I am going to tell you a short story about a kid with a dream. This dream may have started with being a professional athlete or becoming the richest man in the world. But all of these goals were simply facades. Like many of us, the boy wanted to be recognized, he wanted to feel important and to be loved. This kid has been trying to accomplish this dream for the last twenty four years. From a young age, the boy was physically gifted and wouldn’t take no for an answer. He would never give up and always thought that he could accomplish the task at hand The boy had two older brothers and the boy always competed with them, he wanted to prove to them and others that he was just as important as them. This desire built an ego like no other. The boy had a chip on his shoulder and wanted to prove to the world that he mattered. He thought that everyone was against him and he used this to fuel his inner fire. It worked very well at times, it forced him to work as hard as possible. This ego convinced him to become stronger than the rest of his peers, he wanted to prove everyone wrong. But his ego also blinded and lied to him. As the boy turned into a man, his ego continued to corrupt and deceive him.
I was that ego driven asshole, but luckily I was gifted with a loving family that kept me in check. Over the last twenty four years I have experienced the ups and downs of life. Like many of us, at times I felt like I had it all figured out and then the next day I couldn’t even recognize myself in the mirror. A couple months ago I came across a blog post from one of my favorite authors, Ryan Holiday. The post was written on his 29th birthday and covered 29 pieces of life changing advice. (Read Here) After reading the post, I realized that I, too, should write a similar post. Over the years I have found writing to be my saving my grace. Writing has allowed me to dive deeper into my soul and figure out who I am. Now, I am not saying I have this life figured out, but I believe I have grown as an individual over the years and I feel it is my obligation to share this information with you.
#1 You Can’t Make It Alone In this World
Every time I have achieved success in this life, it has been due to a solid supporting cast. I have never done anything on my own. I would not be anywhere without the help of my family and friends. My parents have be there for me every single time I needed them. Both my parents have made more sacrifices then I could ever imagine. To me, my parents are superheroes. Both of my parents were able to work hard enough to put food on the table and send their three sons to college. They did this through hard work and persistence. I could be mistaken, but in my opinion, neither one of my parents ever landed their dream job, but they put that aside and worked their asses off so that their family could experience a life of luxury. I can’t thank them enough for what they did for me. I am so lucky to be in a situation where I can get paid to do a job I love. So to my mom and dad, thank you for everything.
#2 Your Environment Will Determine Your Future
When I was growing up, my brother Justin always told me to choose my friends wisely. He would tell me that the people you surround yourself with most will have the biggest impact on your life. At the time I dismissed this information and thought that I was different, I thought that I had more control over my life then everyone else.
Oh how wrong I was!
Over the last five years I have realized more and more how important your friends are. They influence every behavior you have and will determine how successful you will be. A good rule to live by that I got from Ryan Holiday’s book, “Ego Is The Enemy” is the rule of three. In order to become successful it is imperative that you have a mentor, competition and a student. The mentor is there to teach you and keep you on track. The competition is there to motivate you and build companionship so that you can test yourself to see if you are getting better. The student is there to learn from you and for you to practice teaching.
“He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed.”- Proverbs 13:20, Solomon
If I have learned one thing in this life it is that you will be a student and a teacher until the day you die, and once you stop learning is the day you die.
