In the middle of a deep sleep and a wonderful dream, suddenly the quiet is harshly interrupted by the sound of the whining that wakes me up. As I let the dogs out for the morning, the brisk cold air hits my skin and rapidly awakens my otherwise sleepy state of mind as a perfect, richly colored orange glow sits at the horizon and its light bathes the trees in color. I may have preferred to sleep in, but when the dogs get me up early, I always get to see the sun come up. It’s a beautiful sight I never tire of seeing.
The other day a friend asked me, “What’s the best advice anyone has ever given you?” I paused, thought deeply, and said, “I’ll have to get back to you on that. It’s a tall order.” And it is, because I’ve been blessed with so many people in my life to offer advice. My dad always offered amazing advice and ideas on business, as did a few of my mentors.
I’ve been thinking about this topic all week, because it’s not easy to determine what was the best advice ever.
What about you? What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Where did you receive it?
The great advice and lessons I’ve received in my life came from unexpected people at unexpected times, from books, from attending tons of speeches and lectures, from reading lots of articles, and from mentors. Being curious, asking questions, is a magnet for advice, some good, some not.
There is more than one thing…
I can’t land on just one piece of advice, and I can’t land on whether it should be about life or business, but here is what I came up with:
If you set out to make money as your only purpose, you’re likely to fail. If you set out to help people, solve their problems, and put them first, the world truly will beat a path to your door.
Do what you love. Once you’ve done things you don’t love, you can realize the importance of sticking with what you do love. Try lots of things — you’ll be surprised to learn things you think you’ll like, you won’t, and things you don’t think you’ll like, you might. Finding your passion may take years, but once you find passion, you’ll be deeply fulfilled.
Shortcuts can seem like a good idea, but you really don’t grow till you get your teeth kicked in a few times and learn lessons you can’t learn from shortcuts. I never wanted to hear that when I was young, but it turned out to be important.You will have temptations through much of your life. By defining the guardrails in your life, what you’re not willing to do, you won’t give in to the temptations.
Everything you do boils down to your reputation. Protect it with your life. Operate at high ethics always, and if you make a mistake, admit it fast.
Most people are like a pinball — they bounce from place to place. But when you have goals aligned with purpose and passion, you’re more likely to hit them. Goals are your GPS; everything else is a detour. Do something toward your goals every single day, no matter what.
Focus on outcomes with everything you do. What is the outcome needed from this phone call, this meeting, taking this time? What are the outcomes people need to improve their lives?
Rehearse everything you do. I rehearse meetings, phone calls, and anything that is important to me to succeed. I always rehearse them going the way I want them to go, and more often than not, they turn out the way I want them to.
Nothing worth doing is worth doing poorly. If you’re going to do something, you might as well do it as if you’re the best in the world so that you push your limits beyond excellence.
Be a world changer. Sometimes little things can change the world. Make the world better with the time you have on earth.
Fear is a natural instinct designed to protect you, but face your fear, no matter what. Each time it gets easier, and each time you take a giant leap forward.
Embrace mistakes. For every good thing I do, I make dozens of mistakes first. Mistakes are lessons to correct our next steps.
You can’t change the world without a solid work ethic. Work harder than everyone else, work smarter, study more, take risks, and don’t expect magic to drop in your lap without effort. Success is sweeter when sweat is involved. When you’re exhausted, keep going. Rich life experiences don’t come easily.s
Listen carefully. You learn more from asking questions than trying to be the one with all the answers.
Embrace criticism. You might learn something, or it might tick you off so much that it drives you to launch the next big thing.
Eradicate negativity from your own head, and remove negative people from your life.
Love haters. When you’re doing good things, haters will start showing up. And love your enemies.
Find a strong life partner who will encourage you, support you, but also challenge you. Don’t discount their ideas and thoughts just because you think you know better. They often know you better than you know yourself, can see shortcomings you can’t see, and can see things you are too blind to accept or recognize.
I Hate Advice!
I’m not proud to admit that when I was young and a little too sure of myself, I thought I knew it all and was not eager to take the advice of others. Little did I know that advice can be life-changing in many ways. It was gaining experience that helped me realize I could not do it all on my own and I needed to embrace advice.
I’d love you to comment about the best advice you’ve ever received. I’m guessing you have a lot you can teach all of us.
PS: Recently I was talking to someone I met through a friend. He told me all about his business and his passion for what he did, which I thought was wonderful. But when I said, “What do you do for yourself when you’re not working?” he paused, thought about it, and said, “Absolutely nothing. I’m either working or watching the news, maybe reading from time to time.” He told me, “I have no hobbies.”
Though it’s none of my business, I told him my story. “That used to be me. I worked all the time, I had lots of stress, and I spent the rest of my time numb, doing mindless things. But I started looking for more. When I discovered painting, it changed my life. I was no longer bored. If I painted, all my stress melted away. And when I was being creative in other ways, I was happier.”
His response was that he had no talent and did not get the “hobby gene.” I then told him that I’d felt the same way, didn’t feel I could ever do something like paint, because I had zero talent or ability. But I had discovered that it’s something anyone can learn, much like following a recipe. It’s not about talent. It’s about finding a good teacher, sticking with it during the early stages when you’re really struggling, and eventually producing better and better paintings.
It changed my life so much that I ended up making most of my work related to art.
Why am I telling you this? If you or someone you know needs more to life, needs a hobby, needs to reduce stress, I guarantee I can teach you or anyone to paint.
One of the best places to start is at my January Watercolor Live online event. It’s got a Beginner’s Day for basic principles, and then three more days of the top watercolor masters in the world teaching. And if you attend and don’t feel you got your money’s worth on day one, I’ll refund your money.
This would be a great gift for you (or for some folks in your family), and you’ll never look back.
