What would I say to my younger self?... There are guarantees in life including change, challenges, opportunities, choices, and 1,440 minutes every day. The top twelve most important things in life are truth, time, communication (especially with yourself), self-discipline (mind and emotions), your identity (including your faith), health, relationships, finances, planning (decision-making, goal setting, and prioritizing), productivity (including habits), grit, and consistently investing in yourself because compound interest also applies to our knowledge, health, and relationships. Truth is our most valuable resource, because it allows us to make the best use of our time and make better choices.
Wisdom is the third level of knowledge. Knowledge is knowing truths about what things do, and why they do them, or the traits and background of a person. Understanding is knowing principles about how multiple truths or things interact, or how a person, or group of people will probably react or respond in a specific situation. Wisdom is the ability to apply knowledge and understanding to make better choices.
Leadership is influence, purpose, and responsibility, and self-leadership is a thing. We have more influence on our life than anyone else, and we have the most responsibility for our life. Be careful with choices during emotional highs and lows, that is where our biggest dangers hide in waiting.
Everyone wants to be treated with dignity and integrity, in a fair, caring, and respectful way. Consider the following questions for making choices; What would my family and friends think of this choice? What are the consequences of this choice five years from now, ten years from now, and how would I feel about those consequences? Understand that sometimes our family and friends are not the best consideration for our choices, but they often are. I think our most important questions in life are… Is there a spirit realm and a higher power? How will I lead and take care of myself? Who will I love and marry? If the answer to the first question is yes, it holds more opportunity than any other question, consider it carefully.
Choose to deliberately develop yourself. Our natural abilities are natural opportunities, when developed these can lead to human-made opportunity. Development is a recurring process of discover, design, and deliver. Some professionals believe developing our identity is the most important factor in our success. Be open and ready to help others develop, overcome challenges, and achieve their goals. Not much sticks in our memory like those who helped us through challenging seasons or helped us achieve our goals.
The world can be a mean and cruel place, and the more we work on our personal and professional growth the better we can respond to challenges. If you are ever in a situation that seems like there is no way out, and it seems like a specific person, or people, put you in that situation, please do not forsake your self-control. It might not be what it looks like. Do the best you can, with what you know and have, where you are at.
Strengthen your identity and self-discipline. Our identity isn’t just clarifying and committing to who we are and what we stand for, it’s also clarifying and committing to who we are not and what we stand against. Many people of power and environments (groups of people) are looking to use people for their purposes, which is often good, but not always. Sometimes they empower, equip, and encourage people to follow their passion and achieve their goals in their own organization. If we follow our passion in our own organization, self-discipline is even more important. Be careful following your passion, it doesn’t always work out, especially the younger you are. Try to help those who are determined to follow their passion, especially if they have given their best physical years serving the purpose of others.
Some human development professionals believe self-discipline is the most important factor in our success. Self-discipline is a form of sacrifice, or putting aside what we want now for what we want most. Develop self-discipline, because no success principle will work if we don’t have the self-discipline to truly understand it and apply it, with truth. Truth is arguably our most important value and resource, as there is no significant growth without it, because it reveals how to best grow. We grow by thinking, speaking, and acting in a calm, clear, courageous, compassionate, and self-controlled way, based on truth.
The truth is, all of us have 1,440 new minutes all of our days, except one. Truth will help us make the most of our days. Truth is a requirement for innovation, and we can innovate our personal processes. There is no such thing as “personal truth,” that is like saying something is an “opinion fact.” Truth is an objective fact of reality, not to be confused with our personal beliefs or opinions. The truth is, everyone wants to be treated with integrity, in a fair, caring, and respectful way.
Know all thoughts, words, and actions come from our needs, motivations, and purpose. The basic human needs as revealed to us by the human development professional Abraham Maslow, as physical (food, water, and shelter), safety (physical, mental, and emotional), belonging (love), self-esteem, and self-actualization.
