What I’ve Learned

On the anniversary of my first 40 trips around the sun, I wanted to take a moment to share with you what I’ve learned.

  • Community is everything.  Your family, friends, coworkers, the people you spend your life with, are everything in order to have a great life.  The connections, the support, the accountability, the help and wisdom they provide are everything. Everyday, if you work to better your community, you’ll find great purpose, I know I do. I find happiness, contentment and impact in working to advance others.  

 

  • I strongly believe in the power of the individual.  I believe each and every one of us is capable of doing anything, good or bad. When you look at a collective group, statistics are real.  But when you look at the individuals within that group, anything is possible. There’s a great quote by Ayn Rand that says “The question isn’t who is going to let me, it’s who is going to stop me.”

 

  • Each of us has to carry our own load, we each have to run our own race.  Every one of us has fallen victim to looking for answers outside of ourselves, or from other people, when in reality most answers come from within.  Now, to connect community to the individual, I think it’s imperative to take the position that you are responsible to people, not for people. Embracing this empowers you as well as the person you’re working to elevate.  

 

  • Know your values, goals and impact.  Can you list your core values? Mine are friendship, justice and learning.  Have you written down your goals? Do you understand and embrace the impact you have in your community?  The impact you have on your family? At work? You’re having one, embrace it.

 

  • Music makes everything better, turn some on.

 

  • “You don’t have to be serious to be responsible.”  Jennifer Moss told me that on a podcast and she’s right.  I can remember being at a leadership training conference when I worked a large financial company.  At that time, I was at the top of my group experiencing a lot of success and, as I like to do, joking around quite a bit.  The guy in charge came up to me and said “not everything’s a joke” and I realized I wasn’t long for that career path. You’ve gotta have fun.

 

  • I’d rather be useful than brilliant.  I’m very fond of saying this, but the reality of today’s world is that there’s a ton of noise all the time, almost a low frequency hum that sort of washes over us and doesn’t get absorbed  Whenever I find myself participating in that hum, I know I need to change gears.

 

  • Be where you are.  Your full, undivided attention is one of the greatest gifts you can give to another person.  Put your phone down, be present with the people you’re with, or simply sit quietly by yourself for a minute.  Blaise Pascal said “All of humanity’s problems stem from man’s inability to sit quietly in a room alone.”

 

  • Get and keep a sense of where you are.  Perspective is hard to get and harder still to keep.  It’s so important to consider your place in the world, your circumstances, your obligations, your responsibilities and how lucky and fortunate you are to be you.  

 

  • Get started.  Wherever you are, however old you are, timing will never be perfect, so get started.  The same goes for others, work to meet people where they are without judgement. Help others to get started.  

 

  • Discipline first, than personal responsibility.  I love the idea of personal responsibility, but I get that it’s a learned thing and it’s a muscle that needs to be strengthened.  Until you learn it and the muscle is strong, put some guardrails up. Real change happens incrementally, so take small bites, we get healthy the same way we got sick.  

 

  • How you look at something makes all the difference. You have a choice to focus on the positives or the negatives.  The same goes for the problems facing our world today. If you’re constantly focusing on international issues, you’ll lose your mind because you’re not going to be able to change them.  Instead, focus on how you can bring change to your community. We must tend to our own gardens and it’s important to focus on the parts of our garden we can reach.

 

  • Confidence isn’t everything, but it’s a lot of it.

 

  • “If you sit by the river long enough, you’ll see the bodies of your enemies float by.”  Sun Tzu. Be truthful, treat others fairly, be just and live with integrity. In so doing, the universe will reward you.  It will also balance the ledger because what goes around, comes around. So don’t seek vengeance when someone wrongs you, just know they’ll eventually get what’s coming.  There are a lot of similar quotes attributed to a lot of smart people, but essentially, “Resentment is like drinking poison and waiting for the other person to die.”

 

  • Financial peace of mind allows us to more fully pursue our passions.  I’m working to help people lead happier and more contented lives. For a lot of my life and for too many people, money has been more of a negative than it’s been a positive.  Gaining control of it will allow you to live a better life, free to focus on the things that are of the greatest importance to you.

 

Here’s to another 80 trips!

 

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