So my fetish for making lists does not seem to be stopping. Here is another. And this time, I have 22 life lessons that 2022 has taught me.
In no order, let’s go and dive into the list of life lessons…
1/ The world does NOT owe you anything. While you need to keep the faith and keep trying, you need to know that you will HAVE to work hard.
2/ The world is a mere reflection of your true self. Depending on how you are, the world is an incredibly kind place. Or an unkind place. If you are kind, the world will be kind. If you are unkind, the world will be that. If you feel that the world doesn’t care for you, and leaves you lonely and miserable, in all probability it is you who’s not caring for others, who’s leaving others lonely.
3/ People are lazy. People typically will revert to mean to their general level of laziness. You know, entropy.
4/ People are incredible. While there are lazy people, some are incredibly good! And your job is to identify those people.
5/ Ethos is everything. This year I picked up a project that paid me ok but made me work closely with people that had very different ethos from mine. If I were a mere contractor delivering things to them against a predecided structure, I would have done well. But I was expected to do more and I failed. So, when working on long-term, fluid projects, always check for alignment of ethos.
6/ Sunk Cost Fallacy is a real thing. I am still unable to come to terms with this. I need to work on this #in2023.
7/ Show people the vastness of the sea. If you manage a team, the whole drumming up and showing them the vastness of the sea works wonders. The team at C4E is a testimony.
8/ Start writing. For writing opens doors that you did not even know existed. Thanks to my writing, I could meet two dollar-billionaires this year (one IRL and one online). And another that manages a fund of more than a billion.
9/ Youth will surprise you. Even though am a big believer in “if youth knew and if age could”, my interactions with numerous 20-something-year-olds have left me spellbound. Each has surprised me beyond belief and I know the world is in better hands.
The old ones that dismiss these young ones as frivolous, inexperienced, unaware, are in for a rude shock. Even Steve famously said…
No one wants to die. Even people who want to go to heaven don’t want to die to get there. Yet, death is the destination we all share. No one has ever escaped it, and that is as it should be because death is very likely the single best invention of life.
It’s life’s change agent. It clears out the old to make way for the new. Right now, the new is you, but someday not too long from now, you will gradually become the old and be cleared away.Steve Jobs, link
10/ There are wartime people and peacetime people. You need to understand who is who and surround yourself with the right ones. This is inspired by Ben Horowitz‘s Wartime CEO and Peacetime CEO riff. Read it here. See it here.
Also, this life lesson is probably the most important as it will allow you to not choose the wrong shoulder to lean on when you need to lean. I made the mistake of considering a good friend as a wartime one but then he was clearly a peacetime one and because I relied on him, it caused me a lot of pain.
11/ Your heroes WILL fall. So rather than blind adulation of your heroes (aka Hero worship), learn the art of abstracting the Heros from their heroics. What you find enthralling in a Hero could merely be the act.
12/ The life of constant hustle is NOT for everyone. If you are someone that believes that you are not “feeling” it while you grind away, it’s okay to go back to a 9-to-5 and enjoy a stable salary.
On the other hand, I need to not judge people for the lack of it.
13/ The ability to design has to be the SINGLE most important skill that a person can acquire in this day and age. This may sound counter-intuitive when there are apparent high-value skills like coding, writing (copywriting), coaching, speaking, sales, presenting et al.
Thing is, the world we live in will increasingly become more and more “visual”. Text will become commonplace and tools like chatGPT would make it easier. No code will make it easy to do pilots. Sales team would be easy to hire in remote locations. But the ability to doodle well enough to communicate an idea would remain in short supply. And it will become the single largest differentiating factor.
I wish I was not 40. If I wasn’t, I would drop everything and learn how to do basic design. And no, what you do on Canva is NOT design.
14/ The iPhone 14 Pro’s screen is NOT unscratchable. Sigh!
15/ Remote work is a farce. Nothing replaces a handshake. Or a pat on the back.
In fact, you need to live at the very epicentre of activity for the profession of your choosing.
You may argue that there are people that have found freedom of location and are travelling. They are exceptions, edge cases. And most of us aren’t that. So, to maximise the odds of success, satisfaction, life expectancy, opportunities and all that, we need to live at the epicentre. If you want to do a startup, be in Bangalore. If you want to make films, Mumbai. A chef? Paris. Dont have the money to make the move? Hustle!
16/ Live music is the best form of music.
17/ Ready, Fire, Aim is the best DAMN strategy to get things done. Most great things that happened to me in 2022 happened as an outcome of this. In fact, if there was one life lesson that I would want you to take away from this list, it would be this.
Ready. Fire. Aim.
18/ Mimetic Theory is a great place to start if you want to understand people. Even though a lot hasn’t been said about it outside the startup circles, it is probably the single most important thing you can learn if you want to understand what moves the world.
While mimesis has been discussed a lot in philosophy, from whatever little I’ve read, I like what Girard has to say about it. I may be merely recommending him because he reaffirms my worldview. Nonetheless, this is a brilliant video if you want a primer.
19/ Your body can be trained to do whatever you want to. This year I was able to do a 40+ hour fast without putting in any specific training / preparation. I want to be able to do a 12-day fast at some point in time in my life. Let’s see when.
20/ People that are not in your boat will never be able to empathise with you. You are the only man in the arena and you are there by yourself. So when you share things with others, even if they are your best friends, they will not be able to relate to the pain you are going thru.
In 2022, I’ve learnt that a good way to get over the disappointment of your close one’s inability to get your grief is to journal. In private.
21/ Action speaks louder than words. Nothing new in this. Found this truer in 2022. With friends, clients, team, strangers and everyone else.
22/ This too shall pass. Each of my list starts and ends with this. Good times dont last. Bad times dont last.
And this brings me to the end of the list. Of 22 life lessons that 2022 taught me. Of course, I learnt these the hard way. The intent of capturing these here is to save you the pain and the grief. How benevolent, Mr Garg!
What are some lessons you learnt in 2022 that you’d like to share widely?
PS: Like I said in the beginning, I love making lists. Other lists that I have published here are…
PPS: Here’s a few disclaimers…
- These come from the personal experiences that I gathered over the last year.
- Some of these may have been with me for a while but they sort of solidified over the last year.
- I have obfuscated some facts and events for obvious reasons.