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53 Years – 53 Lessons

I turned 53 January 20th. I’ve learned a lot over the years and thought it would be fun and hopefully helpful to share 53 lessons I’ve learned along the way.

I believe age is just a number. My motto each year has been younger, stronger, wiser and better. I often tell my kids I refuse to age. But I have to admit that turning 53 has made me reflect on life, where I’ve been and where I’m going. I have decided I’m going for 100. In the words Jon Bon Jovi, I’m more than halfway there… living on a prayer. 🙂

I want to thank you for allowing me to speak into your life with this newsletter. It’s been one of the most special and meaningful things I’ve done with my life. Thank you for reading it!

Here are my 53 lessons in 53 years.

1) You don’t choose when you were born but you can make a lot of choices that determine how you live.

2) The greatest gifts you can give your children is to love and believe in them. My parents did that for me.

3) If you want something you will have to work for it. 

4) A teacher or coach who believes in you can change the course or your life. 

5) Be nice to everyone in high school. My high school friend Mark Rathjen is the reason why I got on the Today Show years ago that helped launch my career as a writer.

6) Grit is not something you develop. It’s something we are all born with. The key is to remember you’ve always had it.

7) Don’t worry about your greatness in the future. Just be great today. 

8) Do your best and let God do the rest. I used to worry so much. When I stopped worrying and started trusting things worked out.

9) It’s more important to have vision than plans. You’ll often have to change plans to realize your vision.

10) Talkers talk and doers do. Be a doer. 

11) Your belief will determine what you create. 

12) Don’t listen to the naysayers. Listen to your heart that knows you were born to do this.

13) The career your parents would choose for you may not be the one meant for you. My mom wanted me to be an attorney.

14) Keep dreaming even when your circumstances tell you it’s not going to happen.

15) When you serve others and help them grow, you grow. 

16) Don’t chase success. Decide to make a difference and success will find you. 

17) Being positive doesn’t just make you better. It makes everyone around you better.

18) Make your family a priority. They will be the ones crying at your funeral and miss you long after you’re gone.

19) Failure is your partner in growth. It doesn’t define you. It refines you. 

20) Make daily exercise a part of your life. I walk or run almost every day and play a lot of pickleball with guys in their late 20’s and early 30’s.

21) Food is medicine. What you eat has a huge influence on your gut health, brain health and immune system.

22) The more I love my wife, the more I love my life. 

23) Happiness is an inside job. Don’t expect other people or things to make you happy.

24) You have to love what you do. If you don’t love it you’ll never work to be great at it.

25) Sometimes you have to lose a goal to find your destiny. I lost a race for the city council of Atlanta when I was 26 and it led me ultimately to do this work.

26) Garth Brooks was right. Some of God’s greatest gifts are unanswered prayers. 

27) Don’t be bitter. Get better. 

28) Forgiveness is the ultimate weight loss. 

29) Don’t hold grudges. When people wronged me I didn’t sue or fight. I learned from it and moved on. I focused on my future instead of fighting about the past and prospered as a result.

30) If you don’t have your health nothing else matters. 

31) Laughter is good for the heart and soul.

32) So often the worst event of your life prepares you for the greatest assignment of your life.

33) People connect to you the most when you are being authentic and vulnerable.

34) Relationships are everything.

35) Don’t seek happiness. Decide to work with passion and purpose and happiness will find you.

36) Never stop learning and growing. If you stay humble and hungry great things will continue to happen. 

37) Commitments are greater than goals. It is your commitments that lead you to your goals.

38) Being a great parent and leader requires service, sacrifice and humility. 

39) When you appreciate, you elevate your mood and the people around you. 

40) Love is more powerful than fear. 

41) When I’m speaking the genius is not on stage. It’s in the audience. My job is to unleash their genius.

42) Abundance flows into your life when gratitude flows out of your heart. 

43) There are a lot of great people in the world. Be an encourager and you’ll find them, and they will find you.

44) Being positive doesn’t mean you ignore reality. It means you maintain optimism and belief to create a better reality.

45) No one creates success alone. We all need a team to be successful.

46) God’s plan is greater than our plan. 

47) The more you give the more it comes back to you. It’s not why you do it but it’s what happens.

48) Just as stars shine the brightest in the darkness, positive people shine the most through adversity.

49) My faith in God doesn’t make life easier. It makes me stronger.

50) Ego disconnects you from others and God while Humility connects you to others and God.

51) Your kids are always watching you and listening to you even if they act like they aren’t. My daughter at the age of 25 is now a public speaker with a mission to impact others like me and it’s because she saw me speak it and more importantly live it.

52) Consistency Compounds. Consistently do the work and improve consistently, and over time you will see exponential results and impact. 

53) The best is still yet to come.

– Jon


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