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41x41 Life Lessons

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Last year I commemorated the countdown to my 40th birthday by sharing #40x40lifelessons each day until my birthday. I just shared a different lesson learned on my journey thus far. 

Well, despite being super-busy this year, I’ve opted to do it again with #41x41LifeLessons as I prepare for my 41st revolution around the sun. So without further ado here they are all in one place. 


41.  There's a difference between talking AT someone and talking TO someone. 

A lot of people talk just to hear their own voice or to feel like they’re somehow in control of the room. But a true #conversation happens when both parties are active listeners as well as talkers. There’s engagement and multiple layers to the convo that both add to. This goes for personal conversations the same as professional ones. Oftentimes I’ve seen managers treat conversations with employees more as speeches than an honest back and forth with mutual #respect for the thoughts and opinions of the other person. They’re talking on autopilot which makes the person who’s supposed to be listening just tune out. I know that I hate talking to someone who’s looking at their phone or somehow distracted because if they won’t give me the courtesy of their #attention then why should I and vice versa. So what I’ve learned is to be an active listener and always demand the same in return. 

40. Don’t make excuses; give reasons. 

I credit this one to former boss turned friend @delcarmen75. #HappyBirthday She told me from day one that #excuses aren’t valid #reasons. When you make excuses you’re not taking #accountability for your own actions or lack thereof. But a reason is different. Reasons are a succinct and clear answer as to why. You’re not late for work because the train was delayed, it’s because you didn’t wake up early enough to account for the delays that are bound to happen. The same can be said for someone who says they’re cheated because they were drunk or high. No, alcohol is just an excuse for actions you chose to take. The reason you cheated is because you put yourself in a situation where it could happen. You were hanging out with someone you know you shouldn’t have and added liquor to the situation just made things worse. See, blaming the train or alcohol in either scenario is just passing the buck and not owning the part you played in your lateness or #infidelity. The lesson to take from this is be #honest with yourself and others about what you do and why. 

39. There are two kind of people in this world: Those who walk up the escalator and those who stand in the way. 

It always amazes me when people see a broken escalator and act as if their legs are now somehow broken. Like climbing a flight of stairs is some novel idea. Sure people get tired and appreciate the assistance that these mechanical stairs provide but don’t become so #dependent on outside forces to execute tasks you’re more than capable of doing. Don’t take the easy way out. Metaphorically speaking view the escalator as a tool to help you reach your #goals faster not the crutch that slows you down or worse yet trains you to stand still while others continue to pass you by. #KeepClimbing or you’re bound to fall behind. 

38. Time doesn't care if you're done yet. 

You can't be upset at the #sunset. It comes every day and we all know this. So it shouldn’t come as a surprise when a day comes to an end faster than you want it to. We all have 24 hours in each day to accomplish what we want. If you choose to waste time doing frivolous or non productive things instead of what was on your to-do list that isn’t anyone else’s fault but your own. Live in the moment but be sure to seize the day. As my man @iamgvg always says #EnjoyTheSeconds because every one counts especially when you got things to do. 

37. Some people expect the worst; others prepare for it. 

Sh*t happens. There’s no way around that simple fact of #life. Not every day is going to be great but at the same time they’re not all going to bad (hopefully). Regardless of what the day has in store for me I’m always prepared for the worst case scenario. I’m constantly thinking about #tomorrow and the several tomorrows after that. Being prepared for surprises allows you the luxury of not being as overwhelmed or frantic as you could be otherwise. Over the course of my career several jobs have lost me (I prefer that outlook rather than saying “I lost my job”) and as unfair, undeserved or unjust the decision was it was always an option. Rather than wallow in hurt feelings or #negativity I simply intact one of my many Plan Bs. No matter how comfortable I am I continue to #network, spend and save wisely, and think about the future. Every other day I ask myself: How can I retire off of what I’m doing today? I don’t have the answer yet but at least I’m asking the question. Are you?

36.  Relevancy is currency. 

Never allow yourself to become #obsolete. You should always be #learning as much as you can so you remain relevant because those who are not are eventually replaced. If you leave a job or relationship with no new skills, talents or knowledge that means you have not evolved and essentially wasted time in that situation. Don't become comfortable or complacent. Always strive for more: Ask questions, do research and make sure that you are the best you you can be always because there’s no greater value than your own self worth. Others recognizing that is just a bonus. 

