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Personal Development

Interview: Entrepreneur, Student Trustee, Early-Graduate, And World-Traveler

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Graham, Take Your Success interviewOn Take Your Success, I regularly interview top-performing college students to understand how they’re successful, so you can recreate the success in your life. Take what’s helpful, dismiss what’s not!

Graham Bowling and I are friends, I’m not going to try to hide it. We met at Miami University and also spent a week together with a group in the South Pacific island of Fiji.

Graham and I meet weekly now, and I’m always inspired by his ideas and actions. So, I knew I had to interview him for Take Your Success because he’s such a cool and talented guy—who will hopefully inspire you, too.

But, Graham and I didn’t always get along. (I hope he’s ok with me sharing this story.)

While we were in Fiji a couple of years ago, after our patience waned from the brutal sun, long bus ride on a rocky road, and then sickening boat ride, Graham and my nerves were struck. I knew if something else went wrong, then I would explode. And I guess Graham felt the same.

After we got off the boat, another guy, Graham, and I found out there were three beds in our place—two twin beds and a king-size bed. I was arguing with Graham that I deserve the king-size bed because I’m bigger. Graham didn’t exactly agree with my reasoning.

I had my shirt off, because we were on a hot island, as we raced to the room. After I made no compromise and demanded the bed, Graham threw this foot-long metal key in the middle of my back. It left a solid imprint because it made contact with bare skin. I was so pissed off. Then, as we got in the room, I pushed Graham down on the twin bed and yelled, “That’s where you’re sleeping!”

I guess being on a paradise island can really bring out the worst in people. Who knew?

We laugh about this story now.

——

Quick bio: Graham Bowling, just graduated at Miami University with a degree in Interdisciplinary Business Management and a focus in Entrepreneurship.

Brian: When did you start your lawn business and can you tell us about it?

Graham: I started my lawn service business at the age of 12 with my dad in the spring of 2006. Over the years we have remained small with an average of 25 customers a season. We value our customers greatly. We spend time truly getting to know them. While I am away at school, I employ high school students to manage the lawns. Learning the startup process early in life has allowed me to become familiar with both success and it’s highly important and largely disregarded counterpart: failure.

Brian: What has been the biggest learning experience from working in an entrepreneurial activity as a teenager?

Graham: I learned from an early age that I have the power to create my own life and future. I could work as much or as little as I needed and enjoyed being my own boss. Managing my business gave me confidence in all areas of my life and a desire to continue learning about entrepreneurship during my undergraduate career.

Brian: You’re a very busy and productive guy, but you also make time to build your friendships. What mindset or strategies have helped you balance college?

Graham: Honestly, sometimes there is not much balance. But this is something I always strive to achieve. With relationships, I always seek to listen and then speak. I find that most people strongly desire to be heard. They need an outlet for their ideas, feelings, joys, and frustrations. When you listen well, this communicates to your peers that you truly care for them. They will remember this and value your relationship highly. As issues arise, I make sure to help my friends in need regardless of my commitments to homework or personal projects. I value friendships more than my work.

To balance schoolwork, I take full advantage of Saturdays. I am a firm believer that one can have a ton of fun each night of the weekend but still get up by 10 or 11am to head to the library. I never once studied on a Friday or Saturday night during my entire undergraduate career and achieved an overall 3.76 GPA. On Saturdays, I consistently put in 4-6 back-to-back hours of work in the quiet university library. This allows me to stay on top of work and often to keep ahead. I hate feeling like I am drowning in work by Wednesday morning and having a solid study session on Saturday mitigates this mid-week overwhelming feeling.

Brian: It’s amazing to me that you have meetings with the president of the university and major donors as a Student Trustee. Please share with us your responsibilities in that position.

Graham: As a Student Trustee to the Miami University Board of Trustees, I serve as one of two student representatives of the 16,000+ undergraduate student body. Five times per year, the trustees meet on the Oxford campus for three days to discuss and decide on university policy, student safety, financial obligations, new and existing construction, faculty recommendations, athletics, and the future direction of the university as a whole. We meet regularly with members of the administration including the president and his various vice-presidents. As a Student Trustee, I provide a formal board report as well as a report to the Academic and Student Affairs Committee. I am also welcome to sit in the Finance and Audit Committee meetings. When I am not in meetings, I am often invited to special university events and dinners.