One piece of advice I try to follow is: “Have adventures and gather memories whenever you can. Don’t keep putting it off until you have more money or you retire. That way, you have longer to enjoy the memories, and you are never guaranteed to be in good health after you retire!”
Thank you for this post. You forgot one thing you said in an earlier post … The cost of not doing it is much greater than the cost of doing it. I think you said it was something your dad said.
It was from you 9/4/22 post.
My life lesson and advice were to always leave things better than you found them, if you borrow something return it in better state than you found.
Your advice really touched me. I believe all in one place, this is the best advice I’ve ever received. Pure and simple.
Yes but it takes talent to go past teaching and practice and get to the upper tier.
Hi Eric: I treasure this Sunday moment of your sharing. I’ve met you in person and know that you once worked in the San Joaquin Valley oF CALIFORNIA. I am a native to that geography but now live in the paradise of Carmel , CA,
Between all the truth that you share from you heart and the bottom of your walks and talks, is a faith based Eric.
That is your best advice—it comes through your work, your history and your family life.
Best advice: you can never look back always move forward. If you fall , pick yourself up, brush yourself off and start all over again.
Good message Eric. I was taught to visualize the outcome I wanted. See results then the process was worth all my best effort.
“Five years from today your life will be the same as today except for two things… The people you meet and the books you read.”
(Charles Tremendous Jones)
Wonderful insights and advice you have shared this week Eric! Thank you and have a good week! Kind regards
the best advice I received was to listen to advIce given to me by people that were smarter than me on the subject being discussed .
I paint but I’m not a painter. I live on a mountain in Oregon and have No business sense or computer skills at all. My wife put my paintings on Instagram but those buyers seem to be scammers. There is a gallery in town so maybe I should ask them to sell my paintings. Please advise.
When I was 28 and my father suddenly passed of a heart attack, I was told to allow myself to grieve. But to also move through the stages of grief — denial, anger, and eventually acceptance. Not to get stuck in one of the stages. That, I had the power to daily change my attitude to be positive. Sometimes just by forming a smile on my face was enough to help change my attitude. It served me well when two years later I was going through a divorce. The power of a positive attitude, even if forced, works wonders.
Sound advice; I’ve heard some of those, as well. “Do it right the first time” is an old standard, but amazingly continues to be ignored by so many in our world today. One of my favorite ‘pieces of advice’ is to consider what you invest yourself in and how you spend each day. It’s a day of your life that you won’t see again, so make whatever you trade for it worthy.
My family was fond of aphorisms–things like the Seebee motto. Impossible just takes a bit longer. I learned the reason most people fail is they give up too soon…success is often just a tiny distance past the day you quit, so be slow to decide any endeavor is over. But also learn when to cut your losses and walk away. You are not responsible for anyone else’s happiness; you can’t live for others and be happy. But generosity springs naturally from a full heart. My grandfather said never give anyone cause to call you a liar, a thief or a cheat. My father’s best advice (both my parents were Depression babies) was root hog or die. Work hard, no one owes you anything, and your life is your own responsibility. If you want something bad enough to work and persevere, odds are you will get it. If you fail, you didn’t want it enough. My definition of success adopted from somewhere I can’t remember: Doing what you want to do, when you want to do it, without worrying. My mom said just follow the Golden Rule and don’t judge anyone until you’ve put yourself in their shoes. And my own learning? Know when you have enough.
I always look forward to your SUNDAY COFFEE. Thank you for taking the time for writing it. I really enjoyed enjoyed this article especially, and plan to forward it to my kids, and my older grandkids. I worked in medicine as an X-ray technologist for many years. The pay wasn’t great, but enough to support me and my son, and I was good at it. The one thing I did for myself was to sign up for art classes at the local community college. It gave me a couple of hours every week to be creative. I started out with stained glass for several years, dabbled in calligraphy, baskets, etc. I eventually remarried, and was able to quit my job, and go back to college. I studied ceramics, and enjoyed doing it for about 15 years, then picked up a paintbrush. I’ve been doing watercolor for about 15 years, and never tire of learning, and the challenge it gives me. Looking back on my 71 years, I realize that my life has always been a very creative one, enjoyed for the sheer pleasure of it, and the joy it gives me. I have been very fortunate to have found a wonderful partner in life, who encouraged my art journey. Thank you once again for your newsletter, and all you do for the art world.
Follow Your Heart and trust yourself is the best advice I ever received.
When faced with an unpleasant task, just DO IT, don’t procrastinate, it is a waste of time and energy. Put the unpleasant task behind you.
Accept other people as they are. Don’t expect them to fit your ideal, everyone is shaped by their own experiences not yours, there may be hidden gems they have to offer when you open your mind and heart to who they are.
Hi Eric, whilst I was a trainee teacher one piece of advice I was given was that when you go to work wear a mask because the mask will get broken! What he meant was that our profession is demanding. It is pressured and you need a high degree of resilience to survive the knocks and stresses of the job. By wearing the venier of the mask when it does – not if, get broken it is just the mask and not you. You just put on a new mask to replace the old one. I have to say I am not good at following this advice because I am open and care deeply for my pupils. However I do try to keep something of myself for me and those I care about and indeed it keeps me going and gives me the capacity to be there for others when I need to be. 🙂
The best advice I ever received was from my dad. He said everyones perception of things is different. In marriage, give 150% and be happy to get 50% back. He also said if you do something, do it right. As for work or profession, I don’t care what you do, as long as you love doing it because you will be doing it the rest of your life .
Thanks for your great newsletter, Jim
Happy Sunday, Eric and family. Many thanks again for sharing your wisdom and insight – it’s above and beyond valuable! Also thank you for all you do in the world of painting . When my lifelong interest was pushed out your wonderful newsletters, articles and videos have brought life back to my dreams! Thank you so very much!