Know the basic human motivations are power, pleasure, and purpose, as revealed to us by the human development professionals Friedrich Nietzsche, Sigmund Freud, and Viktor Frankl. Viktor Frankl lived after Nietzsche and Freud and studied the power principle and the pleasure principle. Viktor Frankl was a victim of the Holocaust and spent time as a prisoner in the Auschwitz prison camp, and carefully observed human nature at its lowest level. Later, after he was freed, he went on to practice helping people develop purpose in their lives. Dr. Viktor Frankl proved that people pursue power and pleasure when they lack purpose. He wrote about his prison experience and private practice experience in his book, Man’s Search for Meaning. In his book he mentions how meaning can be developed through our efforts, experiencing someone or something, or our attitude towards suffering. I submit the human motivations of power, pleasure, and purpose are a reflection of the human spirit of power, love, and self-control (2 Timothy 1:7).
Know that fear is also a powerful motivator that usually focuses on a possible loss of power or pleasure, and can pretend to be wisdom. Fear is future based, not to be confused with danger in the immediate moment. Know our subconscious mind is more powerful than our conscious mind, and our conscious mind is constantly telling our subconscious mind to “file away” or “throw away” specific thoughts, emotions, and desires. Whatever our conscious mind focuses on the most, our subconscious mind will “file away” and continue focusing on.
Learn how to manage your thoughts, emotions, and desires, and embrace truth. Some human development professionals believe a positive mindset is the most important factor in our success, and being positive affects success more than success helps us to be positive. While other human development professionals believe a growth mindset is the most important factor in our success. Believe that you can learn, grow, and achieve your goals, while understanding it may take time and multiple tries. We are not responsible for all our thoughts and emotions, but we are responsible for what we do with them, either embrace them or replace them. If they need replaced, do it quickly.
Stay healthy because you only get one body and mind and they have a direct connection to our self-esteem and self-respect. Good habits are harder to maintain if our health is challenged. Know there are many truths about health, and some of these truths even seem to contradict each other. This could mean some truths are actually personal beliefs or experiences, or it could just be a reflection of the fact that we are all unique in our genetics and body chemistry, that health can be complicated, and some truths are based on other truths. Health is a combination of how our food and drink, activity, sleep, supplements, stress, and environment, interact with our genetics. If you only got one car to drive your entire life, how would you take care of it? Think of your body and mind in this way. Eat well, drink water, be active, and rest well.
Consider doing at least one set of pullups, pushups, and situps or a plank each day, as these will work out all the major muscle groups in the upper body. Consider some squats or high jumps if you also want to work out your legs. Like most things that require self-discipline, exercise is easier with an accountability partner. If you have trouble getting energized after getting out of bed, try doing one of these exercises first thing after getting out of bed. There are three ways the human body detoxifies, excretion, sweating, and breathing. Exercise can help detoxify in two of those three ways.
Consider breathing exercises. Regular deep breathing can help our mindset, emotions, and physical health. Consider taking time each day to sit still and not think or say anything but just breath deep for five or ten minutes, with a simple four count in and four count (or more) out. Many health professionals refer to this as mindful meditation, not to be confused with a religious kind of meditation, mindfulness has no religious aspect, it is basically a breathing exercise.
Develop faith and hope. Faith is certainty based on knowledge of truth, while hope contains some level of uncertainty based on understanding of principles, or how multiple truths interact. Having faith or hope during challenging times is often the deciding factor on how we come through the challenging times, especially if we have a purpose. When things get tough, as they often do, human nature wants us to default to being sad, angry, or silly (laugh it off). Instead, try to stay calm, get serious, and think clearly. I believe there is a higher power that loves us, wants us to love others, wants us to be positive, achieve our goals, and overcome challenges, whether or not challenges find us or they were created by us.
Constantly think about your situation and ask yourself, “How can I … ?” Starting more of your questions this way will help get us closer to who we want to become and what we want, but only when asked and thought about seriously. Thinking seriously about your present situation will definitely help to improve your future. But you can be too serious, and you can be serious too often. People are not as attracted to serious people as they were a few generations ago.
