How many times have you said these words …
“If I knew then what I know now things would be totally different!”
I have said these words countless times. And it seems I use them more often now that I am in my 60s.
The other day, I was having a good old-fashioned pity party. While I am usually a very enthusiastic person, this day was a downer.
My mind was full of “stinkin’ thinkin’” and I was wallowing in it.
And then it happened … I heard myself say those famous words.
So I stopped and asked myself this …
… what WOULD I tell my 20 year old self if I had the chance?
What came next surprised me.
NOTE: This article is meant to be interactive. I WANT you to leave a comment and share with your fellow readers from your wisdom.
LESSON 1 – FIND A MENTOR
You might not know I am a high school graduate. Zero college.
This has actually worked out to be an advantage to me as I have deep experience in my business.
I’ve been a salesman all my life and am proud of the fact. I see selling as a noble profession when done with integrity.
But my lack of college has also lead to interesting levels of insecurity and some pain.
Not having a degree has meant I had to learn what I learned by trial and error.
In other words, the hard way.
This has also worked to my advantage in that I know that I know what works online and what does not.
It’s not theory with me. It’s experience.
And now I get to help others FROM that experience. What a blessing.
But if I could rewrite my history I can see that things would have been much easier (and less expensive) if I had a mentor along the way.
A guide who has “been there and done that” is perhaps the most important of all assets we can have when working online.
I believe this is true for four main reasons.
A mentor can help you …
- Avoid the pitfalls he or she has experienced.
- Chart a clear path forward based on deep experience.
- Save you the pain and expense of costly trial and error.
- Help you completely avoid “shiny object syndrome” by keeping you on track.
If the 20 year old Charlie was able to have had the right mentor there is no telling where I would be right now.
Don’t misunderstand, I am very blessed and know it. We have a wonderful business, family, and life.
But wanting to be your best is a valid motivation, and I know there was some pain I would have avoided with the right mentor.
LESSON 2 – PAY YOURSELF FIRST
I first heard this when I was 19 and getting ready to be married.
My young bride (then 17) and I were embarking on an adventure, and we knew it.
Just before the wedding, a wise friend pulled me aside and said this.
“Save 10% of every paycheck you ever get and you will never worry about money.”
I, of course, being 19 and chock full of promise, did not heed those wise words.
“I’ll do that with the next check. We need to pay _____ or get _____ for the apartment first.”
Needless to say, it never happened.
Once again, please understand me. We have been blessed and never gone hungry or without a home. And I know others have.
But my statement still stands. If 20 year old Charlie would have taken action on that advice our lives today would be different.
LESSON 3 – FIND WHAT WORKS AND STICK WITH IT
This last life lesson is hard won from over 30 years of self-employment.
Over the years, there are times when I have done very well with this. And then there have been the other times.
You might know about those times. The times we regret later.
They include times when I …
- Was distracted from my plan by a shiny object.
- Wanted to do it like the gurus do it.
- Needed to use the same tools as the “big dogs” were using.
Here is what I have learned after over 30 years.
Finding a system for doing things, and sticking with it, means stability and success.
And incredible amounts of peace of mind.
“But what about progress?” some people may ask.
I finally discovered the answer.
By all means, evaluate and be willing to make a change when something new to you seems to be working well.
But here’s the key …
Don’t stop doing what is working until you have tested the new idea for yourself or are working with a trusted mentor.
It’s embarrassing to admit, but I have changed shopping carts, hosting companies, ad tracking services (and more) all because someone I admired was using them.
And I did that without counting the costs. Without testing them for myself.
In some cases it worked out. In others, I was just not advanced enough to use the same tool as the industry leaders who had massive teams on their payroll.
And, since I did not have a guide, I had to figure it out on my own.
Happily, there are some things I never quit doing.
- Email marketing is still my go to method for making sales.
- Content marketing is still the best way to develop relationships with people.
- Word of mouth is still my #1 traffic getting tool.
- Doing what’s right, even when it is hard, is still my #1 customer relationship method.
I am very grateful that my active mind did not wander from these methods. They work today as well as they ever did, and I don’t see that changing anytime soon.
So what would you tell your 20 year old self? I’d love to hear from you so please leave a comment and share your wisdom.