25 lessons in 25 years

Instead of receiving praise and gifts this year, I made an effort to compile a series of fundamental lessons I have learnt in my 25 year of life. I try not to take much for granted and I hope you find value in my reflections. On this day — my birthday — heres my gift to you.
  1. Treat your body with respect; start by getting a gym membership and showing up. Find the motivation to see how powerful your will is to make changes to your diet — watch what happens.
  2. Spend time with the old people in your life; I had a grandfather I loved more than anything. Unfortunately, I realized it after he passed away. Go to their house or old folks home and take an hour to ask them about their story. I guarantee that you’ll hear things that will transcend time and allow for meaningful connection to your own life.
  3. Say I love you and mean it; Start with family, or better yet your mother. I know for a fact during all of the difficult times I’ve had this year she pains for me more than I do — more than anyone. Then, move to your father, siblings, and best friend. Identify 3 things that you appreciate about them and make sure they know you know that.
  4. Build a friendship before the relationship; Both women and men are fragile, it works both ways. Hillary Clinton has a strong man behind her to support and love her. Socialize with the opposite sex more often — for the purpose of mutual respect. Build similarities and then listen to your heart if the moment is right. Cut the, “there’s no hope” story.
  5. Value serendipitous encounters; Talk to people for the sake of opening your mind. Often times we’re so self involved that we don’t even take the time to ask someone how their day is going.
  6. Drink better coffee and wine; Over the past year of my life I’ve taken the time to speak to experts in the wine industry and learn about viticulture (grape farming) and harvesting. This is important because Wine is history, it allows people to simultaneously appreciate craft and the past. This is the best way to ingest culture while you indulge in brilliantly composed flavours by winemakers that devote their lives to one beverage. Learn it, it’s important.
  7. You don’t control everything in life; The best we can do is progressively learn as much as we can in the disciplines that interest us and constantly make mistakes. Last month, I was in a life threatening car accident that shattered my world. I am still in rehab and fighting to get better- which leads me to my next point.
  8. Find the positive in every situation; When things get tough, they could always get worse. As time passed I realized that life was telling me to slow down. It taught me to reflect and reevaluate my decisions. It allowed me to value smaller things like a morning cup of coffee, a good book or conversation. This builds integrity and character. Suck it up and move forward, there is always hope.
  9. Enjoy the process; The hustle is the best part. Don’t be so focused on where you want to be or what life looks like on the other side. Reflect daily on what happened and what you did to get there. The only thing that separates great from mediocre people is their willingness to continue. Don’t obsess over the end result.
  10. Make an effort to travel- no excuses; This is a big one. You go to school to learn about the world in books and broad terms. In contrast, you travel the world to see, feel, and smell. Senses that are difficult to grasp from far. Most of all, you learn about yourself. The only thing you will remember from your travels are the relationships you made. So go! Find those moments of inspiration with people and on your own!
  11. Long money is better than short money; Invest in skills and people, instead of chasing a paycheque. Do not surround yourself with people who are motivated by money. Surround yourself with people who focus on making the world a better place.
  12. Your mentor is dead; Most of the greatest thinkers have past on and the only way for us to connect is to read their books. Do not depend on anyone to carry your stress and growth process. You are your greatest mentor when you open your thoughts and uncertainties to books.
  13. Adaptability; Do not be afraid of change, embrace it. You will be amazed by the things you can overcome. Facebook, Uber, and Airbnb changed the way we think about communication, travel and living. They’re symbols of change, not reform. Embrace it and you will begin to create better solutions in your own craft.
  14. Perceptions and Self Reflection; Whoever said “don’t care about what people say” was an idiot. People are your greatest resume. Endorsement from somebody you’ve worked with, lived with or once loved is a byproduct of who you are. How do you treat people? How do they perceive you? And how is that different from how you see yourself? Ensure those two components align and I guarantee your network will do more for you than any diploma will.
  15. Dreams are Motivation; Having actionable goals is important for overcoming daily challenges and quotas, and keeping your dreams alive.
  16. Celebrate Small Wins; Screw the idea of success. What is that? Monetary gain? Spiritual gain? Celebrating small wins like doing your bed in the morning and getting to the gym before a certain time is real success. Find your own value in that idea.
  17. Authenticity; Once upon a time I had the pleasure of meeting the founder of Cirque de soleil, Guy Laliberté. I asked him, “What is one point of advice you could give a young entrepreneur?” his response was simple and almost expected, “Stay true to yourself.” We cannot build passion, or resilience if we don’t do things that are extensions of ourselves. Play your own game.
  18. Listen to Music; Try and listen to an entire album from front to back. What happens along the way is interesting. Identify what kind of headspace the artist was in and what headspace you’re in. Let it carry you. This is my form of meditation. Music, it exists in all of us.
  19. Embrace Fear; It heightens your senses and helps you zero in on a target. Learn to embrace the fact that it will always exist within you. Instead of thinking about what has yet to happen, focus on what has. Make decisions based on that.
  20. Learn to cook; Cooking is the greatest way to show gratitude to people in your life. This allows you to compose flavours and pay attention to details, which is analogous to everyday life. We are only as good as our ability to see opportunities.
  21. Communicate your feelings; I understand that more than ever, we live in a time of introverts but even the most introverted have an outlet. If writing and organizing your thoughts in a notebook is the best way to clear your thoughts, than do so. Regardless, understand your thoughts and express them.
  22. Take breaks; You’re no good to the world if your thoughts are exhausted. Always find time to decompress and reevaluate a plan of attack. Go on a walk, go to the gym, call your mom or pet your cat. Whatever calms your nerves, do it.
  23. Stay Consistent; This is something I have a difficult time. There is a threshold that defines the outcome of the work you do. That threshold is different for everyone , however the only thing we should focus on is maintaining consistent output. Once we apply ourselves enough we will eventually make judgment calls, “Do I like this? Am I good at this? What have I accomplished thus far?” Only until you’ve reached this point should you make a change or evaluation.
  24. Find a hobby; Have something you enjoy doing without any other motivation other than feeding your creative flow. It’s an extension of you. There is great fulfillment in producing work that is not meant for anyone to see or critique. I believe there is no better gift to yourself than being the only guest at your show.
  25. Be grateful; From the smallest to the biggest things in life, be grateful. Much like how I am by the love and appreciation on this day. If you’ve read this entire thing, thank you. I appreciate your support and I promise to constantly put my best foot forward with everything that life throws my way- as will we all. Cheers.

Happy New Year!

Greg B.