The closer I am to hitting the mid 30’s mark, the more I think about my journey. I’ve definitely gained perspective, but it’s also caused me to realize what a moron I was in my 20’s. To be fair, I wasn’t a complete moron. There were many positives along the way, but I also made some basic 20’s mistakes that thankfully I’ve learned from. Maybe it’s a right of passage, a necessary journey of maturity. I don’t know. Either way, I went through it and have put together a few thoughts I wish that 30’s Josh could slap 20’s Josh upside the head with. I doubt that 20’s Josh would listen, but still, it would be worth it. Also, I don’t want to color myself this totally dysfunctional, disrespectful, irresponsible 20’s something. I was far from it, but I did have my moments.
So here goes. If I could text myself back in my 20’s, here’s what I would say.
Josh, you’re a cool guy, but please…don’t be an idiot. Pay attention to what I’m about to say.
1. You don’t know half of what you think you know, so stop pretending that you do.
If you haven’t walked in their shoes, don’t pretend that you have. “Faking it” is both stupid and demeaning. People already know this. They can tell in the first 15 seconds of a conversation whether or not you’re full of it. You can show real empathy, sincere sympathy, as long as you allow the true peacemaker (Jesus, The Holy Spirit) to work through you. So dwell on that.
Also. Don’t hate on people who HAVE earned it, who HAVE worked hard, just because they don’t agree with you. Don’t dismiss them because they’re “older or out of touch.” Please. It’s exactly the opposite. They have something you NEED. Wisdom. Experience. Just because you’re the loudest voice in the room doesn’t make you right. Just shut up and listen.
Or, consider this.
How about making more of an effort to learn and ASK people who HAVE gone through it, or experienced it, to share some insight with you. And then Listen. Be respectful. Ask intelligent questions. Show honor. Don’t interrupt. Write it all down. Reflect on it. Grow from it.
2. It’s just as valuable to serve as it is to lead.
Don’t worry about position, focus on the relationships. Don’t fuss about a title, focus on the people. Don’t argue about the office, emphasize the mission. In fact, the greatest leaders are those that put the welfare of others before themselves. The greatest leader IS the greatest servant. Locate more areas to serve. They are there, you’re just not looking hard enough or you’ve turned your back to them.
3. Learn to love yourself the way God loves you.
Don’t be so wrapped up in what people think about you. You’re a great guy. I know you’re young and it’s not easy following the big footsteps of your dad. Or the expectations that people place on you. Just remember that he’s proud of you no matter what. God thinks you’re pretty awesome too. Develop thick skin, but keep a soft heart. Be confident in who you are. Don’t be afraid to make mistakes, and don’t allow that fear to keep you from trying.
4. You don’t need that stupid shopping trip.
Seriously. Save your money! Or at least spend it on something worthwhile. Take that money and spend it on a weekend with your family making memories. This time next year…that shirt will be ugly, those jeans will be worn (and not in a cool way), your jacket will have a mustard stain, your shoes will be garbage. However, those memories…they’ll last forever.
5. Have faith that’s BIG, but be willing to start small.
Nobody is going to hand you anything, you have to work for it. You have to earn it. Don’t settle. Continue to push. Keep driving for more. Be a learner. But always stay thankful and learn to celebrate EVERYTHING that God does, no matter how great, no matter how small it is. It’s going to take time, a long time, even more time than you ever considered, but God is at work. Never forget that. Don’t burn bridges with people. We need each other more than you realize. So keep that in mind during every tough conversation, difficult decision or complicated situation. You can do this.
There’s more I would tell myself, which may or may not include previous Super Bowl winners and NBA Champs…ok, I’m kidding. What would you tell yourself? What would you say to your 20’s self if you could?