I like the idea of being able to sit down with my younger self and chew the fat on a whole host of things.
Although, it would not necessarily be about advising on how to make life easier in the future, but rather, helping me understand that it’s important to try, fail, repeat, and learn that real success and character comes from many mishaps.
These ‘life lessons’ are an important part of how you are shaped as an individual – and it would be wrong to take the opportunity to learn from the so-called school of life away from anyone – even though we know it may come at a personal cost and potential pain.
If I could go back to 1987 – the year the very first episode of The Simpsons made it onto TV and Ronald Reagan delivered his famous speech at the Berlin Wall – I’d remind ‘young Charlie’ of the importance of rocking our own style and not being scared to be different. In fact, I’d actively promote it!
There are, naturally, some events in life where a ‘softer landing’ would have been nice, but to avoid these entirely would be doing myself a disservice – effectively robbing me of the human growing pains that we must all go through to really appreciate life and love.
I call it the entry price to the ‘good human citizenship’ arena.
If I could go back in time though, and share some words of wisdom for the years ahead, it would be to focus on seven key ingredients:
Define what happiness looks like and surround yourself with a troupe who are on your wavelength. It’s okay to grow closer to good friends than the family you see once every few years. After all, you can choose your friends, wisely, but you can’t select, or necessarily influence, your relatives.
Don’t ever be embarrassed to talk to the most beautiful person in the room. Remember you are unique and special with genuine qualities that allow you to shine, too.
You must have your own space, alongside the opportunity and environment to focus on creating the best version of yourself/ That way, those around you benefit as well.
We all have rareness and should strive to identify and elaborate on those unique points. The magic will happen when you take your individuality and apply it to everyday things.
Money won’t make you happy – so don’t chase wealth. It’s important to get the right balance between financial security and experiencing things which make you feel alive. We each get one shot at life and shouldn’t be so busy making a wage that we forget to enjoy the ride.
Focus will increase the likelihood of success – regardless of the situation. What I’ve learned is if you don’t plan, invariably someone else will do it for you, and you may not like the result. Don’t be afraid to rip up that strategy though, and start again.
Continuous improvement is key to achieving what you want in all facets of life. Making sure you have the right skill set and toolkit is far more important than hoping someone will come along and help you. Grab your own personal development and make things happen.
Above all though, to me genuine success and a life well-lived is made through lots of small wins every day, with uncompromising hard work and the ability to enthuse others around you.
And, as a message to future Charlie – when he retires in years to come – I’d like to be able to say: “I tried my very best and while having a whirl on the dance floor of life, I never tried to score perfect 10s. Instead, I made my own music, danced to my own beat – set by the timing of things which were most important to me.”
In the end, it’s important that I can look in the mirror and judge my worth based on the positive impact I’ve had on society and family, which will be confirmed by those who love or respect me in life. No one else really matters.