Lessons On My 70th Birthday

Author
Kevin Kelly
621 words, 26K views, 26 comments

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Today is my birthday. I turn 70. I’ve learned a few things so far that might be helpful to others. For the past few years, I’ve jotted down bits of unsolicited advice each year and much to my surprise I have more to add this year. So here is my birthday gift to you all: bits of wisdom I wish I had known when I was young.

• About 99% of the time, the right time is right now.

• No one is as impressed with your possessions as you are.

• Dont ever work for someone you dont want to become.

• Cultivate 12 people who love you, because they are worth more than 12 million people who like you.

• Dont keep making the same mistakes; try to make new mistakes.

• Anything you say before the word “but” does not count.

• When you forgive others, they may not notice, but you will heal. Forgiveness is not something we do for others; it is a gift to ourselves.

• Whenever there is an argument between two sides, find the third side.

• The best work ethic requires a good rest ethic.

• When you lead, your real job is to create more leaders, not more followers.

• Criticize in private, praise in public.

• Productivity is often a distraction. Don’t aim for better ways to get through your tasks as quickly as possible, rather aim for better tasks that you never want to stop doing.

• Your growth as a conscious being is measured by the number of uncomfortable conversations you are willing to have.

• Speak confidently as if you are right, but listen carefully as if you are wrong.

• Three things you need: The ability to not give up something till it works, the ability to give up something that does not work, and the trust in other people to help you distinguish between the two.

• You’ll get 10x better results by elevating good behavior rather than punishing bad behavior, especially in children and animals.

• Ask anyone you admire: Their lucky breaks happened on a detour from their main goal. So embrace detours. Life is not a straight line for anyone.

• Don’t wait for the storm to pass; dance in the rain.

• A great way to understand yourself is to seriously reflect on everything you find irritating in others.

• What you do on your bad days matters more than what you do on your good days.

• You will be judged on how well you treat those who can do nothing for you.

• We tend to overestimate what we can do in a day, and underestimate what we can achieve in a decade. Miraculous things can be accomplished if you give it ten years. A long game will compound small gains to overcome even big mistakes.

• It’s thrilling to be extremely polite to rude strangers.

• Copying others is a good way to start. Copying yourself is a disappointing way to end.

• If your opinions on one subject can be predicted from your opinions on another, you may be in the grip of an ideology. When you truly think for yourself your conclusions will not be predictable.

• The chief prevention against getting old is to remain astonished.

 

Kevin Kelly is a writer, photographer, and student of digital culture. Excerpted from here.


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