So, since Yesterday (May 1st) was my 26th birthday, I decided to write a “What I’ve learned in the past 25 years”, but, because I’ve learned a LARGE number of things and I don’t feel like writing an autobiography, I’ve decided to limit it to 25 things; 1 for each year.
Because organizing 25 things I’ve learned over the past 25 years can be a bit confusing, I’ve decided to put them into 3 sections; Personal, Business/Work, and Life Lessons.
These are lessons that I’ve learned and try to apply in my daily life…
Personal and Family Lessons I’ve Learned
1. Surround Yourself with People Smarter (and More Successful) Than Yourself
Surrounding yourself with smarter, and more successful, people than yourself will allow you not only to learn from the people that surround you, but also will allow you to pick up successful habits; making you a better person.
2. Self Confidence is The Key To Your XYZ
Self-confidence is one of the strongest internal driving forces for a person. An ounce of confidence will allow a person to overcome a hurdle they might have been struggling with before… If you’re having issues overcoming a goal or your lack of confidence is not allowing you to be your best, check out this SlideShare presentation on 17 exercises to help you with your self-confidence. You can also view the slideshare below:
3. Never [ever] Give Up
For this one, I need not give my input. Instead, I will put a quote and an image;
“Our Greatest Weekness lies in giving up. The most certain way to succeed is always to try just one more time.” – Thomas Edison.
4. Family Comes First
No matter what, always keep your family in mind. I’ve found that this keeps me grounded (in a good way); thinking “how will this decision affect my family” has kept me from making several rash decisions in the past, and also has helped me make quite a few great decisions, like leaving my previous job to focus on this “internet stuff” as a way of making a living.
5. To Do Lists Are Good
I used to HATE to-do lists. To me, they were always a reminder of things that I didn’t get done; that is, Until I read an interesting post about Increasing To-Do List Productivity.
The best advice I can give anyone struggling with To-do lists is to make realistic To-Do lists (i.e. what you can realistically do TODAY), and break each item on the to-do list into a smaller to-do list; so that you can tackle each task separately and systematically.
Just don’t take too long in making your to do lists; you still have to complete them today ;P
6. Stagnation is Bad
If you feel like you’re in one spot (at work, or personally), then you need to make changes immediately; if you’re not growing as a person/worker/business, then your competition will surpass you. Life by design is a competition, get used to it.
7. Patience [usually] Always Pays Off
That’s right; usually always. Patience is Virtue, but Virtue can hurt you. The reason I say that Patience usually pays off is because eventually, you will have to make a decision whether to continue exercising your patience, or take action.
However, having said that, I’m a very impatient guy and so this lesson is especially ingrained into me because I try to exercise my patience whenever possible.
General Life Lessons I’ve Learned
8. Pride and Respect For Others Need To Work Together
There are times when we, as human beings, might need to put our pride aside and give someone else our respect to hear our their points [of view]. This way, we’re opening ourselves to different angles of viewing things; allowing us to grow more internally. After you hear the other person out, you can turn your pride back on and stand your ground (if needed), but at least give the other person the respect to express their point(s).
9. Messing Up Is OK*
*Messing up is OK as long as it’s not a recurring event. Every time you mess up, you should be trying something a little differently; tackling the obstacle/issue from a different angle, with different variations, etc., systematically testing for something that will work.
10. Always Keep Your Eye On The End-Goal
The reasoning behind this point is that many people get side-tracked by their “now” success, and lose focus of their original goal (of getting to the top), and just kick back in their “success hot tub” to relish… And just like I talked in #6; stagnation is bad, and leads to ruin. You need to have your short-term success FUEL your efforts to reaching your end-goal, not slow you down. Whether your end-goal is to have a fancy car, be able to work for yourself, or to save up a nice amount for retirement; keep your eyes on the prize.
11. Asking Questions is OK
If you’re unsure on how to do something, it’s totally fine to ask for help or clarification. Remember; as you learn more, your “worth” goes up in value. Knowledge is something that cannot be freely given, nor easily taken from you.
Knowledge, if you will, is Potential Power.
