35 Years, 35 Lessons LearnedAug 09, 2011
“You have to take the good with the bad, smile with the sad, love what you got and remember what you had, always forgive, but never forget, learn from your mistakes, but never regret, people change, things go wrong, just remember…life goes on.” – Unknown
I recently turned 35 and have reflected on some of the key lessons I’ve learned throughout my life. This is a great exercise and one you can do quickly. Just grab a sheet of paper and start writing.
Without further ado, here are my 35 lessons learned:
- Be humble – Don’t brag and be grateful for your accomplishments.
- Respect begets respect – If you show respect to others, they will almost always show respect to you. Respect is earned. It’s not a right.
- Listen more, talk less – We have two ears and one mouth for a reason
- Always be learning – Learn from every experience, especially the negative ones. Learn from others. Learn wherever you can.
- Embrace reading – Read for pleasure. Read for education. Don’t be afraid to read multiple books at once and don’t worry if you put a book down before it’s finished. Get out of your comfort zone once in a while and read something you wouldn’t normally be inclined to.
- Workout as much as you can – As we get older, it becomes harder to stay in shape. Consistent workouts, no matter how long, are key. The benefits are as much mental as they are physical. Try Crossfit. It will change the way you view working out.
- Eat for energy – Smaller meals throughout the day keep us nourished and help us perform at a high level. Think of your body as a car that needs premium fuel to run the right way.
- Follow the 80/20 rule – Pareto Principle – focus 80% of your time on the 20% that matters. Same goes for eating – eat well 80% of time and you can indulge the other 20%.
- Work smarter, not harder – it’s about performance not how much you’ve worked. Find ways to get in the zone.
- Build relationships – In all facets of life. Be authentic. Nothing beats forming friendships and loving relationships. Even clients/co-workers can be friends (and should be). It will make work a lot more fun.
- Meet face to face when possible – In this technology crazed time, authentic relationships are becoming more and more of a rarity. It’s not always possible to meet live, so try picking up the phone every once in a while. Don’t hide behind social media and email.
- Ship stuff – We all have something to give to the world. Find out what your unique talent is and produce something that can help others.
- Give back – Both time and money. Join a non-profit and/or volunteer your time. You will get so much more than you give.
- Focus on experiences over material stuff – The satisfaction of buying something is fleeting. Experiences last a lifetime.
- Seek spirituality – Whatever religious belief you have, seek this out. It’s a lifelong journey.
- Learn to breathe – We take this for granted. Focus on your breath every once in a while. You’ll be amazed at the benefits and calm you can receive from this.
- Turn off/disconnect from time to time – If you’re at your kid’s soccer game, leave your phone in the car. When you go on vacation, do the same.
- Embrace imperfection – No one’s perfect. The more we try to be, the less we will accomplish and the less satisfied we’ll become.
- Never forget where you came from – Don’t forget those that have helped you along the way. Don’t forget the challenges you’ve faced, but don’t let them overtake you.
- Focus on the present – Learn from your past; keep your eye on the future – Same as above. Focus on today as much as possible. Think forward, but not too far in the future. This will help you focus.
- Write handwritten thank you notes and letters – A lost art. People will appreciate a hand-written note. It will help you stand out as well. My wife, Michelle, rocks at this.
- Think Legacy – What are you going to leave behind? To the world…to your children…to your friends…your family? As my friend Scott says, Live Your Legend.
- Too much leads to accomplishing too little – Keep your commitments in check. Too many and you won’t get anything done.
- Love – It comes in many forms. Focus on it and you’ll always be better off.
- Forgive, even if you don’t forget – If you learn to forgive, you will be a much happier person.
- Be the first to say sorry – Try this some time. Even if you know (or think) you’re in the right.
- Ask how people are doing and mean it – Authenticity once again. Focus on the other person.
- Be proactive and resilient – Move forward. When you’re down, get back up. That’s what counts.
- Embrace the beast – We all face challenges and resistance. Don’t run away from it. Face it head on and learn to overcome it. With each success you will gain more confidence and this will get easier.
- Seek mentors/coaches – I can’t say enough about this. There’s always someone out there who’s been where you want to go. Find them and ask for advice. Most are willing to give it. Be willing to pay for it when necessary. The return on your investment will be exponential.
- Focus on your strengths, contain your weaknesses – Talk about an 80/20 habit to form. Identify your strengths. Buy this book – Strengthsfinder 2.0 and take the test (there’s a code in the book once you buy it). Study your results and find ways to spend more time on these.
- Know where/when you perform best – You may be an early morning person or someone who performs best at night. Figure out your peak energy times and leverage those to do your best work.
- Track/know your time – Peter Drucker’s key teaching. If you don’t know where you’re spending your time, you will waste it. Try tracking it for a few days. Just tracking will help you perform at a higher level.
- Put together a board of advisors – Who do you trust? Find friends, co-workers, others in your field, parents, etc. Keep it small (maybe four or five) and when you face a big decision, seek their advice. At the end of the day, however, make your own decision.
- We’re all teachers – It doesn’t matter what you do, you have something that others can learn from. Don’t push this on people, but don’t be afraid to give advice when necessary.
What about you? What are the key lessons you’ve learned in your lifetime? Leave a comment and let us all know.
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