For many, quarantine time is a slow time. On the other side of the spectrum, some people are working like madmen. One of my clients clocked 100 hours overtime in April. That’s no joke.
I guess I’m one of the lucky ones as I’ve been able to take advantage of this situation to establish a new exercise regiment, practice my photography, catch up on some movies, and, most importantly, think.
So often life gets in the way. We’re so busy doing things that we never take the time to just stop and think. When I was young, I always thought the secret to getting ahead was to work hard and so I did. I remember working seven days a week in my 20s. It seems so long ago.
I love my wife and son more than life itself, so no regrets, but all this extra time gave me a chance to reflect on my mistakes and if I were to do it all again, here’s what I’d tell myself.
1. Hard work is just one part of the equation
Bill Gates didn’t take a holiday off in his 20s. Mark Zuckerberg coded for 60 hours a week for five years building Facebook. For those looking for an easy way to success, think again.
2. Technology isn’t everything
There’s no denying that technology can help us boost productivity, increase our exposure, and help us in pretty much every area of our lives, but it isn’t everything. As Jim Rohn used to say, “Motivation alone is not enough if you have an idiot and you motivate him, now you have a motivated idiot.” You could replace motivation with technology and you’ll have pretty much the same problem.
3. Education is critical
My favorite Abraham Lincoln quote is, “Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the ax.” The ax works as a strength multiplier. In our world, education is that ax.
4. Find good teachers
7th-degree Karate instructor Andre Bertel put it best, “Go and find the best instructor you can find. Don’t go for a social club, enjoy the social side, but seek high-class Karate for yourself. Otherwise, you’re wasting your time, and even if you’re not wasting your time, you’re not maximizing your time. Maximize yourself, whatever it is you do.” Good teachers maximize both our time and energy.
5. Good health is underrated
When we’re young, we’re seemingly indestructible, but as we age, the aches and pains begin. The older we get; the more important stretching becomes. Sciatica was brutal and take it from me, yoga is more valuable (and tougher) than you might realize.
6. Ask yourself one very important question
Every great idea has come from one simple question – what do people need to be solved? Uber solved the frustration with public transportation. Airbnb gave people a more affordable option to hotels. Netflix said goodbye to Blockbuster. There will always be something people want to be solved; all you have to do is find it.
7. Reading unlocks the secrets of success
Tony Robbins often said in his lectures, “Success leaves clues.” I found out he was right. Many of the greatest salespeople, marketers, investors, and business people have taken the time to write books, all we have to do is read them. I love DVD training and seminars, but books are the real gems of any success library.
8. Planning is also underrated
I learned the hard way that a poor plan can be costly. Brian Tracy says this about planning, “Every minute you spend in planning saves 10 minutes in execution.” Don’t skimp on planning.
9. Trust is the X-Factor
Stephen M.R. Covey had a great equation that’s worth remembering – (S × E)T = R ([Strategy times Execution] multiplied by Trust equals Results).” Never underestimate the power of trust.
10. Focus on your strengths
We only have so much time to invest, so rather than being a jack of all trades and master of none, focus on what you’re good at. Me – I learned a young age that education was mine. I just didn’t realize that my real talent lay in productivity not English teaching.
11. Stay humble
The best advice my wife ever gave me – stay humble. Humble people are confident enough in their own skin to admit they don’t know everything and are willing to seek out help. They don’t hog the limelight, they just do what needs to be done.
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Photo courtesy iStock.