Last May, I sat next to Forest Whitaker during a luncheon at the president’s house before the Commencement ceremony. I am often called upon to entertain various Miami alums and donors during sporting events, dinners, and speaking events. The Miami University Board of Trustees is a fantastic group of individuals who truly invest their time, talent, and treasure into the future success of this university. It is an honor to serve as a Student Trustee.

Brian: As your friend, it’s obvious to me that you enjoy traveling. Can you share why you make an effort to see the world as much as possible and how it will help you professionally?

Graham: I have the travel bug. It is an exhilarating experience and I often save my money diligently for months to be able to afford the trips that I take. I believe that I must actively pursue discomfort in life in order to grow and traveling provides these opportunities. As much as you plan your excursion, you are always faced with some level of ambiguity and this provides an incredible learning opportunity. I also love to experience new people and culture. Like an anthropologist, I seek to understand and learn as much as I can about each geographic location I visit.

From a professional standpoint, my travel experiences offer me the chance to talk about experiences with both diversity and risk-taking. I can explain what forces bolster the market economy in the South Pacific island of Fiji and what forces hinder the economy in the Caribbean nations of Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Travel allows me to become a global citizen in an ever-increasing globalized world. In my future career, I expect to travel extensively and conduct business with foreign partners. I am also interested in acquiring fluency in a second language, either Spanish or Mandarin. Language ability indicates my commitment to the global economy and will likely help me snag a job in the future!

Brian: You graduated a semester early. How did you do that? Do you recommend it for other college students?

Graham: I was able to graduate early because of my high school success. I took three AP courses and three dual-enrollment courses through Kenyon College and Findlay University. I came in with 25 hours of college credit. My high school courses prepared me for the rigor of college academics and for that I am grateful. During college, I stayed on top of my schedule and met with an academic advisor at least once per semester. I always tell younger students to take full advantage of the resources available to them at their institutions including advisors, career services, and writing center help. These services are fantastic and let’s face it…you are paying for it!

I recommend graduating early for a number of reasons. Personally, it allowed me to save a full semester of tuition and fees. I did not want to pay to take additional courses that would not count toward a degree. It also allowed me time to pursue additional experiences. I am currently interning for a venture fund in Cincinnati and would not have had the time if I were in class. All in all, the choice to graduate early is a personal one. As with most major choices, I suggest weighing the pros and cons and considering the opportunity cost of each viable outcome.

Brian: What are your future plans?

Graham: I am pursuing a Fulbright U.S. Student Program grant to teach the English language in Taiwan. Currently, I am a national finalist and should find out if I am offered a grant sometime in mid-April. This will take me out of the U.S. for 11 months starting in August. If this opportunity does not work out, I am considering the U.S. Peace Corps. I hope to live abroad for a year or two and learn a second language. Following my time abroad, I am interested in pursuing a stint with the U.S. Air Force. I want to work in the intelligence community and earn my MBA. Eventually, I hope to return to entrepreneurship and own my own business.

——

The two takeaways that struck me the most were Graham’s mindset of planning ahead by making sacrifices to accomplish his future goal, and his intentional decision to put friends before school.

He engages in many activities—starting the lawn business, studying for a high GPA, saving money so he can travel, being a Student Trustee, and working hard to graduate early—so he can develop skills to accomplish his long-term goal of owning his own business. He isn’t just doing these things for fun and going through the motions. It’s all directly or indirectly a part of him growing and building his skills, so one day, he does have the knowledge, connections, money, or whatever, to start a company.

Second, Graham is humble about putting his friends first, but he truly does do that on a consistent basis. He is a good example for balancing work and social life in school and after graduation. Graham works hard, but he has the awareness to know when friends need to take priority. This will surely help Graham be happier. Also, and this is not why he does it, but by giving his time to others, he builds this amazing support network around him that he can use when he is the one who needs assistance.

