What I Wish I Knew At 42

If I know anything I know this: We can’t successfully live life in the rear view mirror. We can, however learn much from our past experiences and from other people. I have found it to be very useful to reflect on those learning’s from time to time. In fact just taking the time to be thoughtful about what we are learning or have learned in the past can help us be more successful in the future. At 65 I know much today that I didn’t used to know. Let me share 5 things I didn’t know when I was 42 but wish I did.

1. Relationships are not important they are everything. I used to believe relationships were important but I now know they are everything! The quality of our life is in many ways dependent on the quality of our relationships. When we have many high quality relationships we likely have a high quality life. The relationship we have with our maker, our spouse or significant other, our children, our friends, our neighbors, our coworkers…and with ourselves really, really, matters. Investing in making those relationships the best we can by giving of ourselves creates a high quality and rewarding life.

2. Most of us are far more gifted than we can even imagine and we need others we admire, trust and respect often to truly bring out the greatness in us. I don’t know why but I find that most people have no clue the greatness that is within them. We tend to not be aware of what we really could accomplish with our gifts and talents and we usually need others in our life that we trust, respect and admire to help us see what our true potential is. Many people are locked in a place that is below their potential and will not escape that reality unless someone helps them see what they really can do or be or accomplish. My boss, Don Cutcliff in 1987 helped me see myself as someone who could lead a large company when all I saw was a person who could lead a region. In 1 minute he took my view of me and changed it and me forever. We need to make sure we have these people builders in our lives.

3. Everybody is important. To know and to not do is to not know! I guess all along I knew this but I am quite sure I didn’t behave that way with purpose until after I was 42. None of us are any more special than anyone else. Maybe we have a different job, a different religion, a different skin color or different view of the world but everyone wants to feel that they matter and that they are valued. Everyone we meet is important and when they are treated that way there is only upside. Not only is it the right thing to do but it feels great to treat others as they are important- because they are!

4. There is no greater gift in life than participating and facilitating in the long-term success of another person (including and especially your children). Watching others succeed in life that you helped in some way or maybe even helped them see their potential is a feeling that cannot be beaten. It is a gift to them and an even bigger gift to you. Making a meaningful difference in the lives of others is what we were put here to do and when we do it well it is it’s own gift.

5. Life goes on. The great American poet, Robert Frost said: “I can sum up everything I have learned about life in 3 words. It goes on. The important thing to remember is that there is direction and continuity and despite our fears and worries life must continue.” I have come to realize this is a fundamental truth of life. We are quite insignificant in the grand scheme of things. When we die the number of people whose lives will be changed forever will be small. Most of them will be back at work in 3 days and we will be a conversation starter or at best a great memory. But life will indeed go on. When we can keep this reality in perspective we will rarely take ourselves too seriously. Taking ourselves too seriously and believing we are “so important” is a guaranteed mindset that leads to heartache, disappointment and trouble.

A Message From Coach Buzz:I met Jerry almost three years ago, and in a very short period of time he has become someone I have great respect for, and truly trust. I wanted Jerry to be the first guest blogger, because I think the wisdom he is willing to share has value regardless of your job title, age, or gender. The reason why I ask him to work from this title, is because the last day we were together, I ask him to teach me ’25 Things you know at 65, that you wish you knew @ 42(that is my age).” This is a miniature summary of that day together.
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