I have two daughters, the oldest is 19 and starting her junior year in college, the younger is 17 and is just starting her university career, her first day of classes is today actually.  They are objectively amazing, intelligent, beautiful young women.  I’m not at all biased.

As they set out into this incredible and challenging world I realize that I’m right in the middle.  Literally the middle of my life, the middle of my working life, the middle of everything. I’ve even had my own mid-life awakening (some call it a crisis) where I’ve lost a bunch of weight and bought a stupid car.

So here are some nuggets of wisdom I’ve collected over a few decades or so.  Take them or leave them, if I were 18 again I’d probably leave them.  That’s nugget number one…

  • Take what’s offered – listen and learn, follow what’s right for you, ditch the rest
  • Show up – it is amazing what happens when you show up
  • Share – you ultimately get back more than you give
  • Prepare for what’s next – don’t settle, don’t be complacent
  • Choose what you want, then go get it
  • Name your weaknesses – then fix them
  • Ask for more – don’t wait for the offer, ask
  • Challenge yourself – hitting an easy goal is never as rewarding as a challenge
  • Be cautious, not afraid – fear paralyzes, caution protects
  • Check your assumptions – if you know something, look to disprove it
  • Be curious – always be curious, keep asking why, keep asking how
  • Don’t be afraid to fail – use every failure to improve
  • Be nice – life is hard enough, let’s just be nice
  • Admit what you don’t know – then learn
  • Be early – you get to pick your seat and watch everyone else as they arrive
  • Be clear – don’t let fog hide the real you
  • Talk to strangers – don’t get in the van, but talk, before long they’re not strangers

And finally, be yourself, whoever you decide to be.  Don’t let life happen to you, make life happen for you.  I know it’s a tired saying, but you can be anything you want to be, you can accomplish anything you set your mind to.  You can build a life that you control, you don’t have to go with the flow, you can take charge, you can be in charge.

I’ve learned, sometimes the hard way, that almost every situation provides an opportunity to grow. Sometimes it’s the negative example (what not to do) and sometimes there’s a positive example. Emulating those you admire is great, especially when you make their good traits your own.

Now go live your life, it’s going to be amazing!

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This post originally appeared on LinkedIn on July 1, 2016

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