showing appreciation for lessons learned from impactful people
Taking a moment to have true appreciation for the lessons learned from other people and the contributions they've had to your life offers a unique meditation. Here's mine, inspired by Marcus Aurelius.
Author: Frank Wazeter, Nov. 26, 2020
Appreciation in times of uncertainty. Something about the uncertain times inspires you to take an extra minute and have gratitude for the gifts you've got. There's nothing better than times like these to take a moment, breathe and realize the blessings you have in life.
Recently, I found myself reading Meditations by Roman Emperor Marcus Aurelius. What is particularly impactful about the Meditations writings is that you can clearly tell that Aurelius is not in a happy time of life while writing the book (which itself is comprised of notes that Aurelius wrote to himself, little reminders if you will).
He constantly has a fascination with death, and likely, being an Emperor in the middle of total turmoil between Germany and the Empire at large, found himself a companion of sorts to death. Having found himself outliving many of his contemporaries. You’ll find a lot of topical discussion about how there's no point in fearing death, because it is an act of nature, and nothing that happens in nature is fundamentally evil, because nature comes from the Gods and the Gods do not do things that are harmful to mankind.
More interestingly are his reminders to himself about not entertaining critics and that anger isn’t a manly trait, and to treat people well and show them examples rather than frustration.
Marcus Aurelius’s self reminders and navigation of troubled times for the Roman Empire, and his insight into what he was thinking and how he was telling himself to improve through reminders is, in a way, a comforting presence for 2020, a year in which we’ve seen more turmoil than we have as a nation in quite a while.
Aurelius starts off his book by dedicating his whole first chapter to thankings and appreciations for lessons learned from people. Thanking the people who taught him lessons and being mindful of what he learned from those who had an impact on his life and it’s an incredibly powerful way of opening the book.
Taking a cue from the late Roman Emperor and in honor of Thanksgiving, I’d like to share the same, in the same style.
Appreciations and Lessons from Impactful People
Her indomitable strength in the face of crisis. No matter what life threw her way, she always fought to protect her family and loved ones. No matter what circumstances came up, she always found a way to do better, be better and improve the lives of those she cared about. She has been the very definition of relentlessness in her life.
Fire would be a fitting description for her: providing warmth, life, comfort to those she loves, and destruction to those who threaten who she loves.
My Step Father Steve
The nobility of being consistent and reliable to the point you could set your watch to his actions. Humility in getting the job done, extreme precision in the execution of the job and moving right on to the next.
My Wife, Alyona
The little things and little touches matter. When you love something or love someone, there’s no such thing as ‘too much time spent’ together or on the topic. If you want something, the first step is almost always going to be scary, but it’s always worth it in the end.
Jeffrey Senske, My First Boss
Art and business are intrinsically related. Business doesn’t have to be dull and boring, it can be an expression of art, and in that expression is where true innovation lies. Adding “soul” to the business is what makes brands be market leaders that impact generations, not just profits.
Mike Senske, My Other First Boss
Showing up early in the morning is more important than staying late at night. The business day gets started early and getting an earlier start makes a better impression on colleagues, the business world and for your own mental. If the choice is between staying up all night to get something done, or getting up at 3 am in the morning to get something done, the better option is to get up at 3 am in the morning.
That imagination and philosophy are the most important ingredients in running a successful business and that they can be applied to anything, about anything. The strength of humanity lies in our imagination and to not use it is to sacrifice our greatest strength.
There is poetry in life. See it, embrace it.
Being a business leader, owning a business, isn’t about being a master of the ‘thing’ you’re in business for, it’s about being a good leader. Someone who has vision and can fit together the pieces and think three dimensionally. People who are good at the ‘thing’ the business does and only the ‘thing’ are best suited as team members or employees.
The numbers tell a more accurate story than any pitch deck. Always keep strong financial records and be completely, brutally honest with where your business is at based on the numbers. If it doesn’t work small, it won’t work big.
Pay no attention to what other people think, as it has no bearing on what you are capable of doing or what reality is. At the beginning, people will always oppose your idea, but once it’s gained traction, people will support it. What’s important is that you fought for your idea.
Plus, never make major life decisions based on what anyone else says, wants or does, except for your wife.
Being radically consistent in how you show up to anything is the most important thing in sales and business. Regardless of what anyone says, does or acts on, never let it affect how you show up on a day to day basis. Consistency combined with a strong hustling mentality is the key towards building up anything of value and eventually, you’ll hit success, and if you don’t just change up your approach until it does.
Appearances matter. How you look, how you present yourself, how you show up to events and are seen in the public eye matters. People judge ‘books by their cover’ whether they want to or not, and a key cornerstone of success is making sure that your appearance matches your message so that people can connect with your value.
If what you’re doing right now isn’t working, do something differently. If you want to be funny, just keep saying you’re funny until it’s truth and the same applies to anything and everything. Love and connection matters just as much, if not more so, than anything else in business and in life.
How to win. Winning isn’t being perfect, it’s never giving up and always trying again and again and again. Even when everyone else in the world is saying something is impossible, when you show up and break things down logically and continuously build on your failures, eventually you’ll reach success, eventually you’ll break through. Eventually, you’ll win and be the inspiration for everyone else to try.
No one knows whether it’ll take 10 failures or a 100 failures, but you know for sure you’re going to fail if you don’t try at all. Adapt your approach, don’t get upset at the failures, just keep adjusting and moving.
Stay calm, don't worry. Worst case scenario, someone else will deal with it if you can't.
Following the textbook on marketing is all well and good, but if you want to really understand how business works, and especially how marketing can be more effective, you should go into sales. Sales will teach you the things about business the textbook won't and at the end of the day, you'll get paid according to your effort, rather than having a stagnant wage.
When you are an expert on a subject, share your opinions and insight, even when the sentiment in the room is contrary to what your view is. By sharing your insights you are able to create a better end result rather than simply agreeing with something because the rest of the room agrees with it. True progress, truly great experiences, come from minor conflicts in the background stemming from statements as simple as “what about this…”
Otherwise, people who are outspoken, but not the expert on subjects, end up making the decision because you didn’t have the courage to offer a different viewpoint for the group to consider. This is how bad institutional choices are made.
Never let anyone undermine your confidence. You are you, regardless of what someone else says or does. Your accomplishments are your accomplishments. No one can take them away. Call people out if they try to put you down.
Also, never make a bet with money on the line with JG. He’ll win every single time without question.
Don’t let other people or organizations determine your message or your actions. Keep the freedom to do things the way you want to do them, say them the way you want to say them and be you without restriction. Business is just better that way, as the money will always come eventually anyway.
Seek truth. Seek interesting people. The rest will take care of itself.
There have been many people who’ve impacted my life, and many more yet to come I’m sure. It’s been extremely refreshing to take a moment, reflect and be thankful and appreciative for the lessons learned from others.
While this isn’t an exhaustive list, and surely such a list is impossible, I hope you’ll join me on this Thanksgiving, 2020, a year of COVID, uncertainty and stress for millions and reflect and appreciate the people who’ve impacted you and your life and helped move you forward.
Finally, thanks to Marcus Aurelius, Roman Emperor, for the perspective on the times and the idea.