View this post on Instagram
Life is a journey where we accumulate knowledge and principles, little by little, and do our best to grow with each lesson.
Below are the top 20 life lessons and principles that have helped guide my journey that I wanted to share with the Elephant Journal community, may they be of benefit:
1. Always try new ways to approach problems, both in business as well as in your personal life. This could include dealing with colleagues in a new or creative way, or simply trying to get through to your spouse, kids, or other loved ones in the personal domain.
2. Your reputation precedes you, has been a truism since the beginning of human civilization. Attempt to do things well, even if you fail. You earn your good reputation by trying to do hard things well.
3. Stress the importance of resourcefulness in those around you. The easy solutions are, by definition, easy, and can be done by virtually anyone.
4. Necessity is the mother of all inventions, according to Plato. This proverb and life advice has been true since the beginning of humanity from the harnessing of fire for protection and cooking, to the invention of the wheel for travel. Human creativity is at its highest point when we are stretched. Embrace life’s challenges and attempt to develop solutions to these challenges.
5. Complaining won’t get you anywhere. Life isn’t fair. Bad things happen to good people. Roadblocks and challenges present themselves to everyone. The strongest among us know not to complain as it achieves nothing.
6. One of the most difficult things to do for many of us, is to be patient. In an era where everything comes easy, it becomes that much harder to tell ourselves that good things take time and require a great deal of patience to materialize.
7. Most people think in short-term increments. For instance, what will we do or say at the upcoming meeting or event next week or next month? Or, how will we manage earnings this quarter or year? Develop both a personal and professional long-term plan that is denominated in 10-plus years. Think long-term!
8. Stay humble, no matter what your professional outcome. You never know what the future holds—likely it will be a mix of some good and some bad. Stay humble at all times, including, and especially, when things are going well.
9. The pace of change is accelerating: learn to adapt to the changes around you. Charles Darwin reminds us: “It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent. It is the one most adaptable to change.”
10. Whenever possible, look to facts to inform your decisions, rather than emotions. Ask for unbiased feedback from those around you. Talk to outside observers or friends to understand their unbiased perspective. In other words, when you’re making decisions, try to look at real data points whenever possible rather than relying solely on your own opinions. You’ll be surprised how often that what you think you know is wrong.
11. Following the previous point, however, for some of the most important decisions we make, collecting these “facts” is not possible. In these situations, we have to rely on our judgment. However, don’t forget that our judgment itself has formed over our lifetimes through trillions of data points, both big and small, based on our own life experiences.
12. Think about all types of possibilities—both the realistic and the unrealistic. A common question that gets asked in life is, “why?” That’s a good question, but an equally valid question is, “why not?” Life is short. Take that vacation, go on that date you’re hesitant about, or explore that new job opportunity. What do you have to lose?
13. Details matter. Oftentimes, the difference in outcomes is defined in the margins on the finest of details. While details are of course important, you must also zoom out and see the bigger picture as often as possible to make sure you’re heading in the right direction. Constantly refocus your figurative camera lens from the close-up shots to the landscape view. In other words, be as familiar with the big picture as you are with the details.
14. None of us wants to live or die with regrets. Keep trying to solve that problem, the one that seems unsolvable. Keep trying to break through to that loved one no matter how difficult. Just. Keep. Trying. No one wants to live or die with regrets.
15. Create value and good karma in everything you do, as often as possible. Whatever your job or life mission, attempt to create things of value that people can digest and use without your direct involvement. For instance, think through how your writing could benefit a reader rather than simply writing for the sake of writing. How can you create things or services that help others? The valuable content we create doesn’t have to be tangible per se. Organizing a gathering of like-minded friends also creates positive karma.
16. Learn to occasionally deprioritize yourself and focus on the needs of those around you, whether these needs be from friends, family, or even acquaintances. Giving back when you are in a position to help will not only add an immense purpose to your own life, but you may even learn something about yourself in the process. And who knows, maybe one day you’ll also need a helping hand.
17. Learn how to deal with being misunderstood. Some people’s opinions and views will never change, or their opinions and views will change too slowly to matter. Remember that sometimes great ideas, and the people with those great ideas, can be misunderstood at first, perhaps even for their entire lifetimes (think: Vincent van Gogh). Persist if you believe you have a good idea worth bringing to the table, regardless of what others may think.
18. Building on the previous point, you can’t make an omelet without breaking a few eggs. Action in and of itself is disruptive. Try not to drop the egg carton, but do crack the eggs and cook the omelet. Don’t be afraid to do things, even if it makes some people uncomfortable. Most people never make the omelet.
19. Different circumstances and problems require different approaches. Every situation is unique. Therefore, every approach for addressing solutions to our problems and life circumstance requires unique methods. We can use rules and principles to help guide us, but ultimately, no two situations are exactly alike.
20. Last, but not least, find a way to balance long-term objectives with living in the now. In life, living in the present has the potential to bring us immense joy and satisfaction. However, we must also plan for the future in order to bring happiness to our “future present.” Try to get into life’s sweet spot of both living in a present state of flow, while solving various long-term problems or objectives. It’s not easy to reach this nirvana, but when you do, it’ll be well worth it.
Feel free to comment below and let me know which life lessons or principles (if any) especially resonate with you or if you have others which are worth adding!