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What I learned this year — Top 50 Extraordinary Ideas [2023]

Top 50 Lessons - What I Learned in 2023

The most resonant ideas I find stick with me week after week.

On Monday mornings I review the most useful ideas I discovered and compile them all into a big list.

Some inspire me to create illustrations and graphics that I hang up in my office. The most valuable ideas change my habits and behaviors to make me more productive and happy.

Check out my fifty favorite things I’ve learned this year (2023) on happiness, leadership, focus, writing, and business:

1. Squeeze and orange and it makes orange juice. What happens when you get squeezed?

What happens when you get squeezed?

2. Difficult things take time and focus. If you’re not sincerely committed to your project or business anyone with a reasonable IQ will detect that you’re bullshitting.

3. Start with leading yourself because if you consistently make your list of 10 tasks but only accomplish three, you’ll lose conviction in yourself.

4. Harvard study found that the single most important factor in someone’s happiness is the quality of relationships in their life. How are you investing in your relationships today?

5. Your brain needs downtime to connect the dots – if you’re always working, always trying to download information, always trying to be productive, you’re stifling your best insights from bubbling up.

6. Diet Coke has to be more bitter than regular Coke for people to believe it.

💪 Top Thing I’ve Learned About Business

7. It might take 5 – 10 years to become successful in your pursuits but that time will pass anyway. Make that little step forward each day and it all adds up.

8. Bias towards action – and build knowledge on top of that to learn most effectively.

9. In-person meetings are so powerful that Churchill would cross the ocean during war to meet other leaders, risking his life and those of his allies.

10. Get a hot tub at home! It ensures you will sit around with others, talk, and reflect together.

Everyone should get a hot tub

11. Frank Abagnale explained how he taught advanced sociology with no previous knowledge – “All I had to do was read one chapter ahead of the students.”

12. Give yourself permission. Permission to draw. Permission to write. Permission to be humorous. Permission to suck.

13. “Discipline is remembering what I want.”

14. Productivity is not about having enough time; it’s about having the energy.

Time management vs Energy management

15. “The world is just created by people that are no smarter than you. You grow up and you realize … most of the people that make the rules are f’ing idiots.” — Casey Neistat

🤔 Top Lesson I’ve Learned on Entrepreneurship

16. Most people just chase “window opportunities” because they see what’s on the other side. Knocking on closed doors opens up unseen opportunities that are bigger and with less competition.

Window opportunities versus knocking on doors

17. You become a combination of all your patterns and habits as you get older. Make sure the right values are reflected in your daily actions.

18. Act on your thought to do something for someone else as soon as you have it. Send the thing to your friend that would make them smile. And the world becomes a better place.

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19. If you waste energy worrying about some bad future event you suffer twice. Just live today and let the events you can’t control happen.

20. MIT study shows we find more meaning in work when we experience poignant moments and push through stressful challenges.

21. “Simplicity is complexity resolved.” — Constantin Brancusi

✨ Top Thing I’ve Learned About Writing

22. Writing can teach you to think more clearly, communicate better, and share ideas in a medium that can be scaled almost infinitely. And the very process of writing makes people happier.

23. Keeping a journal is being a good assistant to your future self — a single sentence can trigger more memories than what it says.

24. Don’t think of your elevator pitch – no one ever bought anything in an elevator – instead aim for an elevator question, so the other person wants to follow you out and keep talking.

25. Feedback loops are incredibly difficult in leadership or driving innovation, where it’s much more difficult to measure what’s working or failing.

**** You might also enjoy my article: 50 things I’ve learned this year (2022) ****

26. What does success as a parent or friend look like? It’s having a crowded table where the people you love want to come spend time together.

27. Everyone is a learning machine, it’s just a matter of figuring out what’s the next puzzle to solve or way to progress. The best leaders unlock team potential by finding the right puzzle.

28. Good swing, bad aim – you have to focus on the effort not on the result, which means “make contact with the ball” regardless of if it’s a home run or an out.

Good swing, bad aim

29. “Spend more money on others than yourself.” — Cliff Weitzman

30. For life experiments commit and try something for two years with the knowledge that afterward you could just walk away. (Tim Ferriss’ Approach)

🧠 Top Idea I’ve Learned about Self-Belief

31. There will always be someone else that’s smarter or more skilled than you, but they lack the courage. Fearlessness will carry you further than intelligence, hard work, and luck combined.

“Greatness needs luck, but it’s never by accident.” — Unknown

32. The best goal to set and celebrate is mastery of a skill, where the forward-looking mindset takes its foot off the gas and allows you to enjoy the here and now.

33. Learn to develop the requisite taste to be a little ahead of everyone else – what exercise can you do each week to further this skill?

34. Dig further back to find the inspiration for the people that inspire you.

Climb the tree of inspiration

35. Adopt ideas, don’t quote them. When you sit down for a meal you don’t care how the food got to your plate. Let them eat!

36. If the amazing thing about humans is that we can get used to anything, what do your lifestyle choices allow you to get used to?

37. Patience, progress, and playfulness – remember it’s a long path to success but it goes much better if you enjoy the journey.

38. Tap into your creativity whenever it strikes — that could mean you capture your whistling during hikes, like Neil Young, who recorded with a flip phone what eventually became a full album.

39. Making regular life and the stories compelling, engaging, and universally relatable is a superpower.

40. When we package up the info we find valuable today, we give ourselves access to the wisdom we need for good decisions and effective actions in the future, like a bicycle for the mind.

Bicycle for the mind

41. Feedback helps you know how you’ve done but it doesn’t tell you what to do next.

42. Nature offers incredible inspiration because it has had millions of years to find solutions to life’s problems.

43. Work with others either through collaboration or delegation as soon as possible — instead of doing five jobs at 20% each, you can focus on doing your job with 100% focus and effort.

44. James Dyson competed in high school track and learned from an obscure book to train by running sand dunes. From then on he observed other conformists running around a track thinking they’ll improve.

45. One tip on learning lessons from experience — write the advice you have for yourself 10 years ago.

46. Learn to execute on great ideas from others because then you will never be limited by what you can come up with.

47. We often feel the need to smooth the thing in our work that sticks out, but it might be that the work wants to be made of lots of sticking-out pieces, which results in something unique and new.

The Thing That Sticks Out

48. The generals in the history books were all willing to break their orders in the pursuit of winning.

49. Everyone should experiment more, from lifestyle to work to projects to creative pursuits.

Everyone should experiment more

50. “One day you will wake up and there won’t be any more time to do the things you’ve always wanted.
Do it now.” — Paulo Coelho

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