The juice behind this list occurred a year ago when my wife and I were trekking the Annapurna Circuit and were stuck in a snow storm at 4800 meters. Huddled around a fire of yak dung, we were, by a factor of at least 40+ years, older than the young trekkers. In fact, older than all of their parents, and, in some cases, the age of their grandparents. They were fascinated; we didn’t fit into their idea of “old.”
This resulted in hours of conversation about experience, wisdom, and the role of the elderly
in mentoring the young. Needless to say, these 20-year olds were hungry for advice and
wisdom that they didn’t know they needed, nor did they realize that some of us older folks
have to offer.
I hope you agree with them and share them with “your” millennial.
Need to see my resume before proceeding? Go to my Linked-In
1st Hack: “Narcissism”
They say Millennials are narcissistic. Guess what? So were we Baby Boomers. We were the
ones who rescued the Self from the hypocrisy of duty, honor, and country. Our mantra, Tune In, Turn On, Drop Out was a rallying cry for individual experience.
1. Don’t get thrown off by the word narcissistic. The highest form of knowledge is self knowledge. Let your life be a journey of self-discovery.
2. How? Travel before the world becomes one Pepsi commercial. Travelling is a great
antidote to arrogance. It’s so lame to actually think that we got it together and they don’t.
3. To grow you need to shake up your world view. Knowing what you don’t know is a
prerequisite to wisdom.
4. How? A great question – unpolluted by self-interest – is the energy behind growth.
5. Before you begin anything, ask why? A compelling why is a powerful motivator.
6. We all have a purpose. But, sadly most of us go through life not realizing it. The great
challenge is to figure out why you’re here.
7. How? Start by making an inventory about what turns you on. You might find a pattern.
8. You’ll never find your purpose by shoulding all over yourself. Try turning your shoulds
into wants and see what happens. Wants come from the inside; shoulds from the outside. We naturally rebel against anything we don’t personally own.
9. You were born into an open source universe. Knowledge is accessible, but so is stupidity,
fake news, and unsubstantiated opinions. Be open, but suspicious. Question everything but
learn how to distinguish truth from bullshit.
10. “Only the Paranoid survive.” (Andy Grove, Holocaust survivor and Founder of Intel.)
Anticipate problems and then plan on how to deal with them, when or if they arise. This is
essential in business and relationships.
11. Life’s worth living when you’re making a difference. So, start making a difference now.
12. How? You don’t have to create a game changing technology; try being genuinely curious about someone. We all want to be seen for who we are. Remember Avatar, “I see you” = I love you. Meditate on that.
13. It’s said that millennials need immediate gratification. Guess what? We all need
immediate gratification. The only way to succeed at anything in life is learning how to extract pleasure on the road to accomplishment.
14. When I was in my 20’s I was sure freedom meant never having to say no to pleasure. I
discovered this: Real Freedom and Real Pleasure is the power to say no.
15. Get your head around this: “You can never get enough of what you don’t need.”
16. Love, friendship. creativity, and health are not granted. They’re earned.
17. One thing is certain: we’re all going to die. What’s not certain is when. Your life is
measured in time. Value it.
18. Don’t whine. If you don’t like something, work to change it. It’s the ultimate in self-love.
19. “All decisions are made with insufficient data but we’re responsible nevertheless.”
(Sheldon Kopp) You’ll never have control over all the variables nor will you ever be able to
anticipate all the consequences of a decision. A committed relationship is a perfect
example. If you’re terrified of making a mistake, you’ll remain stuck. Take a deep breath and decide. You can always clean up your messes.
2nd Hack: Success
Success is something that each of us must define for ourselves. The more it’s aligned with
your deeper values and sense of who you are, the more profound will be your sense of
21. Don’t ever, ever let anyone else define what your successful life should be.
22. Success is a function of courage. It takes courage to face the potential for failure.
23. Being fearless is bullshit. You’re a hero when you’re scared shitless and you proceed
24. To succeed you need to learn to make pain your friend. How? By turning your anger and fear into fuel for growth.
25. Have someone in mind who doesn’t believe in you and say (in your mind), “F**k you, I
will.” That’s one way to use anger to motivate yourself.
26. If you’re scared of failing, then use that fear to help you succeed. Deconstruct your fears and then find the answers to each one. I promise you there’re answers.
27. Success is function of 4 P’s: Purpose, Pain, Persistence, and a Plan. Learn to master each one.
28. Purpose: Keep drilling down by asking why do you want X? The deeper the answer is the more sustainable will be your motivation. Discover your compelling why.