35. Manhood is not measured by what’s between one’s legs. 

This goes for women the same as it does for men, but so often we define ourselves by our #sexuality. Sex is great and we all desire it at some point in our lives but it’s not the end all be all of life or what makes me a “man” outside of biology. The measure of my manhood should not be gauged by my dick but how much I don’t treat those in my life as a dick. If all a man or a woman has to offer you is good sex then that’s all you’re going to get. If those are your #standards then more power to you, but most adults I know are looking for much more. Serious #relationships revolve around serious things and characteristics that evoke #confidence, stability, good #conversation and honesty. If finding “the one” was all about sex we’d have all met him/her a dozen times over, but it’s about finding a #partner who provides all of the above AND great sex. The point being that being good in bed doesn’t make you a good husband, wife, father or mother but being a good person does. 

34. Don't burn bridges. Instead blaze trails. 

I don’t make a habit of making enemies. It’s just not in my DNA to hold #grudges. (Although my dad, pictured, was a particularly sore spot for quite some time). That doesn’t mean I forget those who have burned me in the past but holding on to #hate doesn’t do me any good. Neither does me purposefully doing wrong by others. Life is full of many twists and turns and oftentimes we cross paths with those from our pasts along the way and sometimes those who were at one time behind you are now on equal footing or in a position of power that can help or hurt you. So if you were rude to that receptionist or intern back in the day and he or she is now the plug, they can potentially block your #blessing or help them come to fruition. So be good to everyone you interact with and always remain #humble or life might do it for you. 

33. Don't make poor decisions and then be mad at the results. 

Too many times people are quick to #blame others or the universe for their own missteps in life. While some things are out of our control there are several things leading up to that moment that are about choices. If you go to bed super-late don’t be mad that you’re tired. If you don’t #workout and change your diet then don’t expect to lose weight. If you feed a #mogwai after midnight don’t be surprised that it turned into a #Gremlin. It’s all cause and effect. If you do something counterproductive to your #goals then you can’t expect a positive result and complaining about it is pointless unless you’re ready to own up to your poor choices. Nothing fruitful happens without proper effort so put some into achieving your goals or shut the hell up until you do. #ToughLove

32. Sometimes life is less about your wants and more about your responsibilities. 

Every adult has to come to terms with the idea that there are things you have to do vs. those you want to do. The latter is all about #desire, while the former speaks to #responsibilities. As an #independent adult of a certain age I don’t have the luxury of living exclusively in the world of want. Sure I have the independence to indulge in my #passions but there are bills I have to pay, rules I have to follow, and tasks I have to complete. If not, my world would crumble. Since I like my world very much I do all the things necessary to keep it intact even if that means sometimes putting wants to the side for the greater good of the needs. I’ve never been a morning person and as much as I want to sleep in everyday I have to get up and go to work five days out of the week. And as the #father of a #toddler, I have to be up at various hours of the morning (and night) regardless of how little sleep I’ve had because #fatherhood is a responsibility I don’t take lightly. As the #breadwinner of my #family I understand that bills, diapers, college savings and a host of other responsibilities come before my own desires. Ultimately it’s by taking care of those needs first that I even have the ability to address my wants. It’s all about having your #priorities in order. That’s why my motto is we before me. #WordsToLiveBy

31. Never get too comfortable.

Whether you’re in a #job or a #relationship complacency can lead to irrelevance. Always look to #challenge yourself in any situation that you’re in. To do otherwise means you’re not evolving and in nature those who fail to #adapt to their environment are the ones who go extinct. In work as in love, if you don’t fight for your position then surely you’ll lose it for lack of trying. Oftentimes when we get too comfortable we stop putting the same effort as we did in the beginning because we take the #opportunity of even being there for granted. In fact, we no longer look at the job or relationship as an opportunity at all. It falls into the background and becomes something we always think will be there. But believing that someone or something you don’t treat as a #priority will continue to make you one is not only foolish but blindly conceited. #StayUncomfortable

30. Sometimes imperfect is better than I'm perfect. 

A #perfectionist by nature it’s hard for me to come to terms with the fact that I’ll never be “perfect.” That term can mean different things for different person, but regardless of your definition it’s an unattainable status. No matter how flawless a person may seem on the outside looking in—whether real or imagined—there’s always something that can be considered a “flaw.” But pointing out inadequacies is not the point here (nor is it productive). Regardless of what we like or dislike about ourselves we should all still #love ourselves. Here’s a shot of me on vacation a few years ago that isn’t my most flattering moment—in fact it’s one of the images that got me in the gym consistently —but I was comfortable in my skin even if I didn’t look like the next man. But comparing oneself to another is pointless because there can only be one you and you’re the best you there is. Don’t ever let anyone else take your shine and most definitely don’t take it away from yourself. We’re all imperfect creatures in one way or another but it’s by accepting that reality that we truly achieve the only state of perfection that matters: self-love. #TransformationTuesday on a Sunday

