Some experiences provoke immediate and lasting change. You make a mistake, pick the wrong door, or do something that you vow never, ever to repeat – and you don’t.
Then there are those frustrating moments that you manage to replicate a hundred times over. You keep falling down in exactly the same way. You don’t even notice the pattern until suddenly, it’s as clear as a crop circle.
In the spirit of sharing hard-won wisdom, here are 10 lessons that (I think) I’ve finally learned.
1. Mediocre ideas can’t be polished into great ones. It’s always worth taking the time to keep scheming and revising.
2. One cup of coffee sharpens my brain. Three cups in a row? It’s a pinball machine with faulty wiring.
3. True gut instincts are never wrong. Hear them and trust them completely.
4. Every now and then, creativity arrives in a flash of inspiration. Mostly, though, it’s about spending time in the salt mine. Show up, stay focused and do the best you can in the moment. Then revise. And revise again.
5. Choose people over subjects and individual projects. Even better, choose to work and collaborate with smart, kind and generous people who are thrilled about what they do.
6. Sleep and sweat will clarify even the toughest creative puzzles and teeth-gnashing problems.
7. There’s no such thing as listening too much.
8. Always make the last phone call, double-check the fine print, or explore that one nagging idea that just might be crazy enough to work.
9. The fearlessness you had at age 21, plus the wisdom gained in every subsequent year is a magical combination – but it’s not always easy to harness. Keep trying.
10. Find the high road and take it, even when it feels like a tightrope.