The 9 Facts of Life

You’ll never get what you want, if you don’t ask for it

Imagine this for a second. You’re laying in a hospital bed. You’re 93-years-old. It’s late. You’re alone. You close your eyes and in a second your life begins to flash before you. You see yourself as a kid playing Wiffleball in your backyard with your best friends. Your heart skips a beat as you think about the first time you laid eyes on the love of your life. As you think about your children tears begin to gently trickle down your cheeks. Then all of a sudden you’re hit with a realization that makes you sit straight up and scream —You decided to not pursue your passion because Randy from accounting thought it was a stupid idea.

The world is full of advice regarding how to get the most out of life. All of it is worthless if you don’t treat your curiosity like a responsibility and give your inner-voice the respect it deserves. People may laugh at you. But nine times out of ten that’s because they don’t have the courage to go after what they want and keeping you small helps them to feel big.

The moment you let the words of others stop you from taking action on your dreams is the day you can kiss them goodbye.

This is the first fact of life.

Below are 8 more facts of life that I wish I had accepted sooner.

1. The fastest way to improve your own life is by doing something to improve someone else’s

I remember the exact day my life went on the offensive. I was talking to my dad about my first world problems. Before I could get in a groove he stopped me and said, “Michael, shut up and go buy that beautiful wife of yours some flowers.” Later that day, I took my dad’s advice and I went out and I bought my beautiful wife some flowers. She wasn’t the only person smiling upon receiving them. So was I.

The best way to get out of your own head is by doing what you can to place yourself in the hearts of others. The words “When you give, you get” are cliché for a reason. They are grounded in truth.

2. You’ll never get what you want if you don’t ask for it

A recovered heroin addict sat down at his computer and drafted a message to the CEO of a billion-dollar company. He signed off by asking the man if he had time to meet. A month later the recovered addict took the stage to talk to the CEO’s employees about the tactics he used to turn his life around. Today the man is giving talks all around his home country of Ireland and wrapping up his first book backed by a mainstream publisher.

Some people describe the actions of my friend Brian Pennie as brave. Even ballsy. I don’t. I call it common sense. We get one shot at this life and if you don’t put your fears aside and ask for what you want one day you’ll wake up and realize that Tuesday looks a whole helluva lot like Monday.

3. If you don’t learn how to play well with others you’ll never accomplish anything

Most people don’t care if you’re the smartest person in the room. Nor do they care if you’re the strongest or the fastest. But they absolutely do care whether you are good to them or not.

This doesn’t mean you have to run around acting like Positive Pat all the time and hugging it out with each person you meet. But it does mean that you have to be polite. It means you have to respect other people by showing up on time and doing what you say you are going to do. It means you have to be interested in people’s lives and do what you can to leave each person better than you found them. People want to spend time and do business with people they like and people they trust. This is true today, and it will be true tomorrow.

4. Most people are going to let you down

How many days of your life have you wasted being angry at someone for doing something that you didn’t agree with? Did it solve anything?

As long as human beings continue to be human they’re going to let you down. They’re going to annoy you. They’re going to lie. They’re going to hurt you. Well, guess what? You do the exact same thing. That means that you have two choices: you can continue thinking that you don’t do anything wrong or you can forgive people and get on with your day.

Quick but important aside: the older you get the more you’ll realize that the more hard times you go through with people the closer your relationships will become.

5. Your ideas will never fly if you don’t know how to properly communicate them

When we think about successful people we think about words like “passion” and “grit.” And sure, these words are important. But they lose significant value if you are not taking the steps to be an effective communicator.

Name one successful person in your life who doesn’t have strong communication skills. It’s hard, right? What about the people you know who have the healthiest relationships. It’s equally as hard, right? My friend John Gorman hit the nail on the head when saying in a Facebook post — “The happiest people I know are also the best communicators I know.” After all, communication leads to connection, and connection leads to trust, and trust leads to everything good.

6. Nobody wants to hear your excuses

“I’m too young.” “I’m too old.” “I don’t have enough money.” “I don’t have enough experience.” No matter how tempting it may be to say these words to make yourself feel better, nobody wants to hear them.

The people who make a dent in the world don’t sit around thinking about why they can’t do something. Instead, they ask themselves what they are going to do about it. Seth Godin got it dead right — “The best way to complain is to make something.”

7. You cannot be valuable if you do not understand what other people value

“Most people get things backward. They spend all day thinking about what they want to do in their life and then get frustrated when nothing pans out. What they should be doing is listening to the people around them and taking the time to identify how their strengths can help people to overcome their weaknesses.”

This was a bit of a speech. But the words above, courtesy of my closest childhood friend, are right. You can’t add value to people if you don’t first take the time to understand what is important to them and then take the time to find that sweet spot where your skills intersect with their needs. Listeners win.

8. You are the company you keep

If you spend time with negative people who are constantly complaining about their situation, it’s only a matter of time before you follow suit. On the flip-side, if you spend time with kind, supportive people who choose to grow instead of erode, it’s only a matter of time before you rise up as well.

Who you decide to spend your time with is the most important decision you will ever make. If you collect the right friendships, everything else will take care of itself.

The secret to success is found in good company.

All Rights Reserved for  Michael Thompson

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