Weekly Thought Volume - 103 - Wisdom of the Aged

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As far as I’m concerned, when it comes to learning from the past, there’s got to be a damn good reason to turn around and look back there, since you’re probably much better off living in the present.

Still, from a practical sense, a post mortem on my past does give me some valuable exercises for learning from and maybe figure out what to do on the next go ‘round.

So, when I started working on this newest rant, I got to thinking about when I was a young up and coming working guy in the world.  I considered what I might tell an earlier version of me, along the lines of the old “if I knew then what I know now” line that everybody has said at some time in their lives.

Of course, if truth be told…I was so full of myself back then that I’d probably ignore what I had to say anyway…….but I digress:

I HAVE been around the block a couple of times.  When talking with staff, I often say..”just listen to me…and you won’t have to make all the same mistakes I made.”  Interestingly enough, they seem to give me pretty much the same regard as I suggested I might to an older self….but I continue to hope that some of you and your protégés are less pigheaded about things than I was and maybe, just maybe, benefit from some heartfelt if possibly irreverent advice for the next generation of go-getters.

For instance, here’s your first nugget:  Brains will only get you so far in the real world

I’m sure you’re every bit as smart as you think you are..but in the REAL world, your intelligence is only marginally useful. As time moves along, you’re going to rely less on your smarts and more on your wisdom, self confidence and the gut instinct that comes from experience.  You want to build on something?  Build on that.  It’ll take you a lot farther than book smarts.

Here’s another one:  Stop taking yourself so damn serious.   The sooner you get over yourself, the better you and everyone around you is going to be.  Stop thinking you’re special. You’re just another one of us trying to carve our short path in the world.  The sooner you fall down, pick yourself back up, dust it off and realize it wasn’t as bad as you’d thought, the better.  Because that’s what you have to do to prepare for what’s next….

Here it is: Take a risk.  A big risk.  Take it now! You think you have time.  Honestly, you don’t.  The older you get the harder it is to do it, because you start to “acquire” things that you don’t want to lose.  So do it as soon as you can, because you’ll get a lot more out of it:

  • Opportunity and Visibility: We’re all flying below the radar when we start out.  If you’re smart, you’ll change that as fast as you can.  The more visible you become, the more options you’re going to have come your way.  You’ll have more opportunities to learn, to grow, to network and step up the ladder.  Success doesn’t live in a vacuum.  You have to breath life, into your life sometimes.
  • Discover what your passion is:    It’s a pretty easy one to figure out.  If you don’t think you’ve found it yet, you haven’t.  You’ll know it when you do.  Everything will flow easier, your days will move faster, you’ll be more pleasant to live with and accountability for what you do won’t even be an issue.  If you’re good at it, you’ll probably be very successful at it too.
  • You want to succeed? You have to fail…a lot.   It’s not real important which one you do more of early on, but what IS important is getting some sort of solid consistent feedback loop going.  You’ll get confidence from success and wisdom from failure, and you’ll soon realize that you need BOTH to move ahead.  It’s all good.  Every bit of the information you get from either one builds a strong foundation that you can grow on.

Ok…one more nugget and then I’ll shut up.  I can see some of you drifting off  already.  Don’t forget to live once in awhile.  This is like the pot calling the kettle black or a horrible goose and gander analogy, but someday you may get the chance to go somewhere with your special gal or guy, whom you may or may not have already met.  You’ll be working for a company that just opened a new office in another State or another part of the world.  You’ll go there, dragging him or her along and you’ll spend a lot of time working to get it right, but also some time to just take off and explore the area and LIVE.   Try and design your life around that model.  It’ll work out pretty well for you. 

Life is short enough as it is.  While we’re here, try to make the most of it.  That way, when you look in the rear view mirror, you’ll have a damn good reason to look back there after all.

Thanks for reading…