Let's all admit it: 2016 was rough.
And don't forget about Harambe.
And then there's that Brexit thing no one wants to talk about.
A couple of weeks in... and I'm still looking over my shoulder. You never know:
Something from last year might come back for one last swift kick in the hiney.
I'm an optimist.
I don't like staying mad or sad, angry, bitter, or jealous.
Negative energy has a way of creeping up, and in order to avoid it, one part of my personal philosophy is to recognize the good in all things.
Even sh*tty years like 2016.
The only way to move forward, is to look forward.
I've never lost anything in my life.
L's are used to describe losses.
No one's a fan of losing. I HATE losing.
So, I don't acknowledge it. Boom, gone forever. A slate wiped clean.
This way of thinking has come in pretty handy during Monopoly nights, basketball games, and misplacing car keys: none of those things have been lost in my presence.
That doesn't mean I always win.
In fact, I'd argue that I have more L's than W's on my record.
Ignoring loss doesn't change the fact that you've lost.
Loss exists: you know that because of the way the experience made you feel.
Loss changes you.
What separates the greats from the not so greats is the way they view loss.
Perspective, I've learned, is an important trait if you're committed to living life more fully.
Let's just go ahead and call 2016 what it was: an L.
So much crappy stuff went on last year I'd be cool with just calling it a wash... "let's just sweep all this stuff over here under the rug."
Choosing to not face problems head on increases the likelihood that you'll make the same mistake again.
I low key had a couple of Jerry Maguire-esque moments that when I look back on, make me laugh.
At the time, those moments sucked, and it took a while to be able to laugh at what were painful experiences.
Laughing after an L is a pretty good indication that a lesson has been learned, or will be soon.
Which is the secret to success: learning.
We all learned a lot during 2016.
Some good stuff, some bad stuff. Some sad stuff, and some other stuff that just was.
The fact of the matter is that a loss only stays on your record if you didn't learn a lesson.
I'll say that again:
A loss is only a loss if you didn't learn a lesson.
For me, the way to do that was to not acknowledge 7 Losses Earned in 2016, but acknowledge 7 Lessons Learned in 2016.
Real growth is using lessons to guide your future; who want's to learn the same lesson twice?
Because f*ck 2016 and the lessons they taught us.
7 Lessons Learned in 2016
Lesson #1: Use Your Pain as Fuel
I don't know how true this is, but I imagine pain (sadness, anger, jealousy, negativity) has been responsible some of earth's greatest creations: studies have shown that when channeled properly, pain can be an effective tool for achieving goals.
Don't choose to dwell on pain, acknowledge it. See if you can learn something, express gratitude, and keep it pushing. Pain sucks, but what sucks worst than pain is allowing it to control you.
Lesson #2: Laugh At Your Failures
Chances are, you've made a mistake. In fact I can pretty much guarantee that you've made a mistake. It's in our nature.
Last year, I made some big mistakes. It wasn't pretty.
I'm an extreme guy (I'm good on the Mountain Dew bro), so it took a while before they caught up with me, but they did.
Part of the challenge of investing yourself into something new means you're going to not know what you're doing.If you can't shake it off, laugh at your mistake, (and learn) you'll never get anywhere.
Having the courage to fail so greatly that you have to laugh at how ugly the attempt was is the way to go.
Learning not to beat yourself and going with the flow will be your best friends: you learn more because you're not panicking or frustrated.
Lesson #3: Live in the Present
Time waits for no man.
Looking back, I wish I had made some different choices in the way that I managed my time.
"You'll have time for this later."
"You just spent time together."
These were phrases that I repeated to myself over and over, again and again.
Patience and procrastination are sometimes different sides of the same coin, and something I learned to recognize the difference between.
Loss as a result of not living in the present is a tough lesson. I hope the frustration experienced serves as a reminder that life's too short to not do what you want to do.
Lesson #4: Commit to Learning
The day I graduated college, I decided I wasn't going to read a book again if I didn't have to.
Debt, taking too many classes, studying stuff I didn't care about all led to a resistance to education. Stupid.
I allowed one of life's most important lessons to escape me: always be a student.
Last year, I made some choices to NOT learn which I wouldn't make again.
A commitment to learning: developing new skills, interests, hobby's - is a good way to make sure that you're not stagnant.
Plus, learning has proven to help with better aging: keeping you sharper into your later years of life.
Spend 15 minutes a day learning a new skill: a new language, or develop a new hobby. An idle mind can be the devil's playground. If you're not learning something new, you're eventually going to figure out a way to spend that time, and it might not be positive.
