Advice To Your Younger Self

What’s the best advice you would give to your younger self? Would you change history by telling him about his future?  I think, most of us know that changing moments in history might have devastating effects on your present and future.  Therefore, I find it a fool’s mission to re-think past decisions.  I don’t mean you shouldn’t analyze mistakes to avoid repeating them in the future.  I mean exploring the “what if” you made an alternate decision based on the known outcome.  At least part of the problem is, you still don’t know everywhere your life is heading and you might just be altering the future by taking that mistake away from your past.  My analyzer hurts just thinking about it.

Knowing the day of your own death would be equally troubling.  Sure, you might live life more intensely and without fear of dying sooner.  But, knowing your final day would weigh on your mind your whole life.  We all know the approximate human life cycle, but we don’t know what future challenges may or may not kill us. Those that don’t kill us make us stronger and wiser.

Hopefully, I’ll live to be a relatively healthy centenarian with a sound mind.  But, chances are I could be killed tomorrow or I could get to 100 and be trapped deep in my mind by dementia.  How would knowing the future change my decision making process?  Isn’t that a scary question to ponder?  So, I won’t tell my younger self WHAT is going to happen.  Instead, I want to give him some general advice:

TRAITS

  • Be kind, fair, loving, forgiving, vulnerable, faithful and adventurous.
  • Be less judgmental – Trust your gut instinct, but give people the benefit of the doubt.
  • KNOW less and BELIEVE more
    • You control very little. Always strive for the next level of improvement mentally, physically, emotionally and spiritually.  But, have faith that things you cannot see or even dream are working in your life.  Try not to mess it up with all that thinking
  • Be more courageous. Be more flexible.
    • Stand up for others more and for yourself a little less. It turns out strength has less to do with muscles and more to do with intestinal fortitude.
  • Finish more projects. Learn to play that guitar instead of letting it collect dust.
  • Stay curious.
    • Read lots of books and articles – seek out modern sages that translate ancient wisdom into a modern world
  • Be a blessing to others.
    • Study the great leaders of spiritual movements that were servant leaders, not the conquerors.
    • The traits of warriors are better than those of conquerors
    • Strive to lead others to serve even in the face of adversity.
  • Don’t fear failure, just try to avoid the same fail twice.
    • Don’t obsess over failures. They are a natural part of life.
    • Successful people openly express the benefits of learning from their failures

Leadership

  • Be a friend and mentor, give more than you take.
  • Be a mentor and a leader not a manager or a boss
    • People follow honest genuine humans that can communicate their vision
  • Own your mistakes.
    • People will be more forgiving of your mistakes if you are honest about the ones you make.
  • Join a team to play or fight for a cause greater than yourself
  • Becoming the best YOU requires constant learning, experimentation and collaboration with others.  YOU CAN’T DO IT ON YOUR OWN!  No one ever succeeded by themselves.  Your individual efforts and dreams matter, but if you want to succeed help others reach their potential, accept help from others and don’t be afraid to ask for help.
  • Know that happiness comes from the inside and while others can impact your happiness, ultimately you control your feelings.  And, YOU are the only one RESPONSIBLE for your happiness
  • Ultimately, remember, the journey matters as much as the destination.  The destination is just the beginning of the next journey.  Embrace pain and embrace imperfection. You won’t find perfect people or situations. It’s best you accept that now.
  • Few men at the end of their lives wish they had worked more and played less. All men wish they could physically and mentally do what they once had the capacity to do and think.
  • Take this opportunity to push yourself outside your comfort zone. Don’t worry too much about what your peers think or say. Chances are in 10 years, you will forget most of them. If it won’t matter in 1, 5 or 10 years, then why should it matter now?

LOVE & RELATIONSHIPS

  • Be more careful with the girls’ hearts (and, your own).
  • Don’t avoid a relationship even if you think it will end in pain.
    • The wounds are temporary. The resulting scars are wisdom.
  • Have fun, but let your brain drive more and your libido drive a little less.
  • Love the children in your life and remember to play with them (I’m not telling you when or if you’ll have your own children).

Financial

  • I might also suggest you take some of that money you plan to spend on fun and invest it in an index fund and an occasional stock or two from high quality companies.
  • Don’t be afraid to speculate on an occasional stock now and then.
  • Don’t laugh at your friends playing on computers. Instead, consider making an investment in that company that built that Apple computer (I couldn’t resist one future tip)

Well, that advice should get you through about 40 something. I’ll talk to you again in about 40 something years.

If this made you consider what advice you might share with your younger self about money, relationships, and spirituality (or, anything else)?  Leave a comment.  I would love to read it.  Maybe my next post will be the collective wisdom of the crowd that shares the wisdom of their lives (you don’t have to be 40 something or a man, either).

Your Greatest Achievement – Past, Present or Future?

Their Greatest Achievement? Alexander Remnev's selfie on the 414-metre-high Princess Tower in Dubai

Their Greatest Achievement? Alexander Remnev’s selfie on the 414-metre-high Princess Tower in Dubai

 

Ever been asked about your greatest achievement?  How do you think your age impacted your answer?  Is it behind you or before you?

Documenting and cataloging our achievements helps us keep score. Likely helping us measure against another human’s achievements.  The achievements of mankind are epic and frankly hard to live up to.  I remember thinking about Alexander the Great conquering the known world in his 30’s while I was still in my 20’s.  I guess, that represents the greatest achievement of a modern man.  Hard for every man after him to compare to that achievement.  What would I conquer?  Now, I know the biggest thing my twenty-something self needed to conquer was youthful fears.

