As we prepare to launch our first Heart of Leadership programs on Thursday, I took a moment this weekend to reflect. 20 years ago, I entered my freshman year in high school – ready to make new friends and take on the world. The journey since those days of a smile full of braces has offered an experience from high to low with all the beauty, mess, and wonder that exists in between.
Here are 25 lessons (in no particular order) that I didn’t learn in school:
1. Do not tell an elite teen athlete to lose weight. Just don’t. Ever.
2. In fact, never tell another person or yourself to lose weight. Instead, focus on health, vitality, and truly living – whatever that means to you.
3. Life is not linear. Pursuing your dreams will take you places (both inside and out!) that you never knew existed.
4. Your greatest fear could be the fuel to your glory. You are stronger than you might think.
5. NEVER EVER leave a real friend for a “cool” friend. Real friends are the people you can be totally yourself with and visa versa. If you’re trying to be something you’re not so that someone will accept you, stop it. Acting is tiring; and we need more of who you really are.
6. My greatest liberation has come from letting trusted people see what I thought were my ugliest parts.
8. Love is eternal.
9. Self-preservation is transcended through service.
10. Grace is a gift to give others AND ourselves. It turns the shame of our mistakes into opportunity.
11. We all need unconditional love. If you want to receive it; give it – to yourself and others.
12. When you know who you are, competition, comparison and fear dissolve.
13. Discovering who you are can take 10 years, 100 years, or 10 seconds.
14. Make time for yourself and make time for nature. The ocean, trees, and fresh air are good for the soul.
15. Create space. Again. And again. And again.
16. We teach what we need to learn.
17. In your darkest hour, you just might meet God. Or, you might meet your disdain for Him. Either way, He is present. You either love Him or you don’t – He doesn’t change either way.
18. I refer to God as Him. I love you and respect you if you refer to God as Spirit, Her, your Higher Power, the Universe or the Divine. Chances are that I will be interested in you if you grapple with who God is, too.
19. The day I let go of needing people to like me, my life changed for the better. Some people won’t like you no matter what you do. The more you become who you are, people will be drawn to you…or against you. Love both groups of people; and trust the ones who’ve earned it.
20. Ask for help. And then ask again. There are people out there who really want to – and can – help you whether you want a job, a hug, a laugh, or a new outlook. Seek and you shall find.
21. Mentors have made an incredible difference in my life. If you want one, be one.
22. We are all doing the best we can. Always.
23. Let go.
24. There comes a day when you don’t get to blame anyone else. Take responsibility. We don’t get to choose how life happens, but we do get to choose how we react.
25. Everyday – every moment – is an opportunity to choose love, and when we choose it, love can teach us to be more of who we are, to live more fully the life we’re meant to live, and to make the difference we came here to make – with our whole hearts.
Life is truly magical. When things get hard, keep the faith. The lessons we learn during the tough times make us better people. During the great times, CELEBRATE and don’t hold back. In the end, life is beautiful because love is. Get out there and live it!