I asked my Dad before he died what he wished he had known early in his life. In typical style, he said, “more women!” On June 1st, I will pass another annual milestone, and I wanted to reflect on this more seriously. So, if I am ever asked, here’s what I wish I knew then and I’m glad I know now!
- Sometimes, I really SHOULD sweat the small stuff. Thanking the chap at the checkout counter, sending a note to acknowledge a good deed or a lovely meal, taking the time to pick up the phone, merely to let someone else know that I was thinking about them – these are the things that matter. The ten minutes spent reading to a child or listening to an old gentleman’s story for the fifteenth time will mean more in the long run than how much money I made or how many ‘likes’ I got.
- The absolute key to success: Be an excellent listener. Not just someone who can be quiet and not interrupt while another person is speaking. A great listener is someone who is fully, deeply engaged in hearing another person – both their spoken and unspoken message, with sincere curiosity, devoid of judgment and open to learning. It is truly the gift that keeps on giving.
- Integrity is not a personal descriptor; it is a way of living. I know to be wary of those who try to convince me with words that they act with integrity, and instead, have learned to trust those who recognize that living a life with integrity is a daily practice, always a work in progress that is never perfect or finished.
- My character is defined by how I treat my waiter. When I want a window into a person’s true character, I observe how they treat others whom they believe are there to ‘serve’ them – wait staff, housecleaners, fast food workers, etc. How I wield a position of power speaks volumes about who I really am.
- Meet grumpiness with compassion. If I can scratch the surface of a prickly, cross and difficult person, I am likely to find a soft and vulnerable inner core – borne of fear, shame, disappointment, frustration and low self-esteem. Scratch the surface of a warm, generous and kind person, and I am likely to find a rock solid inner core – a foundation built of self-esteem and self-awareness. When dealing with difficult people, it is tempting to fight fire with fire, but I find a little water works a whole lot better.
In this month’s webinar, we’ll be talking about reframing retirement into an ‘encore career,’ and reflecting on how to create meaning in this next phase. For me, I just hope the life lessons never cease because I have so much more to learn. What do you wish you knew?