Know your personality and strengths, as they can help with your professional growth and purpose. Finding work that uses your strengths will help you to naturally be more engaged in your work (which can lead to being more successful). Many people can’t find work that uses their strengths, especially when they are young. Many young people don’t even know what their personality or strengths are, I didn’t truly understand my personality and strengths until later in my life. When the internet starts growing you will find many personal assessments online including personality tests and strengths assessments. Be careful giving information like this to businesses online or offline, as personal information will become a very valuable commodity, used to influence people. Consider getting a physical workbook that you can do on your own to figure out details about your personality and strengths. Know that our strengths can be built up.
The return on investment in our weaknesses will not be as good as the return on investment in our strengths. Don’t let your weaknesses get too bad, but don’t spend too much time building those up either. Try and find ways to compensate for your weaknesses, unless they are terrible, then build them up.
Nurture important relationships with grace and truth, as relationships are an influential factor in our challenges and they are a rewarding factor in our victories, and they are a big part of our purpose. Many people believe our relationships are the most important factor in our success. There are many truths about relationships including trust being the foundation of relationships. Trust can be built with vulnerability, empathy, safety, truthfulness, respect, and common ground or purpose.
Our natural body chemicals are often linked to our emotions, and our big three natural chemicals that make us feel good, more positive, and more trusting are dopamine, oxytocin, and serotonin. Dopamine is often released with emotions of suspense and reward. Oxytocin is often released with emotions of vulnerability and empathy. Serotonin is often released with the emotion of pride. Know these chemicals can become addicting, which could require consistent serious thoughts and actions to overcome. The danger is when emotions, backed by our natural chemicals, override our logical thoughts. Emotions are like the weather, we can often see them coming, or feel them coming, and we can prepare for them. Emotions are temporary, or at least they should be.
Arguably our most important relationship on earth will be with who we choose to marry, as this can last for many decades if developed. Imagine how well you could know someone, how productive you could be with them, and what you could accomplish together. Marriages are more likely to last if they are based on compatibility and chemistry.Compatibility is based on character, values, beliefs, and deep sincere communication and experiences. Chemistry is based on physical attraction, personality, and fun communication and experiences. Marriages are more likely to go bad if they are based just on chemistry. Be careful to ensure compatibility before getting married, and consider dating for at least twelve months prior.
Know there are many important categories of beliefs including religion, race, education, gender, sex, health care, abortion, capitalism, class or status, crime, privacy, guns, and government. Of course politics touches on all these, and the two big political parties in America have specific positions on each one of these topics, and each one of these topics have people with extreme beliefs. Know you are not likely to find someone who believes the same as you in all categories. Learn to ask subtle questions that can help you identify where people stand on your most important beliefs. Try and prioritize some of your most important beliefs as relationship “deal breakers” and develop understanding of other’s beliefs in other areas. Love yourself and others with wisdom.
Love is not soft and weak. I submit that love works in the world through people sharing grace and truth. It seems that such grace and truth thinks, speaks, and acts with wisdom, integrity, courage, compassion. Love empowers us with grace, truth, and empathy, it equips us with skills and resources, and it encourages us with appreciation and inspiration. Love deliberately develops yourself and builds others up. The Bible gives a great definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. Love is the greatest gift we can give to ourselves and others. Love is not easy, but it is necessary.
Avoid feeling entitled and be careful with expectations. We can’t avoid all assumptions but be careful with them also, because they can lead to unwarranted expectations that can lead to a feeling of entitlement. Assumptions are often the playground for jealousy, anger, lust, ego, division, laziness, and overindulgence. Truth confirms or denies assumptions, seek it, think about it, speak it, and act on it. Communication that is calm and clear, with courage, compassion, and self-control can often confirm or deny assumptions, especially when supported by truth.
Find ways to empower, equip, and encourage people around you, with minimal expectations. Some expectations are good, especially when based on truth. Understand reciprocity is a subconscious human desire to return similar emotions and acts that we receive from others. We only have one life, help as many people as you can and forgive often, but be careful around people who have opposing values and beliefs, and a hardened heart, as this can minimize the number of times you need to forgive. Again, love yourself and others, with wisdom.
