Isn’t life interesting? I never imagined becoming a time management consultant, writing for some of the world’s biggest online publications, marrying a Japanese woman or making Japan my home. But that’s where I find myself today. How did I get here?
Like many high school students, I didn’t really have any idea of what I wanted to do. I could have cared less about advanced algebra (though I was decent at it) or “classics” such as Waiting for Godot. All I wanted to do was graduate and get on with life.
That all changed the summer of my junior year. I was required to do some volunteer work but my choices were limited. I decided to teach English to foreign students, and ended up really enjoying it.
That’s what brought me back to Japan after I graduated from college. The first years of my career I was a kid’s English teacher at a small school in Osaka. While I loved it, I wanted more so I joined a franchise and my entrepreneurial journey began, I just never realized where it would take me.
Meeting the woman of my dreams, narrowly escaping the tsunami that came ashore back in 2004 and a failed business venture all played a part in me changing course. However, whether I find myself talking to executives at a multinational company, giving a presentation to large groups or helping individuals transform their lives, the one constant is learning.
I love to learn, and I love helping people learn. Over the past 28 years, I have come to believe there are nine great teachers of life. If you’re looking for answers, chances are you’ll find them somewhere in this list.
I was lucky enough to have traveled around the world at a young age, and it opened my eyes to so many things. Language, culture, freedom, food, habits. While Sting sang, “An Englishman in New York,” I found myself in Manila, Bangkok and Los Angeles, not at all like the small town I lived back in England. I remember hanging out with my best friends in high school and looking around the table it was interesting – Holland, Malaysia, Austria, Canada, Bangladesh, Sweden, American and myself.
We are told in school failing is bad. But we all know we can’t win at everything. Take it from Michael Jordan “I’ve missed more than 9,000 shots in my career. I’ve lost almost 300 games. 26 times I’ve been trusted to take the game winning shot and missed. I’ve failed over and over and over again in my life. And that is why I succeed.” The sooner we realize that failing is part of success, the stronger we’ll become. Failure teaches us powerful lessons. Remember “The strongest steel is forged by the fires of hell.”
3.Other People’s Failure
There’s no need to recreate the wheel. There are hundreds of stories of people who have failed before us, and if we’re smart, we can save ourselves a lot of heartache by listening to their stories. We’ll still make our own mistakes, but through learning how other people dealt with failure increases the chances of our success.
If there’s one quote that sums up my feelings about books it has to be “Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers,” by Harry Truman. I must admit I didn’t get reading when I was in school, but when I heard this quote it made me realize why every million-dollar house has a library.
While I love books, videos have surpassed them in their ability to educate. While most people use YouTube to watch cat videos or their favorite band’s new video. YouTube is one of the greatest sources of knowledge ever. Want to learn Excel, they’ve got it. Need help designing your company logo on Photoshop, no problem. Spanish, check. While I love Udemy, YouTube is a great place to start out.
Brian Tracy taught me to turn my car into “a mobile classroom.” Beyonce out, Tony Robbins in. Forget the Top 40, instead I learned about great leaders such as Winston Churchill and Julius Caesar. Whether it’s podcasts, lectures or audiobooks, your commute can be one of the best productivity secrets there is.
The greatest thing about mentors is they have done what you want to do. They know what to do, and possibly more importantly, what not to do. Mistakes can be costly and having a mentor to guide you in your journey is the best way to improve your chances at success.
Mark Twain once said, “When I was a boy of 14, my father was so ignorant I could hardly stand to have the old man around. But when I got to be 21, I was astonished at how much the old man had learned in seven years.” I always loved that quote. While in our teens, our peers and idols become the biggest influence in our lives, as young children, parents are the greatest source of knowledge. They form so much of our formative years. Our language and philosophy are greatly influenced by our parents as children seek love from their parents. With so much influence parents would do well to remember what Stan Lee wrote in Spiderman, “With great power comes great responsibility.”
Isn’t ironic that while parents are entrusted with teaching their children how to live in our world, that they end up teaching us so much about ourselves. They act as mirrors. Showing us a clearer image of ourselves if we’re only willing to see. I find it funny when many parents are genuinely surprised to learn their kid has a bad attitude or doesn’t do well in class. Wonder where that came from? Sure, movies and their peers do play a part, but their biggest influence is always their parents.