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Life Lessons Learned The Hard Way (Part 3)


I’ve been wearing a wrist band for months as a reminder to live in the now. It works. If I find myself feeling bad or mad or guilty about something that happened in the past (which I can’t change) I just touch the bracelet, take a deep breath, and move on. When I start to worry about what may happen in the future, I do the same thing. I know all I can control is what’s happening right now and that that is where happiness is found.


Earlier in this list of things to do I mentioned knowing what you don’t know. I’d like to add to that. Learn what you don’t know if it’s important to you and involves your career. Try to be the most prepared person in the room. Since I create customized presentations, I often have to do a deep dive into a topic I know nothing about. By the time I step on stage, I can sound like an expert . . . for 30 to 60 minutes.


What made the late Chris Farley so funny was his self-deprecating humor. We have to be able to laugh at ourselves and find the funny in less-than-fun circumstances. Humor also has a way of diffusing serious and tense many situations.


If we want to make a change, it can’t be a complete departure from who we are. For example, let’s say we want to get organized. If we don’t take into account our natural way of doing things, we’ll just end up going back to our old (and familiar) ways. Instead, if there is a pile of stuff by the door, clearly that’s where we want it to go, put a basket or bin there. If we toss the keys on the counter when we come home, put a bowl there.


Sherlock Holmes said, “You look, but you don’t see.” Meaning, most people miss a great deal, much to their detriment. Pay attention to the details, because details matter.


I have almost died several times—surfing, diving, boating, cliff jumping, parachuting, off-roading, and the list goes on. One of the reason I didn’t die is I let myself go to the dark side and ask, “What if?” In advance of doing something stupid and dangerous. This is also helpful when I’m traveling to speak. I will ask, “What if they don’t have a Mac adapter?” “What if my laptop crashes?” “What if they forgot to print or bring my introduction?” This forces me to have backups of my backups and be ready for whatever may go wrong. It’s better to be looking at what you need than looking for it.


There’s so much to say on this topic, but I will just mention what I think is the most important part of being a good leader, and it is this: Lead by example.


People . . . Whatta ya gonna do? People piss us off. People frustrate us. People disrespect us. People do us wrong. I have found that it’s okay to get mad, but it’s better to get even . . . by having success (it is the best revenge). It’s best not to burn any bridges. Instead, use the anger you feel to fuel your fire to succeed.


We should not send an e-mail or text when we’re emotional or drunk. Hit pause, let it sit overnight, and then decide if we should still respond. Enough said.


In the old days, we could only instantly capture a special event in our lives with a Polaroid picture and view it right away. Now there’s no reason to miss a memorable moment. Ahhhhh, but we need to create memorable moments, and we do this by doing something exciting and new, making sure we are present and appreciate the small things, and go the extra mile to make points in time where people say, “Wow!”


My father would do things like take an old soda container, punch some holes in it, attach a hose, and voila, it’s a sprinkler. I learned a lot from my father about how to be handy—and it’s served me well. They say, necessity is the mother of invention, and being handy is handy. Besides, with YouTube, we can learn to fix almost anything.


Don’t let one bad decision lead to another.


It’s not just what you make, it’s what you keep. There is no shame in getting something you want and need for the best possible price. From what I can tell, the wealthiest people can be some of the most frugal—which may explain their wealth.

KARMA IS A . . .

If I ever stray from doing what’s right (which is very rare, and usually out of laziness) I pay the price immediately. Karma reminds me that the only thing to do is the right thing—or else there is a greater price to pay. It also works the other way, too. Do good and good comes back to you.


Einstein said, “If you put your hand on a hot stove, one minute will feel like an hour. When you are doing something you enjoy, one hour will feel like a minute.” That’s relativity. Pay attention to the things you are doing when time flies. There’s a good chance it’s what you should be doing more of—and it’s often also your passion. It’s far easier to focus (and focus is the key to everything) when you love what you do.


Think big, but start small. When people ask me how to promote a book, I always reply that it’s like dropping a pebble in a pond. The first ring is family and friends—promote to them first. (It seems like a small thing, but it could lead to a big break because you don’t know who they know.) I also say, “Think global, but start local.” Start with where you live and then work your way out from there. I guess with social media we can go global right away.

Part 3 of 3

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