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  • Writer's pictureTony Richards

45 Lessons in 45 Years (1978-2023)

In order to share something of value with you to close out the year 2023 and to open up the year 2024, here is what I have come up with to share with you.

I know I started working in my Grandfather's Feed Store prior to 1978, however, 1978 is the first year I actually started working for someone outside of family in business. Mr. George Patmor, who owned WMJL-AM 1400, hired me to work on Sunday mornings producing programs mainly for preachers who came into the studio to do programs for their churches and we also carried a live church service later that morning. I did get to play Gospel records (actual vinyl records) from 6am until 7am, then the preachers started coming in.

That was 45 years ago (I am still just a young man!) and I have learned many things with every person I have worked with and every company I had the good fortune to work for. While on this Holiday Break in Kentucky, I've decided to make a list of the best pieces of advice I have received over the years from various people with whom whom I worked. While this list isn't exhaustive and I have many of these proverbs in my many journals, these are 45 that are among the very best I have been fortunate enough to cultivate in one way or another.

45 lessons in 45 years (in no particular order of importance or value):

  1. Take care of yourself. You only have one mind and one body for your entire life and it has to last you a long time. Your lack of discipline shows up as pain later in life, so take this one to heart as soon as you can. I wish I'd paid more attention to this one a long time ago.

  2. Sometimes, ignore the examples of your role models and heroes. Not everything they do should be copied or followed. Another one that can serve you well. Take the best and leave the rest.

  3. Guard against jealousy. It's corrosive, counter-productive and a waste of time. No need to be jealous, always get your own if that's what you want.

  4. Always take your best shot if given a chance. Better to take the shot and fail than to have regret and always wonder what would have happened if you had.

  5. A little humility can go a long way. Most people do not embrace a know-it-all, even if you have the answer, proceed about giving it cautiously and humbly.

  6. Make your course correction as soon as you realize your are off course. It's sheer stupidity to continue going the wrong way. I'm amazed at how many people continue on this path because of emotional attachments and people judgements.

  7. Praise by name. Criticize by category. Be specific about who is doing great. Be vague and broad about who needs improvement.

  8. Don't be stingy with the praise. Always make it a genuine expression of gratitude, not just "for show".

  9. Small acts of kindness can pay huge dividends. Says it all for itself.

  10. Weak minds complain, strong minds adjust. Make a wise decision about who you want in your foxhole for the battle.

  11. Pay attention to the truth, no matter how it is told. Your objective should be to learn the truth as soon as possible in every situation. You can only advance forward knowing the truth and you can only be free knowing the truth.

  12. You don't always have to do extraordinary things to produce extraordinary results. The key word here is always. There are some things that keep producing after you do them just a few times.

  13. Control your temper. You can always tell someone off tomorrow, or the next day.

  14. Feedback you didn't ask for is not for you, it's for them. If you didn't ask for their feedback, throw it in the trash, it's not for you anyways.

  15. Do the work. Whatever the work is, put in your best effort. You can't hire someone to work out for you.

  16. Ignore the doubters, including yourself. The first sale is always to yourself and there's never a perfect time to start, so go ahead and get going now.

  17. Embrace a small or messy start. Your time is better invested in messy than in procrastinating. Don't despise a small beginning, most things big start with a small seed.

  18. Never stop learning. School is never out for the elite performer. When you stop learning, you are old, whatever your age.

  19. Widen your aperture. Make your scope of observing as wide as you possibly can. Pay a lot of attention to everything around you.

  20. Don't stretch yourself too thin. Find a few, productive, effective and effecient things that add value to do. Don't mistake busy for productive.

  21. You can't opt-out of the money game. You are going to play it out regardless, so you might as well learn as much about the game as possible.

  22. Real wealth is time allocation. Your calendar is a better success indicator than your bank account.

  23. Do your best to commit to be rational, always. If you can keep your emotions rational, it keeps you out of the stupidity of the world. (and social media)

  24. Accept who you are and who you are not. Cultivate the talents you have instead of spending time in envy over what you do not have.

  25. Only do smart debt. Learn the difference in what smart debt and dumb debt is from someone who knows. It's probably not your parents. Avoid consumer debt (like credit cards) at all costs.

  26. If you want to win big in life, help others win big too. The story of my consulting practice and the contender for best lesson learned.

  27. Every day is a chance to be productive. Elite level performers work focused and effective 80% of the year and rest 20% of the year. 292 Productive Days and 73 Lazy Days.

  28. Find and record the lesson in every setback. What is this failure trying to teach me?

  29. Send personal Thank -You notes. Bonus points for hand-written. Extra bonus points for sending to the home residence.

  30. Live a life of gratitude. Have an on-going gratitude list you add to each day in your journal.

  31. Forging your own path won't be the most popular, but it's the most worthwhile.

  32. Vizualize your goal & work backward from there. Reverse engineer your success from end to begnning.

  33. It's more about the journey than the goal. It's not as much about the goal than what the goal makes of you in the process. This has always been true for me.

  34. Choose optimism. Pessimism and sarcasam may feel good in the moment, but optimism carries you over the long term.

  35. Some things can't be rushed. Most valuable things in life and business come about through a process, not an event. The event may plant the seed, but the growth to maturity is always a process.

  36. Should I say something? 1. Should this be said? 2. Should this be said by me? 3. Should this be said by me now? This 3-step thought process has saved me from embarrassment more than once in my career.

  37. Don't take unneccessary risks. Peace of mind is invaluable.

  38. Family comes first. Work will always be there when you return. This speaks for itself.

  39. Don't major in minor things. Make sure you focus is on the correct things and don't worry about the small things.

  40. Never discuss your problems with people incapable of contributing to the solution. If someone can not offer advice that is applicable or help that is applicable, keep your cards close to the vest.

  41. Don't follow someone who isn't going anywhere. Don't get caught being led down a path by someone who is going nowhere.

  42. Unsuccessful people will be the first to speak up to tell you what you ought to do. Goodness gracious, just watch how many times this happens. If you are smart, you'll be polite but not responsive.

  43. Aim for wisdom. Pay attention to wise people. Learn about them. Read their biograpahies and glean from them without having to learn the hard way by living it like they did.

  44. Reach out all around yourself for and to help. Reach down to those you can assist. Reach out to those are are our peers around us. Reach up to those who are where we want to be.

  45. Know, Grow and Show. Knowing involves getting and keeping information that will help you. Using that information can help you grow yourself, the most important thing you can do each day. Show someone else what you know to help them grow. Giving away your treasure means more will come back to you.

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