A Letter To My Younger Self

Dear Little One,

I am you, 10 years older, and questionably wiser (emphasis on questionably). I know you are the one who remains quiet in class. When you do speak, it is important. People know this, and they listen. That quality will serve you well in business and I ask you to listen now.

Let me begin by saying that life is not a linear progression. Action A does not always result in B.  It may result in B, C, or perhaps even Z.  You have goals, big goals, and that is tremendous. But they will change and that is ok.  Pursue opportunities that will open not one door, but many, and savor every experience along the way.  Learning how not to do something may not be an enjoyable experience, but it is still extremely valuable.  You are very good at making connections between people and ideas and make an honest effort to see things from different perspectives.  Be a pirate and steal the great booty of ideas.  Figure out what works, what doesn’t work, make it your own,  make it better, or, better yet, make it different.

Now, enough with the warm and fuzzy theories; here are 13 points I encourage you to follow:

  • Don’t drink the kool aide. Always maintain some skepticism.  When you find an organization you believe in, get engaged, but don’t accept everything as true.  Buy in to about 80%, and continue to ask questions to improve yourself, the organization, and those around you.
  • Sit up straight. Not only will it make you look more slender and imbue confidence, it’ll help you move better and feel better for years to come.  Hunchback of Notre Dame is a great book, but not a great image for you.
  • Quit eating from the vending machines.  Forever.  No exceptions.  Don’t get fat, not even skinny fat.  It’s gross and could rob you of years of life.  Take care of yourself.  Eat whole foods.  Plan in advance and cook a couple meals at a time.  Even if your belly doesn’t show it, the sugar is destroying you from the inside out.  Check the temporary satisfaction at the door and eat for the long haul.
  • Lift weights often.  Strong is sexy; candy colored dumbbells are not.  Get off the machines and use free weights.  Ask someone to show you how to use them safely and choose lifts that train multiple joints and muscles for maximum results and sexiness.
  • Be consistent.  “Watch your thoughts, for they become words.  Watch your words, for they become actions.  Watch your actions, for they become habits.  Watch your habits, for they become character.  Watch your character, for it becomes your destiny.”  Treat everyone with respect.  Strive to create repeatable processes so you can continue to grow your product or service and avoid recreating the wheel.  Create exceptions in practices when needed, but never in principles.
  • Don’t burn bridges.  It’s a small, small world.  You will be shocked how often and unexpectedly you will cross paths with people.  Disagree.  Voice your opinion.  But be respectful and don’t be too quick to write someone off.
  • Keep dancing.  It’s a universal language.  Dance has no geographic boundaries.  It requires no words.  It is an art of movement that, performed elegantly, will render others speechless.
  • Don’t buy one of those big LED televisions.  Invest your time and money rather than spending it on and in front of a television.  Get off the couch.  Get outside.  Talk to people.  Move.  If you must rest on the couch, open a book.
  • Move daily.  A body in motion stays in motion.  Remain disciplined.  You need not lift or run daily, but rather just move daily.  Learn new sports.  Dance.  Walk around the neighborhood, on the beach, or on the trail.  Just move.
  • Travel often.  Sometimes spontaneously.  You like to learn.  You enjoy art and architecture.  You are a student of history and psychology.  People love you.  Learn by doing.  Travel.  Sometimes at the last minute and with no itinerary.  Just go.  You’ll figure it out.
  • Work hard, but let life be easy.  Neglect neither your head nor your heart.  Work your butt off for what you care about.  Work hard for an income to allow you to do what it is you want outside of work with people you love.  If you are able to work in a field that you are passionate about in the process, that’s a bonus. Don’t measure your success; instead, measure significance.  You will have no trouble doing what you love; the challenge is finding what you love.  Just don’t neglect the people and experiences you love in the pursuit of it.
  • Never ever give up.  Commit.  Be like Joe Torre, bottom of the 7th.  Winning or losing, he looks the same.  Keep your cool and carry on. Don’t stop fighting.  Be passionate and let is resonate from the rooftops.  If you wake up 80% of the time and are happy about what you are doing, keep fighting, no matter what the obstacle.  You only have to get up one more time than you are knocked down.
  • Break the rules once in awhile.  No more words needed here.  Just do it.

Now, go out in the world and practice this.  Take the world head on, with that look in your eye that says, “You have absolutely no idea what I am capable of,” then show them.  Be happy.  Love generously.  And remember your friend, Fred’s, advice: “If you’re not living on the edge, you’re taking up too much space.”



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