I turned 57 last week, and to mark the moment I thought I’d offer some random, unsolicited advice.
And one thing that happens as you get older (it started happening to me at around age 42) is things that seemed completely mysterious and random when I was in my 20s and 30s started to make sense.
The nice thing about age (there are actually few nice things) is that insight compounds over time.
So, in light of turning 57 (and inspired by Kevin Kelly), I decided to offer you 57 bits of unsolicited, completely random advice about life and leadership.
Hope it helps.
Much of this I’ve learned the hard way. And now, hopefully, you won’t have to.
Bragging is your insecurity leaking out.
- The people closest to you should have the best experience of you, not the worst. Often, the opposite happens.
- Humble is a habit that can be practiced. If you’re not sure what to do, take the low place. Also try admitting you’re wrong and letting others go first.
- Ask more questions than you give answers. Curiosity is a superpower.
- Hold the door open for people. Even if they don’t thank you.
- How you do anything is how you do everything. Faithfulness and attention to detail in the little things always shows up in the big things.
- When someone who cares about you criticizes you, the best response is to simply say, “Thank you.”
- Work twice as hard on your character as you do on your competency.
- Be the first to apologize, even if you weren’t wrong. Because you probably were wrong.
- When you have to deliver a hard message, make sure the other person still leaves with their dignity. Focus on attacking problems, not people.
- Doing what you said you were going to do when said you were going to do it gives you an unbelievable advantage over almost everyone else.
- You are at your most kind when you have the most margin. So unapologetically create more space for your margin in your life.
- Be harder on yourself than you are on others. That doesn’t mean you should be cruel to yourself. It mean you should hold yourself to a higher standard. The lazy way out is to assume everyone else is wrong.
- Talk less about yourself. It’s good for you, and for the person you’re talking to.
- Bragging is your insecurity leaking out.
- Those closest to you see you more accurately than you see yourself. Ask them what they see.
Silence will reveal your greatest griefs and spark your greatest breakthroughs.
- Reading books or long-form articles daily is compound interest for wisdom.
- Becoming a morning person is like beating rush hour. You’ll do more than others are doing and in less time.
- Sleep is a secret leadership weapon.
- If you’re going to sleep in, sleep in on the front side – go to bed an hour earlier.
- If you don’t rest adequately, your body will eventually go on strike.
- To beat a craving, wait ten minutes. It usually goes away.
- You will probably never feel like exercising. Do it anyway.
- Solitude is a gift. Isolation is toxic.
- Silence will reveal your greatest griefs and spark your greatest breakthroughs.
- Don’t litter in your own house. Pick it up.
If you’re overwhelmed, clean your desk. That will get you started in the right direction.
- Work isn’t about what you do. It’s about why you do it and who you do it with.
- Writing things down clarifies your thinking.
- Managing your energy will bring you greater rewards than simply managing your time.
- If you’re overwhelmed, clean your desk. That will get you started in the right direction.
- When asking someone with more power than you for a favor, let them off the hook by telling them that whether they say yes or no, you’re still grateful for them.
- Busyness is a choice.
- If you see a problem, don’t leave it until you’ve solved it or taken it to someone who can.
- Rest before your next vacation so you don’t go in tired.
- Finish your emails with something encouraging like “Grateful for you” or “Thanks so much.” It makes a bigger difference than you think.
Generosity gives back. You never miss the money you give away, and generosity always has a way of coming back to you.
- Personal growth is an investment, not an expense.
- Wealth isn’t about what you have, it’s about who you’re with and what you do with what you have.
- Live under your means and you will eventually have more means.
- People won’t pay for things or give to causes they don’t understand.
- Generosity gives back. You never miss the money you give away, and generosity always has a way of coming back to you.
- Do the preventative maintenance. It pays for itself over and over again in the long run.
Never speed in your own neighbourhood.
- You’re probably only really great at one or two things. That’s okay.
- Learn to identify bird calls. It will make you more sensitive to what’s happening around you.
- If you don’t know the answer, just say you don’t know.
- If you want to change the dynamic in any conversation, smile.
- Attack the problem, not the person.
- Your boldest moments are your scariest moments, and your best moments.
- Keep your car clean. It will become one more part of your life that doesn’t feel chaotic.
- Never speed in your own neighborhood.
- Never wrestle with a pig. You both get dirty and the pig liked it.
- If you don’t know, ask someone to show you. They’re almost always happy to share.
- Buy lawn fertilizer with higher middle and third numbers. 24-24-24 is about right.
- If you want a healthier lawn, raise your lawnmower blade. Roots only go as deep as the grass is long.
- Buy two charge cords for your devices. It makes your travel so much easier and you stress less if someone takes off with yours.
- If you have a kitchen island, put a few electrical outlets just below the countertop on the frame or upper cabinet. This way no one will trip over cords when they charge their devices.
- Learn how to make a proper cup of tea. Ask anyone from a Commonwealth country. They know.
- Grill over real charcoal. It improves the taste immensely.
- When you’re walking in the woods, breathe in the scent. It will calm you down.
“The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”Isaac Asimov
There’s so much to navigate in this life. Hope these little shortcuts and insights help along the way.
Some of them are practical and pithy. Others offer somewhat deeper insights.
Whatever stage you’re at in life, pursue wisdom. As Isaac Asimov said, “The saddest aspect of life right now is that science gathers knowledge faster than society gathers wisdom.”