WISDOM - 30 Things I Learned At 30


Today I turn 31.

My 30's have been a great source of joy to me.

30 is also the time that I began journaling again, to ensure that I captured all that I have learnt.

The following are 30 of those things that I have learnt whilst I was 30.

1. Knowing your values is integral to maintaining momentum

 I first heard this on a Robcast episode with Susan David about Emotional Agility. Later, whilst reading "Man's Search for Meaning" by Viktor Frankl I came across this great quote that confirmed it again: “as long as man has a why he can endure any how”.

2. The sweetest sound to a person is their name

Anybody who has read Dale Carnegie's classic "How to Win Friends & Influence People" will know this. I have always been terrible at names. And even if I was sure I knew someone's name I would often not say it in case I got it wrong. Now I redouble my efforts to learn names and always try and say people's name even if I am not 100% sure. Peoples names are important.

3. Posture is really important

Reading Amy Cuddy's book "Presence" helped me to see the link between our body and our mind. Yes, our mind shapes our body, but our body also shapes our mind. When we have good posture and stand up straight, it not only helps us with our health but also helps us to be more confident. If you want to learn more I highly recommend watching Amy's great Ted Talk.

4. A fulfilled life is just as much about what you cut out of it as what you add to it.

I started learning about this whilst reading "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey with this big rocks principle. I learned some practical insights for it in Tim Ferriss's book "The 4 Hour Workweek". There are lots of things that we do that add little or no value to our lives. And the more we do these things the less time we have to concentrate on what matters. Thus it is important for us to analyse our lives and cut out those elements that add no value.

5. We value what we help to create

I first learned about the Ikea Effect whilst reading "Hooked" by Nir Eyal. if we want people to feel that they belong and have a sense of ownership in any community endeavour, then we must involve them in the creative process.

6. The indirect route to what we want to achieve is often the best route

This is from John Kay's concept of obliquity. to learn more about this I highly recommend his great Ted Talk.

7. The huge part that external factors play in any success

external factors beyond our control (both negative and positive) play a much larger part in success and failure than we think - as highlighted in Daniel Kahneman's book Thinking Fast & Slow. We need to take this into account when looking at what is working and what isn't working.

8. Deal with stuff as it comes up

I'm always saying that I will deal with stuff at a later date. particularly when it comes to me being assertive! but just burying it under the carpet doesn't help at all. The Chimp Paradox by Professor Steve Peters helps to illustrate why this is important.

9. Complaining about stuff doesn’t help anything

I think this one was from "Emotional Intelligence" by Daniel Goleman. Studies have been conducted that shows talking about negative emotions (without doing anything) don't actually help and creates a downward spiral. This doesn't mean never discussing our fears and worries with someone close to us; but rather refers to us constantly talking to people about them.

10. Stop using qualifiers when you talk/write!!!

Still trying to work on this one. Using qualifiers make you sound unsure of what you are saying, which doesn't help people to trust you or to get your message across.

11. Perseverance and hard work is better than natural talent

I learnt this from the sports section of Carol Dweck's book "Mindset". After studying many successful athletes she found that many of them were deemed to be untalented in their youth, but only rose to prominence due to their great personal hard work and determination. This also ties in with another book I read: Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell and the 10000 hours rule (well, more of a guideline).

12. Man is the reaper of his own harvest

This has to be taken into account with the large part that extyernal factors plays in outcomes but is generally a good principle. The quote is from James Allen's book "As a Man Thinketh". In other words, if we plant good stuff (kindness, love, generosity) then we get good stuff back. And conversely, if we plant bad stuff (hatred, malice etc.) then we get bad stuff back.

13. Community is really powerful

In "The Power of Habit", Charles Duhigg states that one of the reasons for the success of Alcoholics Anonymous is its leveraging of community. Community is really important to help us grow as people.

14. The attribution bias is important

Again coming from "Thinking Fast & Slow" and Circling back round to external factots again. The attribution bias says that if someone else fails, it is due to their poor judgement/skills/abilities, but if we fail, then it is due to external factors beyond our control (the weather/market conditions, an angry examiner). The converse is true for success. knowledge of the attribution bias helps us to better evaluate our own successes and failures.