I know now, that I’ve already achieved more than Alexander. I made it to my forties.  HA!! It turns out, most of our greatest achievements are personal victories that likely mean very little to the outside world.  Perhaps, with a few more decades worth of birthdays I’ll conquer the remaining fears and cross a few more things off of my bucket list.  Will I look back with envy or continue to look forward?

I hope to achieve a lot more things, but my some of my goals seem more modest.  No less easy for me, but more simple.  What energy can I put forth that will positively impact my little corner of the world every day?  And, if God sees fit to let me walk this earth another 40+ years I’m sure I’ll continue to ponder this question of past, present and future achievements.  I faithfully believe in an after-life.  No, I won’t be back to relive my life as a bug, tree or eagle (though, wings would be cool).  Hopefully, on my 90th birthday, I’ll still see the potential for greatness ahead.

Amazon

7 Surprising Reasons The West Won

Niall Ferguson lists 6 reasons western societies with 19% of global population controlled 75% of the world’s resources.  I think he missed one.

  1. Competition – Many corporations, similar to the City of London Corporation in the 12th Century, along other governments were competing with one another.  Think about the number of western European languages spoken around the world today due to colonization.
  2. The Scientific Revolution – while we all know gun powder came to Europe from China, it was the Europeans that continued to experiment with it and mash together multiple scientific disciplines in order to improve it.  Niall’s example is a German using Newtonian physics to improve the accuracy of bombs.
  3. Property Rights – I think this is probably one of the most fundamental rights in American history that contributed to stability and growth of the middle class.  Even the poorest could own property which might remain for generations.  Though, many injustices occurred over property disputes, those legal protections help the poorest prevail against the richest.
  4. Modern Medicine – ensuring people lived longer, healthier, and productive lives.  Imagine the additional productivity of one person by nearly doubling their life expectancy.  Just the simple act of surgeons washing their hands before getting elbow deep into another person’s abdomen probably saved a few million lives.
  5. The Consumer Society – Henry Ford paid much higher wages than other manufacturers at the time.  He wanted Ford employees to afford Model Ts which in turn kept demand high for his product.  For all the benefits of consumerism, there lurk many dangers as 2008 proved.  The rising middle class in China and India creates demand for high-end western luxuries, but desires in the west for those goods at ever cheaper prices led to the decline of manufacturing in the west.
  6. Work Ethic – Western society’s work ethic turned virgin soil into vast acres of corn, cotton, tobacco and grazing land.  Now the Native Americans that provided the seeds for tobacco and corn to the newcomers were equally (if not more) successful than Europeans at growing these crops.  The difference was profit versus subsistence.  It was the European demand for tobacco that encouraged a strong work ethic.  Niall uses the examples of North and South Korea along with East and West Germany.  The communist state produces markedly less quantity and quality than do non-communist states.
  7. Why? – I suppose you could lump this into the scientific revolution above, but really this is the ability to question authority, as well as, the desire to understand the reason an apple feels compelled to hurl itself toward earth.  The inalienable rights of mankind to desire freedom and reject tyranny led to asking why.  I think some of the basic tenets of Christianity contributed to this enlightened thought.  Even though Catholicism suppressed western society for centuries, once peasants demanded the right to read and interpret the bible for themselves, The Church’s strangle hold loosened forever.

Niall fears (as do I) that the rest of the world will quickly catch up and overtake western society, but it is not too late.  While governments are slow to react and bogged down in squabbles over Keynesian economics, we must act now to prepare our kids for challenges of the 21st century.  Mark Twain said, he never let his education get in the way of his learning.  Join me in teaching our children to be creative problem solvers that bravely seek answers to WHY.

Zen of Fatherhood

Aside

Me holding Jake and Colin when Jake was littleHelen Keller said, “The best and most beautiful things in the world cannot be seen or even touched. They must be felt with the heart.” As I sit waiting to meet my third child, I reflect on  the beauty of unseen things. The Zen of Fatherhood.

Enlightenment through deep thought.  Reaching higher levels of understanding through a natural progression of experience.  Fatherhood allows me to reach higher levels of understanding about things I thought I already knew.

 

LEARNING – My first son changed my life forever. Not that I wasn’t prepared for that, but I did not know to what extent. I learned to love their learning process.  Watching the wonderment in their faces when they discover something new is priceless. If only I could remember to learn with such enthusiasm.

PATIENCE – God knows, one of my greatest flaws remains impatience.  I often forget how unimportant spilled milk really is in the grand scheme of things. Usually, the dog will lick it up anyway. I think being a father has made me a more empathetic person and leader.

LOVE – Experiencing the love a parent feels for a child is like nothing I have ever experienced. Sure, I love my spouse, parents, siblings, friends, etc, but nothing compares. I know there is very little I wouldn’t sacrifice to ensure they are safe and successful.

WEALTH  – I suppose I’m less motivated by money than some and more so than others. However, fatherhood has brought more wealth into my life in the last 5 years than the previous 30 combined.  While I won’t stop developing myself and looking for ways to build financial stability for my family, I have nonetheless discovered the wealth of blessings I already possess.

Yes, fatherhood brings a form of zen into one’s life.  Multiple paths exist toward enlightenment for all, but my path led me to this higher level of understanding.  I look forward to reaching ever higher levels in the future and passing as much as possible down to my descendants.