1. Demonstrate that your mind can be changed
“Continued to take personal inventory and when we were wrong promptly admitted it.” -Step 10, Alcoholics Anonymous
Most people are too prideful to say three simple words that, if said, would make people respect them significantly more:
I was wrong.
Most people’s fears of looking stupid stop them from building truly beautiful and meaningful relationships. Their insecurity and pride prevent them from connecting with people — their relatives at Christmas dinner, over dinner on a Tinder date, even in the bedroom with their spouse.
I have enormous respect for people who demonstrate their minds can be changed. (It’s also the same reason I have virtually zero respect for 99% of politicians).
The world doesn’t need more people digging in their feet and pretending to look smarter than they are. The world is thirsty for more thoughtful, humble people who are willing to change their thinking if their thinking is wrong.
I want the truth, no matter what that is. For many years, I called myself Republican, and voted for all Republican policies. My parents told me Democrats were silly and misguided and wrong, which is what I believed.
But after college, I started looking at these issues myself. And I realized that actually, Democrats had some really good ideas, just like Republicans. So I changed my mind. I started voting for some Democratic policies.
Be open to new ideas, and let people know that your mind can be changed. Let them know you can’t be brainwashed, that you listen to reason. People will respect you far more.
2. Reinvest your free time and money back into your future
“Anyone who truly makes something of themselves takes their free time and reinvests it in themselves.” –Nicolas Cole
Most people don’t reinvest their free time.
- According to a 2016 American Time Use Survey, most Americans spend 2.7 hours after work watching television — about half their free time during the week.
- Nearly a third of people didn’t touch a book in the past year.
- Less than 5% of adults exercise for 30 minutes or more a day.
Most people don’t exercise, read books, or spend meaningful time with loved ones. That means if you went for a jog today and read for just 10 minutes, you’re already way ahead of the curve!
The world’s most successful people invest their free time. In the words of prolific writer Nicolas Cole:
“Successful people don’t see it as ‘free time,’ they see it as the only time they have to do the things they really want to do in life — and they don’t take a minute for granted.”
Scott Adams, creator of the wildly successful Dilbert comics, once said, “Every skill you acquire doubles your odds of success.”
Robert Kiyosaki, author of the famous Rich Dad Poor Dad books, teaches that the world’s wealthiest people were simply the ones who continually reinvested their profits into more assets.
If you want to be successful, and focus your efforts to achieve greatness in the most important areas of your life, it’s fair to ask yourself:
- How do you spend your free time?
- What activities drain your energy and leave you lifeless?
- Why do you continue to waste your free time?
These questions aren’t always easy to answer, and your answers might change over time. But figure these out now, and you’ll have a far better future.
3. Admit when you don’t know the answer
I was listening to a sports podcast the other day, and the host asked his guest about his take on some complex sports analysis.
“I…don’t know,” the guest said.
My ears perked. Huh, I thought. I should listen to this guy. Another more insecure guest would’ve probably babbled on and made some remarks that showed his knowledge, to save face and not look foolish. But the truth is, pretending you know something when you don’t makes you look far more foolish than simply admitting you don’t know the answer.
If you pretend to know everything, people will begin to believe that you really don’t know a lot of things. People don’t expect you to know everything, they expect you to speak the truth.
If you can admit that you don’t know something, people will pay extra attention to you when you say that you do know the solutions.
4. Show you’ve taken responsibility for your choices and actions
Grammy award-winning performer Kendrick Lamar once wrote, “I want the credit if I’m losing or I’m winning.” This mentality isn’t common, because it’s risky — what if you lose? There’s no one else to blame.
Have you taken full responsibility for your life? Are you in charge — or is someone else calling the shots?
It’s so easy to let someone else take charge — that way, if things end up in failure, you have someone to blame. It’s easy to point fingers at someone else instead of taking a hard look at how you could’ve done things differently.
But if you never take full responsibility for your life, people won’t respect you. As best-selling author Hal Elrod wrote:
“The moment you accept total responsibility for everything in your life is the day you claim the power to change anything in your life.”
Back in the day, I worked at a terrible corporate desk job. I was chronically bored, exhausted, and felt overworked even though I spent 75% of my time doing basically nothing but pretend to work. I had a goal to “be a writer,” but I’d never taken the time to figure out what the hell that actually meant.
For a long time, I blamed my annoying coworkers, incompetent managers, and dysfunctional company for my troubles (again — so easy to blame others!). I never took responsibility for what I wanted until years later. Eventually, I got so sick and tired of being sick and tired, I quit!
My wife and I took full responsibility. We quit our jobs, packed up our belongings, and moved to South Korea to travel the world and teach English. I was able to start a personal writing business where I work from home only working 20 hours/week, making more money than my old corporate job.
When you let others call the shots, you get stuck in a cycle you can’t break. But when you take full responsibility for your life, that’s the moment where you can do anything with your life, and gain the respect of your peers.
“If you don’t prioritize your life, someone else will.” -Greg Mckeown
5. Don’t share secrets that aren’t yours to tell
When I was in college, my two friends (I’ll call them Tim and Erica) abruptly broke up. It was awkward, and involved a lot of hurt feelings. A few months later, I was told Tim had started dating someone new. Apparently, he didn’t want people to know about it, and it was kind of a secret. Sure, whatever. So I kept my mouth shut about it.
For the next few weeks, I’d be around Erica and her friends, and they’d sometimes talk about the ex-boyfriend, wondering if he was dating anyone new. I didn’t say anything. I didn’t lie — I just didn’t comment. It wasn’t my secret to tell.
One night, a bunch of us friends were hanging out. Tim arrived, and revealed to us that he was dating someone new, which was quite a shock for many of Erica’s friends.
“I didn’t tell anyone,” Tim said. “Although, I think Anthony was one person who found out.” I confirmed that yes, I had known.
“What!” my girlfriend said in shock. (She was Erica’s best friend). “You knew? And you didn’t say anything??”
I had never really been that close to Tim, but from then on, we developed a sort of unspoken trust — he knew I was someone that didn’t tell his secret, even though I could’ve.
A few months later, there was another instance where someone had been gossiping, and people were wondering who was spreading rumors.
“I know it’s not Anthony,” Tim spoke up in my defense. “He knows how to keep a secret.”
Most people can’t wait to gain some temporary attention by spreading juicy information, but it always comes with a cost — people don’t respect a gossip.
Don’t tell secrets that aren’t yours.
This article first appeared on Medium.