It's my 63rd birthday and I don't feel a day over 59. These birthdays come and go, but I've reached the point in life where I've learned that each day is as precious as the next.
But still, birthdays make me reflective.I thought I'd share some of the thoughts that have come to me as this particular birthday approaches.
1. Stay curious. Watch a baby for a while, any baby. There is a miracle in his or her fascination with everything--thumbs, a shadow, a mustache singing. Cling to this curiosity through life. Without curiosity there is no discovery. Without discovery, you start growing old fast. Those who adopt a "been there-done that" grow old rapidly from not going anywhere new.
2. The 10% factor. I've lived some of life in prosperity and some of it in poverty. I've met people of different religions, nationalities, philosphies, political beliefs. Ninety percent of the people, I have encountered want to do the right thing most of the time. They want to help when they can, share what they have. The other 10 percent are assholes. The percentage remains constant across all social, cultural, political, ethnic, geographic and age boundaries. Sometimes you have to live with them in business, in your neighborhoods or sitting next to you in an airplane. Endure them for they cannot be avoided.
3. Life is a limited time only deal. There just isn't going to be time to do everything you might want to do in life so choose wisely. Seemingly minor choices may alter your life's course. Have fun with life. Avoid the tedious. Habits can make you too comfortable, so every now and then break them just to see what happens.
4. Disruption is more interesting than incumbency. I have outlived the eras in which conventional wisdom complacently knew that IBM, DEC, HP, Microsoft, Google and the old AT&T were too entrenched and too powerful to be disrupted by some upstart entrepreneur.
The nature of innovation makes it the domain of entrepreneurs, most of them young and most of them clueless about what they were up against. I have spent the bulk of my professional life working with startups and I thank them for a wonderful ride along the edges of innovation.
5. Be useful and generous. These two words are much more closely connected than you would think. I have benefited greatly from being generous. Companies that are the most generous to their customers have the most loyal customers and there is power and ROI in that. It seems to me almost impossible to not gain more from giving than by taking. The worst feeling that I know is when I see a situation that i care about and i am useless to help.
6. Exercise is a medicine. I was 40 pounds heavier when I learned I had diabetes over 20 years ago. I learned that exercise is something that you must have time for. If you do not take the time to exercise when you are young, you will lose that time later in your life and you will regret it.
7. Take risks. Don't let life pass you by, by letting life pass you buy. Jump in and scare yourself every now and then. Risks let you know you are alive and memories become your most valuable possession if you are lucky enough to reach a certain age, or so I am told.
But taking risks is not the same as doing boneheaded things.
8. Be wary of the morally superior. People who believe their way is superior to your way, probably will allow the most awful things to happen to other humans who live by other creeds, or worse, they will make them happen.
9. Laugh. If you do not see the irony and humor in most situations, you may be looking at it from the wrong perspective. There is much to bring joy into your life. If you are missing it, step to the side a couple of paces and then maybe you'll see it.