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Timeless Advice I Wish I Had Heeded Sooner

Sometimes in life there are things you just shouldn’t question

In a conversation with Conor Neill, my go-to source for all things leadership and communication, he hit me with something that made me think:

“When it comes to figuring out what most people want to do with their lives it takes the average person 50 years.”

Walking home that afternoon after our conversation I thought about how fortunate I was to have figured out the answer to that question so soon.

I am 40 years old and I know what I want to do with my life.

However, after the confidence building feeling that comes from moments when you realise all the pain was worth it, my mind slowed and I was hit with another realization — If I had just listened to my dad I could have had an even bigger head start.

And the worse part was, much of the advice that lead me to exactly where I want to be, he told me over and over and over again, I just choose not to follow it.

Sometimes in life there are things you just shouldn’t question. I could have saved myself 25 years of worrying about what I wanted to do with my life if I had just not questioned the six pieces of advice below — which in true dad form come in the form of two words or less.

1. Shut-up:

You want to know who wins? Listeners do. Listening to others helps you to understand what they want. Listening to yourself helps you to understand what you want. Put those two things together and you have someone who is able to identify the needs of others and someone who knows how they can best fulfil those needs. This is the combination that makes worlds collide — leaving the door open for one plus one to someday equal three.

2. Slow down:

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 2018 is by moving slow.

If you have not taken the time to undersand which race you are running it does not matter how fast you run.

Stop. Think. 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.

3. Give freely:

The day you do something nice for someone expecting the favor to be returned, is the day you lost. Full stop.

4. Exercise daily:

It is not a coincidence that your social feeds are filled with dudes recording a motivational video after just crushing a body pump class with their bros. Exercise has been shown to spur creativity, increase productivity and boost confidence. Put those three things together and you will find the biggest benefit to exercise — by doing it daily you may just find you cultivate the habit of being kinder to those around you and also yourself.

It is hard to yell at your kid for spilling the milk after going for a run.

It is hard to ignore your partner after going for a swim.

It is hard to ream out your co-worker after going for a walk.

Most of all, it is hard to criticise yourself after climbing a mountain.

So don’t make it harder than it has to be and open your door and walk 15 minutes in one direction and then turn around.

5. Write daily:

Management legend, Peter Drucker, got it dead right when saying, “What gets measured gets managed.” This is particularly accurate when it comes to trying to figure out what you want to do with your life. This is because the more you write, the more patterns will arise. If you pay attention, those patterns will tell you “what” and “who” adds value to your life and “what” and “who” does not.

The world belongs to the self-aware. Few things develop this skill faster than putting pen to paper as it is only a matter of time before the dots you have collected become better connected.

6. Read often:

When I say the word “often” above, I mean every chance you can get. Few activities help to navigate life better than by learning how others navigated theirs. Just don’t make it a habit of only reading the works of people who hold similar values and world views as you — Empathy is the key to truly being able to see.

Your goal each day should to become one percent better as a person.

The six pieces of advice are the best way to do just that.

Listen. Move slowly. Exercise. Give. Write. Read.

Repeat.

This story is published in The Startup, Medium’s largest entrepreneurship publication followed by +392,714 people.

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