Scott S. Smith

Millennials Can Make a Quantum Leap Toward Success

To quote George Bernard Shaw, “ Youth is wasted on the young.” A ll of us who are older can look back wishing we had known early in our lives what we have learned the hard way.

that have happened, and how it turned out that difficulties forced him to come up with better ideas. He made a list of all the positive things about rejection, such as, “It teaches you to take criticism without getting angry or feeling sorry for yourself.” • Stay humble — in my experience, the smarter people are, the more likely they are blind to their weaknesses because they arrogantly think they know everything. • Take care of your health — it’s normal for the young to feel immortal, but bad habits will sap physical and mental energy, and plant the seeds for painful and expensive fixes in a couple of quickly passing decades. Ignore diet controversies, and just eat more veggies and whole grains and less sugar. The most overlooked preventive medicine that can pay off easily: rigorous dental care. • Read deeply and widely — most Americans don’t, which will give you all kinds of advantages. For one, it

Mentors should share the insights gained over time, and Millennials should be eager to benefit from hindsight, an opportunity to make a quantum leap over their more- conventional peers. At age 64, I can safely say that I’ve done almost everything wrong — but as the title of John Maxwell’s book puts it, we should always try to Fail Forward. Here’s what I wish I had known when I was 18-28 and had enjoyed some earlier success in business: • Learn to be frugal — you can make your own coffee, rather than buy Starbucks. Working for a nonprofit or a start-up is a good way not to develop bad business habits, too. • Don’t let your passion blind you to the need for backup plans — develop a variety of skills and add experience to be flexible in a volatile job world. • Don’t rush into long-termrelationships — infatuation is easily confused with love. Take the free eHarmony. com survey and find out whether you really know yourself and what you want. • Travel to or live in other countries and learn another language — you’ll never see your own culture the same way and will expand your ability to work across borders. Read Michael Crichton’s Travels to help you understand why this can profoundly change your life. • Learn from imperfect people — all of us make mistakes, but those don’t cancel out the wise things we do, so look for solutions, no matter what the source is. • Look at the glass as half-full — home shopping icon Tony Little has a long list of the adversities he’s suffered through on the first page of his autobiography, There Is Always A Way . Then he lists all the good things

allows you to connect better with diverse people, including donors, vendors, employees, co-workers and customers. Exercise your brain with long articles in places like The Atlantic . Read history and biography — these will give you perspective and role models. Study John Maxwell’s How Successful People Think . Implement some of the ideas in 52 Strategies for Life, Love &Work by Anne Grady.

Scott S. Smith is the author of Extraordinary People: Real Life Lessons on What It Takes to Achieve Success . He is a freelance journalist and frequent contributor to the Leaders & Success column of Investor’s Business Daily. He specializes in interviewing top CEOs and analyzing the careers of famous historic figures to understand their keys to success that can help small business.

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