50 Success Lessons From My 50 Years

I can’t believe I’m writing this:

Today I’ve officially been alive for half a century!

That’s right – 50 trips around the sun.  I know, I know.  I can’t believe it either, but it’s true. Some people might not be excited to say,  “I’m 50 years old,” but I feel really good about it.


After all, I’ve jammed a lot into the last 18,250 days.


Over my 438,000 hours, I’ve been a lot of things: a son, an infant, a child, an adolescent, a student, an athlete, an adult, a physical therapist, a bobsledder, a black belt, a record holder, a coach, a business owner, an investor, a speaker, a writer, a podcaster, a husband, an uncle and a dad.


Now I can add one more thing to the list: quinquagenarian.


Along my semicentennial trip, I’ve logged almost two million air miles and my feet have touched-down in a lot of places.  My adventures have led me to 47 US states and 37 countries.

On the journey, I’ve used my five decades to push my body on the track, in the weight room, on the field, across the ice, over the mat, and in the water.  Perhaps one great 50 feat is still being the same weight as when I was 18.

In addition to my body, I’m even more proud of the way I have used the semicentury to test my mind.  During the educational portion of my life, I’ve accumulated 3 degrees, read over 2000 books and written 12 of my own.  I also have had the privilege to have taught tens of thousands of people in my courses around the world.

While I share these “accomplishments,” know that the half-century road has been far from smooth.  I cannot forget all my achievements would not have been possible without all the mistakes I’ve made.  The setbacks. The tragedies.  The catastrophes.

In addition to all the good stuff on my resume, I’ve been some less desirable things too.  I’ve been over-confident while being under-prepared. I’ve been impulsive and abrasive.  I’ve been selfish.  I’ve been absent of compassion.  I’ve been angry.  I’ve been filled with doubt.  I’ve been broken-hearted.  I’ve been alone.

But I’m thankful looking back on all my challenges and weaknesses because the adage is true: with age comes wisdom.  I am grateful for what my mistakes have forced me to become.

To examine my last fifty years, I spent time over the last few weeks reflecting on the wisest things I’ve discovered – the important things I’ve learned “the hard way.” During this process I asked myself couple of questions:


“What would be 50 pieces of success advice I wish I knew sooner?”  


“What could be some of the best success ideas I could share to make your trip easier?”  


Those questions led to the following list for you.  While it isn’t all-inclusive or in any particular order, I think there are some great ideas to help you.  At worst the list will be inspiring to read.  At best certain items will push you to take action on a current issue holding you back.  Either way, they represent a very important success idea: your life will not be measured someday by what you got – it will be measured by what you gave back.  

So here’s my gift to you on my birthday:


50 Success Lessons From A Quinquagenarian


1.   Don’t believe everything you think.

2.   You are a success when you stop wishing to be SOMEONE, SOMEWHERE or SOMETHING else.

3.   Since you can’t focus on two things at one time, make the most important thing the most important thing.

4.  Be present. Make sure you don’t let your yesterday’s and tomorrow’s ruin your today’s.

5.  Where you are in life is exactly where you are supposed to be as a result of either the things you have or have not done.  Do the right things.

6.  Before you list all the reasons why something won’t work, start by thinking up ideas how it will.

7.  You can’t control events, but you can control your thoughts and actions in response to them.

8.  Successful people get most excited when things get most difficult.  Learn to get energized by difficulty.

9.  Get going. Your actions will change your attitude faster than the reverse.

10.  Being honest with yourself is one of the hardest things to do. To blame one’s circumstances on outside forces is much easier than holding oneself responsible.

11.  No matter how good you get, don’t try to drown the people who taught you how to swim.

12.  Even though there are times you may feel like giving in, that doesn’t mean you have to act like giving up.  To succeed, often you have to act differently than you feel.

13.  Visualize what you want. You will never BE IT if you never SEE IT.

14.  The greatest mistake is to make the same mistake over and over again and never learn from it.

15.  If you don’t have a dream, you can never have a dream come true.

16.  If you want something, don’t let it be the start that stops you.

17.  If someone is going to give you a “no,” at least don’t let it be you.

18.  Since only you can create your thoughts, create thoughts from the mindset you cannot fail.

19.  Welcome your challenges always remembering no great story ever happened without a great problem.

20.  Get your reps.  With enough repetition, the currently uncomfortable will become the comfortable.

21.  Addressing “small issues” before they become “big problems” can change and or save your life.

22.  You must recognize delayed gratification is not about willpower.  It’s a learned skill.

23.  Your past is not a forecast because your past does not predict your future.

24.  No matter how heart broken and how tough life is, there will always be a NEXT.

25.  A person with a great attitude makes the best of it when they get the worst of it.

26.  It’s not how big your opportunity is, it’s how big you are to your opportunity.

27.  You don’t lack most of the abilities you need to succeed: you block them.

28.  Ask life for what you want.  If you don’t, the answer is always “no.”  Don’t ask, don’t get.

29.  When there is a lack of communication, negativity, apathy or anger will often fill that gap.

30.  Success isn’t knowing what to do – it comes from doing what you know.

31.  A crisis will often clarify your priorities.  Identify them because your priorities will clarify your destiny.

32.  Success comes less from wishing and more from working.

33.  The best way to find your meaning is in someone else’s.

34.  It is always ok to say, “I don’t know.”

35.  Get good at making a contribution and giving someone either a compliment or the credit.

36.  Don’t be afraid or embarrassed to ask for help.

37.  Don’t be so busy putting out everyone else’s fires that you are unable to start any of your own.

38.  Don’t only look at what it costs if you take an opportunity, but also at what it costs you if you don’t.

39.  It is not where you live, it’s how you live that counts.  Success can come from anywhere.

40.  One of biggest mistakes is to spend your life doing something you don’t love.  Find and chase your passion.

41.  Your comfort zone might feel like a nice place, but wellness doesn’t grow there.

42.  To be more successful, improve your ability to make people feel better about themselves.

43.  The most powerful way to become stronger is to lift someone else up.

44.  One of the best gifts you can give a person is to let them know you BELIEVE in them.

45.  Listening is one of the most important success skills you can develop.

46.  Surround yourself with people who are doing what you want to be doing.  You’re pulled up or down by the influential people around you.

47.  Trust and work well with others.  Many hands really do make work light.

48.  Every piece of food you put in or word that comes out of your mouth, every breath you take or thought you make, your actions all add up.  In the end, there are no little things.

49.  Life is cumulative. Your life will be composed of a number of events. Some will go to plan. Some won’t. You will learn is not one event, but the sum of all your events that count.

50.  Whatever you do or don’t do will add up to who you eventually become. It’s up to you whether your life will or won’t stay the same.  DOn’t waIT!

I hope you enjoyed the list and found some personal favorites you can immediately use to s take the next step toward a current problem.

If you’ve enjoyed my list of success wisdom, I’ve packed more ways to become successful into my two books Coach to Coach and High Ten.  If you haven’t read the books, there are dozens more powerful lessons how to be a better person and build a stronger team waiting for you.

Finish the summer strong with some reading.

Now in kindle and audio versions too!

Thanks again for reading my work, and I look forward to continuing to share for the next 50 years!

Throwing you a High Ten,