Dec 8, 2021 • 10M

Principles of Life

20+ principles to live, grow, laugh, and love

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Sahil Bloom
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Today at a Glance:

  • I recently found out I’m going to be a father. In reflecting on my own life, I sketched out a long list of principles I hope to teach my child as they grow up.

  • While I readily acknowledge that he will—as I did—have to fall painfully to learn many of these, I will do my best to teach—and embody!—all of them.

  • Perhaps I need to lower my expectations and embrace the chaos. I’ve never really been the type to walk away from a challenge, though, so consider this piece my stake in the ground.

Principles of Life

Visual Credit: @drex_jpg

I recently found out I'm going to be a father.

I’ve always considered myself something of an introspective individual—I try to reflect regularly on my motivations, mistakes, learnings, principles, and frameworks. I find that the act of reflection provides value—it helps the good stick and the bad wither.

So perhaps it isn’t all that surprising that the news of my upcoming responsibility raise—to that of “Dad”—has taken my introspection to another level.

With that in mind, I sat down recently to sketch out a long list of principles of life—formed through my failures, missteps, stumbles, and successes—that I hope to be able to teach my child as they grow up.

While I readily acknowledge that he will—as I did—have to fall painfully to learn many of these, I will do my best to teach—and embody!—all of them.

With that as a backdrop, here are the 20+ principles I hope to teach my child to live by…

Be Interested

Talent is overrated—interest is not.

What does it mean to be interested? Interested people are prone to giving their deep attention to something to discover more about it. They ask questions, listen, & observe. They open up to the world around them.

Being interested is a key to a fulfilling life.

Show Up in the Darkest Hour

It's easy to be there for people to celebrate their wins. It takes character to show up for them in their darkest hour.

People never forget who supported them when the chips were down.

Be the friend who is always there—in good times and bad.

Different is Beautiful

When you’re a kid, you’re told that different is ugly. Growing up, I feared being different—I desperately wanted to fit in, but I couldn't figure out how.

Was I Indian or white? Was I an athlete or a nerd? The struggle to conform to a single identity led to bad decisions grounded in insecurity. The reality was I was all of those things. I was just different.

It took growing up and a lot of mistakes and soul searching to realize: being different is an edge—it’s the ultimate competitive advantage.

No one can compete with you, at being you.

Work Hard

If you want to accomplish anything in life, you have to work hard. Full stop.

But beware the hype. Hard work isn't the sexy, flashy social media posts saying "rise & grind”—it's the ugly, painful effort in the dark, when no one is watching.

If you want something, go get it. Period.

Be Kind to Others

Kindness remains severely underrated.

It fosters relationships, reduces stress and anxiety, and improves overall happiness.

When you are consistently, genuinely kind, you become a magnet for the highest-quality people.

Change Your Mind

Willingness to change one's mind is a rarity in today's society.

It's great to have a strong view, but always open your mind to counterarguments.

Stubborn objection to alternative perspectives stalls progress. Strive for strong opinions, weakly held.

Operate in Your Zone of Genius

Your Zone of Genius is where your interests, passions and skills align.

Operating in your Zone of Genius means playing games you are uniquely well-suited to win. Once you identify it, you can stop playing *their* games and start playing *yours*.

Be Accountable

A sad, troubling reality: Life isn't fair.

But instead of wasting energy on every obstacle in your way, focus on what you can control and how you can break through the wall.

Stop looking out. Look in. Own your s***.

Listen More & Argue Less

Have you noticed that the most argumentative people rarely persuade anyone of anything?

The most persuasive people don’t argue—they observe, listen, and ask questions.

Argue less, persuade more. Persuasion is an art that requires a paintbrush, not a sledgehammer.

Follow Your Curiosity

Humans are born with astonishing curiosity. But somewhere along the way, we're told to stop asking questions.

Push back. Learn to follow your curiosity—trust it.

For the curious mind, anything is possible. Fortune favors the curious.

Closed Mouths Don't Get Fed

A little push goes a long way.

Don't sit back and wait for good things to happen. If you want something—and you’ve put in the work for it—ask for it.

Worst case: you’re told no and nothing has changed.

Best case: it’s yours.

Never Get Too Big to Do the Small

The leaders of the New Zealand All Blacks rugby team famously stay late to sweep the shed after a match.

Whether you're in the mailroom or the corner office, never get too big to do the small things well.

Remember: Small things become big things.

Be Present

With the rise of technology—and the instant access to dopamine that it has provided—the ability to be truly present has become a rarity.

When you’re with someone—whether a business contact, friend, or partner—be WITH them.

Put the phone down.

Be Antifragile

In Greek mythology, the Hydra is a creature that has multiple heads. When 1 head is cut off, 2 grow back in its place.

Life is random and chaotic. Don't be broken by the chaos—rather, adopt a mentality and build structure such that you will benefit from it.

Don't Be Afraid to Get Punched in the Face

You have to fail more to succeed more.

Our greatest moments of growth often stem directly from our greatest failures. Don’t fear failure, just learn to fail smart and fast.

Getting punched in the face builds a strong jaw.

Play Long-Term Games

Life is the ultimate long game.

Those with low time preference play it more effectively—they happily delay gratification to allow compounding to work its magic.

In a world of people seeking instant gratification, this is a meaningful edge.

Adopt a Positive Sum Mentality

Want to get ahead in life? Start genuinely rooting for others to succeed.

When one of us wins, we all win—winning spreads. If you adopt that mentality, you’ll become a metaphorical magnet for the best people.

Embrace "I Don't Know"

Know what you know—and what you don't.

"I don't know" isn't a failure, it's a motivator—saying it should inspire you to learn.

No one likes a a don't-know-it-all.

Stand Up to Bullies

In life, you're going to encounter a lot of bullies—some loud and in your face, some quiet and behind your back.

You may even feel pressure to become one to fit in (I sadly did). Insecurity breeds bullies.

Stand up to them—for yourself and for others.

Be Vulnerable

The stigma of vulnerability has been broken. It’s ok to admit we aren’t ok.

Strength comes from opening up to our vulnerabilities—embracing them, owning them, and growing through them.

Want to get strong? Get vulnerable first.

Love Deeply

And finally…Life is so damn short—never take it for granted.

Tell people you love them before it's too late.

Love fiercely. Love deeply. All we need is love.

Those were 20+ principles I hope to teach my child to live by. Perhaps it’s wishful thinking. Perhaps I need to lower my expectations and embrace the chaos, knowing that s*** will hit the fan (literally and figuratively). I’ve never really been the type to walk away from a challenge, though, so consider this piece my stake in the ground.

I do know one thing with absolute certainty: I will love my child, I will protect my child, and I will embrace my child for who they are, and who they become.

Much love to all of you this holiday season. Hug your loved ones and hold them close.

Oh, and it’s a boy! Sending love and good vibes to everyone.

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