I started this article last year, wrote one lesson and haven’t been back until today.
Lesson 3 consistency. Get on with things, even if its little bite-size bits on a daily basis – see my second post on why I’m writing 200 words a day.
I’ve consolidated the pick of the bunch of what I feel are the 30 of the most valuable lessons I’ve picked up through my adult life. I don’t mean this to be an ego-driven article on how great I am, I’m not. I often fall short on many of these. But hopefully, there will be a little something everyone can take from this.
These are mostly unoriginal thoughts. They come from some experience, books I’ve read (I’ll list the best ones at the bottom) and watching others.
1. Take responsibility
Have some backbone, we all fuck up. Some more than others, but this is how we learn and grow. Take responsibility for your mistakes, don’t shy away from them and make sure you take them as a lesson and move on – don’t dwell
When I was in one of my first jobs I made a lot of mistakes. Which didn’t go down well with my manager. I was pulled up on numerous occasions for the mistakes – which were fairly critical mistakes for the role I was in.
Although it didn’t work out for me in this role, I was condemned on the fact I took responsibility for my errors, even when, as my manager said – many others in the same position wouldn’t. This stuck with me.
I still make excuses in my head as to why I made these mistakes, but I learnt from this and will always take my ego out of the equation and take ownership of errors.
2. Partner with someone
I’ve been learning, playing with and discovering how business work for the best part of ten years. I’ve never really had a mentor or someone to guide me along the way, and the majority of everything I discuss in this post and others is taken from me going out there and looking for it. However, I did once have a source of inspiration from a surprising place. It was 5 or so years ago at one of my closest friends wedding reception and I was having a chat at the bar with another close friends dad.
We’ve not really spoken much before, maybe a passing word or two. I was talking him through some thoughts on an idea I was working on and one of his passing comments was about making sure that I get a partner to build the business with. This has stuck with me since.
It was interesting as it summarised for me why previous attempts at building out ideas had fallen flat. I had no accountability towards myself, in my early 20s. I had briefly attempted to build a couple of business ideas and had numerous others I had mapped out and not started. Since that conversation, I’ve always partnered with someone else (until this website).
I firmly believe that the best way to get a business out the blocks is partnering with someone, ensuring you have accountability. If in your early twenties you struggle to do this for yourself, having someone else to be accountable towards helps drive things forward.
As well as this a partner will share the highs and lows, understand what you are going through, provide a different perspective on things and provide a skill set which you might not have.
Why do you think I’m writing 200 words a day. It’s not much, it’s 15 mins a day, but it adds up to one article a week or a minimum of 73,000 words a year. In the same time, it takes you or me to choose what’s going to be on Netflix tonight, I can write a few paragraphs.
If you apply these rules across many disciplines, you will see results.
Often a term used for investing, with consistency you get a compounding effect on everything you do.
Exercise a little every day, read a little, work on yourself every day and you’ll see the benefits down the line.
4. Being money rich isn’t everyone’s cup of tea
One of the biggest things that shocked me as I reached adulthood, was the way in which people approached money. I think everyone at some point has dreamed of have had enough money to not worry about it again, but very few understand how to achieve this or even have the ambition to.
I spent a couple of years after uni trying to round up the ‘troops’ (the brightest people I know) to start working on business ideas that I had. This promptly fell flat as, after some initial enthusiasm none were really driven enough to really start the process properly. This really surprised me. I genuinely thought that everyone wanted to be wealthy and to work towards the level of wealth that grants you the freedom to not worry about money, but this couldn’t be further from the truth. I’ve since realised that it’s only the small minority who actually think like this. It’s somewhat a rarity but shows that the vast majority who dream of acquiring large sums of money, either want a quick win or it to be handed on a platter.
This is not to say that just because you aren’t out starting businesses, that you don’t have the ambition to make money. It might be the case that the path or opportunity hasn’t presented itself. It might take some initiative to find this road, or the timing might not be right yet, you might be in the learning phase. This is more for those not even looking for the path, but still somehow dream of life which doesn’t rely on working every day to pay for rent, food and all the necessities to get by each month.
