Things You Wish You Learned When You Were Younger

Two great Quora threads came across my inbox this morning that I thought were worth sharing.

What’s the most inspiring thing that you learned, but wished you had learned when you were much younger?

Some answers that stood out:

I am enough.

I am enough of a human being, of a parent, of an employee.

I am enough pretty and enough smart, I am enough intelligent and enough creative.

I am the way I am and I don’t need to apologize for it.

Pair that response with Daring Greatly, by Brene Brown, or watch her brilliant TED Talk

That EVERYTHING is your choice.

It may not feel like it, but you can actually decide what you want to do at every moment of every day.

The only reason you don’t is because you are afraid of consequences and you think that you “need” all of the things around you, people around you, and authority above you in order to eventually be “allowed” to live the life that you will enjoy.

No one will give you the life that you want.  They will keep it for themselves if they ever find it.

YOU must give yourself the life you want.

You must create every single aspect of it.

Ultimately, you are completely responsible for everything you choose to have or not have in your life.

Viktor Frankl, the Holocaust survivor and author of Man’s Search for Meaning says:

“Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.”

You ALWAYS have choice. Learn more about Frankl here.

A few standout answers from: What are your favorite unconventional life tips?

If one person calls you a horse, call him an ass. If another person calls you a horse, punch him in the throat, if another person calls you a horse, it might be time to look for a saddle – one or two people might try to decieve or mock you, but if everyone tells you the same thing, they are probably right.

If you ever catch yourself complaining “this always happens to me,” that means you are doing something wrong

Fear is not a choice. Giving in to fear is a choice.

Nothing really matters as much as you think it does. No, really.

I can’t change people, but I can change people. (I can’t change people, but I can change the groups of people with whom I choose to associate.)

67 Short Pieces of Advice and a New Must Read Blog

I can’t believe I’ve been sleeping on Raptitude, a blog by David Cain, for so long.

I recently was sent this post about 67 pieces of advice and it’s pure gold.

Some of my favorites:

  • 11. Learn the difference between something that makes you feel bad, and something that’s wrong. A thing can feel bad and be right, and it can feel good and be wrong.
  • 15. Consciously plan your life, or others will do it for you.
  • 27. When someone disagrees with you, try to understand what needs and fears are behind their stance. Yours probably aren’t much different.
  • 37. Give classical music another shot every few years. (I recently did this and enjoy it)
  • 40. Picture yourself at your own funeral. Imagine what they are thinking.
  • 49. Once in a while, imagine that this moment is the very first moment of your life, and then build a future from there.
  • 60. Be extra kind to people while they are at work, especially servers, clerks, and tech support staff.

You should really check out the whole list. It’s that good.

I liked it so much I also bought his ebook on Mindfulness, which is something I’ve been trying to practice more of this year, and even went so far as to purchase a subscription to Headspace, which has been useful as well.

Open your eyes to Raptitude, you’ll be happy you did, and a better person for it!

Why Reading Is Important To Your Sexual Health

If you go home with somebody and they don’t have books, don’t f*ck ’em. – John Waters

If women take up John Waters on this advice you’d be in trouble.

Read books.

A lot of books.

Fiction, non-fiction, whatever you enjoy.

Just read.

Why should you read?

There are too many answers to that question.

But that’s the wrong question.

You should ask, “Why shouldn’t I read?” and there are zero good answers to that question.

Reading gives you ideas.

Ideas = currency

Ideas = new solutions to old problems

Ideas = more ways to solve new problems.

Always flex the idea muscle.

Below are three blogs you should start reading today that focus on reading, books, and getting smarter:

http://www.farnamstreetblog.com/
http://www.brainpickings.org/
http://www.bakadesuyo.com/

If you’re looking for what to read you can start here:

Amazon 100 Books To Read In A Lifetime
Amazon Best Sellers

How To Get Rid Of Your Excuses

If you’re a human and not reading James Altucher you’re missing out.

I forget how I initially heard about him but I read his book, “Choose Yourself” and I’ve been a fan ever since.

His post from today was about getting rid of excuses.

There’s ALWAYS a gap between “what I have now” and “what I would like”.

The gap is all of your excuses. All it takes to close the gap is to be creative and work your way through the excuses.

I repeat: this is ALL IT TAKES.