#3 Life Is Going To Suck At Times and At Times It Will Be Pure Bliss
Let’s face it, life is going to blow at times, and at times life is going to be great. The key to a successful life is accepting that life is going to be crappy at times and not overreacting to the negative. We don’t have to be happy 24/7 nor should we, but we also shouldn’t cling on to our emotions either. Those emotions are symbols, telling us that something is wrong and that we need to change something. Instead of hiding from these pains, embrace them and figure out what the fuck is going on. Remember, you aren't entitled to anything, you have to earn happiness and just because you have the newest IPhone doesn't mean you will feel better at yourself. It may make you feel better for a week, but eventually those highs will always come back down. If you continually chase these external highs than your life is going to be fucking miserable. I had to learn this the hard way and lose close to five thousand dollars. When I was a sophomore in college, about 19 years old, I became addicted to gambling and lost a lot of money over the course of the year. I wasn't doing it for the money, I just wanted to feel important and prove to people that I was a winner. However, each time I won, the feeling was fleeting and I constantly craved the next week. I kept chasing my next high until I came to my senses (thanks mom) and put it to a stop. If you want to enjoy a life of happiness then you have to embrace your insecurities and develop a plan that can fix them. For me it was addressing the insecurity of constantly feeling important and I addressed it through writing, reading and meditation, but, I still haven't fixed this insecurity completely, it is an ongoing process, a process that I welcome with a smile. I came to these conclusions because of the book "The Subtle Art Of Not Giving A Fuck" by Mark Manson and in the book Mark asks the reader a simple question, "What are you willing to struggle for?" . You too, must ask yourself the same question because the challenges we face in life are what make it wonderful.
#4 Take Extreme Ownership
I still haven’t read the book, “Extreme Ownership” by Jocko Willink, but I have tested this philosophy in real life and it works. It seems so simple, but I struggled this for the longest time and I believe most of us struggle with it. We constantly blame others for our mistakes and never want to take blame for our failures and flaws. However, this is the ego deceiving us, not allowing us to realize that we are the problem. I used to blame others for my “bad luck” or for my lack of opportunities, but I have realized that it was all my fault and no one else's. Now this doesn’t mean you change everything about your life when you fail. Rather, you be honest with yourself, take responsibility and see how you can improve what you did. In my opinion, the day you stop learning is the day you die, so take ownership of your life and get back to work.
#5 Practice Makes Permanent/ Patience Is A Virtue
Humans beings are the most adaptable species on this earth. Our minds and bodies adapt to everything we do. If you sit in a chair all day then your body will reflect that. If you experience negative thoughts all the time then that will be your mindset. Habits are formed through consistency and persistence. Most of us don't realize how long it took for a habit to form and grow frustrated when it takes longer than a month to form a new one. Do you remember how long it took us to learn how to walk or ride a bike? Maybe I grew up a little slower, but I know I didn’t learn how to ride a bike over night nor did I learn how to walk in a day. It sounds cliche, but new skills take time to develop and when we are younger we don’t worry about how long it takes, we just focus on obtaining the skill. We tend to forget how long it took us to acquire new skills as a kid because when we were younger we had nothing to do. We had no schedules, all we had to do was learn how to ride a bike or even walk. When I was kid I got fixated on one thing and only did that thing until I got better at it. I think we need to get back to this behavior and focus on one thing at time. Nevertheless, this practice must focus on quality over quantity because every bad repetition will push you further from your goals and every good repetition will push you closer.
#6 Be First
This is a simple, but proficient quote I heard on the TIm Ferris Podcast by professional volleyball player Gabrielle Reece. During the podcast she stated that her life mantra is to "Be First". It can be as simple as smiling and saying hi to a stranger. Since hearing this I have adopted it and it has made my life much more enjoyable. My whole life I always waited for someone to smile or say hi at me. But then you are being reactive and not in control of your life. By going first you take control of your life and become more confident. In my opinion, having confidence in oneself is the most important trait you can have. I am not talking about the ego and being cocky, I am referring to quiet confidence. When a person has quiet confidence they are humble and don't need external recognition. They are disciplined and know what they need to do, the recognition they strive for comes from the rules and goals they set for themselves. Give it a try, be first, go out and be the first one to say hi and smile at someone. Be the first one to say the thought you are thinking and don't worry about the repercussions. After all, you won't know if you are wrong until you try.
