Advice to a younger self…


On Episode 205 of Joe Polish’s “I Love Marketing” podcast he did an interview with myself and three other entrepreneurs on a plane ride from St. Louis, MO to Manchester, NH. This is the last in a series of stories where I will dive a little deeper into the answers I gave to the questions Joe asked. His last question to the group was, “If you could look back in your life and give advice to your 18, 19, 20 year old self, what would it be? Looking back to your past self what advice would you have given your past self that would have either reduced a tremendous amount of suffering or accelerated your learning, would have allowed you to have more joy and happiness, that sort of thing.”

For himself, Joe mentioned the one piece of advice I tell everyone trying to get further in life. It is the one line from a song that itself is about advice:

Do one thing every day that scares you. Baz Luhrmann — Everybody’s Free (to Wear Sunscreen)

I have no data to support it but perhaps growing up as an only child, in a very rural area, helped in building my ability to do more listening than talking. Thus, I don’t think it is something that I needed to learn, because it is who I am, but if you listen more than you talk then you will find life gets a little easier. From the perspective of trying to give the gift to my children or somebody else I would say try to understand your weaknesses perhaps even more than your strengths — and that is not to say that you are going to be able to do anything about your weaknesses. If it is a core aspect of who you are, and you just suck at something, you may not be able to be ever good at it. Yet, if you know what you are bad at you can find people that you will work with that are outstanding at your weakness — and when you come together that makes a team that is unstoppable. In summary, the advice to myself younger self on this subject would be to not think of listening more than talking as a being a bad thing. It many ways it is a super power that allowed me to get where I am today. Unrelated to the interview I recently read “Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking” by Susan Cain and found myself thinking, “Good God — are we really that messed up about the meaning of introvert vs. extrovert?

In writing this story I remembered another piece of advice I heard in 1999 from Joseph McClendon III, Tony Robbins No.1 Performance Coach. It was a story he told aloud back then and in asking him just recently if it was written down anywhere his reply was, “Unfortunately I do not have that in written form. Most of the time it is of the cuff and I’m in the flow.” I wish I could remember his words exactly but it went something like this —

Imagine yourself going back in your past having the chance to see all of the moments that made up your life to where it is today. See the friends around you today and remember where you first met them — some you may have only known for a short time and others you may have shared most of your life with. Remember how you wound up living where you are and what that move was like. What are you most proud of now — your family? Your job? Maybe what you have learned over the years. How did you meet your spouse? Remember all of those good times you have had together. Remember the bad times too — how have they made your relationship stronger? How did you wind up driving the car you have now — what about the last accident you were in — I know you were in at least one. What are you most proud of? Go back further in time before your career. Remember your school friends. Remember the people who didn’t like you? Remember the subjects you liked and the ones you didn’t. Dating, your first kiss, your first boy friend or girl friend. How about your first car? What were you eating back then? — I bet it is different today. What was your neighborhood like? Remember all that free time you had. Go back before school. Can you remember what your home was like? Remember where you played. Visualize that world in your mind. Look around to those familiar places and find your favorite one. Do you see a child there? Pick that child up and hug it with all of the love you have inside until you are one with that soul. Then realize that child is you. Before you let go take the time to tell that young soul, “It’s going to be all right.” Then let go and remember how far you have come. Enjoy and be thankful for that moment. Your life is a gift to you. What you do with it is your gift to God. Become the miracle you seek.

Yes, thinking about it now probably the best advice I could give to my younger self is, it is going to be all right. Divorce, death, and even high school, were all somehow meant to be on the trail leading to the here and now.

(Originally posted on Medium)