Thoughts on my birthday
Tempus fugit, memento mori. – Some Roman dude
At this time, 21 years ago, I was at Fort Benning, shaved-head, doing pushups. 13 years ago, I was walking across Spain with a backpack. 11 years ago, I was watching Dot.coms – including the one I was at – implode, boom, wheeee. 10 years ago, a Fortune 100 was flying me around business-class, putting me up at 5 stars, just so I could tell them what to do. 9 years ago, I was wandering around Paris, lonely, but it was oh so beautiful.
The last decade is a blur….heartaches, fun, surgeries, sunsets, sunrises, rainbows, women, oh the women, startups, a whole lot of growth. Interesting how the far past is easier to remember.
I’m 40 today. This milestone birthday, it does make one pause and think. A few thoughts to share:
It started with anger, being the skinny kid who was picked on, making a decision to never be the guy one would look at and think, yeah, I can push him around. It changed to vanity, turns out girls like guys in good shape. Morphed to a habit, as natural as eating. Evolved to identity. This is who I am. Put me on a deserted island, I’ll find a way to stay fit. There’s a great piece on Henry Rollins on why he works out, the one thing he can always return to that will push him, never feed his ego. Well worth reading.
Taking things personally
Biggest source of pain, of wasted time and effort I can think of. Whatever one does, it matches their version of reality – and in their reality, they’re the good one. In my mind, I’m the primary actor, everyone else the cast. The entire Universe is filtered through me. But the same goes for everyone. I’m a cast member in their play. How can I take anything personally? Costanza was right – “It’s not you, it’s me!”
I’m fortunate enough to have the best sibling in the world. He likes to point out that I have no other frame of reference, but I’m sticking to my version. Your sibling is the one person (or more if you have multiple) who’ll know and understand you better than anyone throughout your life. Probably combination of shared DNA, growing up together, similar formative experiences, etc. One thing, don’t let issues get in the way of this relationship. Suck up your ego, if you have to, but always keep this person close, always be there for them.
James Altucher says it far better than I could. Whatever the practice is, have one, and do it daily. The dividends compound and pay off.
I’ve read the management books, the case studies, thrown them away. Everything I know on leadership, I learned from one statue. He does not give orders from behind. He moves forward, saying, “follow me.” If you’re in a leadership position, it’s a privilege. Take care of your team. Take care of them better than you take care of yourself. And always lead by example.
I will screw up. I’m human, it’s the nature of the beast. Each time, apologize to the team, pick myself up, and move forward. And give the team the same luxury when they screw up.
One very important point on the above: I made the mistake of thinking that taking care of your team meant that you always try to work things out. No. Teams in business or combat don’t have the luxury for drama, egos, incompetence, laziness. Be clear about expectations, and those who consistently fail, cut them off. Those who take advantage of others, cut them off. Those who lose your trust, cut them off. I don’t have to do it harshly, I can do it from a place of caring, but it must be done.
Find something I want to do, throw myself into it completely. It’ll throw challenges at me, keep on. That’s how one becomes great at anything. That’s how one develops inner confidence, by taking on challenges, solving them, growing each step along the way. Done with this one? Find another. Then another. Henry Rollins on his work ethic, brilliant.
Who I say I am
Be who I say am. Oh, I’ll fall short. I know, that whole being human thing. That’s ok. Pick myself up, own what happened, move forward. Each time I fall, try to learn from it, and always, move forward.
The strangest conclusion
What you focus on, that’s the reality you experience. Not woowoo, just the nature of things. In that case, might as well focus on the positive.
There’s more thoughts, but I’ll save them for next year……. 🙂