12. Time is a Limited, Non-Renewable Resource
Unlike Money and the things that Money buys, TIME is not renewable. Time is the most precious resource, and should be treated as such. I’ve found that LifeHack.org has one of the best articles on Time management; check it out and tell me what you think (and if you have anything to add to it).
13. The Hurdles Will Come, You Need To Prepare For Them
Life throws curve-balls at EVERYONE. Even though everyone is special in their own way, you are no exception. No matter what life throws at you; “You have to accept whatever comes and the only important thing is that you meet it with the best you have to give.” – Eleanor Roosevelt.
14. Always Prepare For The Worse Case Scenarios; Have a Backup Plan
I try to live my life with an “Everything happens for a reason” mentality. I mean logically, it does; the laws of physics state that neither energy nor matter cannot be created or destroyed, so there is ALWAYS a reason for something happening. ugh.. That’s not the point I’m trying to make…
Lets try again: Everything happens for the “greater good”. So far in my life, I’ve had some pretty bad situations (like when I rolled my car a few years back) but because I look for the positives in life, I met the sister of the mechanics that worked on my car, and their sister ended up becoming my wife (no, no family discount on the repairs, LOL), who I have been (and still am) happily married to for the past 5 years.
15. Don’t Argue with Dumb People
This goes hand-in-hand with #1; Surround yourself with smart people. When you argue with people that you perceive as “dumb”, you lower yourself to their level and you will NEVER come out on top; even if you win the argument.
Business & Work Related Lessons I’ve Learned
16. Everyone Has to Start Somewhere
This applies to everything; be it a goal, a to-do list, building an empire, etc. Each and every successful person you know has built their empire up (or have built themselves up in order to fit the needs of the empire).
So what if your parents were factory workers, Farmers, or taxi drivers? Did you know that some of the world’s greatest figures were born to ordinary parents?
George Washington’s Father worked as a farmer and a Sheriff (his mother presumably also helped on the farm). Abraham Lincoln’s parents were also farmers; relatively common jobs, nothing out of the ordinary.
There are plenty of modern-day examples as well; so you have no excuses why YOU can’t achieve your goals. The one thing that I’ve found that works best is to do the following:
- Start Small. Figure out what you can do quickly to “test the waters”.
- Get some feedback on your test. I’ve done this by posting a simple survey using Google Forms on my test sites, gotten quality feedback, and implemented the changes that my visitors/users/customers have suggested.
- Tweak and improve. This can also be sped up using some A/B Testing. This post from Optimizely.com has some great suggestions on things that you can A/B Test. One principle I’ve found useful when A/B Testing is Occam’s Razor (in a nutshell, simplify).
- Once you’ve figured out if your tests are worth it, you will know whether to continue putting time into your project, or scrap it and approach it from a different direction.
17. There are more efficient ways to do just about everything
Who knows how many versions of “the wheel” there were… It makes sense to think that someone might have used log[s] to roll something along, but then someone though to use the logs to make an axle for larger logs (or stone wheels) and created a more efficient wheel; and just like that, there are ways to create more efficient versions of EVERYTHING, and if you’re having issues with a product/process, then chances are that someone else is having the same issues as well; find a better, more efficient way of solving your problem. As mentioned in #16; A/B Testing might help you find that solution quicker.
18. “A Company Is Only As Good As The People It Keeps” – Neil Patel
“The Team” that you build will be the reason for your success or failure. I’ve had a few different jobs and every time, I noticed that the one thing that made those companies succeed (or suck) was the people that I worked with.
Not to self-promote, but I worked at a company once where I was the driving force. I asked for a raise, noting that I was the one handling about 40% of the work load (in a company of 10 people); the raise was denied even though I knew the company was doing VERY well, so I left. Within 6 months, that company had closed down.
I like to hope that the other people there were able to find other work, but in all honesty, I blame the management of that company for its’ downfall; they were not willing to look for people that were able to do the work (and pay them right).
