This morning I was writing a blog entry at a local coffee shop here in Austin when a young man approached me. “You’re Marc, right?” he asked.
I looked up at him. He had bright blue eyes and a big smile, but nothing that rang a bell. “I’m sorry. Have we met?” I inquired politely.
“No,” he replied. “But I feel like I know you.” He held up his iPad and on the screen was Marc and Angel Hack Life. “You look just like your photo,” he said in a cheerful tone.
I smiled, we shook hands, and then accepting my invitation, he sat down at my table. Due to the modest success of our blog, most young twenty-something’s who randomly approach Angel and me want to know more about our blog, or about our sources of inspiration, but this young man immediately jumped to a different topic.
“So, I’m working on a college speech project entitled ‘Offbeat Advice,’” he said. “And I thought it would be cool to cover offbeat advice successful people wish they knew sooner in life.”
I smiled again and then we chatted for about a half-hour. I answered his questions as best as I could, and tried to give decent advice in the short time we spent together. But on the walk home I realized our conversation really intrigued me and had me thinking, “What other pieces of offbeat advice do I wish I knew sooner?”
So I sat back down when I got home, I powered on my laptop and opened the word processor I use for blogging. After gazing at the blank white screen for several minutes, I placed my fingers on the keyboard and titled the page, “7 Pieces of Offbeat Advice I Wish I Knew Sooner.”
1. Wisdom is not about knowing all the answers.
It’s not the answers you get from others, or even the ones you formulate, that will help you in the long run. It’s the simple questions you ask yourself on a regular basis that will determine the type of person you become. Wisdom is about asking the right questions.
Regardless of your age or stature, life is always filled with unanswered questions. It is the courage to ask these questions and adventurously seek the answers that continues to give life meaning. Have patience with everything that remains unresolved in your heart. Try to love the unanswered questions themselves. Do not demand all the answers; they cannot be given to you because you have to live through them. It is a matter of experiencing everything. Only when you do will you gradually, perhaps without even noticing it, find yourself arriving at the answers you seek. (I discuss this process in more detail in the Goals and Success chapter of 1,000 Little Things Happy, Successful People Do Differently.)
2. You have to do lots of things you aren’t good at to grow.
If you do what you have always done, you will get the same results you have been getting. If you want to stunt your growth and feel stuck in the same place forever, keep making excuses. If, on the other hand, you want to stop feeling trapped, you have to start doing things that make you uncomfortable, things you aren’t very good at. You have to streeeetch yourself.
There is no excuse for remaining stuck. There is no excuse for doing the same things over and over again. Life is too short. Ask yourself if what you’re doing today is getting you closer to where you want to be tomorrow.
The day is rapidly approaching when the risk to remain perched in your nest is far more detrimental than the risk it takes to fly. Fly! Spread your wings. Start now. What a disgrace it would be for you to grow old without ever seeing the beauty and strength of your full potential.
3. Everything you own has an emotional cost of ownership.
No matter what you own there is a maintenance cost. We can speak in dollars – insurance, taxes and interest. Or even in time – cleaning, updating and protecting. But the hardest maintenance cost for most people is simply sentimental value.
We transfer our feelings and memories onto an object and decide we can’t let go because we’ll risk losing the feeling or memory. Before long, we become surrounded by these visual reminders of our memories and no longer have room to make new ones. It’s hard to move forward in your life when your past is crowding your present.
The answer, of course, is to get rid of some of this stuff. But that’s way easier said than done. We often need to be compelled to do this with a move or a lifestyle change. Imagine how much richer life would be if you moved the junk out and made room for new opportunities instead of grudgingly making room only when it was forced upon you. (Read The Joy of Less.)
4. Flaws are beautiful and likeable.
Nothing is perfect; the world itself is not perfect. But we’re all here living for our dreams and each other, trying the very best we can. And that’s what makes us so darn beautiful. The little things about you that you think are your flaws are often the reasons others fall in love with you.
Accept your flaws. Admit your mistakes. Don’t hide and don’t lie. Deal with the truth, learn the lessons, endure the consequences of reality, and move on. Your truth won’t penalize you. The mistakes won’t hurt you. The denial and cover-up will. Flawed and vulnerable people are beautiful and likable. Liars and phonies are not. Every beautiful human being is made entirely of flaws, stitched together with good intentions and finished with unique edges.
5. The things you do for fun can pay the bills if you do them right.
Work, if it is interesting, is a stimulant. It’s worry and a lack of interest in what you’re doing that drains and discourages you. Every one of us should have our hobbies and side interests – as many as we can handle efficiently and happily. Our interests should never be allowed to lag or get cold so that all enthusiasm and passion is wasted. Each day can be a success if you feed your interests as graciously as they feed you.
Happiness is found where interests and capabilities intersect. If you do what you love and then master it so you can do it much better than anyone else you know, it is entirely possible to make a living from it. Even better, you will not get tired out from working when your work interests you. The key is to find the point at which what you love, what you’re good at, and what people will pay for, intersect.
6. Some of the most unpleasant people just need a little love.
Provide support when it makes sense, even when people are cold and unfriendly. Some people are rude and complain as a way of crying for help. They may not be conscious of it though, so their comments come across as attacks rather than requests.
Show a little love and concern. Do something nice for them. Just a simple “Are you okay?” or “Is there anything I can do to help you?” can do wonders in certain situations. Resist the urge to judge or assume. It’s hard to offer compassion when you assume you have them figured out. Let them know they are not alone. People overcome the forces of negative emotions, like anger and hatred, when the counter-forces of love and support are in full effect. (Read The Mastery of Love.)
7. Sometimes the best thing you can do is nothing at all.
Sometimes you need to be alone… not to be lonely, but to enjoy some free time just breathing and being YOU.
In order to be one with your relationships and life’s work, you have to turn away from the busyness of the world for a while. You need to find solitude to refuel. You must become so alone that you withdraw into your innermost self. You must do nothing at all, except to be still with the moment.
You need to ponder your successes and failures in seclusion; you need the sunshine and the moonlight to warm you without companions to distract you, without the ongoing banter, face to face with your inner core, with only the sound of your heartbeat for company.
The floor is yours…
What would you add to the list? What do you wish you understood sooner in life? Please leave a comment below and let us know.
Photo by: Trey Ratcliff