Those were my two biggest takeaways, but there is a lot of great content in there. So, please comment below with what stood out to you from Graham’s answers.

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Personal Development

Telling Yourself ‘My Life Sucks’? Try Again

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If you catch yourself saying, “You know what, my life really sucks right now,” odds are you’re delusional. Life is the greatest gift you’ll ever be given—even with its downsides.

Though I’ll admit there have been times in my life where I could relate to that negative attitude because, as much as I wish I was, I’m not always grateful.

For example, I specifically remember being suspended for a week during my senior year of high school basketball.

It was a little embarrassing. I didn’t get to see my friends on the team at practice or go to any team activities. I wasn’t able to play in games on a team I worked so hard to make. And the suspension relegated me from the starting lineup to the bottom of the roster when I came back—I had to earned the coach’s trust again, so he said.

That felt like the end of the world to an 18-year-old kid. I definitely said, “My life sucks,” a few times during that leave from the team.

When in reality, my actions didn’t make me an angel on that team. My reckless behavior got the best of me with the coaches and contributed to my sucky situation.

Plus, I had no clue how good I had it if getting suspended from a basketball team was the worst thing that happened. Other people my age were struggling with homelessness, hunger, and abuse. Apparently I thought the sun revolved around me.

The takeaway here is life didn’t suck during my basketball crisis, my actions leading up to that suspension and my mindset during the experience were the problems.

If I fixed either of those, I wouldn’t have gotten suspended for one, and I would have saved a ton of wasted energy and stress.

Whatever Sucks, You Can Change It

If you were hoping to get some sympathy here—I’m sorry but this is not the blog for you.

Because even if life is supposed to be fair—it’s not—how does complaining about something make it any better? How does that help you recover and move forward?

Exactly, it doesn’t.

Whatever is currently the part of your life that sucks, you can do two things: change your actions and/or have a better attitude.

If your job sucks

Dislike your job? Put in the work to go on a job search to land a better position that’s more aligned with your passion, pays more, or is closer to home. If you’re not qualified or don’t have the experience, bust your butt to improve. For those who stay at a job they hate for an extended amount of time, you have no one to blame but yourself.

An attitude switch would look like self-talk saying, “I know this job isn’t my favorite, but think about the experience and connections I’m getting. Or at least I can pay my bills because of it—some people would gladly switch places with me.” Finding a little good, even if it’s not a dream job, is the goal.

If your social life sucks

Anyone who doesn’t have as many friends and weekend invites as they want is simply not making enough effort. You need to introduce yourself to more strangers and reconnect with old friends. When you increase those introductions, you’ll find things in common and boom—friendship. Or just get a dog and you’ll have a new best friend right then and there. The only one impeding your social life is you.

You can also flip your mindset. I, for one, value quality of friends over quantity of friends. That’s one way to look at it. And the less friends you have can is sometimes good since you won’t be dragged to as many events you’re not interested in. Always consider the positives of a situation.

If your money situation sucks

Getting your money right comes down to thousands of small decisions that add up. If you’re in a bad place financially, I’m willing to bet you’re not saving enough, paying down debt, and investing extra money left over. It all comes down to your daily money decisions. Besides saving more, you need to seriously start reading about personal finance. Knowledge is not only power, it’s wealth.

If you have a bed to sleep on, food to eat, and clothes to warm yourself every single day, just remember that millions of people across the world are worse off than you. Consider people in rural Africa, Asia, and India, or the homeless in your city, to stop feeling sorry for yourself. And watch this video to feel rich when you’re broke.

If your romantic life sucks

Look at your actions first. Try meeting guys/girls at different locations than you usually do if you’re striking out. Ask one of the friends you trust to set you up. Experiment dating a guy/girl who isn’t normally your type. The key is different activity to get a different and better result: a parter you trust and love.

As for mindset, it’s key to understand the goal shouldn’t be to date for the heck of it, but to understand yourself and date the right person who makes you happy. Realize also that there isn’t just one guy or girl out there for you—but thousands of people find you interesting. Be confident in who you are and have faith you’ll meet the right person.