19. “Don’t MEET expectations, EXCEED them” – Neil Patel
This point applies to personal life as well as business, but I will outline it in a business perspective here: When advertising services or a product, You don’t want to outline everything you’re offering; it does wonders to keep several features hidden, that way when your customers buy the product, they’re pleasantly surprised with the “extras” and are more prone to bragging to their friends about how great your products (and the extras) are.
20. “Hire Talent, Train Skill” – Neil Patel
I have yet to hire someone for my company (managing fine by myself for now), but I have worked with a few contractors from oDesk and in each contractor that I’ve hired, I looked at the reviews for people mentioning talent and flexibility simply because I knew that I could train the skills necessary to do the job, but I wanted someone talented and innovative (and flexible) enough to do the job on their own so that I wouldn’t have to baby-sit them through it.
21. Don’t build Customers, Build Relationships
Replace “Customers” with any word and the same still holds true… Relationships are the future of any sort of business. More and more, advertisers are targeting individuals instead of “the masses” with platforms like Facebook making a killing by selling information on each person… Businesses need to start acting the same way and start targeting individuals in order to sell their product/service.
Now, don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that you should only be connecting with your clients/customers to make money (although it does help), but with people like Neil Patel and Pat Flynn, it shows that relationships with your readers pays off; Word of Mouth is THE BEST advertising that money can’t buy, and will get you the best “backing” from your customers/readers/visitors.
As an example, check out this facebook post by Streelight Manifesto, a music Band that ran into problems with their recording label and was unable to get their fans/customers the merchandise that they ordered. Notice the AMAZING support from the people that paid money. Now imagine a business that DOESNT have that kind of support; it could be ruined if a situation like this were to arise/
22. Set Schedules and Due Dates (and Follow Them)
This is especially true when working from home or first starting up your business (which is what I’m doing). I reached out to Pat Flynn to get an idea of his schedule and will be taking several of ideas from him to incorporate into my daily schedule.
One thing similar to what Pat has found; I find myself pumping out my best quality work during the evenings. I don’t know what it is; possibly the fact that I’m slightly more tired, so my brain “wanders” less; I don’t know. Either way, you need to figure out a schedule that works for you and schedule your day out. Due dates are great as well because they FORCE you to work on whatever it is you need to do
23. Don’t Dwell on The Negatives; Learn From Them
When I first started my online ventures, I had quite a few weeks of hard work and just when things were going good, I got DDoS attacked and the attack took about half of my websites down. I took this moment to figure out ways that I could avoid this in the future and upgrade server(s). Now, my websites are spread out across several different servers just in case something similar were to happen in the future; I would be down for no longer than 30 minutes (but let’s not test that statement, eh?).
Sure, I lost some money with the attack, and possibly some readers/visitors as well; that is damage that I could not stop from happening, but I didn’t dwell on it and let it take up my attention; I focused my energy on solving the issue and created a fallback site to help avoid downtime during DDoS attacks.
24. Work to Live, not Live to work
Every now and then, you might want to take a vacation; enjoy your time off… Feeling burnt out is no fun at all, so vacations are a good way to “recharge” and get back in the groove
I know, I know, I can just picture my wife shaking her head as (if) she reads this post, but I mean it; working every moment of your life is no fun, and can (and most likely will) end up burning you out. Work should be a means to an end (paying your bills, saving up for X, paying off Y, etc.). Granted, there are plenty of people that enjoy their jobs, but tell me this: if you weren’t getting paid to do your job, would you still do it? Do you really enjoy it THAT much?
25. “If you don’t build your dream, Someone else will hire you to build theirs” – Tony Gaskins
There were many reasons for me leaving my previous job but since I was financially stable enough, I decided that it was time for me to put more time into my online stuff. Since I wasn’t willing to exchange my family time to make my online business(es) grow, I decided to take that from my day-job (a double-win for me, since my Day Job traveling was about to take off even more). Building my dream myself is an amazing experience so far. I enjoy the freedom it allows me and I feel “the drive” again, which I haven’t felt in a while.
These are just 25 of the many things I’ve learned over the years. I know I’m still young and have much to learn, but I try to take every curve ball that life throws at me as a lesson and tweak my practices/business/life accordingly.
Do you have things you could add to this list? Leave your comments below!
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