5. Greet people like a (friendly) dog
How good does it makes you feel when an excitable dog bounds up to you (as long as you aren’t scared of dogs)? Well, why not replicate that enthusiasm when you greet a friend, family member or colleague next time you see them – that you might not have seen for a few days. It will make them feel good and it will also make you feel good, as they mimic your behaviour.
I’ve got a friend that greets me like I’m Zeus every time he sees me and it makes me feel fucking fantastic. And with a huge grin, I repay the enthusiasm.
6. Overestimating yourself
It’s fairly common for humans to set unrealistic goals outlined to be achieved in one year. It’s probably almost as common that these goals are not achieved.
7. Underestimating yourself
In the same light, we grossly underestimate what we can achieve in 5 years.
Set bigger bolder goals, but give yourself some breathing room. Put these big goals, 5, 10, 15 years down the line.
8. Just start
Have a business idea? Don’t deliberate on it.
Get the ball rolling, start exploring the idea, learn what’s required to get it going. Reach out to people, share the idea & get some feedback. Think critically about the idea. What problem is it solving – is it really a problem? Is your offering different – how can it be different? What are the potential risks?
It’s a natural process to have an idea and to sit on it, but why not start – even if it’s just the mental exploration of the idea, this will help you become a better thinker.
Think its a good idea, then build it and find out quickly whether working and if not forget it and move onto the next one. Lesson learnt.
9. Don’t worry…
Honestly, do not worry. Plan, but do not worry.
There might be a problem, a public talk, wedding speech, financial concerns, family or friend issue. But worrying does not solve any them. If you plan for the situation you’ll be ready, and then forget it. Don’t let anxious thoughts on worse case scenarios creep in.. plan for them.
Equally, do not put your head in the sand and hope these issues, concerns or problems will go away. They won’t.
If you do not plan and you’ll set yourself up for the worst-case scenario.
10. Learn about personal finances
Step 1: Log your income and outgoings, save what you don’t spend and invest.
Step 2: Learn what’s important to invest in:
- Assets & liabilities
Read around all these subjects. How do they relate to personal finance?
Learning – the greater your understanding of a subject the better you will become and then work on increasing your income.
Assets & liabilities – understand what an asset is and what a liability is. Own assets that out weight the liabilities, rinse and repeat.
Time – your time is precious, avoid exchanging it for money.
Stocks – learn how the stock market works, and how to utilise it as a tool.
I love walking. For years I’ve walked everywhere if it’s an hours walk and I have the choice of walking or getting public transport… I’ll be walking. I grew up in Brighton (UK), and have always lived fairly centrally, meaning as it’s a small city, I can pretty much get anywhere by walking. I only bought my first car at 28. I think its a huge money drain owning a car (although very convenient) and the thought of depreciation bugs me immensely.
Almost all my ideas come from walking, I get a chance to listen, discuss, learn and create while I’m walking and it’s good for you. Its the best chance in the day to ‘meditate’, clear your mind and get away from the screen. I started in lockdown 2.0 walking 10k a day and making sure I hit my daily goals set by my Garmin Forerunner.
12. Don’t say sorry for the sake of saying sorry
Apologise when it’s necessary but don’t use ‘sorry’ anytime you feel that you’ve not lived up to someone’s expectations. A little late responding to an email, who cares.
Save the word for when it’s really needed.
13. Don’t fall for the shiny object
Many entrepreneurs have a constant feed of distractions, whether it be new tools, toys or ideas. I know as I suffer from the ‘ideas’ problem. Every few months I find something new to explore and although it’s a fun way to pass the evenings, it takes me away from running my main business. I really think I should focus on just one until it gets to a point, but I just can’t. This is my problem, but I can’t even take my own advice on this.
What’s your shiny object?
