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Life has its ups and downs, twists and turns, like a never-ending rollercoaster. Similar to a rollercoaster, there are thrilling moments filled with happiness and excitement and other times that can be discouraging and difficult. In one instance, you may feel confident and self-assured, believing that you have everything under control, only to find yourself doubting the choices you made in the very next moment. Life is unpredictable by its very nature. But that is also the beauty of it.

It’s important to remember that it’s perfectly normal to not have all the answers. It is difficult for anyone to have a complete comprehension because of the depth of knowledge and complexity of reality. Instead, we must embrace the fact that life is a constant learning process – personally, in our relationships, at work, etc. Time itself becomes our greatest teacher, providing the lessons and experiences necessary for growth and enlightenment. That sounds incredibly deep, and it should provoke some thought.

With that in mind, I want to take a more introspective approach in this post and share with you the invaluable truths I have come to recognize in my 30’s, reflecting on the wisdom I wish I had possessed when graduating high school at 17.

Lesson 1: There are no mistakes, only valuable lessons to be learned.

When you truly accept this fundamental realization, your learning process will be accelerated and move twice as quickly. Many people unintentionally isolate themselves behind a confining “perfection bubble,” avoiding any suggestion of errors. This habit results from a deeply ingrained fear of failing as well as the societal belief that mistakes are bad.

Mistakes are frequently portrayed in society as something to be ashamed of or to be completely avoided – especially in many cultures. People who are paralyzed by their dread of being judged and criticized tend to play it safe and refrain from taking risks. This is where a big portion of the problem (in my view) is. This self-imposed perfectionism, though, has a steep cost. It inhibits innovation, creativity, and personal development. I’ve never really cared about what others thought of me. I was me. But I realized early on that I need to learn from my mistakes and that it is okay to take risks, because the truth is, mistakes are not something to be feared or shunned. In fact, they are essential stepping stones on the path to success and self-improvement. Mistakes provide valuable lessons that cannot be obtained through any other means. They offer insights into what works and what doesn’t, guiding us towards more effective strategies and approaches. My issue was the consistency after having achieved what I personally thought was “good enough”.

By reframing our perspective on mistakes, we unlock a powerful catalyst for growth. We can approach life with a growth attitude by accepting mistakes as important lessons. When you become aware that failure is merely a momentary setback and a step in the right direction rather than a permanent state you become more open to new ideas and possibilities, which in turn allows you to let go of the fear of making errors. I have always been someone who loves to take chances, venturing into unfamiliar territory, and going beyond my comfort zones – that is what I want to encourage you to do as well. Learn to push your potential and seriously quicken your learning through this technique. Break free from the confines of the “perfection bubble” and open yourself up to the immense possibilities that come with embracing the lessons that mistakes provide.

Lesson 2: You don’t need to work hard to be wealthy.

This is probably one of the most misconstrued concepts, especially in the corporate world. The true measure of the value you bring and the results you achieve does not lie in the number of hours you work or the sheer effort you put in. Instead, it revolves around your ability to make quick and intelligent decisions based on your knowledge and understanding.

It’s crucial to dispel the notion that success requires hard work and long hours in a culture where this is frequently the case. While hard work is undoubtedly important, it is not the sole determining factor of success. What truly sets individuals apart is their capacity to make efficient and strategic choices. I’ve managed individuals who did amazing work. While my peers then noted to give them more, my stance was, no. They should engage in growth related activities to become a bigger asset for the company down the line. (On a side note: yes, there were instances where everyone needed to pitch in a bit more, however, that was circumstantial). See my view is why punish someone with more “work”, because they were good at what they do? That is a big managerial problem. I too always had this notion that I personally needed to work harder and harder to reach that wealth.

But as you grow you come to realize that making quick and wise decisions calls for a blend of expertise, understanding, and critical thinking abilities – that’s it. It entails the capacity to quickly analyze pertinent data, make defensible decisions, and assess circumstances. You may traverse complicated problems and take advantage of opportunities with agility and precision by making use of your gathered knowledge and insight. By applying the acquired information and insight, you can navigate challenging situations and seize opportunities with agility and precision. It’s important to utilize the time at hand rather than working long hours without rest. You can maximize the effectiveness of your efforts and the impact of your activities by using this strategy. Making well-informed choices based on a solid foundation of knowledge ensures that you are steering yourself in the right direction. It minimizes the likelihood of wasted time and effort on misguided pursuits, allowing you to achieve your desired outcomes more effectively.