Read the entire post here

Power of Inversion

“All I want to know is where I’m going to die so I’ll never go there.” – Charlie Munger

Inversion is one of the few things that has had the most impact on the way I go about thinking about things.

Instead of focusing on what I want, I’ve found it to be just as useful to think about what I don’t want, and then figuring out how to avoid those things.

At work I spent hours coming up with ideas on how we could be more innovative, but I didn’t have my best ideas until I looked at things that were getting in the way of us being more innovative and then figuring out how to get rid of those.

That’s inversion.

Do it.

It works.

I learned about this first from reading Poor Charlie’s Almanack, which is one of the best books ever published in my opinion.

The Power of I Don’t Know

There is a growing amount of uncertainty in my line of work (more about that here if you’re interested).

Naturally clients have been asking more questions like, “Why is this happening?”, and “What’s going on?”

Initially in my career I would never have admitted to a client that the answer to their burning question is “I don’t know”.

As I have learned more throughout my career I’ve realized that ‘I don’t know’ is often times the most honest answer I can give. I was almost certain that after I uttered my first ‘I don’t know’ on a client call that I would be fired instantly for not being an ‘expert.’

That never happened.

Not only have I not been fired, but I’ve had clients mention that they appreciate the honesty.

There are certain things that are difficult to know with certainty, and you dig yourself further down the rabbit hole each time you try to explain something that you have no idea about. Your arguments are weak and people can usually see right through you. They won’t say anything, but they won’t trust you as much and/or do business with you much in the future.

By saying “I don’t know” you maintain trust, which is the most valuable thing of all.

8 Ways To Be More Effective at Work

  1. Don’t ever stop putting forward ideas. Ideas are currency. Keep the idea muscle in top shape.
  2. Don’t try to be liked by everybody. Half the people are going to hate you either way. If you show ambition, people will despise you for it, but if you show no ambition, the other half will hate you. It’s a no win situation. Concentrate on moving forward.
  3. Put people in positions to make an impactIt’s not about you, it’s about them. If you can make other people shine, you’ve done your job. A rising tide lifts all ships, yours included.
  4. Realize you have a certain degree of inefficiency within your team, and the number is likely higher than you think. The larger the organization the more likely this is to be true. Create systems to minimize this.
  5. Focus on the margins – It’s worthless to focus on what happened on the past. Learn from it, don’t let it happen again, but don’t let it impact future decisions. Beware of sunk costs and know the cost of one more.
  6. Always focus on opportunity costs. What are the lowest value activities your team does? If that was outsourced or automated, what else could they focus on up the value chain?
  7. Focus on 80/20. There are a few things you do that contribute the most. Punt everything else to others.
  8. Always explain why. If you ask somebody to do something, be sure you tell them why. If you don’t, bad things can happen.

Most Of Your Work Day is Wasted

There are few things you do throughout the day which nobody else can do as well as you.

Spend time doing those things and try to offload everything else.

When you know the few things which have the biggest impact you should focus on those exclusively.

Ricardo’s Law of Comparative Advantage says so.

Example:

I’m pretty good at helping websites get more traffic from search engines. I’m decent at creating good looking presentations.

My coworker is decent at helping websites get more traffic from search engines, but is excellent at making good looking presentations.

Every second I spend creating good looking presentations and that she spends helping websites get more traffic from search engines are wasted.

We’d both be better off if we focused exclusively on what we were good at.

Analyze where you provide the most value and focus on those areas exclusively.

Pareto’s Principle aka the 80/20 rule dictates that 20% of your input is responsible for 80% of your result.

Taken to the second degree it means that 4% of your input is responsible for 64% of your output.

Figure out what those leverage points are and focus on them exclusively, while trying to offload everything else.

You will be significantly better off, and get more things done.

A great book on the 80/20 Rule is the 80/20 Principle – Secret To Achieving More With Less by Richard Koch

I highly recommend you pick this up.

It will dramatically change how you view your life and prioritize.

Focus on Stengths

From The Effective Executive:

To make strength productive is the unique purpose of organization. It cannot, of course, overcome the weaknesses with which each of us is abundantly endowed. But it can make them irrelevant. Its task is to use the strength of each man as a building block for joint performance.

Everybody is good at something.

If you can align people with what they do best everybody benefits.

It’s not just Peter Drucker who says so, it’s also Ricardo’s law of comparative advantage.