1. Life is 10 percent what happens to you and 90 percent how you react to it.
The life advice I go back to most often is, “Life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent how I react to it.” This quote has guided me in both my personal and professional lives. And it works because it’s true for all people: We all face challenges, but we all have the choice to respond in a positive or negative manner.
2. Give more than you take.
It’s really that simple. Give more in the world (of your time, money or talents) than you consume or take. It creates such an abundance of experience, connections, and wealth, but never when those are the leading drivers.
3. Under-promise, then over-deliver.
My father grew up on a farm in a small, rural community where you build a reputation in either direction very quickly. He taught me that you are much better off under-promising and over-delivering than not meeting people’s expectations. Most of us do business in very small business communities and would also be best served by erring on the side of exceeding expectations rather than not meeting them.
4. We aren’t rich enough to buy cheap things.
My mom used to say, “We aren’t rich enough to buy cheap things.” Cheap things don’t last, and replacing them ultimately costs more time and money than buying high-quality goods to start with. This also applies to behavior: It’s easier to do things right the first time, rather than to retroactively fix a shoddy job.
5. Keep it simple.
One of the most simple life lessons I learned from my father at a young age is to “Keep it simple.” The KISS principle has been a guiding light for me, as I often remind myself, when things seem overwhelming or overly complex, to step back and keep it simple. Usually you can break things into smaller parts or simplify a problem to achieve your desired outcome. Thanks, Dad!
6. Keep business and personal separate.
As an entrepreneur, it’s so easy to mix up business and personal, but it just causes mistakes and headaches that can impact both aspects of your life in a bad way. It’s better to keep these completely separate in terms of communication, social presence, money and daily tasks.
7. Obey the Golden Rule.
Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. I never get tired of this positive way to look at every interaction I have. Whether it’s my family, co-workers, or clients, I put their interests first. It’s not about what you can get from others, but what you give to them that makes you a pleasant person to deal with. The fact that the Golden Rule is still relevant is a measure of its power.
8. Keep moving, keep playing and keep dreaming.
I constantly refer to these words because they remind me of the importance and power of momentum. To achieve your full potential, you have to stay energized. This encompasses everything from caring about your health and visiting the gym, to stay innovative and ambitious by vigorously exercising the mind.
9. Work to live; don’t live to work.
I can easily work just for the sake of working. But I sure hope that toward the end of my life, I don’t look back on years of time spent in an office in front of my laptop working. I want to look back on relationships and lives that I’ve been a part of. This contributes more to my overall happiness than checking off my never-ending to-do list.
10. Do it right or don’t do it.
This approach guides every decision I make. If I don’t think we can do it better than anyone else and feel a strong passion for it, I decline the opportunity. Life’s just too short to spend time doing things that you aren’t proud of, don’t enjoy and aren’t going to put your full focus behind. During the years, this has saved us from many good opportunities, allowing the bandwidth for great ones.
—Jeff Jahn, DynamiX
11. Favors are a stronger currency than money.
Favors are a stronger currency than money: Whether it’s in the personal or professional sphere, non-monetary help/gifts build much more meaningful long-term relationships and have a greater positive relationship impact than those that are clearly tied to a financial amount. It shows you truly care about someone and have taken the time to learn about them. It’s not easy or even always possible, but it’s something I try to keep in mind.
12. Learn to enjoy the discomfort of change
George Santayana said: “To be interested in the changing seasons is a happier state of mind than to be hopelessly in love with spring.” Far too many of our problems—whether in business, relationships or day-to-day life—come from clinging to the past. By enjoying the discomfort of change, we open ourselves up to see things from a new perspective, and to be happier while doing it.
13. Think, What are you trying to accomplish?
My father told me to “Always ask yourself what you are trying to accomplish.” This is something I try to ask every time I start a design, get stuck on a project and even in my personal life. It is a way to pull yourself outside of a situation and make the best decision.