I am a big proponent of continued learning. It’s important to recognize that knowledge plays a pivotal role in decision-making – especially for those in managerial positions. Continuously expanding your knowledge base equips you with the insights and perspectives necessary to make informed choices, and this is, albeit many believing they have that capacity, in reality don’t. That is why I shake my head when people in these positions throw money around as if it were coming out of their own pocket. Nonetheless, I encourage you to engage in lifelong learning, stay curious, and actively seek new information to enhance your decision-making capabilities.

Lesson 3: To get started, you don’t need to learn anything.

You can accelerate your progress by actively engaging in practical experiences and learning along the way. You can significantly increase your efficiency by immersing yourself in practical activities rather than spending excessive time absorbing enormous amounts of educational content, such as reading several books or watching drawn-out video courses. I know this sounds counter-intuitive. You need to read and learn to be able to execute, to a certain extent. But most people get stuck here because while educational resources are important and offer insightful information, acting and using your knowledge in practical situations has even more tremendous power. By doing this, you get hands-on experience, learn from your errors, and this then helps you modify your strategy in response to criticism.

The conventional strategy of acquiring deep theoretical understanding before acting can frequently result in analysis paralysis and slow development. It’s simple to become caught up in the cycle of nonstop preparation, where you feel obligated to keep learning new things without ever applying them. I’ve been there and trust me, it gets you nowhere. True mastery and accelerated learning, however, result from a mix of theory and real-world application. Embracing a mindset of learning on the go allows you to acquire new skills, refine existing ones, and adapt to changing circumstances. It promotes agility, resilience, and the ability to swiftly course-correct based on real-world feedback (I need to right another blog post about this topic itself). The key lies in finding the right balance between theory and practice. By integrating hands-on experience into your learning journey, you will undoubtedly progress at a much faster pace.

Lesson 4: High risks, high rewards.

I love taking risks. Always have, that propelled me in my career, however going corporate always took out the wind under my wings in my entrepreneurial journey. While you may be staying safe, there are those who take advantage of the chances life offers by making daring decisions like switching occupations, starting their own businesses, or even moving to another country. These types of people are aware of the power of taking chances and how they can result in extraordinary changes and expansion.

You may feel safe and protected from the uncertainties that come with taking risks when you decide to stay in your comfort zone – like getting a paycheck every month, however, by playing it safe, you might be passing up important opportunities for both career and personal progress. And I don’t mean to go completely Mad Max in life. Seeking stability is perfectly acceptable, but I find that it’s crucial to understand that great accomplishments are frequently spurred by calculated risks. The keyword I throw in here is “calculated”.

You can discover a whole new universe of opportunities by moving outside your comfort zone and accepting risks. You can follow your passions, learn about new industries, and unlock your own potential by switching occupations – regardless of what others think. You can take charge of your future, make a meaningful contributions, and stand to gain financially, for example, by starting your own business. Alternatively, moving to a different nation presents chances for cultural enlightenment, novel encounters, and broadened perspectives. Taking risks fosters that resilience, adaptation, and personal development. It forces you to take obstacles head-on, learn from setbacks, and cultivate the tenacity to endure. No matter how it turns out, every risk you take offers priceless lessons and insights that advance your overall growth and understanding. And yes, while the path of risk-taking may seem daunting, it often leads to tremendous rewards. Again, it’s not about being reckless or impulsive. Instead, it involves calculated decision-making, thorough evaluation of potential outcomes, and a willingness to embrace uncertainty.

It’s crucial to assess your own risk tolerance, consider your goals and aspirations, and make informed choices that align with your values and desires. By carefully weighing the potential rewards against the possible setbacks, you can make educated decisions that propel you towards a more fulfilling and successful life.

Lesson 5: Success or wealth have no bearing on happiness.

