Service is the rent we pay for the privilege of living on this earth.
At 34, I’m not sure I’m “old enough” to do something like this justice yet, but I certainly know a lot more now than I did in my teens and twenties and have certainly experienced some stinging slings and arrows and learned from some major missteps and mistakes.
I wouldn’t have it any other way, either. There’s a concept in Japanese culture called wabi-sabi, and it represents the beauty of the ephemeral, variable, and flawed nature of the world around us. Instead of only seeking and accepting perfection, we should learn to appreciate things that are imperfect and incomplete.
This is why the Japanese place value on irregular and cracked kitchenware and often fix broken objects with gold—the defects are seen as unique additions, indispensable parts of the objects’ histories, which adds to their complexity and beauty. To the Japanese, these are the things that most resemble the natural world.
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I like to think of myself and my life in the same light. To echo Hemingway, no matter what we do in our lives, the world will always find ways to break us, but that doesn’t mean we can’t fix what’s broken and create a beautiful life. I don’t care about trying to be “perfect” so much as trying to be alive, because that’s what it’s really about.
So, here are the 24 pieces of advice I’d give to my younger self, and in no particular order . . .
Write more books. This is the nucleus of your brand.
Don’t invest more time or money into something that clearly isn’t working. Change direction and move on.
Celebrate the milestones and victories, including the smaller ones. Your team will appreciate it.
Study your failures more closely. Dig for the key takeaways.
Try not to spread yourself so thin. Moving faster on fewer projects is a smarter way to work.
Accept you can’t help everybody. Especially those who don’t want to be helped.
Be nicer. Being “right” isn’t enough.
Spend more time with your baby son. He’s awesome.
Consider your wife’s advice more. She’s sharp.
Don’t let people lie to you. It harms them even more than you.
Read more. There’s so much to learn.
Stop looking at porn. Life is just better without it.
Talk things over with people you trust. You don’t always know best.
Always try to deal with what is, not what you wish were. The moment you stop running away from the truth, you wake up.
Take a vacation now and then. You’ve earned it.
Don’t try to fix broken people. Only they can fix themselves.
Be more thankful. And express it.
Have more sex. It’s not just fun but also the easiest way to improve your marriage.
Refuse to associate with hypocrites, parasites, and liars. Don’t become emotionally entangled with them or let them bargain with you—just leave.
Don’t be generous to a fault. There’s a word for that: sucker.
Before doing anything significant, consider all the alternatives you can think of. Your first few ideas are rarely going to be your best.
Spend more time formally outlining your goals and plans. You’ll get to where you want to go faster.
Moralize less. It’s obnoxious and selfish.
Have fun. Have as much fucking fun as you can because no amount of money or “success” is as satisfying.