If your living location sucks

Like I’ve heard the saying before, “You’re not a tree, you can move anytime.” There are plenty of ways to improve your location. Go on a job search for a position in your favorite city. Save up money to make the big move if that’s the problem. Or stay put and travel more often to limit the amount of weekends you spend at home.

Maybe it’s best to stay put and change your attitude. Consider the idea that living at home, or in some particular city, is the best financial move in this season of your life. Think about how this process of building up your financial resources, before you can move to your favorite city, is teaching you patience.

If your family sucks

Finding it tough to build a closer relationship with your parents or siblings? Maybe it’s you. Try giving them the most kindness and patience you can muster. At least you’ll feel good knowing you made a serious effort to love on them better. And when you have your own family you can fill it with so much love that your kid always feels known and cared for.

As for attitude, you need to realize that you don’t get to pick your family. But be thankful your dad and mom conceived you, at the very least, you know? Without them, there’s no you. So they must have done something right.

If your physical body sucks

These actions are obvious. Start eating for energy and hit the gym if you’re tired of looking like a noodle or a slob. No one can improve your body fat except you. Plus, start getting enough sleep and living a healthy life in all aspects to train your mind and body to be discipline around temptation. That’s how you improve your physical appearance.

Mentally, whose body are you comparing yours to? Does your body actually suck? Or is it not perfect according to the media’s impossible standards? Maybe your body is good you just think it’s bad for the wrong reasons.

I hope in each case you saw how life doesn’t suck. You can change it through actions and attitude.

Make The Most Of The Present, You Only Got One Life

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“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment. Fools stand on their island of opportunities and look toward another land. There is no other land; there is no other life but this.” – Henry David Thoreau

It’s insanity to worry about the past and unhelpful to get carried away by future anxiety that may never happen.

You’ll be healthier and happier when you focus on doing your best this very moment.

What’s crazy about this world is that the treasure—each moment—is hidden in plain sight. It’s right in front of us every day, just few of us notice.

It’s the air we breathe through our lungs, the ability to open our eyes and see, and the touch when hugging a loved one. Over time we take them for granted when we’d be best off cherishing the special moments of each day.

I’m making a more conscious effort to make the most of my one life, are you going to join me?

And before you click away, skim these two blog posts for a few tips on how to do that:

If you take those two challenges seriously and actually do them, they can change your entire perspective on life.

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Personal Development

18 Things I Wish Someone Would Have Told Me When I Was 18

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You ever want to go back in time? I do, and if I could, I’d tell myself 18 things that would have helped me live a more peaceful and happier life.

The discomforting issue is I’m certain the people around me, definitely my parents, already told my teenager self most of these lessons. But I didn’t listen.

I guess it’s true that some things you just need to learn for yourself.

Anyway, now I’m 24 years old and 6 years removed from my cocky, anti-establishment attitude that got me in a world of trouble, such as: getting detentions every other day in high school, getting suspended twice from the varsity basketball team, and getting two misdemeanors for disrupting the peace.

I’m wiser from these mistakes and on a mission to save a kid like myself from the hard-hitting consequences of being young and reckless.

Please be aware I don’t claim to know it at all, hardly the opposite. Though I’ve learned some valuable lessons and if it helps 18 year olds or anyone of any age out there live better, I did my job.

These are the 18 things I wish I would have known as a young guy who thought he know it all but didn’t know anything.

1. Make mistakes, not permanent damage to your future.

Like Frankie Ballard’s country song goes, “How am I ever gonna get to be old and wise. If I ain’t ever young and crazy?”

You can be crazy as long as you’re not idiotic and ruin your future with a bad decision you can’t ever get back. Got it?

There’s a big difference between a mistake and irreconcilable damage. One brings positive fruits like experience, wisdom, and knowledge, the other toils bad fruits like stress, loss of future opportunities, and a ruined reputation.

Getting in a minor car accident, breaking team rules, and missing your shift of work are all mistakes.

Drinking and driving, cyberbullying, and sexual assault, are all risks of permanent damage to your future.

Have fun. But be smart in the process.

2. Not every authority figure is right but not all are wrong, listen to the wise.

I got the first half of this part right, but I applied it across the board to every authority figure. If you were my teacher, principal, coach, friend’s parent, it was basically game over for me listening to you.

