Life Lessons: Advice I Would Give My Younger Self

I had a dream the other night. It was about two people talking, one was a teenager with long hair, dressed in bib overalls, driving a tractor, plowing a field in Kansas, nearly 50 years ago. The other was a current day, mature man, in business attire and thinning hair. Ok, no hair.

And, both people were me!

Seems somehow I had found a way to contact my younger self for a single purpose. That purpose was to give him (me) some advice about things that I now know and wanted to share, in hopes that my younger self would actually slow down enough to listen and learn and in turn, make the coming years more productive and successful faster.

So, I’m having a conversation with me. I tell the younger me to get ready because life will offer him many amazing opportunities in the years to come. Amazing beyond what he currently is capable of understanding. There will be happy and sad times. People he loves will die and yet, he’ll be in the presence of movie stars, famous musicians, a President, Admirals and Generals, heroes and villains and he’ll witness history. He’ll travel the world and speak and teach and mentor hundreds of thousands of people. He will be successful, however, there are better, easier and faster paths to take than what his older self has already taken.

I tell me, that there are hundreds of “Great Truths” that I have learned along the way, and before this conversation is over I want to at least share five of them;

  1. No one likes anyone who makes excuses! When you make a mistake (and you will), face up to it. Admit it. Look for ways to attack the issue so it never happens again and then just do it get after it again. Be accountable, shut up, get the job done! People will notice.
  2. Don’t complain! No one likes a whiner. Complaining is usually just a way to get out of a tough spot. Again, just shut up. No one in the past or in your future wants to hear it. It’s always best to be known as someone who tries rather than someone who complains.
  3. Stay away from negative people! The best personal and professional development book every written might be Think and Grow Rich! By Napoleon Hill. The premise of the book is simply, you are what you think about most of the time. So, if you have people around you who are always complaining or making excuses or whining and griping about anything, everything and everyone, then your thinking will be influenced by it. It’s a very hard lesson and discipline, but to be as successful as you can be, you must dump the negative influences and surround yourself with positive forward-thinking people. No one will ever tell you how lonely success can be, but the pain is worth the reward. Look for and surround yourself with likeminded, hardworking achievers. They’re out there, and you’ll need to work hard to seek them out, but they’re out there. This Great Truth alone will advance your career at least 10 years quicker.
  4. NEVER stop learning! Never stop learning, never stop reading, seek every resource you can to learn. The one thing that you must absolutely to embrace is learning. It is a conscious skill. You have no idea what’s coming, in the future, when it comes to technology and the learning options that will be available to you. So, make learning a discipline now. Continue to read books about skills you need to learn and knowledge you want to acquire. Continue to seek people who have already achieved incredible things and learn how they did it and then model their behavior. Go to more seminars and workshops. Listen to more audio courses. Read everything you can get your hands on. It has been said that the greatest attribute of man is the ability to think and continuously learn. School is never out for the achiever.
  5. Build on your work ethic. One of the greatest lessons you will ever learn on the farm is the importance of learning how to work. What might be the greatest truth of all is that the world does not owe you a thing. Not one thing. You must create your own breaks and it all starts with hard work. Little do you realize that in the future that a work ethic will be a powerfully desired trait by employers and mentors. So many people don’t know how to work or even want to work. There will be a certain attitude to empowerment but for those who know early that work and concerted effort are the hallmark of success, then the world is yours.
  6. DREAM BIGGER. I know that you are a big dreamer and I will tell you that we are still big dreamers fifty years later. However, I wished that we would have dreamed bigger, earlier. We had no one to push us into believing that anything, literally anything is possible. If you can dream it; If you can believe it strongly enough; you can achieve it. You must dream and believe even when those around you won’t allow themselves to dream about the possibilities. Sometimes you will feel alone in the wilderness, but it’s those times when you need to believe in you, even when it feels like no one else does. No matter what happens, it’s worth it to think thoughts that no one else has ever thought about possibilities that everyone else thinks is impossible.

I tell my younger self that I appreciate him listening. I tell him that he has a lot to look forward to, but I’m not going to give away any secrets to the future or disclose any plot twists. I just want him to know that there’s an exciting ride ahead of him and that there’s much more to come, much more to learn and, that my goals and dreams are bigger and wilder than ever before.

Heck, I’m just getting started!

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