As I am turning 50 today I look back on my interesting life so far trying to distil some personal learnings to share with others. Sometimes I wonder if this was the last day of my life what would I say to my kids, friends or just anyone else around?
In Polish we say „Mądry Polak po szkodzie”, which, in loose translation, means that hindsight is better than foresight. So for what it’s worth I would like to share my 50 (one per each year of my life) teachable points of view that randomly come to mind at this moment. As I scan my life I try to capture its various aspects like personal and family matters, spirituality, building relationships, physical activity, business, intelectual etc. The below list is a mix of borrowed wisdom I have read or heard from others and my own reflections.
1. It is better to be happy than right.
2. The best things in life are free.
3. Simple things like being a good husband, father, cooking, gardening, creating friendships, acting truly freely, saying „I’m sorry”, „Thank you”; „Please” are the most difficult.
4. Professional/athletic/academic carreers, titles, award, victories etc are soooooo overrated.
5. Daily discipline in practicing good habits and/or killing bad ones is perhaps the most effective development tool.
6. My most powerful daily habit: 15 min examination (according to St. Ignatius method) of the day with its opening point of appreciation practice and subsequent reflexion on personal developmental moments and failures (sins).
7. Self-awareness is the starting point in a positive transition in life.
8. Waking up to become fully aware is tough.
9. The most valuable and raw feedback source are your spouse/partner and kids.
10. Be confident and humble at the same time.
11. Man proposes and God disposes. Act as if everything depended on you and believe as if everything was in God’s hands.
12. Always be learning something new – cultivate the beginner’s mind.
13. Be careful whom you surround yourself with – you are the average of 10 people you spent most of your time with.
14. You can only have a few good and close friends. The rule of 5 loved ones, 15 good friends, 50 friends, 150 meaningful contacts (Dunbar number) etc.
15. Get rid of stuff regularly. Make your life lighter.
16. The more things you own, the more they own you.
17. Practice good listening. That is why we have just one mouth but two ears to listen way more than to speak.
18. A good moment for listening practice is at social gatherings. Most people there want to just talk.
19. Always have and create mutiple options in life.
20. No one lies better to us than ourselves.
21. The longest journey in life is between our head and our heart.
22. Everybody is fighting their battles daily.
23. Love difficult people. You are one of them.
24. We are all more similar than different.
25. We are all believers – what differs is just the subject of our faith.
26. We can hardly make ourselves happy, let alone others. So do not expect too much of others.
27. Opportunity x Openess (Readiness) = SUCCESS
28. If you want to have a fit and healthy body remember that it is ca. 80% about having the right diet and only 20% about keeping an active life style. Many of athletes, myself included, often want to believe it is the other way around.
29. In training recovery is equally important as physical effort.
30. Best exercise: HIIT – high intensity interval training.
31. Spritituality is the most practical aspect of life.
32. Developing our virtues in essence is developing our ability to be a good/better person. Dealing with our sins (the opposite of virtues) has the same result.
33. Writing/giving a short speech/presentation is way more difficult than a lengthy one.
34. Number one job in the world: being a good spouse/partner. Number two job in the world: being a good parent… all the other jobs/roles we play dwarf compared with these two.
35. In moments of personal frustrations we sometimes say world/God is unfair. Looking at it more deeply, however, one can see surprising fairness. Every good state, high status, success, fame, money etc has in it a seed of failure. On the other hand, life diffculties, challenges we experience, bear with them an opportunity for great personal discoveries and rebirth.
36. That is why it is so exhilirating and rewarding to be looking for and engaging in activities/things that do not have the downside effects such as prayer/meditation, gardening, cooking, spending quality time with your spouse/kids, co-workers, being nice to people including those who are not nice to us etc.
37. Trust and good reputation is the most valuable currency in both personal and professional lives.
38. Passion and discipline beat competence and experience.
39. Being/running a good business for all your stakeholders (not just some of them) will get you far.
40. Making money is simply a byproduct of doing many other things right and not a worthy purpose in itself.
41. While piloting be always a few steps „ahead of the plane” – anticipate.
42. Professional „friendships” are rare.
43. Someone who is no longer your friend probably never had been one.
44. A good friend is somobody who, from time to time, and in the spirit of love, tells you some bitter truth about yourself.
45. Three most difficult things in life :(1) Respond with Love to Hatred; (2) Accept/receive the rejected ones; (3) Admit to your mistakes.
46. People who reject us, often unknowingly, do us a huge favor.
47. Watch what you consume (food, news, books, movies/series etc).
48. Things either elevate our spirits or supress them.
49. Watch your thoughts, they become your words; watch your words, they become your actions; watch your actions, they become your habits; watch your habits, they become your character; watch your character, it becomes your destiny.
50. And now these three remain: Faith, Hope and Love. But the greatest of these is Love (1 Cor 13,13).