John Greathouse, Contributor 1/28/2014 @ 12:03PMn
If you want to live a personal and professional life with no regrets, follow these 43 life lessons, penned by H. Jackson Brown.
In the Fall of 1990, Mr. Brown sat at his kitchen table, pulled out a pad of paper and began writing advice to his son, who had just entered college. Mr. Brown’s aphorisms eventually evolve into twenty one books, including four New York Times bestsellers. With Life’s Little Instruction Book, Mr. Brown became the first author to simultaneously hold the number one positions on both of the NYT’s hardback and paperback lists.
Some of Mr. Brown’s quotes have become so well known that they are often mis-attributed to historical figures, including the following, which is widely credited to Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”
I came across a special edition of Mr. Brown’s Life’s Little Instruction Book (Volumes I – III) while waiting in line at a FedEx store. I almost never make impulse purchases, but after flipping through a few pages, the following paraphrased quote jumped off the page: “Live your life so that your epitaph boldly states, ‘No regrets.’” I promptly purchased the book as a Christmas gift for my teenage son.
As James Clear notes in The #1 Regret Of Dying Patients, far too many people spend their final stage of life regretting their youthful choices. Mr. Brown’s advice will help you to, “live a good, honorable life which you can enjoy a second time when you are old.”
When read nearly twenty-five years after they were penned, some of Mr. Brown’s musing are anachronisms (e.g., “Don’t sit while ladies are standing”), while others are banal (“Turn off the tap when brushing your teeth”). However, the vast majority of the 1,560 quotations in Volumes I – III of Life’s Little Instruction Book, are clever, relevant and inspirational.
Below are 43 quotes in bold text which are relevant to business executives who want to live a regret-free life. I categorized the quotes by: aspiration, kindness, leadership, success and happiness. In a few instances, I have slightly paraphrased Mr. Brown’s original text – my apologies to Mr. Brown and his purist fans. My brief annotations follow each quote.
1. Never give up when you truly believe. The person with big dreams is more powerful than the one with all the facts – the smartest person in the room seldom beats the one with the most passion.
2. Believe in love at first sight – be open to instant infatuation with respect to both people and business ideas.
3. Never laugh at anyone’s dreams – no one has the right to opine upon someone else’s desired future because no one can attest to the validity of an unrealized dream.
4. Find a job you like and you add five days to every week – I often tell my children), “I never worked at day at my startups because we were having too much fun.” Admittedly, not every day was a carnival, but I certainly enjoyed the majority of my startup workdays.
5. Every so often, let your spirit of adventure triumph over your good sense – good judgment arises from mistakes, mistakes arise from bad judgment. Thus, a bit of occasional bad judgment is good for you.
6. Great love and great achievements involve great risk – nothing ventured, nothing gained. Go venture.
7. Never let the odds keep you from pursuing what you know in your heart you were meant to do – entrepreneurs never calculate probabilities, even if the chances are one in a million, “one” is all you need to win.