My mentality was whoever tries to put limits on me is only getting in the way of my fun. There’s no way I’m listening to those old farts.

Little did I know at the time that wisdom does come with age and not every authority figure should be ignored.

Looking back, my mom spoke the truth in so many areas when it came to spiritual, relationship, and family topics. I just didn’t internalize it until I had to learn the hard way for myself.

If you’re already an angel at 18 ignore this one. But if you’re a bad kid like me then the truth is not everyone is out to get you. Listen to the good ones.

3. You’re not your stuff, find meaning in who you are.

The media and big corporations will do everything they can to convince you confidence comes from the things you own, not who you are.

That’s a lie. Please resist the urge to put your value in your things.

For one, there’s always going to be someone who has more than you and it’s a tireless game where you end up short in the long run any way you play.

Two, you’re an amazing, unique individual that has incredible talents to offer the world. Though you only get in your own way if you put the focus on your stuff and not your innate gifts.

Love yourself. Learn about what makes you special. And most importantly, put meaning in who you are now and the person you want to grow into as you mature in age.

Putting your identity in material items leads to emptiness, where finding the best version of you leads to fulfillment.

4. Relax, hard things always pass over time.

As a youngster it’s easy to get carried away by an unfortunate circumstance. The dramatic part of your brain will think this negative situation is permanent, impossible to solve.

Truth disagrees. It’ll tell you that time is always moving forward. So your worst days are only 24 hours. Your worst weeks are only 7 days. And your worst years are only 365 days. Then you get to start fresh.

If you’re having a hard time getting the attention of someone you like, feeling homesick at college, or failing to get the jobs you worked hard for, relax and remember all difficult moments will pass.

Hang in there and don’t ever give up on life. The good news is strength comes from overcoming the struggles life throws at you.

5. Your body is not invincible, so don’t act like it.

As a high schooler I’d do ridiculous things with my body that were both out of control and deserved far worse than what actually happened. Reason being is I thought I was invincible.

For example, I’d get into road rage with fellow drivers and throw water bottles back and forth at each other while going 80 MPH on the highway. I’d get into physical altercations with friends far bigger than me where I wasn’t going to win no matter what I did. And I’d go days without sleeping on the weekend just for the heck of it, only to fall asleep behind the wheel in the middle of the night.

Did anything send me to emergency room or the grave? No, but I every easily could have lost a limb or my life by acting this way.

Don’t put yourself in excessive danger when it comes to your freedom or ability to live, it’s plain and simple not worth it.

6. You can really do whatever you set your mind to.

There are going to be external and internal naysayers all around telling you why you can’t do something. But they’re all wrong if you set your mind on doing it.

I had teachers in high school say I’d never amount to more than a prison inmate, along with our negative forecasts on my life. But I used that as motivation and proved them wrong to put together one of the best college careers they’ve ever seen.

And if brilliant people can make incorrect predictions about the future like the ones in that article, so can your parents, teachers, and the doubtful part of you about your life.

Do you want to walk on a college Division 1 football team with the goal of playing? What about reaching 1 million YouTube subscribers? Or what about making a full-time living from your Instagram profile? Truly nothing is impossible, especially with the internet these days.

Follow the process, keep the faith, and trust that you can achieve what you set out to—no matter how long it takes.

7. School is a game, learn how to master it and you’ll always win.

I struggled to get by in high school but graduated summa cum laude at the top of my class in college. What was the difference?

Everything changed the moment I figured out that school is all a game to be won or lost. Once you master the game, classes don’t change for the most part so you can repeat what you learned and come out on top in every college class going forward.

The entire process of taking notes, writing papers, building relationships with teachers, and studying for tests has rules and ways to score points if you know what you’re doing. No class is scary after you see the light.

This is a shameless plug because I’m confident in the material: Order my book How To College to learn how to game the school system and come out on top.

8. Find work you’re on fire about.

The average person spends 45 hours a week at a job they honestly only show up for because they need the paycheck. That’s miserable to trade time for money every working day of your life.