I wanted to be rich. Filthy rich. If you knew some of the things I went through in life, then you’ll understand why. I thought that being rich equates to happiness. But I learned, during my career, that notion is bonkers. Happiness does not depend on achieving success, and the presence of success does not ensure happiness. The two ideas might live alongside one another, however, it is the choices we make that determine our level of happiness.

Many individuals (people I personally know) may appear successful to the outside world, achieving wealth, fame, or recognition in their respective fields. However, behind this facade of success, they may grapple with internal struggles, lack of fulfillment, or a sense of emptiness. External success does not always translate into happiness and contentment within. Money makes things easier, true. But it does not equate to happiness.

And this is where I have come to appreciate the simple things in life because I find that those individuals who do not possess material wealth or those societal markers of success, generally lead genuinely happy lives. They have mastered the art of finding joy in simple pleasures, cultivating positive relationships, and prioritizing their overall well-being while everyone else is trying to climb the ladder of career progression and bigger pay checks. Happiness, in this sense, transcends external circumstances and becomes a product of our mindset and choices.

Making the decision to be happy is an active process that calls for awareness and introspection. It entails realizing that our own views, attitudes, and responses to the environment around us have an impact on our level of happiness as well as that of others. It’s about accepting responsibility for our feelings and making an effort to foster a happy and joyful attitude. And over the years I have learned that happiness is learned and can be improved with practice, just like any other skill. It entails developing compassion, mindfulness, self-care, and meaningful relationships with others. It also calls for letting go of pessimistic thought patterns, embracing optimism, and pursuing personal development and fulfillment. It arises from our ability to choose positive perspectives, engage in activities that bring us joy, and cultivate a sense of purpose and meaning in our lives. Again, there is nothing wrong with wanting to progress in your career. But I want you to do it for the right reasons. Ultimately, it’s important to recognize that happiness is not a destination but a continuous journey.

Lesson 6: You know nothing.

Relying solely on your own experiences when making decisions may limit your perspective in a world that is vast and rapidly evolving. I have come to learn that the knowledge you possess at a given moment can quickly become outdated as new information and advancements emerge. Maintaining an attitude of curiosity and openness is crucial for navigating this crazy dynamic environment. I recall moments, where I would tell my wife, how some decisions being made in whatever situation it was in my work, by my superiors, annoyed me because it was outdated. They would base everything off their personal experiences. Personal experiences can offer insightful perspectives, but they only give a little view of the world’s enormous diversity and complexity. You run the risk of unwittingly ignoring alternate perspectives, creative solutions, or chances for progress if you only rely on your personal experiences. That is why I loved working with people who brought in that “ballsy” aspect of challenging me. In order to adopt a wider perspective, you need to jump over your own shadow (dear managers!) and actively seek out other viewpoints, interact with people, and be open to their novel concepts.

The world is constantly evolving, and information is being generated and disseminated at an unprecedented pace. As soon as you close your laptop or put down a book, new discoveries, insights, and advancements are being made. This rapid flow of information requires us to adopt a mindset of continuous learning and adaptability. Staying curious is a powerful antidote to intellectual stagnation. It encourages you to look farther than your immediate surroundings for answers to your questions and to explore farther. You’re motivated to question assumptions, accept different viewpoints, and pursue lifelong learning when you’re curious.

Therefore, keep in mind not to only rely on your own experiences and wisdom as you make your way through life. Keep your curiosity alive and embrace the immensity of the world and the never-ending flow of information. Be open to different points of view, seek out new insights, and pursue lifelong learning. By doing this, you give yourself the power to make better informed decisions, promote your own personal development, and successfully negotiate the challenges of our ever-changing environment.

In Closing

In conclusion, these are 6 things I would tell me 17 year old self again. Embracing a mindset of continuous learning, curiosity, and adaptability is essential in what will become a rapidly changing world. Relying solely on personal experiences and outdated knowledge will limit your perspectives and hinder your decision-making. By staying curious, seeking diverse perspectives, and engaging in lifelong learning, you will open yourself up to new possibilities, remain agile in the face of change, and cultivate a deeper sense of fulfillment and growth. Through this approach, you will navigate the complexities of life, make better informed decisions, and ultimately find happiness and success on your unique journeys. Fortunately, today, I am there. Now I want you to join me.