Lesson #5: Ask the Right Questions
I struggle with empathy.
Because I'm the "smartest" person in the room, its a little bit of a challenge understanding where people are coming from. Not a good trait to have.
Taking a second to develop empathy skills is an invaluable skill I could have used last year.
Learning to ask the right questions, whether to yourself, friend, partner, boss, whatever - is key to developing empathy and increasing communication.
Better communication typically leads to problems being solved before they begin.
Asking questions is a good way to ensure that we're not only seeing things from our own perspective, but that you're inclusive of others feelings, opinions, and thoughts.
Asking the right questions is all about respect and community building. Normally, listening to others provides new ways for growth and learning, and might even improve on some of your own ideas.
Lesson #6: Chill Out
Part of the reason for taking on so much was that I wasn't feeling very satisfied. To compensate, I committed myself to more and more.
I figured if I could get started working on as much as possible, I'd be able to look past some of the things that were missing.
The consequences of not taking regular, consistent time and effort to process and reflect on life were pretty clear: poor decision making, lack of focus and direction, and communication challenges all caught up with me.
By reminding myself to put down the computer or the phone, and doing something fun + irresponsible, is something I've committed to continue to do. Life's meant to be enjoyed. If you're not regularly scheduling time to stop and smell the roses... the roses will stop and smell you...?
Lesson #7: Only Go At It Alone If You Have To
I'm comfortable hanging out alone, which is good; running an early stage startup means that I spend a lot of time by myself.
2016 was tough balancing the needs of my businesses versus my needs as a person: staying active, spending time with friends and family, traveling, etc.
Things got hairy.
Knowing the difference between Wants vs. Needs means saying no to vacations, birthdays, nights out at the movies.
It also means that sometimes, the needs of Food Tribe have to come second to the people that are most important.
Choosing between whats good for your business vs. what's good for YOU is a tough skill to develop, and one that I wish I had done a better job of last year.
Knowing when to rely on people and ask for help will get you farther than going at it alone.
Friendships, relationships and being able to spend time with family are important, and something ALL people need to be able to count on.
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If you've stayed with me this long, you've learned about the 7 lessons I learned in 2016.
These Lessons will be tough to forget, and I make sure that I don't by developing resistance: creating goals that reflect the lesson.
That's the key to keeping my perspective, and my (mostly) spotless record: I've never lost in my life.
This is a very Kobe way of looking at things.
Kobe is a 2 Finals MVP award winner, 5X NBA Championship and played for the greatest franchise in NBA history.
If I have to embrace the mamba mentality, I'm cool with it.
To make sure 2017 is a better year than 2016, I'm turning my 7 L's into 10 goals I can achieve in 2017.
Achieving those will help avoid repeating past mistakes.
Let's take one of the lessons I learned last year:
I ask myself:
Is there a way to make sure that I won't make the same mistake again?
What's great is I've got a lifetime to figure it out.
So why not put together a few experiments and see if I can figure out a way to remind myself?
So, like all other great scientists out there, I put together a hypothesis.
FORMING A HYPOTHESIS
Step 1: Ask a question.
How can I remind myself that pain is fuel?
Step 2: Create a Hypothesis Statement
"If I do (SOMETHING), then the effect of a painful experience will be minimized."
Next is to figure out what that (SOMETHING) is.
What: When properly channeled, pain is a great source of energy for achieving goal.
Where: Da earth
Why: I'd rather be happy.
Hypothesis: If I channel my pain (negative energy) by lifting weights, I won't be bummed.
You see where I'm going. Create ways to remind yourself of the lesson in a positive way. Hopefully, that means not making the same mistakes again later.
For 2017, here are the 10 Goals I want to achieve as a result of the 7 L's learned in 2016:
#1 Contribute 20% of My Take Home Pay to IRA in 2017
HEALTH AND FITNESS GOAL
#3 Get Incredible Hulk swole.
#4 Learn Spanish
#5 Watch My Big Bro Get Married
#6 - Get Out of the Country
#7 Kick it In Hawaii
#8 Learn how to ride a short board
SOCIAL GOOD GOALS
#10 Camp Big Sur with the boys
There you go.
The things I'm most looking forward to achieving in 2017: learning from some of the tougher lessons I learned last year.
I hope you found some value in this post.
2016 was a tough year, but that doesn't mean it was permanent. Part of our responsibility for dealing with tough challenges is figuring out a way to bounce back.
Hopefully, this post helps you do the same.
This post also appears on Medium.