What Advice Would You Give Your Teenage Self?

It’s a fight.

I couldn’t help posting this. I think it’s a great exercise professionally, but also personally. Perspective is everything. Grab a seat with yourself, bring your favorite way to write, and give your teenage self some coaching. What lies below, is what I would tell myself.

Make good choices. Don’t please everyone, because you’ll work at pleasing no one, and you’ll hate yourself for giving so much of your life to a cause that didn’t give back to you. You have to lock in yourself at your best, to help others reach their best.

Keep things really simple. Don’t overcomplicate the work or time you spend. Find a few simple things. Make them the rule. Follow that rule as often and as closely as you can whenever you can. Faith. Form. Flow. They should be rules that transcend everything that you do everyday to ground you. Make you intentional with focus. Those rules should be the lens that you look through that keeps you from making poor time wasting choices.

You only get one shot. Take that into whatever you’re going to do. Even things that you hate at first will have a profound outcome when you take the time to really put all you have into them. Things you find that you hate, can teach you what not to do, or can show you how you can specialize to help others move through it as well.

Try things at least once before you decide that you’re not going to try or do them. Things you think that are something you would hate, you’ll find out that you actually love them. The other unwittingly thing that you’re doing is being a great role model for others. Getting them to be brave by your example. Imagine all your friends, family, and colleagues watching you for what’s next. With out saying a word, you’re showing them what’s possible. Or impossible. You seem like a possible kind of guy.

Relationships are currency. Don’t take any of them for granted. Especially the ones you decide to call forever. Best friends are family. Treat them like they are and I promise they will be there in the darkest and most unexpected time when you need them most. Your relationships with your family don’t always tell you the truth, because they love you. Find someone outside the circle, because they can be honest with you.

Bias is a cancer. It will tell you what you think is the right thing to do, when it’s not. It’s unconscious. It’s conscious. It will limit you if you let it. It’s invisible so keep in mind it lives not just in you, but in all around you. Bias may have been coded into your being before you even realized it was bias. Don’t take for granted for a minute that it isn’t telling you the wrong choices to make. It is. Make yourself aware of it. Be vigilant in mitigating it.

Every week at least once, try something you’ve never tried before or wanted to try before. You’ll find where you belong, you’ll find your place in the working world. Just keep the habit of trying something new as often as you can. Your skills have a shelf life, never forget that you can become obsolete. Stay curious, generalize in your profession. Person of many trades, agile. Find a coach that tells you what you hate hearing about yourself, not what you want to hear about yourself. You’re not a great judge of your work, only other people can do that for you.

Take a walk outside more often. Run. Skateboard. Walk. Just get outside as often as you can. Sit in the quite of nature. Really listen to it. It has a language that we forget we can understand, translate even. Take a vacation in it. Go see a National Park, something truly amazing. Remember always how you felt in those moments, so they drive you to do it again.

Life has surprises, if you’re really tuned into it. Good ones. You can and will laugh at the great comedy of errors ahead of you. You’ll fall in love again with your life over and over. Embrace those surprises, lean in. There in lies a truth that can not be ignored. Is it really a surprise? Or, did you forget how to feel?

✌🏻 Shawn

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