Screw the idea that you should do what your parent’s think you should. Don’t listen to the people-pleaser part of you who considers choosing a career to impress other people. And forget about picking a job for the money.

It sounds weird since this word is almost always used in a negative connotation, but be selfish about the career you pick. Find work you get fired up just thinking about and are filled with passion when you do it.

When (the keyword is “when) you pull this mission off, you’ll get the ultimate reward of doing what you love every single work day. You can’t top that!

9. Friends come and go, but family is forever.

Look, you’re 18 and are convinced you’re too cool for school. I get it. I was there.

The reality is you wouldn’t be much without your parent’s, their love, and their financial support.

So when you’re off at college, give your mom and dad a call every week. Take them out to dinner when you go home for some quality time.

Also, make an intentional effort to hang out with your siblings.

These are the people who have your back through thick and thin, so don’t ignore them when life’s good. It might be weird at first, but eventually you’ll cherish the time together because when you get older life gets busy and there’s less time to go around.

10. Treat people with kindness, everyone has their own problems.

You know a perfect person out there? There’s no such thing. Everyone is battling with a big or little issue in their walk of life—especially at 18 years old.

The prettiest girl in school might be severely depressed. The best athlete in the school might get physically abused at home by his dad. Or the kid with the perfect GPA has to perform under intense pressure to get an ounce of affection from his parents.

Not to mention the pain you can’t possible imagine that causes self-harm, eating disorders, or suicidal thoughts in your peers’ private hours.

There’s not a single person without dysfunction in their life. It’s a broken world.

Please don’t add to their problems. Instead, make their life easier with a kind act or words of encouragement.

They’ll feel loved and you’ll feel better about yourself in the process.

You can’t make the entire world a better place on your own, but you can improve the lives of those around you one by one.

11. Make the most out of your money even when you don’t have much.

In high school and even college my stupid mindset was, “Why make smart money decisions now, it’s not like I have much money anyway.” My friends held the same viewpoints as I, too.

What I missed out on is getting a head start with my money.

When my summer job and graduation money went towards Lacoste button downs, Ray-Ban sunglasses, and Jordans, it could have bought stock shares of Netflix, Amazon, and Facebook.

Those growth stocks with a mix of compound interest would have made me significantly richer. At the very least I could have saved it to pay down college debt or hold onto for a more forward-thinking purchase.

The lesson here is what financially doesn’t look like much as a teenager, can become the booster shot to a future of financial freedom you can’t even dream about at your young age.

Why wait to make solid decisions, you know?

12. Growth is 100% possible and comes from where you focus your energy.

Hey kid, you can grow in any direction you choose to. As a plant can grow wide or tall, you can in any quality of your life.

Want to be funnier, better at piano, more muscular, fitter, smarter, more energetic, better dressed, or any possible quality you can think of? Focus on it and progress is guaranteed to come.

The point is you’re not limited or stagnant in the person you are right now. You can develop in any area you choose. Take courage in the fact that you’re not stagnant.

It’s truly a human miracle that we can choose to grow in an area and actually make it happen.

13. Invest time to your mind, body, and spirit—you only get one of each.

It’s easy to only think as far as the weekend when you’re young. What’s better for you to realize is that life’s long and you only get one mind, body, spirit. Treat them right.

Just cause you don’t have an assigned book to read doesn’t mean you should never pick up a book again. The benefits of reading are second to none. Not to mention the moment you stop learning is when you stop living.

Just cause you’re done playing sports doesn’t mean you’re done working out the rest of the year, in college, and going forward. You can directly help your brain chemistry feel happier thoughts by working out.

Just cause you don’t have to go to church anymore since you’re in college, doesn’t mean it’s in your best interest to be spiritually bankrupt. Think about who is your creator and why did he create you?

Plus, the single best way to combat all the crap that life throws at you is to be mentally, physically, and spiritually strong. What isn’t a weakness internally, can’t be exploited externally.

14. Go work hard, and you won’t face regrets from things you could’ve controlled.

The luxurious life of relaxation as an 18-year-old with limited responsibilities is nice, until it catches up on you in the form of bad habits.