15. There's no such thing as an overnight success

This is from "Good to Great" by Jim Collins. The general analogy is that of a chicken hatching from an egg. When we see the chicken hatching it looks like a dramatic transformation. But the actual process from egg to chicken was much longer, taking place inside the egg. It is the same with percieved 'over-night' successes. They look dramatic but actually have involved lots of time and hard work. This video by Gary Vaynerchuck sums it up well.

16. Brick walls are not there to keep us out but to show us how badly we want something

This is from the emotional book "The Last Lecture" by Randy Pausch. A book that is written from the last lecture given by Randy before his tragic passing away. He gave the lecture to pass on the wisdom he had gained over the years to his kids. This quote just helps me see the possibilities within the difficulties.

17. Experience is what you get when you don’t get what you want

Another quote from the Last Lecture. Life rarely goes our way, and this quote helps me to see the silver lining.

18. Never ask one worded questions

Again, I just really like this concept from the Last Lecture. Asking more than one-word questions helps us to be more succinct, clear, and get to the bottom of what we want faster.

19. If you want to live a life you’ve never lived you have to do things you’ve never done

This is from the book "You are a Badass" by Jen Sincero. It reminds me to constantly try new things and assess why I do what I do, and why I don't do what I don't do. It is also just a great reminder to be proactive.

20. We vastly underestimate our own intelligence and overestimate other peoples intelligence

This quote from "The Magic of Big Thinking" by David Schwartz really helped me to overcome much of my lack of confidence. It helped me to believe that I can contribute something of value to the world.

21. Don’t bury the lead

This is from "Made to Stick" by Chip and Dan Heath. This helped me with my writing and speaking to really find the core of what I wanted to say and ensure that it is not buried amongst all the other information.

22. The only way to get rid of autopilots (habits) you don’t like is to overwrite them with autopilots you want instead.

I first read about this in The Power ofHabit by Charles Duhig. And then again in the Chimp Paradox. An important principle to help us grow as humans.

23. Overcome narrow framing by widening your options

This one is from "Decisive", another book by Chip and Dan Heath (and the whole book is worth reading several times). We often view decisions as either / or. More often than not many other decisions exist that we cannot see because of our narrow frame. Widening my options helps to me remind of these other options that I have.

24. You don’t get what you don’t ask for

Another one from the 4 Hour Work Week. He gives several stories about people creating networks with influencers that opened doors for them just because they had the audacity to ask.

25. The 10 10 10 rule

The 10 10 10 rule is also from Decisive. When making a decision it forces us to ask: how will I feel about this decision in 10 minutes? 10 months? 10 years? from here we can make a decision based on our answers to those questions.

26. Attention residue is a thing

This is from Cal Newport's book "Deep Work" and decries the myth of multitasking. When we switch our attention from one task to another a residue of our attention is left on the previous task, leaving us less effective in our new task. Therefore we should attempt to maintain attention on one thing for as long as necessary.

27. Try to batch stuff together

Also from Deep Work & the 4 Hour Workweek. To reduce attention residue we should bulk batch similar tasks together. For example instead of checking email throughout the day, schedule one email block per day and deal with all emails in that time.

28. The frost made the Vikings

This one is from "How to Stop Worrying & Start Living" by Dale Carnegie. Another iteration is calm seas don't make good sailors. Adversity is what makes us who we are.

29. The rational part of our brain (system 2) is usually just an advocate for the emotional part of our brain (system 1), but we think it is the refuter of the emotional part of our brain.

This one is pretty deep. It is from Thinking Fast & Slow. For me, it helps me realise that I just use the rational part of my brain to rationalise the stuff I really want to do - but this is not good.

30. We are terrible at guessing stuff. Always use baselines and stats to predict outcomes, never guesses, even from experts.

This is found in Decisive & Thinking Fast and Slow. If you tell an expert about your situation and ask them to tell you will happen, they will not be accurate. But if you tell them your situation and ask them what happened to people in a similar situation to you then you will get a much more accurate result.

I would love to hear what your major learn for the year so far has been. Leave a comment below.

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