Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Conversations over Beer and Pretzels

So let's say I could sit down over a beer and give the teenage me some advice. What would I say? Would I even listen? No one really wants advice, just approval and confirmation that they know what's best. It's not that insight outside of experience isn’t very practical but when you are a teenager you think you know everything. What might I say to me? Well, besides 'Buy Google"....I would want to impart a few things to make my life easier, such as...

The only reason why people spend so much time trying to convince you of something is because they don’t believe it themselves. They need you to agree with them to make themselves feel justified. It is far simpler to believe in something for yourself because it works for you then to try and convince someone else what is right for them. Don’t be afraid to fight for what you believe in however, thinking you know the only truth is the height of arrogance. Allow others to form their own perspective. Embrace the uniqueness of it all and resist conformity. No one opinion is more important than your own. Trust your own judgment. Beware the moral absolute.

Spend less time with negative people. Life is too short. Even if your life is problem filled, negativity just makes you feel worse. You won't find negative people in your cheering section and when times get tough, you will most definitely need a cheering section. Know who your true friends are…they are the ones who won’t be afraid to tell you the truth when you need it, but they also will be there to laugh with you about it later. Don’t rely on that other person to validate who you are and don’t be too concerned with the opinion of others. I know, easier said then done.

People will want to put onto you how they feel about themselves. The problem with this is that most people don’t feel very good about themselves. There is too much time listening to people telling you what you should do and how you should be. Realize that this is for their benefit, not yours.

Spend less time in any group, church, or organization that penalizes you for not following their rules or expressing a contrary opinion. Validating their point only negates yours. Somewhere along the line, we bought into this notion that ‘sameness’ is better and that there is some ‘ideal’ human and ‘ideal’ society. Some think that if we could fashion people just like ourselves, who thought only as we do that we would all live better lives. This experiment has been tried already.

It was called Nazi Germany.

Teachers will be a big influence in your life, how they see you, interact with you, encourage you, and guide you will shape your perspective and direct your life. Your teachers won't be in a classroom. Maturity is something you don’t grow into but learn from those around you. If we spent more time teaching maturity instead of punishing each child for inappropriate behavior we would have better adjusted kids and more responsible adults.

People want you to succeed but not see you fail. Failure is something we need to do but pretend we don't. When referring to your life, failure as a word should be abandoned as it suggests defeat. If you fear defeat, you will never try. We only pretend to encourage the innovative because what we really do is reward the market savvy.

Somehow we have convinced ourselves that being busy equates with being productive. We wear busyness like a medal of honor because it boosts the ego making us feel more important then we deserve. You don’t have to be a role model because you have no one you must compete with but yourself. You will spend too much time thinking about what you are going to do, as if you have any real control of the outcome. Don’t be so hard on yourself. Better and best simply are variations of perspective, not absolutes.

Focus on the small moments in life because those are the ones you will remember. The big moments in life are really just the small ones that you have magnified and elevated to a higher status. Life doesn’t require you to be the quarterback. Live life on the sidelines because that is where the most interesting people reside. Life is what happens in the meantime.

Just remember, most everything can be forgiven, so go easy and go wide.

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