The college freshman who comes home from class and abuses their freedom by taking a three-hour nap every day is the same one frustrated about why they’re struggling to pass their classes. They regret not putting more time into studying.

That’s not it. They build the habit of needing a nap after any mental work so they come home from their first real world job at 22 and nap, but make no progress on their fitness goals. They regret not going to the gym more often.

Regret comes from knowing you could have done more but you didn’t put in the effort for some reason. I’m telling you the way to cut down on regret is to work extremely hard in all facets of life.

It’s much easier to dismiss things out of your control. But if your laziness contributed to a bad result, all the blame is on your shoulders. Why do that to yourself?

15. Your big ideas aren’t crazy, they’re creative.

The world is full of Negative Nancy’s who try to put your ideas down by calling you crazy.

What you need to learn is that only small people, or insecure friends, who are afraid of change will knock you for being creative. Don’t let them.

When they call you crazy, internalize that as a positive sign you’re being creative and thinking big.

Go out and try to create a human-looking robot. Design a new type of shoe that no one has ever thought of before. Or craft a rare recipe that goes against conventional cooking wisdom.

The world is your oyster to experiment with, as long as you enter the lab and get creative.

16. Life is long, have patience about reaching your goals.

Many young adults want to be a doctor, lawyer, pharmacist, teacher, now! They’re like let’s go already. I certainly felt that way.

The only problem is you’re at least 4 years away from doing what you actually desire to do as those positions require a college degree at least, and many times graduate degrees.

What’s the solution? Patience. It’s not what you want to hear but it’s what you need to hear.

All good things take time to prosper. You need more knowledge, experience, and maturity to navigate successfully in your career. If you started now, you’d fail mightily and be turned off forever from it maybe.

Plus, this build up time is often a lifesaver because it gives you time to find a career more suited for your desires.

I’m the perfect example of that. First dead set on being a corporate lawyer, I jumped the ship to become an entrepreneur. You can imagine how thankful I am for the time that allowed me to make that switch before it was too late.

17. Be grateful for everything you have.

Here’s a cold, hard fact: Your life is pretty great in comparison to many parts of this world.

Your perception will change when you realize millions of people would do anything for their own bed, a warm meal to eat every meal, or the opportunity to go to school.

If you’re like my 18-year-old self, you’re more worried about your social media likes than life’s basic needs.

Please, for the sake of yourself and the people around you, heed my advice to be grateful for everything you have.

Whether it’s in the morning, during the day, or before bed, I encourage you to thank God for a few things you’re grateful for.

This activity will help you stay balanced in today’s society and hold onto a peaceful equilibrium each day.

18. You choose your own happiness.

Happiness is what it’s all about right? Young adults like yourself chase sports, education, success, family, friendships, fame, money, exercising, and all areas of life for the ultimate goal of happiness.

But you don’t need to chase all of that to find what you’re looking for. Here’s the secret: Choose to be happy.

While it’s similar to the previous lesson on gratitude, it’s different in a sense.

It’s scientifically proven that humans can change their attitude to be happy. The sole act of attempting to be happy will help you become more joyful. Isn’t that wild?

Then when you couple this attitude with healthy decisions to surround yourself with people you enjoy, allow yourself to laugh at the odd elements of life, and focus on good things in your day, your life is happy.

This may be the greatest discovery in this list: Happiness is within your grasp at any second you choose.

P.S. The subtle hint behind all of these 18 lessons is to keep your head up. You’re going to turn out just alright. Trust me!

Related: Why You’re More Successful Than You Think 

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Career

Life Tip: Never Take Anything Good For Granted

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Have you ever had something really good in your life, until you took it for granted and lost it? What a horrible, miserable feeling, right? It’s the worst.

I know from experience.

My senior year of basketball still leaves a sour taste in my mouth thinking about it.

It’s strange though because it started out good, like really good.

After thousands of hours of insane dedication to practice my basketball craft and improve my shooting, dribbling, passing, defending, and rebounding, I reached a dream of mine: make the starting lineup for the St. Xavier Bombers varsity basketball team.