29. Pain: See 22 & 23 above. When you go after something worthwhile, you’ll invariably have periods of self-doubt, fear, and resistance. You may want to quit. Most likely you’ve lost your way – your sense of purpose. Refocus on your compelling why and you’ll find your way back.
30. Persistence: I can’t emphasize enough how important consistency is in achieving success. According to reliable research, to achieve mastery you need 10,000 hours of experience. Steph Curry didn’t become Steph Curry by playing computer games.
31. Plan: Remember this: Kaizen. Kaizen is the way to succeed at anything. Never ran and
want to run a marathon? Kaizen: Start by walking 5 minutes, every day at the same time for a week, then slowly increase. The Kaizen Method: small incremental steps, done daily with zero resistance lead to great accomplishments.
32. Mark Twain said it very well, “1% inspiration, 99% perspiration.” You want to succeed?
Use all the life hacks you can find or invent, but there’s no mastery without hard work and
33. Do one thing well and stick with it. You’ll be amazed about what you’ll discover about
34. This is what I learned about being a good cook: Get great ingredients and don’t f**k them up by overcooking or over-flavoring. It’s a metaphor for life. Keep things simple. It’s a principle that works well in cooking, business, and relationships.
35. Much of what we do in life is a function of routine. Much of who we are is a sum of our
habits. Start cultivating good habits now. It’s been said so often that it’s become a cliché, but it’s true nevertheless. Make your bed every morning! For some of you, it will be life
36. When you fail, and you will, you will do 1 of 2 things: 1. You’ll beat yourself up and feel
shame and guilt, which could traumatize you so profoundly that it will be hard to move on.
Or, 2. You’ll pick yourself up and ask yourself, “What can I learn from this failure?” After my
first business failure, I wrote 50 things I learned. Please choose 2.
37. Find a mentor. He or she can play an essential role in your success.
38. Work, when working, is not work. It’s self-expression. There’s nothing like being alive
when you’re alive. Don’t make sacrifices for money. It will kill your spirit.
3rd Hack: Relationships
Research shows that the happiest people are people who are connected to friends and
family. We’re hardwired to be social. Cultivate relationships.
39. Here’s the formula to make a relationship work: My friend’s needs are equally as
important as my own. Most especially true in committed relationships.
40. You can’t make anyone love you. You can, however, learn to love.
41. Loving is giving. Small acts of consideration go a long way toward creating love.
42. Cultivate gratitude. Do you have any idea how many people are involved in sustaining
43. Don’t blame your parents. No one said they’re supposed to be perfect. They’re just
stumbling through life just like the rest of us.
44. I’ve been with the same woman since 1974 and I love her more now. It’s possible, but like all successes in life you have to know what you want and what it takes to succeed. Learning how to love has its own rules. I encourage you to learn them. It’s worth it.
45. Great sex is great sex. The fascinating thing about great sex is that it isn’t an absolute
requirement for a great relationship. Emotional connection, friendship, a sense of humor,
and shared interests are more sustainable.
4th Hack: Health
The medical establishment doesn’t own your body. You do. How you treat your body has a
huge impact on your well-being, self-esteem, productivity, and, of course, your health.
46. You want to climb mountains when you’re 70? Believe me it’s possible. Here’s how: Start taking care of your body when you’re 20.
47. Youth is a function of the energy you have in your body. That energy is finite. You can
deplete it, or you can enhance it. It’s not complicated: eat well, sleep well, and exercise. If
you don’t, when you reach your parents’ age, you’ll regret it.
48. People say to me that “I’m so disciplined,” because I exercise every day. Wrong! It
doesn’t take discipline to do what you love. Dance, run, climb, cycle, swim, compete. Find
what you love and make it part of your life.
49. In a world filled with so many choices, some of us can feel confusion, uncertainty, and
helplessness. We may have periods where we feel out of control. There’s no shame in getting help. It can make a big difference in your life.
50. The best way to maintain mental health is by learning the art of positive self-talk.
When you speak to yourself like you would with your best friend, you’re likely to learn how to guide yourself through life’s inevitable challenges.
I arbitrarily chose 50. I could have chosen 100. Millennials are reputed to have a short
attention span. So, either no one is reading this last sentence, and if so, I’ll have to learn from my mistake, or a few or more of you are. So, if that’s the case I hope these 50 life hacks actually speak to you and can make a difference in your life.
Feel free to share them.