14. Feel fantastic every day
A quote I came across recently was one by Connor McGregor. I’m not a fan of MMA, but I admire the mental and physical preparation these sportspeople do to get ready for a fight. McGregor is also a great entertainer and openly talks a lot about how he approaches life, training and opponents. The quote was something mentioned in the ‘My First Million’ podcast and to be honest I can’t actually find the direct quote by McGregor, but they brought it up and it stuck with me. It went something like – ‘why not feel fantastic every day? You decide how you want to feel, so why not make it so you always feel great? People are always looking for an excuse to be miserable.’ Note: If anyone can point me the way of this quote so I can reference it properly, that would be appreciated.
I like this way of thinking and I think it’s very true, you often need to shift your mentality when not in a good mood. Don’t feel great? Ask yourself – why – and see what thinking happy, will likely change your mood.
I appreciate that there are mental health issues that go beyond this simple overview of how you feel, but for anyone who feels like they are having an off day, morning or hour – maybe try out this approach.
When it comes to finding a level of satisfaction in your life, I believe that building something can bring this. It doesn’t matter what you build or how others perceive it, you need to build something that you can step back from and take some pride in it forming. It can be a business, a family, a community, a bike, an excel doc. Whatever it is, take some pride and keep building.
It’s the backbone to humans evolution and whats taken us to where we are today and to Mars in the next phase.
16. Spare the luxuries
It’s always nice to treat yourself, especially when you start making money that allows you to buy what you want when you want, but learning restraint on luxuries is a powerful tool. The money you save now can bear greater fruit down the line if invested wisely.
The luxury item might give you momentary feelings of greatness, but it will be short-lived and you’ll likely go hunting for the next.
I’m a big believer in sharing knowledge for nothing. The internet is awash with information and you can near enough find whatever you need and this often (historically) down to selfless acts by people trying to help people.
18. Sleep on it
Had a bad day, a snotty response or someone’s given you attitude? Don’t respond at the moment in time, sleep on it. If you feel the same and you can’t shake the feeling after 3 days, then address the situation, but at least do so with a calmer mind.
19. Rule of 3
I like to use this rule for a range of practices. It’s a weird one, I always favour even numbers when choosing most things, where I have a wide range of numeric choices – sound volume, font size, pints of beer..
But the rule of 3 I like to stick to for marketing and spending on bigger items.
With the marketing aspect I focus things in 3;s 3 unique selling points, 3 images, 3 points I’m trying to outlay in an area
With spending, I like to work out the price point in ranges, daily income, weekly, monthly and yearly. I break this rule a lot, but it’s a good one to help think about with high-value purchases.
Buying a car, the value should equal no more than 3 months of income. Buying house 3 years income (very hard in the majority of the UK, but if you can do this, well, you won’t have a mortgage for very long. Jacket, 3 days income. I like jackets. You get the point, be sensible with your spending. Do you really want to pay for a car that is 1 years income? Maybe you are even more frugal than me and the car should be in the 3-day income, but for most this in unrealistic.
Listening is probably the most important and undermined skill that you can possess. The more you listen the more you learn. That’s not to say that you can’t learn from talking – quite the opposite. But you’re figuring stuff out with old data and reprocessing it to see how it works. Listening properly takes in new data to process and there’s more room for analysis.
21. Don’t outdo
If someone talks about something which they are proud to share, whether that’s an accomplishment or a story which they think is worthwhile sharing; try to avoid the next response being a ‘one-up’ on them. It will make them feel bad and do you no favours.
There will always be situations where it’s probably fitting to discuss achievements, but be wary of trying to outdo others around you.
22. Don’t get comfortable
Keep on moving. Don’t keep taking the path of least resistance. Challenge yourself constantly.
Why? You have one life – why would you not want to be a smarter, stronger, braver person than you were last year?
23. Work with quality
Don’t mistake low price for convenience. You may buy the cheaper washing up, but at 20% cheaper and lasting 50% less of the time, it’s only yourself you are fooling.
