It crossed my mind the other day – I’ve been blogging (again) for almost a year, and I have a section for posts in English, but it is still empty. So, I’ve decided to do my best, and to write at least one post each month in English. I’ll start with something I’ve been talking about a lot lately, but never actually had a chance to share it with my friends who don’t speak Serbian. So, here are the 10 things I’ve learned over the past 10 years.
1. Make mistakes often and a lot. Mistakes are okay; they keep you in training.
It may come as a shock to you, but making mistakes is perfectly okay. No one is capable of keeping the winning streak forever. You made a decision, and it was hard. Sometimes it ends up being the best thing you ever did, sometimes it ends up being a complete and utter failure. In some cases, it was all up to you; in some cases, you did all you could, and it still turned out for the worse. Mistakes are part of the equation, they are a statistical probability, and they happen. Just keep deciding, use your best judgment, keep your guard up, and keep walking forward.
2. Try not to repeat mistakes, there are so many new amazing mistakes you can make.
From any mistake you learn far more than from successes. It keeps you sharp and on the edge, but it allows you to experience situations you wouldn’t know any other way. They are, though, thing of the past, and they are lessons to be learned. It doesn’t make too much sense to learn the same lesson over and over again. Explore new opportunities, win, lose, but keep walking forward.
3. You adapt, life won’t.
Life puts all kind of obstacles and hurdles in front of you. Pushing against the wall won’t help you get far. We all need to adapt, we all need to find a way, to make a way. Barry Schwartz says that the key to happiness is in lowered expectations, and maybe he is right. Certainly, we can’t change so many of the things life consists of, and the ones we can, we should put to work on our behalf.
4. Murphy is almost always right, be prepared to celebrate his mistakes.
Pessimists are rarely wrong. They are in an amazing position. When looking at life, they have only two possible outcomes – either they are right, and we like being right more than anything else, or they will be pleasantly surprised. Good things happen less often than we would like, and we have to learn to cherish each and every moment of happiness.
5. Nothing is ideal. There is good, there is better. Better is pretty amazing.
Life never follows the ideal path we planned, and things are never exactly the way we want. Nothing is as good, and no improvement is as big, as we hoped for. But… As long as we see improvement, as long as there is movement to the better, we shouldn’t complain. Speed is something that can be adjusted, but going in the right direction is the key.
6. Make maneuvering space when you can. You will need it.
Similar to what Sun Tzu said a long time ago, you need to build up maneuvering space when you have time to spare. Money is saved when you have it, not when you are down under. You will need it, and you will need it when your situation is at the toughest point. Think about it on time.
7. Planning is okay, flexibility is good, and improvisation is everything.
A plan by itself is worthless, but planning is essential. When you plan, you are working out scenarios, you are thinking about various outcomes, you get prepared for different cases. Since things never turn out the way you plan, you need to be flexible. Frequently, you need to completely change the way you think and do things to get the outcome you desire. Sometimes, you even change the desired outcome. Everything changes, you are floating, and you improvise your way to the top.
8. What’s one year compared to eternity?
Every success is the result of a long term process. Every success. And not every long term process ends up as a success. But you need to think long term, you need to see a bigger picture, you need to be aware that it takes a lot of time and a lot of work to get visible results. Measurable and comparable mark is one year, and in many cases it takes 10 years. That is 3650 days, 87600 hours, 5256000 minutes, 315360000 seconds. One just passed – just 315 million to go!
9. No fuss, no rush, this is a super-marathon race. Your place is determined at the end.
There aren’t many situations when it makes sense long term to push yourself over the limit short term. That is the exception, not the strategy. Exceptions are fine, but strategy is something that doesn’t tolerate any extremes. You need to think long ahead, you need to keep in mind that continuous work is the only kind of work that gives results. There is no such a thing as permanent success, it is a continuous journey, a living organism, but it takes serious work and serious time to get serious results.
10. Your job is to do all that is up to you, the best you can. Everything else is not in your hands.
Cursing destiny, looking at the sky and swearing at the Higher power is meaningless. Won’t make you feel any better, won’t get you anywhere, won’t solve anything. You are responsible for what you do, and what you decide, and even then you can’t predict the future, and if you gave your best at the given time, that is all that matters. It is bad now, next time it will be better. It will. That is how it works.
At the end of the day, all you need is to try to bring closer what you want, what you can, and what you do in the end. Because it doesn’t really matter where you are now. What matters is where you want to be, and where you end up… and that is completely up to you 😉
As one Scottish drunken bastard from Kilmarnock said all that time ago… Keep walking.