Love

People matter. Not process. Not systems. Not politics. Not technology. Your users or customers matter, not your product. Conversation matters, not social media or tools. Your employees matter, not your organization. Without people, none of these things would exist. Without people, you would be alone. Without people, what’s the point?

Take care of people. If you do, people will take care of you. What goes around really does come around. Don’t expect a return on your compassion – that defeats the point. But love with all your heart. Show everyone an unconstrained level of compassion. Let them know you care. Let them know they are important to you. Put them first. Love your friends, your family, your team. Love, even when you do not feel loved. Love helps your world go ‘round.

Wait

I spent my early years looking forward to summer breaks, movie releases, Christmas and vacations. I would wish my life away until the events came. Sometimes, my wish would come true and time would blow by. Other times, the waiting period would drag on and time would turn into my enemy. The older I get, the more I appreciate how finite time is. I don’t like wishing my life away anymore – it already moves too fast as it is. Before we know it, we’re all old and wishing for time to slow down. Wait for things you can’t wait for. Enjoy time while you’ve got it.

Sitting on a puzzle you can’t solve? Sometimes all you can do is wait it out and take a stab at it later. Passing time builds perspective. Wait a week and look at the puzzle again – perhaps by then you’ll have the experience and fresh eyes to solve the problem. They say patience is a virtue and time heals all wounds. I think both patience and time are valuable resources that, if budgeted correctly, can enable a fruitful, productive and fulfilling life.

Take Notes

What’s the value of stumbling through life and making mistakes if you do not make an active effort to record and study lessons learned? I keep a small Moleskine, Evernote or Google Docs notebook at my fingertips at all times. I take note of bad days, obstacles, discoveries, conversations, ideas and victories (for the record, Android dictation thought I said “a pekingese”). Ninety percent of this blog comes from notes I take day-to-day.

That said, notes are not enough. If you do not organize, consolidate or review your notes, what’s the point of having them at all? In practice, I tend to reduce pages-upon-pages into single fortune cookie-sized takeaways. I put them on sticky notes in discrete places that perpetually inform my decisions and the quality of my day.

Chronicle, recycle and learn from the past. It can sugar-coat your life journey as a personal parable.

Growing Pains

Growth is an awkward and confusing experience. By building on the old and bringing in the new, life mixes up and turns to chaos. Oftentimes, you experience bumps and bruises. In the worst of situations, there may be casualties. Whether you like it or not, that’s the name of the game. The only way to stop growing pains? Stop growing. Or die. I endorse neither. Growth and change are instrumental to life. Hell, they’re key to adaptation and survival. Suck it up, learn to love the pain and enjoy the ride.

Stick Every Finger In A Different Pie

I’ve always been a proponent of keeping many doors open. By staying involved in several things at once, you maintain a diverse portfolio of opportunities that may lead you somewhere. Drew Moxon dubbed this “angel investing with time” – balancing a handful of personal energy investments on activities and projects in hopes that at least one will pay off the entire batch. No thoughtful gambler places all eggs in a single basket, right?

The risk, of course, is that you do not invest in one area of your life enough for a big win. Jack of all trades, master of none. You fail to specialize, focus and pour your heart into one great thing. I think mastery can work if you believe irrefutably in what you’re doing. If you don’t, you must continue to explore options until you find the perfect fit. Until then, stay involved. Perhaps you shouldn’t stick every finger in a different pie, but at least taste every flavor you can and give each one a fair shot.

Endurance

Life is full of rough patches. They happen often – and never at convenient times. That’s the name of the game. You could let rough patches get you down, set you back, or defeat you. You could shy away and play it safe. You could give up altogether.

Or you will stand up and fight the good fight. Take the punches as they come. Press forward. Move on. Absorb the pain and let it make you stronger. Survive the assault and win. You can outlast pain if you chose to. Outlast heartbreak. Outlast stress. Outlast depression. You can come out on top. And when you do, nothing like it will slow you down ever again.

Time may not heal all wounds; endurance can.

Plan For the Worst, Hope For the Best

If you identify and find a way to accept the worst possible outcome of your situation, anything better than the worst will feel like a blessing. Do not lower your expectations or demoralize yourself into a constant state of negativity – that’s not the point. It is always important in planning to anticipate possible outcomes. By preparing for the worst, you will be better-equipped to tackle the actual results. If things are not as bad as you planned, then you will be relieved. Life will be good.

You must keep thoughts of failure in check by balancing them with hopes for success. Without hope, we have little room to grow and no path to follow. You must have something to believe in and live for. Otherwise, what’s the point? A true balance between fear and hope should land you in the middle – a realistic place where accomplishments are appreciated and failures become lessons well-learned. That’s a pretty comfortable place to be.

Profit Is Not the Point

The goal is sustainability. We make money to cover our basic needs – food, water and shelter. The great businesses of our time have figured this out, too. Great product comes before profit – because only great product will keep customers coming back for more. We like steady paychecks and loyal patrons because we can sleep at night and know that life will go on.

The goal isn’t to make money; the goal is to exist. Once you’ve figured that part out, the next goal is to exist longer. Once you realize no one lives forever, the ultimate goal is to leave a legacy.

The only way you can leave a legacy is if you concern yourself less with profit and more with giving life all you’ve got. Sure, you should have a plan to make money. But if greatness comes first on your priority list, then have faith that the rest will follow.

Make It Memorable

Special moment? Do anything you can to preserve it. Take a picture, scribble a note or steal a memento. Mark the occasion with celebration. Indulge in vice or break your own rules if you have to. Whatever it takes to help you hold onto the moment forever. Do not count on memory; it may fail you later. More likely than not, your recollection of the event will lapse from relevancy. Even the slightest trinket or scribble can help it all come back when you least expect it. Life is made up of poignant moments. It is important to revisit, track and learn from them. Nostalgia helps you recontextualize the things that are most important in life. If you collect anything, collect memories.