24. Tip your waiter
In the UK there are 3.2. million people who work in hospitality and it’s an unfortunate reality that the workforce is widely underpaid with many on minimum wage. I honestly think that something has gone massively wrong with this sector and needs to be shaken up. Workers in this industry work brutal, unsociable hours, are underpaid, lack protection on redundancy sick pay and holiday, treated poorly by punters and sometimes managers, as well as owners. Big companies utilise unfair practices in this industry and I think this needs investigating and putting a stop to.
Deemed a stepping stone job for many, and yes fairly unskilled labour, but this doesn’t mean that these industry workers should have to put up with the type of treatment.. even if it’s just a stepping stone. You can chuck in demand and supply stats to back up the poor pay, but I don’t that’s an excuse that should stand up.
I think if you are in a position to do so, you can do your part to improve others lives – tip and be nice to your server.
25. Don’t skimp on the details
I’ve tried to rush projects, doing stuff half-hearted and it never seems to pay dividends. That’s a lesson that I will never repeat.
The more you put in, the more you get out.
26. Don’t skip out on exercise
This is one I picked up from Matt Dvalgio. Don’t go for two days without exercise. Exercise needs to be routine and be a good habit. Miss a day, yes. But don’t skip two, as it’s a slippery slope which snowballs into 3 days and then 4.
27. Building habits is hard
Removing old ones is tougher. Just keep on trying.
28. Give forward
Often rich people talk about paying it back. I think this often easy when you have bucket loads of cash, but there is no reason you can’t provide your skills to others who don’t have the same skill set, without expecting anything in return.
My aunt shared with me her knowledge of building websites and helped me with getting my first one put together on Joomla(a tiny bit more technical knowledge needed in 2012 than nowadays plug-in and play, but still fairly straightforward and little coding understanding needed). So in this case, I’ve done the same 2/3 x over with other people looking to me for advice and no, I don’t expect anything in return.
29. Stop eating meat
I was a meat-eater until I was 25. It was normal for me and I didn’t think anything differently. I then watched Earthlings and started to explore how I felt about eating meat and the impact I was having on other living creatures, so I stopped.
I’m an animal lover and that’s why I choose to not consume meat, keep my dairy intake to a minimum and actively avoid products that cause harm to animals.
I’m not perfect but I try.
30. Keep exploring
This is 30 lessons that spring to mind for me that I’ve picked up in my 20’s. I could probably write 100’s, if not 1000’s if I tracked it carefully over the last ten years, but I haven’t. Hopefully, by my 40th I’ll have even more – the way I can do this is by constantly seeking out the new, testing myself and listening to others carefully.
31. Bonus – Resistance work
Technically it took me to get to 30 to get to this point, so I’m adding as a bonus.
For years I’ve stereotyped gym goers.. how dense do you have to be to go to a place to do a repetitive activity 4/5/6 times a week, for vanity. **looks at working week**. Recently I’ve really started to get lifting weights; I’ve tried it on and off for years and at every opportunity to stop, I have. It’s not to say I didn’t enjoy the release of endorphins, but the effort to make the gym part of the routine, was often a step too far and I found it easy to talk myself out of it.
Now I just do it, I don’t think about it and I can’t start to explain the benefits that it has had – improvements in my physical & mental wellness (these should be a good enough reason to convince anyone) can’t be denied My lower back has often caused me issues where it aches for 10 years.
Since I started doing deadlifts and kettlebell swings, I’ve built muscle in my posterior chain, where before I’ve had no reason to ever have any muscle in this area.
Therefore I think everyone should have a complete body resistance plan built into their routine. The obvious contenders to cover this is weight lifting and pilates, but I’d be more than happy to have some other suggestions.
32 Bonus, bonus
Don’t take life too seriously. Rules are meant to be broken.
I like to think that these are some rules or lessons that might help you, If you have any of your owns that you would like to share, please let me know in the comments.