10 Life Lessons I Didn't Want to Learn
It's time for some tough love.
In my life, there have been few better experiences of “tough love” than stepping out onto the mat to compete at a Jiu-Jitsu tournament, fully expecting myself to dominate my competition, and then proceeding to get choked unconscious in the first round.
Nothing quite exposes your limits like passing out due to a lack of oxygen.
It’s really hard to run away from the fact that you need to improve when you’re being woken up by a referee being told that you lost and you need to get off the mat so that they can continue with the rest of the tournament.
This was a painful lesson, but I’ve found that the most important lessons are usually the ones that you do not want to receive.
Here are 10 lessons that I have learned through the painful exposure of my limits, across all facets of my life.
In business, competence is only half the battle. You must also look competent.
About 2 years ago, I started bleaching and dying my hair. Usually, I’m plain ole bleach blonde like the picture above, but I’ve also been hot pink, red, and blue. Some people see this and judge me and draw conclusions about my character based on my hair color.
Other people don’t care and love my hair. I cannot control their opinions. In business, you must know your audience and recognize that you are not for everyone.
If you can’t handle the possibility of being rejected for looking a certain way, change your look.
“Work hard play hard” isn’t a thing if you want to be the best of the best.
Hard work does not pay off if you don’t drop your bad habits. If you are unable to do this, you will lose to someone who is.
Olympic athletes don’t go out and party every weekend. The top writers on the internet don’t go get bottomless mimosas at brunch every Sunday. Most entrepreneurs that achieve their goals don’t sit around and watch football for 9 hours on a Sunday.
If you have a gold medal dream with bronze medal habits, you will live in chronic disappointment.
There’s nothing wrong with partying, drinking, staying out late, or “having fun”, but just know that if you’re trying to be the best, your competition is not doing that.
Most of the time, you ruin your own relationships.
I’ve had a good solid amount of breakups and derailed friendships over the years, and I’ve never escaped a relationship completely blame-free.
It takes 2 to tango, and it also takes 2 to fuck up a relationship.
Most of your personal flaws can be fixed and you are actively choosing to not fix them.
Some flaws you’re stuck with, like your height or predisposition to anxiety, but these flaws make up the minority for most of us. If you don’t like something about yourself, you can probably change it, and it’s probably not as hard as you think.
You can lose weight. You can get a better haircut. You can learn a new skill. You can learn to stop treating people you care about like shit.
Most people are making excuses, and this makes the world a worse place for all of us.
“Exciting” relationships are usually toxic.
I’ve had some really exciting relationships, especially in my early 20s.
I was drawn to people who were damaged because I was damaged, and we had a great time being damaged together. However, the price for these bad relationships was my mental health, my peace, and a whole bunch of new bad habits that I had to deal with. I’m still trying to undo some of them and learning to better coexist with those closest to me.
You will never have to chase your “real friends”.
Your real friends are not going to be at your funeral, they’re going to be in the coffin with you. Chasing people is a desperate act. Desperation looks good on no one. Chase your dreams instead.
Even if you fail, it hurts less.
The best time to begin to chase a dream is today.
As the saying goes, the best time to start your new dream or business might have actually been 10 years ago, but unless your name is Marty McFly, the best time to pursue something new is right now.
The other day, a reader told me that I inspired them to finally try out martial arts. I thought that was pretty cool.
Start your gym habit today. Start writing today. Start that YouTube channel today.
Resistance builds with time. The longer you wait to begin, the harder it becomes to begin.
If you want to succeed, you must risk looking like an idiot. Get over it.
If you want to write, you have to risk publishing bad writing. If you want to compete in sports, you have to risk losing. If you want to fall in love, you have to risk rejection.
Welcome to life, you can’t have the gold medal without running the risk of getting choked unconscious.
That’s a metaphor.
Mental illness does not make you better at stuff. Get help.
People (especially artists) love to romanticize mental illness. They say it “makes their art better”.
Even in our progressive culture, the tortured artist trope is still very alive.
This is very problematic, and I also don’t think it’s accurate.
I’ve been depressed and I’ve been happy. My writing is better when I am happy. It’s easier to tell stories with scars than with open wounds.
Your comfort zone is real, and it’s really holding you back.
I have quite a bit of anxiety, so for a long time, my comfort zone was very, very small. I was afraid to try new things, talk to new people, and take risks.
Learning to feel that fear as you leave your comfort zone and to keep moving forward anyway is the most important step you can take toward becoming a happier person.
I’m not saying swim in the deep end on your first day, but push yourself. It’s almost always worth it.
If not, the easiest way to expose how much you are holding yourself back is to open your eyes and look around at all the opportunities passing you by.
Life is hard as it is. It’s even harder when you become your own worst enemy.
Learning these 10 lessons were all valuable wake-up calls for me to improve my personal life, my career, and my mental health. Sometimes, the best love is tough love.
The mind is lazy. The mind can be weak. The mind looks for easy solutions.
A little tough love every now and then reminds you that everything you want to become has a price, and oftentimes, that price is the destruction of your former self.
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