Our words are very important. We have the power of life and death in our words. Our most important communication is with ourselves, which can strengthen our life, love, and light. Speak life and build yourself up, in a humble way, our ego is dangerous. Your soul or spirit is no better than anyone else’s, though we are all different in our body and mind, every person has value. If you are reading this there are many people in the world who you can empower and encourage with your words, and they might never forget it.
I have recently come to believe that communication is our most important skill. Some studies show the most successful people do not shy away from necessary conversations that are emotionally charged. Successful people learn to be calm, clear, courageous, and compassionate during emotionally charged conversations. I wish I would have studied, practiced, and mastered this skill when I was young. Study communication and practice your communication skills.
When it comes to communication, human nature tends to remember stories more than truths or facts. A well-expressed story is easier to remember than a handful of facts, and if told well, stories can create natural chemicals in our body that can connect us, focus our attention, and help us feel more motivated or rewarded. Some studies show that telling stories to your kids about how your families ancestors have overcome challenges can increase their grit, connecting their individual identity to a larger family identity. Stories are timeless and can be priceless.
Get good at personal planning or goal setting. Clearly define success for you. Is success someone you will become, or is it material things you will have? Ask yourself “Why?” do you want to become that person or have those things, continue to ask yourself “Why?” after each answer, at least a few times. Some studies claim goal setting is the number one factor for success. Think long-term and create “SMART” goals that are Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-based. Consider the challenges to your goals and ways you can overcome them. Also consider who can help you with your goals and how you could help them. Assign lead measures to your goals. A lead measure is a future-based action that can be changed, not to be confused with a historic statistic of what has happened.
Example lead measures… If I want to lose 10 pounds in three months, the first month I might set lead measures of, exercise four times a week for 20 minutes, sleep 7 hours each night, calorie counting, and limiting desserts or sweets to one a day (maybe in the evening not long before brushing my teeth, but not right before going to sleep either). Take care of your smile, it is powerful and contagious, practice it.
Time is our most valuable resource. Learn how to be productive with good habits and maintain a clean and orderly immediate environment. There are some universal productivity habits that involve planning, prioritizing, and being proactive. “No” can be the most powerful word for being productive. Try and keep some amount of free time available in your schedule, as you never know what opportunity might appear. This is often referred to as “margin.” Some experts claim our immediate environment has more effect on our willpower or self-discipline than we realize. A clean, orderly, and inspiring immediate environment has a positive effect on our subconscious mind. Understand it is easier to maintain a clean and orderly environment if we clean it up every day or two. The more days we let it get unclean and messy, the harder it will be to get ourselves to clean it and make it orderly again. This includes our vehicle.
Build your grit (passion and perseverance). Some human development professionals believe grit is the most important factor in our success. No great achievement is ever finished by a person without grit. This is one of the few common denominators of success, no matter our definition of success. Know that successful people quit things, they are just careful about what they quit. The most successful people are careful to not put themselves in a situation where they feel they need to quit. Know that we can build our passion and perseverance by developing our purpose. Purpose includes our faith and hope, desires and strengths, and relationships and love.
Consistently invest in yourself, knowing that compound interest applies to money and our knowledge, health, and relationships. Try and schedule time each week or at least each month to learn something new about your faith, health, relationships, work, or finances. Leaders are readers. Find a mentor, preferably in person, but a virtual mentor is better than no mentor (books, YouTube channels, or podcasts). Consider joining or starting a mastermind book group that reads through a book and meets regularly to talk about the book and how to help each other improve their lives.
Be careful with too much TV, video games, and this social media stuff, because they can all be addictive. Know that spending your time is like an investment, always ask “What is my return on this investment.” Know when it comes to returns on investing in relationships, they can be hard to see. In fact, sometimes we will never see a direct return on our investment in a relationship. Invest in relationships anyway. There is almost always an indirect return for you, and all of us are in this life together.
