I’m still a young guy, almost 36 years old. But, I’ve devoted my life to continuous improvement and being the best I can be. I’ve made lots of mistakes along the way and I’ve learned from each mistake. More importantly, I’ve devoted my life to studying successful people and finding out the “secrets to success.”
During the past 35 years I’ve learned some very helpful life lessons. Some lessons I learned through books, but most lessons were through trial and error. Today, I’d like to share some of those life lessons with you so you don’t have to make the same mistakes I did. Here they are in no particular order.
1) We Become What We Think About
Our thoughts control our actions and outcomes. If you think success (and do the work) you will be successful one day. If you think you are a failure, you are a failure. If you think you are a good leader, you are right! The truth is your thoughts will ultimately determine where you end up in life. So make sure you start thinking positive. And then align your output (work and effort) with your thoughts. Don’t let fear control you. Don’t let your thoughts control your actions. Let your actions control your thoughts! Spend time working on you, getting your brain and thoughts right.
2) We Are All Hypocrites
No one wants to hear this, but we are all hypocrites. Even worse, very few people will ever admit this. If you would simply admit that you are a hypocrite, you would be a much better leader and person. Let me give you an example. Lots of people get mad when someone cuts them off on the highway and don’t use their blinker, yet the same person that gets mad will do the same thing at one point or another. Don’t be too quick to judge and don’t think that you walk on water.
3) No One is Perfect
This goes hand in hand with the previous lesson. No one is perfect, including YOU. We are all inherently flawed and bound to make mistakes. People will let you down. People will lie to you. People will disappoint you along the way. At some point you need to realize this and accept it. It makes life a lot easier knowing that no one is perfect and it gives you greater appreciation for your pet dog (they love you no matter what).
4) There Is No Standard Definition of Success
Money is not success. Neither is fame. Neither is being a General. At the end of the day, success is accomplishing what you want in life! You are a unique person. There is only one of you in this world. Therefore, it is up to you to decide what you want in life and then spend your productive time working toward your goal. If you reach your goal, you are a success. If you know your goal and work toward it, but still come up short, you are a success.
5) Family Is the Most Important Thing
So many people fail in this area. Your spouse and your children (and immediate family) are a gift from God. No, I’m not religious, but I do know that our families are a blessing. Treat your spouse and kids (and parents) like gold. You never know how long they will be around to enjoy. Don’t sacrifice your family for your military career only to wind up in retirement with no family and no one who loves you!
6) We Must Sow Before We Can Reap
America is a nation of “wanting it now.” The truth is that all good things take time. You must sow before you can reap. You must put in the work and plant your garden before you can have a harvest. Don’t expect instant success. You must do the work, make mistakes and persevere before you ultimately succeed. Enjoy the struggle. It will make you the person you need to be so you can be successful.
7) Life is a Marathon, Not a Sprint
Life is definitely a marathon. Most people will live somewhere from 70 to 80 years. Most people will work from the age of 21 to 65. More importantly, most people don’t hit their productive years until their 40s or 50s, sometimes even later. So if you are in your 40s or 50s (or older) don’t think you are old or washed up. You’re never too old to do anything. Enjoy each day and keep moving toward your goals, regardless of your age. Look forward to the future, enjoy the past and live in the present.
8) Success Is Never a Straight Line
Success is never a straight line. You never start out and end up directly at your goal. Instead, success is a series of zigzags. You will learn, make mistakes, make adjustments, and change your goals. That’s perfectly normal. As we get older and wiser our priorities change and so do our goals. Don’t get so focused on a certain path that you aren’t willing to change or make adjustments. If you find a better way, do it! Remember, there are hundreds of ways to reach your goals.
Thanks for reading my 8 life lessons for military leaders. Of course, I’ve learned many other valuable lessons, too. If I was to write a post about everything I’ve learned in life, it would be a large book. But, I hope these few short lessons can help you be a better you.
What are your thoughts? What valuable life lessons have you learned? Share with us in the comments area below.