Over the past couple of years, I have trained myself to keep an open mind in all situations and try not to judge. I’m not naive enough to think that humans are perfect and understand we all slip up, but the goal is to recognize when it’s happening and get yourself out of the habit using the power of open mindedness.
Today’s writing is about a man named Alex that I recently met at a local cafe. I was sitting at this cafe, working at my computer on a blog post, and one of the cafe workers, Kim, asked me what I actually did to be in the cafe at random times of the day all the time. I explained I am a freelancer, story teller, web designer and cafe loiterer.
Sitting next to me was a man who looked around 45-50 years old, eating a salad.. He overhead the conversation and asked me ‘Front end of back-end?’ referring to whether I made the websites look good or code behind the scenes to give them functionality. I explained I mainly focus on front end, but also delve into the back-end when required.
He then went on to state how he has delved a little, but always behind a proxy server (for security) and never, ever…..ever gave out any of his private information. At this point, I thought what an interesting, yet slightly strange man Alex was. He seemed cynical towards technology. Like someone had burnt him before and racked up $5,000 in credit debt leaving him to pay it off.
We continued chatting where he revealed that there is nothing on him on the internet. When he logs into his internet banking it is only ever from 1 computer at home. Which is that computers SOLE purpose. Nothing else, he assured me. He isn’t on Facebook, barely uses emails and uses a phone that is untraceable.
At this point, 5 minutes into meeting this guy, I was thinking he was more than a little strange. But I kept an open mind. What followed over the next 45 minutes was one of the best discussions I’ve had in a long time and was filled with lessons to be drawn from.
Alex is a construction and building developer. Has been for 25 years and before that his dad owned it, and before that, his dad’s dad owned it. A family business built on strong connections and integrity. During our discussion Alex passed on to me 5 gems of information that I think will benefit anyone in a leadership position or someone wanting to be a better person.
It is also important to know that Alex has 2 degrees (Science and Engineering) and has also taught and worked in various fields for nearly 3 decades.
The 3 Amigos
The first of Alex’s lessons was in relation to what I call the three Amigo’s. Three NON-negotiables if you wish to live your life to the fullest and be the healthiest you can be.
a) Diet (healthy, nutritious, natural foods)
b) Sleep (at least 7 hours per night)
c) Exercise (must get daily exercise for at least 20 minutes)
Alex explained how he gets 7 hours sleep, religiously, every single night. He is strict and disciplined with his bed time. He asked me to guess his age and I said “45?”, he stated he was 55 next month and that he attributed this to following the principles outlined above and below. Health is number 1.
Next, Alex explained that if you want to be world class, you need to learn your craft and have extreme focus towards your goals.
I asked Alex: “With so much information out there, how can you decide where the right place is to learn?”
He explained when he was learning computer coding, he found a website forum that coding guru’s would frequent, share their tips and secrets and continue building their own products. He said this was in-valuable to his progress. So you must find your own ‘forum’, test it, implement it and if you get the results, scale it. The information is out there, it’s just finding the forums which is the fun part.
Be resourceful, and get busy working towards your goals without the need to wander off and do other things.
One thing at a time
This branches off from the above topic of focus. I love starting and growing ideas. To take something to nothing to something excites me. On the surface, this sounds like fun, it can also be a burden.
In the last 2 years I’ve started many many ideas for businesses, and found only a very small select few that have stuck. Now it is going to be a process of refining even more and just concentrating on only one thing and becoming world class.
You may think you’re restricting yourself, but from all leadership guru’s and performance coaches this is a common theme. Alex was right. Time to get focused.
Find Good Mentors
Alex was a huge believer in embracing the power of mentors. Use the knowledge and power that someone else has obtained over countless years to propel yourself into the deep end where you can truly do your best work to date.
They say don’t try and find a good mentor, the mentor will find you. I don’t believe this. Actively seek out people who have done what you want to do. Read their books, go to their seminars, reach out them via email.
And don’t be so structured. A mentor could be someone you pay for monthly advice, or it could be someone you meet in a cafe that gives you a 45 mentoring session.
Be on the Cutting Edge
A huge part of Alex’s success in business and in life is due to always being on the cutting edge. He reads a lot (a great skill to have), researched the latest news and articles, subscribes to industry and trade publications and speaks to those at the top of their games in his industry.
This is crucial.
If you want to be the best, surround yourself with interesting, thought leaders and do your due diligence to creating a gap between yourself and the rest. Never stop learning. Practice Kaizen (look it up).
The chat was one of the best adhoc ‘mentoring’ sessions I’ve ever had and the conversation also contained around 10 more lessons that I wrote down after Alex left. The above is just a small selection.
All this happened simply from sitting at a communal table in a Melbourne cafe
Remember, always be nice. You never know who you will meet.
* Alex did not want a photo and his name has also been changed for privacy issues. The rest of the story is all fact.