Yesterday, I turned 38 years old. When I was 17 and my dad was 38, I thought he was ancient, and it’s funny that now the roles are reversed, I see how wrong I was about just about everything. In the 38 years, I’ve spent on this planet, I have realized two things: 1. I don’t know half of what I thought I did when I was 17 and 2. Wisdom only comes from making mistakes. I’m fortunate enough to have made enough mistakes, been around enough great teachers and kept good enough notes to put together a list of 38 things that I’ve learned that I want to pass along to my children. I wrote this list yesterday for Jack, Caroline, and Kate but I’m sharing it on my blog with the hopes that others can learn from my mistakes. It’s nowhere nearly complete, but it’s a start. 

38. Soft skills are more valuable than hard skills. 

37. How you treat wait staff says more about you than anything you will ever post online. 

36. Grandparents don’t live forever. 

35. Learning to pack a suitcase is one of the most important skills to develop

34. ZZ Topp sang All The Girls Are Crazy About A Sharp Dressed Man. It’s true but it works on everyone else too. 

33. It’s better to eat for performance rather than for pleasure.

32. No one takes it well when you tell them they’re wrong. If you want them to believe you, you have let them get there on their own. 

31. Everything great is hard and it’s the hard that makes it great. 

30. We should celebrate small wins because often times, they’re the only ones we ever get.

29. An hour of quiet every week in a church is a blessing in and of itself. 

28. Reading is more important than eating. 

27. Caring too much is just as dangerous is not caring enough. 

26. Save apologies for when you actually do something wrong and they mean much more.

25. It’s better to not eat than to eat garbage. 

24. Interested is interesting.

23. When in doubt, favor action.

22. Hire personality, train skill.

21. Credibility is everything. Do whatever it takes to keep and never do anything to lose it. 

20. Experiences are more valuable than things.

19. The book might be better than the movie, but the movie lets you feel the emotion faster. 

18. The right words make all of the difference. 

17. Follow your dreams, but pay the bills. 

16. The Reds will always break your heart, but it’s worth it. 

15. Hot dogs taste best at the ballpark.

14. Coca-Cola tastes great, but it’s not worth it. 

13. Sometimes People Suck. Love them anyway.

12. Flattery can get you everywhere. 

11. Always carry and handkerchief, a pocket knife and good pen. 

10. A smile can change someone’s day.

9. First impressions are everything.

8. You never have to take back something you never said. 

7. It’s best to think on paper.

6. The best days start early.

5. Consistency will always trump talent.

4. People like people who are like them. 

3. Discipline = Freedom

2. Sweat the small stuff and the big stuff will work itself out. 

1. Greatness is a choice we have to make every day. 

In 38 years, I’ve learned a few things. Most of it took more than one lesson to get there, but I’ve survived to be a better person because of it. I’d love to know additions that others would make to my list. Drop a comment or two and let me know what I left out. 

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