31 Years In, And Here’s What I Know
It ain’t much, but it’s something.
On March 25, 1984 at approximately 2:24pm PST, I was born. In no particular order, here’s pretty much everything I’ve learned since then…
It’s About the Long Game
We live in a world that is consumed by what is happening right at this very moment. All of us know more about the daily trappings of family, friends, and strangers than any other generation before us. In many ways, this is nothing short of amazing.
Less than 10 years ago, it took 12 hours on an airplane to see my family in England. Now I just use a few apps on my phone to see what they are up to or have a face-to-face conversation.
But, somewhere between our incessant need to share every last detail of our life online and the 24/7/365 news cycle, many of us forgot that life isn’t a sprint. What you do today, tomorrow, and the next day matters. The trail you leave behind, doesn’t just get erased slowly over time. You and I leave fingerprints and sometimes even scars.
So, play the long game: learn to leave good fingerprints and fewer scars.
Side note: If there are people you deeply care about that don’t believe in the long game as it relates to relationships, your time is better spent elsewhere.
It’s (Also) About the Short Game
Today you have 24 hours, maybe even less. What are you going to do with them? Are you going to work on your career? Are you going to work on your health? Are you going to work on your relationship?
The point is this: Each and every day we have choices. You can start something. You can end something. You can do better. You can do worse. You have to keep making choices, so make the ones that will benefit you and the ones you love the most.
This idea was never more succinctly described to me than when someone taught me the 3 D’s: Do it, Delegate it, or Drop it. It’s an easy recipe for pretty much everything in your life. Are you going to tackle it head on? Are you going to get some help or get someone to do something for you? Or, are you going to let it go?
Don’t give up everything for the sake of the long game. If you love coffee, have a cup. If you love ice cream, have a scoop. If Sour Patch Kids are your kryptonite, then have a few. You may not be here tomorrow, so don’t forget that it is okay to live a little every day.
Do Things That Scare You & Have Some Fun Along the Way
I learned this one too late. Sometime shortly after fifth grade, life started to scare me. Maybe it was because I hit puberty late and all my buddies were a foot taller, could play sports like pros, and make friends with ease. Rather than jump right into whatever abyss that stood before me, I would tip toe or not even step forward.
I never got into much trouble when I was a kid, never experimented with booze or drugs, never broke a bone, and didn’t defy what little rules my parents put forth. Save for the occasional tardiness and letting my mouth run amuck, I was pretty much the model citizen.
When I started college, this trend continued. I assumed the role of the “Dad” in my group of friends. You know the loveable grump who is always second guessing the craziness of his buddies, making sure everyone gets home safe, the guy who makes friends with all his buddies’ girlfriends in a completely friendly, non-sexual way, the guy who shows up at the party, but doesn’t really care to be there. That was me.
At some point, I said “f it” and started to have some fun and do scary things. This didn’t mean that I just tossed myself off a bridge and hoped for the best, but I stopped worrying about most of the what if’s.
I played a group sport for the first time in my life at the age of 20. I sucked, but I played and I made some lifelong friends in the process.
I went to Mexico for spring break my senior year and got so drunk on the first day that I don’t remember the entire resort writing all over my body.
I flirted and fell in love.
I watched a few sunrises and sunsets and then sunrises again.
Three years ago, I started working out and generally caring about my health and — admittedly — what I saw in the mirror. I was 255 pounds and decided I was no longer ok with being overweight, but I was also no longer scared about what it would take to get that weight off. I walked into Barry’s Bootcamp thinking I would only go there one time. I started doing yoga. I started running and even did some races.
Some 150+ Barry’s classes later, multiple sub 30 5Ks, one 10-miler, and a half-marathon on the calendar, and I’m 35+ pounds lighter and so, so glad that I made the choice to not be scared about the process to get here.
The point is, there are things in life that are just plain scary, but we all too often stick with the same old meat and potatoes, chicken and rice, and so on. You have the chance to make them not so scary. So go…
Recognize That Others Give You Strength
If you want to go at this life alone, that’s your choice. Good luck and godspeed, but make sure you won’t ever regret that decision.
I recognize I’m not only a product of me, but so many others. From my teachers, to my friends, to my family, t0 my mentors, I’m a sum of so many people that have given me all the tools, knowledge, will, and strength that is at my disposal.
So, surround yourself with good ones and spend as much time as life allows with them, let go and get over the bad ones or the ones that simply don’t care as much as you do, and recognize that you derive so much from those around you.
Don’t Judge A Book By It’s Cover
One of the earliest lessons my Mum taught my sister and me was, “Never judge a book by its cover.” This has stuck with me for all of time. And, it matters more now than ever.
We live in a society of polarized politics, in the demonization of “them”, in an age of agreeable tribes, with the idea that is ok to blatantly spread fear and hate simply because we don’t agree, and all of this means that we are more fearful of those that are different than us.
We must do better.
If You Can Help, You Help
If you have the ability to help, then you have an obligation to do so.
Hold the door open for someone.
Smile at your barista or the stranger walking their dog across the street.
Help the person who dropped something on the ground.
Give time or money to the causes you hold dear.
Learn to Cook
There are few greater joys than feeding people. So, learn to cook. It isn’t easy and it takes practice to do it well, but the feeling you get when you sit around a table of family and friends enjoying food you created is pretty remarkable.
Give It Away
We have an obligation to share — to share our talents, our fortunes, our knowledge, our time. Passing along what we possess is an act of thanks that finishes the labor we started. Everything created is only possible because someone else created something that made our start possible.
Whatever you have, learn to gift it and give it away.
Learn As Much from Success As You Do from Failure
I’m in the camp that you learn as much from success as you do from failure, and that you shouldn’t be fearful of either. For every “Fail Fast, Fail Often” example, I’ll show you 10 examples of when more insightful learnings came from winning and succeeding.
Yes, you should make mistakes.
Yes, you should take chances and embrace the unknown.
Yes, you should test, fail, test, fail, test, fail again, but if there aren’t any successes in between those failures you won’t learn enough to actually succeed.
Love what you do. If you don’t, find a way to move on.
Love those that love you.
Now, I’m gonna go eat some good food and cake. Thanks for reading.