#7 Listen More, Talk Less
Do you remember the award you won your senior year of highschool? They offered best hair, class flirt, best dressed, most athletic, and most talkative. There are many more but I am far too lazy to type out every single award, but I digress. If you have ever met me then I am sure you could guess which award I won. Yup, I won most talkative. Here’s the thing, growing up as a kid I had a speech impediment and struggled to speak clearly. I had to attend speech therapy for a couple years and ever since then I have always be shy and afraid to talk to others. As I got older, I realized I needed to overcome this fear and to do that I went out of my way to talk to everyone I met. And it worked very well, I am quite comfortable talking to people now, but I have realized that people don't enjoy someone who constantly talks. In order for a conversation to run smoothly there has to be a give and a take. One person talks and the other listens and then it switches back and forth. I will be honest, I love talking because I love teaching, but in order to be a great teacher you must be a student. And the only way to be a student is to actively listen. You must actually listen. Don't pretend to listen or think about the next thing you are going to say, just focus on the person in front of you and listen to every word they say. Once they finish, take a moment to think and then respond accordingly. Think before you speak, it is so simple and profound but we hardly ever do it. It is my goal to become a better listener and the easiest way to do that is taking the time to think before speaking.
#8 Discipline Is Freedom
This is another quote from Jocko Willink that has changed my life. Most people think you can't enjoy a life of pleasure and luxury if you live a disciplined life. This couldn't be further from the truth. In my 24 years on this planet I have found that the most disciplined people tend to be the most successful. I have stated this numerous times in previous blogs, but it is worth mentioning again. Humans are fickle minded creatures and rely on momentum and emotions to get them through their day. This type of lifestyle will only work for so long and will have its ups and downs. There will be days you will feel like the king of the world and then days where you feel like the jester. I for one do not want this up and down lifestyle. I would much rather be in control of my lifestyle and discipline is the answer. You must create a plan and have rules to live by or you will never amount to anything. Do not rely on motivation and willpower to get you through the day, those things are finite and will only last so long. Rely on discipline and only discipline.
#9 Find A Mentor In Life
I can't stress this one enough, finding a mentor, coach or teacher to look up to will make your life much easier. Your goal should be to find someone who is successful in your field and mimic what they do. This person can be online or in person and it doesn't have to be one or the other, you can have multiple mentors. Some of my mentors are: Tim Ferris, Eric Cressey, Joe Rogan and there are many more. I have never met any of them but I read their articles and listen to their podcasts on a daily basis. These podcasts, articles and books have transformed my life and turned me into the person I am today. In today's world, information and knowledge can be obtained in seconds. There are no more excuses, you have the capability to do and be anything you want. Most likely someone has already achieved the thing you want, so take the time to find out who that person is and do exactly what they did, it is as simple as that.
As Lord Chesterfield said to his son,
“Surely it is of great use to a young man, before he sets out for that country, full of mazes, windings, and turnings, to have at least a general map of it, made by some experienced traveler.”
#10 Become Sober
No, I am not talking about restraining from drugs, tequila or anything fun like that. I am referring to the ego and humility. Growing up I let my ego get the best of me and make my decisions for me. The ego can be very powerful at times and help you achieve success, but it is for the short term only. I have realized that the ego craves gratification and the best way to destroy the ego is through delaying gratification. I will be honest, I still struggle with my ego on a regular basis. Everyday I am working on it and trying to see things from different perspectives. There was a quote from the book, “ Ego Is The Enemy” by Ryan Holiday that summed it up perfectly. The quote was said by one of the civil war’s greatest general, William Sherman,
“Be natural and yourself and this glittering flattery will be as the passing breeze of the sea on a warm summer day”
In essence, if you continue to be true to yourself and express the real you, then you won’t be attached to the flattery nor will you crave it. The best way to do this is to be brutally honest with yourself and with others. It has taken me 24 years to realize this, and it has changed my life. We can't be afraid to be angry or upset toward others and we can’t apologize for upsetting someone just because they disagree with our opinions and ideas. However, we should have genuine, and honest intentions because I believe that is the right thing to do. And this is why it is important to surround yourself with smart, honest people because if you ever step out of line your family and friends will be there to let you know.
There you have it, my top 10 lessons that I have learned in this crazy life. I want to thank all my close friends and family for their continuous support and to everyone else who comments and follows me on social media. I can't thank you guys enough for all the feedback, advice and support.
Have a Happy Thanksgiving everyone and enjoy the holidays.