Before you earn an audience, users, paying customers, investors, shareholders or employees holding you accountable to your work, you often find yourself alone and unmotivated. Unless you popped into this world as a self-starting anomaly, waking up and getting to work on something that doesn’t exist yet and that no one else cares about can feel like forcing children to eat broccoli. It helps to have business or creative partners on the project with equal or greater investment in the outcome – and sometimes that’s all you need. But even partnerships lose steam and it helps to have someone else on the outside to push you.
You may need a creator buddy: someone you never want to disappoint and who also has his or her own personal projects in infancy. Someone outside your field with whom you can learn from each other. Between the two of you, schedule regular check-ins to set goals and debrief accomplishments or failures on a regular basis. Weekly or bi-weekly works best, nothing too involved. Encourage each other to set goals you both can realistically achieve in that time and hold each other accountable. Send text messages to touch base in between. Whatever helps to keep you both on the tracks and moving forward. Before long, you’ll find yourself accomplishing more – if only in fear of disappointing your buddy if you fail.
Sounds too simple, but the work you need to do today is difficult enough. Avoid overcomplicating it with crazy motivational regimens. Find a buddy that can pull you out of isolation and give you the push that you need. He or she will appreciate it as well.
Your job will not take care of you when you get sick. Work will not bail you out of jail. Friends and family will. Put them first in your life. When embarking on your career, building companies or engaging in a hobby, make people a priority as a general rule. Culture and the success of your work stem entirely from the health, attitude and relationships of people surrounding the job. Treat them very well, take care of them – and perhaps they will do the same for you. The risk of taking care of others without the guarantee of a returned favor far outshines the risk of working eighty hour weeks alone.
Most of the people you know only relate to you in one environment. Work, dinner, parties, video games, home, yoga – one environment. A few more may follow you to a second environment. Very few – perhaps only a small handful – cross all boundaries. These people are your true friends – the relationships that cross time and space. We feel comfortable keeping people in little compartments of our lives, but it is important to let people out of those boxes and into other parts of your life. If anything, as an experiment. Who knows? You may connect with them on a different level. How can that be a bad thing? If you want to take a relationship to the next level or layer the connection more intricately, invite single note relationships to other places that play key roles in your life.
Human conflict, drama and gossip are all very funny things. Call me idealistic, but I do not believe that deep down people genuinely dislike other people. Bad relationships form out of misinformation or no information at all. We’ve all been gifted with perspective and egos, but they often do us the disservice of helping listeners misinterpret a speaker and inspiring speech to skew with bias. It is very, very easy – even more so for the most mindful, brilliant, sociable or well-spoken people – to misunderstand each other. Dialogue, body language and writing are all very delicate things. If you find yourself in a sticky situation with another human being, give him or her the benefit of the doubt and blame poor communication first. Try to get the other person to do the same. Get on the same page about miscommunication and you are one step closer to working it out. It’s not the other person’s fault – do not blame him or her. It’s communication’s fault.
Tomorrow marks my parents’ 30th wedding anniversary. Not many people have had the fortune of being raised by parents who have stayed together that long. Thank you, Mom and Dad, for picking each other wisely and teaching me the value of a strong partnership. Thank you for making my brother and me a reality and putting up with our shenanigans. We all love you dearly and wish you many more years to come!
- Politics should not be a war or game. It’s a process – and we’re in it together.
- Appreciate everyone. Even if you strongly dislike someone, thank him or her anyway. As genuinely as possible. Gratitude is the social currency of life.
- Experiences are more important than possessions. Food and travel make the spirit of life go ‘round.
- Marry smart. Find a brilliant woman and do your due diligence. Love is more than lust.
- Build something much bigger than yourself – and finish it. My Dad built a city and spent over half of his life doing it. I have a very long way to go.
- It’s okay to listen to the same song a million times. If you love something, why stop doing it?
- Fictional worlds are healthy. They help you spark imagination, engage with art and escape for a few minutes per day.
- Modesty keeps things simple. I can think of no human being more humble than my father. No fuss, no drama, no ego. If any of those things exist in his life, he never brings them home.
- Stay Organized. My father keeps more lists, records, photo journals and data on his life than any man I’ve ever met. He forgets very little, tends to important tasks quickly and keeps life together like no other.
- Don’t sweat the small stuff. It won’t matter this time next year.
I love you, Dad. Happy Father’s Day.
It’s the single healthiest thing you can do for your organization, relationships, partnerships, parenting or marriage. I’m convinced that’s why my parents have lasted 30 years together. Sitting down is the first and essential step toward strong communication. Make time for it. I’m not kidding.
It feels great to get a pat on the back. Everyone needs a little appreciation here and there. Dish it out to others as much as you can. Genuinely thank someone for making your life better. If you can’t find an honest way he or she makes your life better, identify a characteristic you admire and point it out as a good thing. It makes a huge difference and may win you a new friend. Express enough genuine gratitude, and you may find yourself surrounded in friends.
I sit beside this exact fire once every few years with old friends – most of whom I had not seen since the fire before it. In moments like these, everyone can catch up, let go and share in timeless togetherness again. As if the last fire occurred in the not so distant past, conversations and idiosyncrasies flashback in ways that challenge the passing of time. Reunions often cathartically reorient your core and priorities. You remember who you were, remember who your friends were and remind each other. Save for a few nostalgic campfire stories, the echo of your past happens subliminally. It feels like reverberation in your memory – like a moment worth reliving. Reunions enrich the soul. Without losing yourself to total nostalgia, I recommend assembling them as often as you can.
All too often I find it difficult to thoroughly engage in entertainment, conversation or recreation if I jump in having left active tasks incomplete. You cannot always push plans back to make room for completing the task, but it can make a big difference in helping you enjoy yourself if you find extra time to get the job done. Better in most scenarios to show up late and fully connect with the moment than stick to the calendar with a head full of unsolved problems. Fight the habit of tardiness and never accept it as a personal trend, but forgive yourself if it means victory, understanding on the part of the people you keep waiting, and an untarnished engagement. After all, your original plans can double as a celebration if you complete the task at hand. Get it done and go have a good time.