Charlie Stross just turned 50 and put up a post discussing his major life lessons, things he wished he could tell his 15 year old self, which briefly are:
- Don’t die. (Try not to fail at this one as long as you can.)
- Idiots abound. (And recognize that correcting them is usually not your problem.)
- Follow the Golden Rule. (He prefers the negative Confucian version: “do not do unto others that which would be repugnant were it done unto you”)
- Charlies does have some caveats for self defense and what-not.
Check out his post for the details.
I’m not quite 50 yet (I just turned 48 a few weeks ago), but I found Charlie’s list to be reasonable, although I think trying to distill all of life’s lessons to a short list is violating Einstein’s rule that things should be as simple as possible, but no simpler. Reality is complicated, and many people are too impatient with that complexity.
Maybe that’s why at least three additional important life lessons quickly came to mind:
- Conventional wisdom is often wrong. (Strikingly, this appears to include conventional wisdom among those familiar with this lesson.)
- Yes, I know many might see this as a detail of 2, but in my experience many smart people buy into the conventional wisdom.
- Most people are more concerned about your evaluation of them than they are about their evaluation of you. This is usually true even if they are in the more powerful position.
- Cherish your real friends, and don’t make enemies when you don’t have to.
There are lots of others, but in the vein of prioritizing what I wish I could tell my 15 year old self, these are big ones.
What would your additions be?