling in the same direction, but taking a different road.
25. Before setting out to change the opinions of others, think about how hard it is for you to change. Aim for understanding, not conversion.
26. Having a career you love is a privilege, not a right. And it is up to you, and only you, to make it happen. No one is going to save you.
27. There is always a second door. If you cannot get someone to answer the first door, peak your head around the corner. Creativity + Persistency = Opportunity.
28. One persons dream is always another persons reality. The difference is that one got moving while the other stood still. Momentum is everything and it always starts with the first step.
29. Get present. Figure out your own definition of meditation and do it everyday. A clear mind leads to a world of possibilities.
30. Never forget the details that make the people you care about smile. Say this every morning when you wake up and each night you will go to be smiling.
31. Do what you say you are going to do. Mr. Salesmen loves to preach the importance of “under-promising and over-delivering,” but the truth of the matter is that sticking to your word is better than most.
32. Most relationships that last are cemented in the moments when you are “uncool.” Just like “thoughtfulness,” the older you get, the more attractive, “vulnerability,” will become.
33. Replace the word “nervous” with “excited” from your vocabulary. Seriously. Do it. Today. How we allow ourselves to frame what we feel dictates how well we do.
34. Forgive people. Saying, “I forgive you is hard,” but so is saying, “I am sorry.” One of the things that helped me to put dinner on the dinner table this year came from one of the few times I forgave someone who “did me wrong,” in the past, and since then we have gone on to create some amazing memories together. Most people do not set out to ruin your day. Shit happens. So take the time to think about if someone did something “shitty” or they are someone “shitty.” We all make mistakes and we don’t want them to define us — so don’t let them define others.
35. Stop focusing on what differentiates you from others and start focusing on what connects you to others. The moment you do this is the moment when, “anything can happen,” can actually happen.
36. Take note of the little things that you can do everyday and do them everyday. I have said this before, and I will say it again, most people’s dream days are not that farfetched. The things I love the most are accessible and free. I would be willing to bet, the same goes for you.
37. No “Hall of Famer” has ever hit more home runs than singles. Focus on progression, not perfection.
38. Put your friends and family first. No job title will ever be more important. Speaking of family……
39. The best life hack you will never read about is to find a good partner. Despite what some people think, not everyone gets married because they are lonely. My wife gave me permission to smile, and our two little boys have taught me how to keep it there.
40. The secret to success is to find and keep good company. Full stop.
After looking over this list I cannot help but think how many of these points are relationship based. Funny how that works.
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