14 Things I Wish I Could Have Told Myself At 25

Jeff HadenI probably should tell him about the hair, too.

Photo: BNET

Stuff I wish I could have told the 20-five year-old me (assuming I would have listened):This post originally appeared on BNET.

Everybody wants something.

Almost everyone acts out of self-interest (especially when they claim they don't.) Quid pro quo is the order of the day; in fact, the people most eager to volunteer advice or help tend to want the most in return.

Assume all career or business assistance is part of an expected exchange, either now or in the future. Then you won't be disappointed. But keep in mind that occasionally…

What a few people want is just to feel good about helping others.

Rarely, but it does happen, someone likes to help simply because it makes them feel good. Those people are hard to find, though, because their names aren't listed as sponsors on event programs or plastered on the sides of b-school buildings. When you find one, make them a permanent part of your life.

Boring people win.

The people who achieve the most do a lot more of the boring stuff. Routine, rigour, attention to detail, churning away day after day… that is how you will succeed.

Every elite athlete, entertainer, and successful business person you will someday know has put in thousands of hours of practice and effort. They are successful mainly because they are willing to do what other people won't. Learn to enjoy the mundane and you will quickly outdistance the pack.

Stop brainstorming and start borrowing.

Most people try to be original -- and want to be perceived as original -- primarily out of ego. Results are all that matter. Stop trying to think of something new. Someday you'll spend two hours in a bottling plant and bring back more great productivity and quality ideas than you can implement in a year at your book plant.

The store, the restaurant, the factory, the school… ideas you can borrow -- ideas that you can see actually work -- are everywhere. Borrow freely and often.

The women you really want to meet don't care about the kind of car you drive.

Darn it.

Training is great; advice is not.

Visibility is everything.

The people who get promotions and opportunities are the people who are seen and noticed. Spend the majority of your time doing great things, but spend at least 10% of your time getting the attention of the people who matter. Customers, partners, media… no one will discover you on their own. You absolutely must help them find you.

Always take out something.

Initiatives, projects, decisions… you'll constantly be tempted to add one more thing to make them even better.

Addition almost always results in subtraction. The more you eliminate the more you can focus on what remains, so the stuff you leave out is as important as the stuff you leave in.

The people who say the least have the most to say.

Bragging is a mask for insecurity. Truly confident people are quiet and unassuming. Hang around them. When they do speak you'll be glad you were listening.

Your parents are a lot smarter than you think.

And they only want the best for you. And they'll always be there for you. And they won't be around forever. So will it hurt you to call once in a while?

Always learn on the fly.

Don't expect to get back what you give.

favours will not be returned. Sacrifices you make for others will not be rewarded. All the people you mentor, develop, promote, and work with will not call to see how you're doing when you are suddenly let go years from now. When you give, give because you want to give; then you'll never be disappointed.

You will only regret what you decide not to do.

You won't regret broken bones from motorcycle racing; you will regret not taking a shot at a higher level of the sport. You won't regret taking a particularly crappy job; you will regret turning down what was probably a great job. When you look back you will only regret a few of the things you did. (The rest, even if they were mistakes, will help make you the person you become.)

What you will regret are things you decide not to do due to lack of confidence or fear of the unknown -- like the businesses you should have started and the joint venture you turned down. Safe, in your life, will almost always equal sorry. Take intelligent business risks and trust you will be able to work through any challenges. If nothing else, you'll have more fun.

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