Not only that, my first game of the year couldn’t have been better considering I only played 14 minutes the entire game. The stat line below proves it.

brian-robben-basketball-stats

And we won the game by 23 points. Everything is going smooth, until it wasn’t.

From the next game through the last game of the year it was all downhill.

Let me explain.

The Lost & Final Basketball Season

Let’s just say I was a different guy in high school. Now I’m all motivated and focused on building my businesses and leaving a legacy.

But the 18-year-old Brian was all about wreaking havoc and having a good time above all.

To express himself at school or during basketball team activities, he’d go as far as he could to toe the line of breaking the rules for pure laughs and excitement. Often he crossed the line.

Here are some of the reckless things I did during that basketball season:

  • After receiving a hard foul when driving to the basket, I stayed on the ground and racked off 5 push ups before shooting foul shots
  • On the bench during a pre-season game, I grabbed my phone and sent a tweet out to my Twitter followers explaining what I just did (tweeted during the game)
  • Ruined team pictures by putting a 3 goggles sign on my thigh, so the school had to retake them a week later
  • Stormed the refs locker room after a frustrating overtime loss when a bunch of questionable calls went against us
  • Put a teammate in a headlock during a shoot around hours before a game
  • And a lot more crazy stuff

That’s not close to all of the bad-boy moves.

I don’t know if you realize this, but it’s hard to play solid basketball and stay in the coaching staff’s good graces when you’re messing around whenever you can. It doesn’t work out well.

take-basketball-for-granted

That’s why it’s to no shock looking back that I got suspended twice. The first time I had to sit out two quarters against our biggest rival. And then I was suspended a full week from the team later in the year.

Not to mention a bunch of other disciplinary issues and conflicts with coaches that I don’t have time nor want to discuss.

It all boils down to the fact that my antics sabotaged my final year of basketball.

After the season ended, the problem was I couldn’t go back in time to stay focused on basketball and give it my 100% again. That ship had sailed. The opportunity was gone.

So I had to, and now have to, live with regret when thinking back to that year and what could have been.

But regret about not appreciating the game of basketball isn’t the only thing I received from that experience. It’s the unforgettable lesson: never take anything good for granted.

Fortunately I learned this lesson at age 18, not 48.

Never Take It For Granted

Thanks to my failure that year, I developed a wiser perspective to appreciate the good things in my life.

So now I know never to take my work, my company, my clients, my health, my friends, my family, and life in general for granted. Regret is the worst feeling out there so I want to live in a way that eliminates it.

Where maybe if my senior year basketball season went smoother I’d never have learned the full extent of that lesson. Who knows? Maybe something far worse than a disappointing basketball season could have went down.

But because of the outcome I get to hold that experience in my back pocket going forward. I turned a scar into an advantage.

Although it’s always cool for me to flip negative experiences into positive ones, it’d be even better if I didn’t have to learn the hard way.

Truth is you don’t have to be a dummy like me.

I don’t know what your “it” is (I can guess it’s your family, friends, faith, career, pets, house, teachers, and country). I do know you need to never take it for granted if you want what’s best out of your life.

Also, don’t forget to appreciate the little things that come and go during the passing days.

It could be your peaceful commute to work where you’re alone with your thoughts. It could be the Monday morning cup of coffee you can afford without thinking about. Or it can be your place’s proximity to the beach that other people would kill to have.

Never taking life’s big and small gifts for granted is a big step to living the good life.

And there’s another reason to have this mindset: you don’t want to mess around with regret.

Regret Is Brutal, Eliminate It

Regret is the worst feeling out there in my opinion.

Sadness sucks but you can become happy again. Anger isn’t fun but you can eventually relax and get over it.

But regret, there’s no way to reverse it and recover. It sticks with you the rest of your life. That’s why it’s brutal.

Your only solution is to do your best job to eliminate it at all times by both being super grateful for what’s good in your life and staying focused to keep it going well.

If you are unappreciative and lose focus, there’s sometimes no going back from there. Your fate is often sealed once the moment ends.

I want my life to be filled with as little regret as possible. That’s part of the ingredients for a great life, in my humble opinion.

Don’t you agree? Please join me in this effort to never take anything good for granted.

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