Invest your money wisely and try very, very hard, to not borrow money. Know that money can help increase happiness because money can provide options and having options is a form of freedom. Money can also provide solutions to personal problems. Some studies show spending money on fun memorable experiences and on helping others can increase happiness more than purchasing material things. However, be careful because too much money can create new fears or worries, and it can lead to accidental values that create unfortunate standards and bad habits. Too much money could also lure you into believing you have some personal problems that you don’t really have.
Keep track of your credit score as this will have an effect on your interest rate if you do get a loan for a car or a house. Gain knowledge on how to make money work for you (investments) instead of spending your entire life working for money. This was a hard lesson for me to learn, and it took a while, and it didn’t happen until after my income dropped significantly. Again, invest your money wisely and try very, very hard, not to borrow money.
While knowledge can be power, applied knowledge is power. Embrace the truth that all our actions start with our thoughts, emotions, or desires, which create our beliefs, which turn into values, which develops standards, which end up turning into habits, that determine our future. If we do not control our thoughts, emotions, and desires they can lead to accidental values, standards, and bad habits.
Bad habits are hard to break, good habits are hard to build, and both start with thoughts, emotions, and desire. Habits are basically a trigger or cue, a desire, a routine, and a reward, all of which can be influenced by us. Our habits are a personal responsibility. Be careful influencing other people’s thoughts, emotions, and desires as these are “seeds” that could get watered and grow into their beliefs, values, standards, and habits. Sow good seeds in others.
Keep this in a safe place and read it and think about it, often.
All of this came from my book Opportunity Truth. I wrote it as I was going through one of the hardest seasons of my life, when I struggled with significant issues in my health, relationships, and finances. This season raised serious questions about my faith and hope in my future, which in my current understanding is about as low as anyone can get. I’m not sure which season was more devastating and hope-crushing, the season where health, relations, and finances all struggled, or the season where I lost my only child, and I later went through with a divorce.
I obviously made it through these seasons, but they put big dents in my positive attitude, which I’ve been working diligently to repair. I became passionate about learning about personal development, which is the foundation of all leaders. I committed to self-studying personal, spiritual, professional, leadership, and business development. I have found great value in strengthening my faith, to pray and seek wisdom about personal development, and never give up on improving myself. Both of those seasons brought me to my knees pleading with God, and in desperate need for change, and truth. I am now looking forward to helping others with what I’ve learned.
I will close with some truths mixed with some of my personal beliefs I’ve developed after reading many of the most impactful development books over many years. Most people have more personal power than they know, unless they are a narcissist and think they know it all. Most people can achieve more than they think they can, with some humility to seek knowledge and by developing their desire and discipline in their thoughts, emotions, and actions. Our thoughts and emotions create our beliefs, which develop our values, which set our standards, which build our habits, that determine our future.
We all have 24 hours, or 1,440 minutes every day, and if most people sleep 8 hours, work 8 hours, prep, eat, and drive to and from work 4 hours, then they still have about 4 hours, or 240 minutes every day. Consider scheduling at least 30 minutes for some exercise and 30 minutes for some kind of learning, at least 3 days a week. Imagine self-studying just one hour a week, at the end of one year you would have invested 52 hours in your future self. If you initially think of self-studying your career to help make more money, consider first self-studying personal development, because improving your thoughts or mindset, emotional fitness, self-discipline, physical fitness, and relationship skills, can lead to way better human-made opportunities than investing in knowledge and skills for a promotion, do that after you build a solid personal development foundation.
Some people can truly choose to change in a moment or overnight, but for most of us it takes time and help to change, and it often happens little by little, with consistent investment in their knowledge to renew their thoughts, emotions, desire, and discipline, and after multiple failures, which is fine. We can learn from failure, renew our thoughts and restart smarter. Our self-talk conditions our subconscious mind to either think and feel like we have set personal abilities, or we are a developing person capable of great positive change. The information age will provide helpful knowledge for almost any goal you want to achieve or any challenge you face, but you must seek the knowledge. Many “secrets” are openly waiting for people to search for them.
You can find virtual mentors and accountability partners in books and online. Consider starting by developing an evening routine that helps you relax, review your day, tomorrow’s tasks, and gets you to bed in time to get enough rest to have an energized and focused morning routine that gets your mind right.
