Happy Birthday, To Me!

45 candles

Today is my birthday. And I am older than my younger self ever imagined. When I was a kid, being 45 was the equivalent of ancient. Now that I am 45, I realize that while not ancient, I cringe at the certainty that I am middle aged.

Well, I guess it beats the alternative.

Reflecting back on what I’ve learned this year, I am posting this blog to share with you: 45 things “I Know For Sure.” Or at least I think I know for sure. Kinda.

While I agree with the Latin writer Publius Syrus who said, “Awareness, not age, leads to wisdom,” I also know that as time moves forward, I do amass more and more of these “life truths” and birthdays are a good time to brain dump them.

Here they go, in no particular order.

  1. In the land of the blind, the one eyed man is king.
  2. Assume good faith until proven otherwise. (But, when people show you who they are, believe them.)
  3. You can teach a duck to climb a tree, but you are better off finding a squirrel in the first place.
  4. When you are in a position of power, you have a greater responsibility to demonstrate respect, kindness and empathy than do those who do not have power.
  5. In the absence of information, people make things up and what they make up is seldom flattering about you.
  6. Fairness is a process, not a result.
  7. Everyone is entitled to an opinion but everyone’s opinion is not equal.
  8. When someone brings you a problem, ask yourself if this is your circus and your monkey to tame?
  9. Yet remember: All that is necessary for evil to succeed is for good people to do nothing.
  10. Remember the 10/10/10 rule: Will this matter in 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 years?
  11. Reasonable people, given the same set of information, generally come to the same conclusions. (but not everyone is reasonable).
  12. No one is rational when it comes to their own child.
  13. People’s reactions are almost always about them and very seldom about you.
  14. Always meet emotion with emotion, not logic.
  15. Do hard things.
  16. If you can only learn one thing, learn how to have good relationships with others. If you can learn a second, learn how to learn. With those two skills, you will be able to do most anything.
  17. It takes a village not just to raise a child but also to support an adult.
  18. Blood does not make a family; your family is the people who you choose to love and who choose to love you.
  19. The greatest need we all have is to feel important.
  20. If it will take less than two minutes, do it now.
  21. Taking a walk first thing in the morning makes the whole day go better. (same with making your bed).
  22. Working to make money will allow you to survive but potentially will grind at your soul; working to fill the need of others and doing that better than anyone else will allow you to thrive both financially and personally.
  23. Don’t limit your thinking to “this or that” but rather try to think about how you might get “this and that.” While you will not always manage to get both things, you might be surprised at how often you can.
  24. There are many paths to success; the more paths you are open to, the more likely you will get there.
  25. If you are wrong, admit it completely and without excuse. Nothing disarms an angry person like accountability does.
  26. Time with animals is never wasted.
  27. A best friend is worth their weight in gold and then some.
  28. You will have many relationships in your life. But if over the lifespan you find even one person with whom you can be fully yourself, you are more blessed than someone with hundreds of “friends.”
  29. Accepting another person, warts and all, is the best gift you can give another.
  30. There is no intimacy without being willing to be vulnerable.
  31. Talk less and listen more. Ask questions instead of just waiting to give your opinion.
  32. You can do most everything you want; just not at the same time.
  33. You get to choose how you feel.
  34. You don’t have to know what you want to be when you grow up.
  35. When you feel sad, do something nice for someone else. Being of service is one of the best remedies for depression.
  36. Never create a policy just to deal with outliers.
  37. How someone treats a waiter is a good indication of his character.
  38. Separate the message from the messenger.   Someone you love can give you bad news and someone you despise can teach you important things.
  39. Over the course of time, hard work beats talent every time.
  40. Change, even positive change, can feel stressful. But stressful does not necessarily equate with bad.
  41. If you have financial success, use it to create options for yourself, the people you love and those who need your help. Don’t use it to buy status, things or power.
  42. There are 4.3 weeks in a month—a critical calculation error in business planning is counting a month as 4 weeks.
  43. You can’t change things you don’t take responsibility for.
  44. When you discover your strengths, lead and build upon them. And when you understand your weaknesses, be honest about what they are, do what you can to meet the minimal standards, partner with someone whose strengths are your weaknesses or hire someone to do those tasks.
  45. Show affection for the people you love.  Often. Hug them when you arrive and when you go. Tell them that you love them daily.

Who knows, maybe next year I will disagree with some of the things on this list. Because one thing I do know for sure is that the older I get, the less I know.