David Leo has had a coaching practice for financial advisors for 20 years. He first began working with financial industry clients about half a century ago during his long career path that included a 30-year stint at IBM and then seven years at UBS/Paine Webber.
Rethinking65 recently asked Leo about the biggest life lessons he has learned. One of those lessons: “Be intentional!”
Here are all 13 lessons he shared, including details about how to be intentional. [Click here to read about how Leo stays engaged and mentally and physically active.]
1. Spend as much time as possible with your children when they are young and growing up.
You have your children as children for perhaps only 18 years. While they remain your children, after that they are pretty much their own people. You see them, you love them, but they are not children and your influence wanes asymptotically towards zero. I can appreciate that some things get in the way from striving in our careers and putting food on the table and a roof over their heads and clothes on their backs, but don’t let too many things get in the way. Balance is a challenge, but it must be made early in one’s life, as there are no do-overs for poor choices.
2. Consider all decisions very carefully.
Every one lasts your whole life, whether good or bad, whether you change them or don’t, because your memory lasts your whole life, if you are fortunate.
3. If you enjoy something, be more aggressive at it and start as young as you can working at it.
Stretch yourself mind and body. It’s only by not succeeding at first and getting up and trying harder and practicing more that you grow and learn and get better. Accept no limits imposed on yourself by yourself or others. Read “Mindset” by Carol Dweck. Failure is the path to learning and success. Keep pushing the boundaries of your mind and body. Don’t stay in a fixed mindset and accept past successes and not push forward to test your limits … if any. “Failures” are temporary and can only stay “failures” if you accept them and not get up and try again. As Olympian swimmer Katie Ledecky’s coach said, “It’s not physical, it’s between the ears,” and “It’s the absolute, burning desire to get better, and the not being afraid of failure.”
4. Stick up for yourself.
I also learned you must stick up for yourself. Never be a bully or put up with being bullied. Fight back in the best way you can. Accepting being bullied is teaching punks that bullying works. Teach a better lesson.
5. Don’t live in unreasonable or excessive fears.
Living in unreasonable or excessive fears is a waste of time and life.
6. Be intentional!
Take a proactive role in your life, deciding how to direct it with regard to career and family, as early in your life as you are capable of doing that. Think about each stage of your life and figure out what you are learning or meant to learn and use that learning to move forward in your desired direction.”
7. Study more and better at every level of your education.
What else could you have learned and how would you use it to affect your life? From my sister’s death, I learned to spend more time talking to her about her life and such things as how she wanted to be remembered. I could have done more of that. That’s a hard thing to do, but giving people the opportunity to talk about it and to hear it is important. Being with my father when he was dying was difficult yet not even fathomable. Do the best you can. As I said, there are no do overs at times like these.
8. Learn as much as you can as early in your life as you can and always keep trying and striving about life and people and work.
It seems to me there is a time for naiveté and a time to not be too naïve. There are things I feel took me longer than I would have preferred. Some of them are noted in this epistle.
9. Ask yourself important questions.
Ask yourself: Why are you doing “this,” what else can I do, who do I want to spend my time with and why? Where do I want to be and why? How do I want to approach this and are there alternatives that might work better?
10. Take the time to do what you like and care about.
11. Be vocal about protecting the earth.
Also, demand more equality in wealth and income, and in treatment for alI God’s children, whether you believe in God or not. Protect voting rights. Recognize immigration is critical to our country’s growth and survival. I have read about the Seventh Generation Principle, taught by Native Americans, which says, “In every decision, be it personal, governmental or corporate, we must consider how it will affect our descendants seven generations into the future.” So, a pristine sky, field and mountains will still be here for them to enjoy.
12. Live with gratitude.
Peter Strople said, “Legacy is not leaving something for people. It’s leaving something in people.” That was also a lesson from my brother Steve, whose legacy I want to remember. Steve passed away about two years ago. He died as he lived, with gratitude for all the things he had in his life. When he was given his terminal diagnosis, he thought of three words: Gratitude, hope, and acceptance. Gratitude for all he had been given, hope that all would be well after he was gone, and acceptance of his fate — and that gave him peace. Steve’s legacy was leaving this earth with love, appreciation and caring for all around him, especially his family. His lessons are most difficult and most important.
13. Don’t Have Regrets
They serve no good purpose unless you can learn from them and not repeat mistakes. As a friend of mine said, “Give up all hopes for a better past, but your future is spotless.” Anger, resentment, envy, false pride, and laziness do not serve us well. Be cautious with these feelings and remember again, there are no do-overs in life.
Jerilyn Klein is editorial director of Rethinking65.