It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s that I stay with questions about problems longer (Albert Einstein). If we do what we need to do, when we need to do it, someday, we will be able to do more of what we want to do, when we want to do it…People can grow with virtual mentors in the pages of books (John Maxwell, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth).
I hope my life lessons article helped renew some of your thoughts and desire to invest in your personal and professional growth. It would be much appreciated to hear what you felt was most helpful in this article?
The more we value life, love, and learning based on truth… and think, speak, and act, with wisdom, integrity, courage, and compassion, the better our life will be.
Sincerely, respectfully, and with love,
Copyright (C) 2021, Jason Krause, All Rights Reserved
Decisions – Principles by Ray Dalio, Decisive by Chip and Dan Heath, and Better Decisions, Fewer Regrets by Andy Stanley
Identity (note these are Christian faith-based books) – Making Sense of Your World by W. Gary Phillips, William E. Brown, and John Stonestreet, Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis, The New Evidence that Demands a Verdict by Josh McDowell, Sons & Daughters by Brady Boyd, Shaken by Tim Tebow, and 8 Questions God Can’t Answer by John Busacker
Morning Routine – Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod
Self-Discipline – Extreme Ownership by Jocko Willink and Leif Babin, and No Excuses! by Brian Tracy
Positivity – Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman, and The Happiness Advantage by Shawn Achor
Personal Growth – Mindset by Carol Dweck, and The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth by John Maxwell
Self-Leadership – Developing the Leader Within You 2.0 by John Maxwell, The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek, Make Your Bed by Admiral William H. McRaven, and Habitudes by Tim Elmore
Purpose – Man’s Search for Meaning
Health – The Seven Pillars of Health by Dr. Don Colbert, A Short Guide to a Long Life by Dr. David B. Agus, and The Daniel Plan by Rick Warren, Dr. Daniel Amen, and Dr. Mark Hyman
Mindful Meditation – 10% Happier by Dan Harris
Faith, Hope, and Purpose (note this is a Christian faith-based book) – Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren
Strengths – Strengths Finder 2.0 by Tom Rath
Relationships – Real Relationships by Les and Leslie Parrott, Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi, Sizing People Up by Robin Dreeke, Daring Greatly by Brene Brown, Captivate by Vanessa Van Edwards, and Scary Close by Donald Miller
Marriage – Saving Your Marriage Before it Starts by Les and Leslie Parrott, How to Avoid Falling in Love With a Jerk by John Van Epp, The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work by John Gottman and Nan Silver, and The 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman.
Emotions – Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman, and Emotional Intelligence 2.0 by Travis Bradberry
Communication – How to Win Friends and Influence People by Dale Carnegie, and The Conversationalist by Russell Verhey, Never Split the Difference by Chris Voss, Verbal Judo by George Thompson and Jerry Jenkins, Nonviolent Communication by Marshall Rosenberg, and Crucial Conversations by Patterson, Grenny, McMillan, and Switzler
Goals – Your Best Year Ever by Michael Hyatt, and GOALS! by Brian Tracy
Productivity and Habits – The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey, Awaken the Giant Within by Tony Robbins, High Performance Habits by Brendon Burchard, Boundaries by Henry Cloud, Free to Focus by Michael Hyatt, Getting Things Done by David Allen, Atomic Habits by James Clear, The Power of Habit by Charles Duhigg, Choose to Win by Tom Ziglar, Willpower Doesn’t Work by Benjamin Hardy, The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up by Marie Kondo, and Minimalism by Joshua Fields Millburn and Ryan Nicodemus
Grit – Grit by Angela Duckworth
Money – Money by Tony Robbins, Financial Peace Revisited by Dave Ramsey, Rich Dad Poor Dad by Robert Kiyosaki, The 5 Lessons a Millionaire Taught Me by Richard Evans, and The Millionaire Next Door by Thomas Stanley and William Danko
Copyright © 2021, Jason A. Krause, All Rights Reserved
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