What I Did Wrong and What I Did Right

I’ve messed up a lot in life. In my twenties I worked twelve hours a day six days a week in the gym. Weekends were wasted drinking like a frat boy and chasing girls in loud bars till all hours of the night. I was the poster child for extreme living in the big city, and I’m convinced this lifestyle led to the anxiety attacks I suffered at age thirty.

On the bright side, I failed a lot. Yes, failure can be a good thing. My failures taught me valuable lessons. Those lessons became the foundation of the success pyramid I stand on today. Some gurus frown upon failure, and would tell me I shouldn’t have screwed up in the first place. But what can I say? I’m human.

Show me someone that hasn’t made a mistake in life, and I’ll show you… no one. Why not look on the bright side of life at all times especially when things don’t go your way?

In my thirties, I smartened up. A bit. I still failed frequently, but I finally started to make a few wise decisions, too. Those wise decisions almost always involved connections with other people.

I hired a business coach and for the first time I shared my dream of one day having a business like Early To Rise. I joined a Mastermind group. I partnered with Go-Givers like Bedros Keuilian. I started coaching other experts that wanted to turn their ideas into money, just like I had. I shed my scarcity mindset and replaced it with one of abundance.

Networking became second nature to me, even as an introvert. I built up a Rolodex of the “Who’s Who” in my industry by attending events and connecting via email. You don’t have to be a natural born schmoozer to meet the right people that can have a big impact on your life. Just go with a giving hand. Find a way to add value to their lives. They’ll thank you, and you’ll forever have friends in high (and low) places.

As my students became more successful, I became a better coach. Today I know this maxim to be true: When you teach others, you learn more and benefit more than the student you are teaching. That is why you must mentor others if you desire to continue your own personal and professional growth.

I first heard this articulated by Kevin Spacey who said, “Send the elevator back down.” He was referring to mentoring young actors. I later learned that thousands of years before Spacey, the philosopher Seneca advised, “Associate with people who are likely to improve you. Welcome those whom you are capable of improving. The process is a mutual one. People learn as they teach.”

Whether you prefer your philosophical bent from Hollywood or the Stoics, they are both right and wise. It is the people you associate yourself with in life that matter.

My late thirties brought a business partnership with Matt Smith. He helped me acquire Early To Rise, achieving a goal I’d set almost ten years earlier. It’s amazing how the world conspires to fulfill your dreams when you take action, connect with good people, and share your goals with the world.

Now that I’ve entered my forties, my thinking has become clearer. I am able to better articulate the Operating System that I’ve followed on my journey to success. I’ve written about this development in my Rules for Living article. If you don’t like that phrase, you can also call them your “Code” or your Personal Philosophy for living. Regardless, you must have an SOS – a Success Operating System – that puts more structure in your life and allows you to achieve the freedom you desire.

I was not the first to notice this. The philosopher Immanuel Kant believed that we must all have maxims, a short list of essential rules for living, that should be strictly adhered to and followed for the rest of one’s life.

That is the Paradox of Success. More Structure = More Freedom. The freedom that people so desperately seek in life comes only from having more structure in your days. Celebrated author Paulo Coelho articulates it better, “Discipline and freedom are not mutually exclusive but mutually dependent because otherwise, you’d sink into chaos.”

My life has been an incredible journey of personal development. I needed a lot of help. It’s why I became ETR’s biggest fan when I found it in 2001. It left a mark on me, and it is my goal to have it do the same for millions more in the coming decades.

But of all the lessons I’ve learned over the years, here is the most important message I want to convey to you.

You must know thyself. You must know how you should be living, and then you must live that way, being proud of your decisions, and you must stop worrying about what others think.

If only I had the courage to do this in my twenties, I know I’d be wealthier, wiser, healthier, and happier.

The sooner you can do this in life, the better, but it is never too late.

It is never, ever, ever too late to get better.

You can change. You can live the life you’ve always wanted. You can have Perfect Days. You can live a Perfect Life of your design. It all starts withcreating the rules for your life.