52 Life Lessons I Learned By Asking 52 People The Same Question (Part 1 of 2)

“Thankfully perseverance is a good substitute for talent.” — Steve Martin

“If you get one idea out of a $20 book that changes your life then it’s a bargain,” — Seth Godin

On my 39th birthday I reserved two hours for myself and did something I had always wanted to do, I sat down and made a list of the lessons I had learned over the years. However, after publishing it I realized that I had left out the most important lesson of all (and the tipping point as to why this year I finally took the time to do it, as opposed to just talking about doing it):

Instead of asking people what they are watching, ask them what they are reading.

Over the past year this simple switch has moved me from someone who read, to a “reader.” And in the process has brought my long-term goals into short-term reach, improved my existing relationships and helped to build a few new ones (this question not only helps to leave a good first impression, but it can help make a great second impression once you run into that person again and talk about the book they mentioned. After all — there is no higher compliment than listening to someone).

This past weekend I spent a few hours going through the books and accompaning notes that I have been recommended over the last year and below are the quotes that stood out.

52 Lessons from 52 Books as a result of asking 52 people the same question:


1. “If you are going to eat shit, don´t nibble.”

Reminder: Positive impacts are created by how well you deal with the negative aspects. Push through.


2. “Fear is a natural reaction to moving closer to the truth”

Reminder: The more uncomfortable you are today, the more comfortable you will be tomorrow.


3. “Pickles made me happy.”

Reminder: Focus on the little things everyday that make you smile……and eat more pickles.


4. “I have come to believe that one of the most important things, is to see people. The person who opens the door for you. The person that pours your coffee. Acknowledge them. Show them respect. The traditional greeting of the Zulu people of South Africa is `Sawu Bona.´ It means, `I See You.´ I try and do that.”

Reminder: Be nice to people and people will be nice to you.


5. “The only currency that matters in this world is what you share with someone else when you are uncool.”

Reminder: Be vulnerable.


6. “The single easiest way to find out how you feel about someone. Say goodbye.”

Reminder: Tell people what they mean to you every chance you get.


7. “It’s the possibility of having a dream come true that makes life interesting.“

Reminder: Nothing ever big happened by dreaming small.

What’s the world’s greatest lie?” the boy asked, completely surprised. It’s this: That at a certain point in our lives, we lose control of what’s happening to us, and our lives become controlled by fate. That is the world’s greatest lie.

Reminder: We create and control our future.


8. “The privilege of a lifetime is being who you are.”

Reminder: Be true to yourself.


9. “Most successful people are people you’ve never heard of. They want it that way. It keeps them sober. It helps them do their jobs.”

Reminder: Knowing your WHY is the easier part. Living your WHY demands self-control, self-assessment and self-awareness every single day.


10. “It is not what you preach, but what you tolerate.”

Reminder: Reputations are built on what you do, not what you promise.


11. “We can either make ourselves miserable, or we make ourselves strong. The amount of work is the same.”

Reminder: Positivity is a choice.


12. “Thankfully perserverance is a good substitute for talent.”

Reminder: You have this one advantage over everyone.


13. “Typically, people who exercise, start eating better and becoming more productive at work. They smoke less and show more patience with colleagues and family. They use their credit cards less frequently and say they feel less stressed. Exercise is a keystone habit that triggers widespread change.”

Reminder: Write exercise at the top of your daily to-do list. Write it twice when times get tough.


14. “Victory favors the team making the fewest mistakes.”

Reminder: Professionals do it until they cannot do it wrong.


15. “Don´t play everything. Let some things go by. What you don´t play can be more important than what you do.”

Reminder: What we say “no” to ultimately determines how well we do the things we say “yes” to.


16. “You don’t get to pick your family, but you can pick your teachers and you can pick your friends and you can pick the music you listen to and you can pick the books you read and you can pick the movies you see. You are, in fact, a mashup of what you choose to let into your life. You are the sum of your influences. The German writer Goethe said, We are shaped and fashioned by what we love.

Reminder: Our decisions today determine our future tomorrow.


17. “Growth comes at the point of resistance. We learn by pushing ourselves and finding what really lies at the outer reaches of our abilities.”

Reminder: You can always run for five more minutes.


18. “Self assessment is more important than self awareness.”

Reminder: Be brutally honest with yourself.


19. “I know of no case study in history that describes an organization that has been managed out of a crisis. Every single one of them was led.”

- Leaders Eat Last / Simon Sinek

Reminder: People. People. People.


20. “Being honest about the existence of a small blemish can enhance your offerings true beauty.”

Reminder: Honestly first, second and third.


21. “Don’t aim at success, the more you aim at it and make it a target, the more you are going to miss it.”

Reminder: Don´t worry about making something great, worry about getting great at the making.


22. “You never know where somebody’s going to end up. It’s not just about building your reputation; it really is about being there for other people.”

Reminder: The person serving you coffee today could be your boss tomorrow.


23. “There are always more of them before they are counted.”

Reminder: Problems are always bigger in our heads.


24. “No one owes you a great career. You need to earn it — and the process won’t be easy.”

Reminder: Having a career you love is a privilege, not a right.


25. “Never underestimate the vital importance of finding early in life the work that for you is play. This turns possible underachievers into happy warriors.”

Reminder: Never stop trying new things and meeting new people. The dots will eventually connect.


26. “We don’t tell ourselves, `I’m never going to write my symphony.´ Instead we say, `I am going to write my symphony; I’m just going to start tomorrow.´”

- The War of Art / Steven Pressfield

Reminder: Read this everyday.


What are some of your favorite quotes from some recent books you have read?

Check back tomorrow for Part 2 of "52 Life Lessons I Learned By Asking 52 People The Same Question"

Story originally published on Hacker Noon

Wisdom, Well-Being, Advice, Life Lessons

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