29. Sometimes it takes more strength to ask for help than it does to do it yourself. 

I hate asking for help. As an only child for the first decade of my life I learned how to be self-sufficient early on. My life experiences have also taught me that most people aren’t as reliable as you’d like them to be. With that said, I tend to take care of things myself but we all can’t do it alone. There are times when a team of one just isn't enough. You have to swallow your #pride and stubbornness and accept the #help of others. Or, harder yet, actually ask for help. If not, you’re only sentencing yourself to #fail unnecessarily in misery. Needing help shouldn’t be seen as a sign of weakness but when you’re dealing with frail #egos—male or otherwise—it’s easy to lose sight of what’s real. As men were taught to be strong providers and when the realities of life don’t fit those societal paradigms we’re often left in conflicting states of defined #manhood. But It’s not just men who deal with this as women have egos and independency hangups too, but when we’re able to experience the joys of collaboration without judgement is when we gain a greater understanding of the power of help. The key is not to become reliant on the assistance of others but to know when to check your ego and accept that helping hand. 

28. Treat everyone with the same respect you wish to receive. 

Money, jobs and friends come and go but #respect is something that never comes back once it’s lost. A lot of times people mistakenly view their status as the ultimate form of social capital but respect ultimately holds much more weight. I’ve worked for a lot of people over the years but the ones I’ve been ride or die for are the ones I’ve genuinely respected not for what they do but who they are. If ever you feel someone in #power is not the smartest person in the room or is not worthy of your respect and admiration they immediately lose some of their supposed power. Because how can you follow the lead of a person who doesn’t #inspire you? None of us are perfect angels but the less respect we have for someone the more likely we are to disobey them. As children we often test our boundaries with our parents and whether or not we follow their rules boils down to respect. But it’s not a matter of blindly following their rules “just because.” Respect is a two-way street: you have to give it to get it. It doesn’t matter how much money you have, what fancy title you have, or the fact that you gave birth to me, none of the above will change the fact that someone who is a complete idiot is not worthy of my respect. So #humble yourself often and always treat others the way you would want to be treated if the roles were reversed. 

27. Attraction doesn't guarantee connection.

Just because someone looks good doesn't mean they're good for you. A healthy #relationship requires more than just good looks to be a fruitful. Physicality is just the spark that starts the fire. The fuel that keeps it burning is the personal, moral, and spiritual connection that develops from there. If happily ever after were as simple as outward appearances and sexual chemistry we’d all be #married by the 6th grade. Besides that being illegal it’d be highly unlikely. My #standards and #ideals, as well as my own #understanding of self, has evolved considerably since my adolescence and continues to grow. I may have been a man in my 30s but even then I still had growing to do to get to where I am today and headed tomorrow. Sure I may have looked like I had it altogether at the time but I’m sure any of my exes—including my wife—would say different. It’s a classic case of not judging a book by its cover. No matter how good someone looks take the time to skim a few chapters and read the full synopsis of their #character before you decide to take them home and into your bed. #ReadingIsFundamental

26. The qualities of a good boss are similar to those of a good friend. 

The best bosses I’ve had are the ones who actually #cared about their staff and showed #compassion. Unfortunately people like that in positions of #power are few and far between. More times than not the people in charge are so far removed from the day-to-day minutiae of the actual work that they don’t even know people’s names. That leads to disassociation from the staff and viewing them less as people and more like pieces on a chessboard that are expendable. It creates a dynamic where your #boss will always put him/herself before the #team and that’s not what you want from a #leader. Someone who actually cares and will fight for you is the ideal. That’s what I’ve strived for in the past few years of my #career as I’ve been more #manager than managed. I care if someone on my team is struggling and do what I can to help them out. I think about how #decisions  made behind closed doors have a trickle down effect on those who actually have to execute these plans. While I’m not an #owner who can make the final call on everything but I try to be the voice of reason for those who don’t always have a seat at the table. Some might say I care too much but maybe that’s because they’re used to people who don’t care enough. 

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