“The saddest part about getting older is seeing how intellectually dead some of my friends have chose to become.”
My dad shared the words above with me at the beginning of 2018 when talking about the realities of getting older. Needless to say, they hit me like a ton of bricks, and I made a decision right then and there to make “curious” my baseline.
As a result, I cannot remember a year in which I felt more intellectually alive, and below are the 18 biggest lessons I have learned in the process.
1. Sometimes you can be doing everything right, just in the wrong place:
Knowing “Why” you do what you do is paramount. So is getting clear on“How” you are going to accomplish it. But do not underestimate the power of“Where” and take the time to make sure your work is positioned in the place where the right people can find it.
The strongest axe in the world does not do an ounce of good if it is standing in front of the wrong tree.
2. The moment you do something nice for someone expecting something in return is the moment you lost:
The beauty of getting older is that patterns begin to emerge. One of the most glaring is that the more good deeds you do for others, the more good deeds will get returned to you.
The expression, “When you give — you get,” is cliché for a reason, it is grounded in truth.
3. The best way to find your tribe is by creating one:
In 2017, I fell in love with writing. However, the one thing I was missing was a creative space to bat around ideas with like-minded people. So instead of spending time trying to find a tribe, I contacted a few people I admired and together we created one.
Out of all the decisions I made in 2018, this was the best. It finally taught me the value of making what I wanted instead of sitting around and wishing for it(article on how I went about making these connections is coming out in a few weeks).
4. Most people will say “Yes” if you offer them something they are already looking for:
Running around trying to convince every Tom, Dick and Sally of what you are doing is not nearly as effective as first taking the time to understand what they are doing. Then tailoring your offer to meet their needs.
Every successful company does this. They first identify what the world wants. Then they create an intersection. The same goes for you. You have to know your audience if you ever want to move them.
5. Careers are made in two hours of distraction free intervals:
Success is often found by doing the opposite of most people. In today’s noisy world the easiest way to do this is by turning off all notifications and putting your head down and getting to work.
When you do this your work will begin to be taken seriously because you have begun to take yourself seriously. However, this will never happen if you jump at every single tweet and beep.
6. Sometimes not saying anything is the best thing to say:
Not everyone is looking for you to provide them with an answer. More times than not, most people just need to talk, and a supportive ear is much more comforting than a running mouth.
7. The best way to stay young is by spending time with young people:
The average age of both the company I am working with and the creative group I organised is 27. I cannot stress how beneficial this has been. I am 40 years old and I have never had more energy and I have never felt younger.This is for the simple fact I am running around with energetic young people.
Quick Aside: If you think millennials are lazy and entitled, you may want to actually get to know more of them. What I have seen are ridiculously driven and intelligent individuals who will stop at nothing to make the world a better place.
8. It is hard to yell at someone if you just ate an apple or went for a walk:
Mr. Internet loves to shout the benefits of leading a healthy lifestyle. However, most google searches miss the biggest one: when you eat well and exercise often you are more fun be to around.
After going for a run it is hard to be impatient with your partner.
After you eat a big bowl of fruit it is hard to yell at your kid for spilling the milk.
After you climb a mountain it is hard to ignore someone you care about.
9. The only thing worth collecting is friendships:
I was once told that as human beings we spend the first half of our lives collecting and the second half determining what to keep.
After I heard these words I sat down and took inventory of what I had that was worth keeping and the only word I could come up with was “people.”
When I am old and grey I do not want to be surrounded by my stamp collection, but rather a collection of friendly faces that love me because I loved them. 2018 marked the year I not only realized this, but took the steps to actually ensure this happens.
10. Negative feedback is much easier to handle if you are the one who asks for it:
If I have learned anything this past year it is that the best way to get something right is by opening yourself up to something you may have missed. However, you cannot only be proactive in seeking out the positive. You must also ask for the negative and this becomes much easier if you are the one who seeks it out. This is because it is hard to get angry at someone who told you something that you asked to hear.
This is not only the best way to move a good idea to great, it is also a great way to create stronger relationships as it is hard not to admire someone who will stop at nothing to get things right.
11. The best way to move fast is by taking slow but deliberate steps:
Turn on Mr. Internet and you are sure to find a story from some entrepreneur who swears that the secret to their success was watching what everyone else was doing and then doing the opposite. The easiest way to do this in 2019 is by moving slow.
If you have not taken the time to understand which race you are running — it does not matter how fast you run.
So “Stop and Think” and then move with purpose in the direction you were meant to go. If you do this, you may just find that the foundation you took the time to solidify, will provide you with the momentum to multiply.
12. You may have already created something valuable but the world has not caught on to it yet:
Last April I wrote an article and for the first 7 months it didn’t gain any traction. However, every day for the last 2 months it has gained roughly 200 views per days and shows little sign of slowing down. This is because it now sits on the first page of Google when you search for the key word. This is now my most read article for 2018, and the exact same thing has happened for my 2nd most read article, both of which have resulted in opportunities I never thought I would be presented with. In short, be patient and stay the course.
13. Empathy is the key to truly being able to see:
People will only care about you if you have first given them a reason to. From my experience the best way to do this is by asking others what they think instead of telling them what you think.
There is no higher compliment than truly listening to someone and getting to know them as an individual.
14. The best opportunities come from the strangest places so treat everyone with respect:
I love the work I am doing today. However when looking back on how these opportunities came about, a glaring pattern became apparent: most of them did not come from someone I was close to, but rather someone who I left a good impression on and they thought of me when someone said something that aligned with what I was doing.
In short, never underestimate the value of one conversation. The longer you live the more they begin to connect.
15. The beauty of finding work you love is you are proactive in helping others to find the same:
Have you ever thought about how fast success seems to compound for some of the people around you? This is not because they are any smarter, faster or stronger than you. However, it is because they use their smarts, speed and strength to help others to reach their goals and as a byproduct they knock out their own.
16. If you do not stand behind your work, no one else will:
Throughout 2018 I did some work I thought was good. However, it did not take off as I had hoped. Instead of laying down and accepting the verdict, like in previous years, I looked for a different judge. Within days of finally having the confidence to take a stand on the work I was doing, I started checking bucket-list items off my list at an alarming pace.
17. Consistency is king:
The best work rises to the top. However, the only way to ensure your work gets a shot is by doing it every day.
2018 marked the year I finally learned this lesson. Every day I wrote. Every day I read. Every day I spoke with someone interesting. In short, every day I learned, and somewhere in the process my work not only improved, but so did my life.
18. Never underestimate the power of friendship:
In 2018 I quit the numbers game. I stopped worrying about how many likes, followers and subscribers I got. Instead I focused on going deep with the people already in my life or those I wished were. As a result my work has not only never been more seen, it has also never had more meaning.
There isn’t a productivity or happiness “hack” that competes with having strong relationships.
When looking over the list of lessons learned above some obvious themes become apparent: Relationships matter, focus matters and listening matters.
However, I cannot help but think that the biggest lesson I learned this year comes back to the lesson my dad taught me that served as the inspiration for this post — the power of making “curious” my baseline.
Life is not about being the smartest person in the room, or the strongest or the fastest.
Life is about walking through as many doors as you can and learning a new something, seeing a new somewhere and meeting a new someone.
In short, my dad was dead right — Life is about staying intellectually alive — and I would love to learn in the comments below how you plan to use the lessons you learned in 2018 to make 2019 your most successful year yet.
The future is yours.
Thanks for reading, sharing and following! 🙂