Why is common courtesy suddenly not so common? Extravagance. Luxury. Wealth. These are the words we have come to equate with success. Boy did we get it wrong. Chasing a dollar, a big home, and a fancy car, is getting us nowhere closer to being happy. After experiencing the superficial horror of living for such things, I decided the world was worth far more than I could measure. Letting go of the standard measurements for success in this society allowed me to be free in my pursuits and happy too. Instead I measure my success by the love I inspire in others. My goal became to love every person I interact with, whether that be a stranger or long-time friend. When I started putting this into practice I felt as though I had instantly become a success. There was no mountain to climb, no benchmark to reach; just love. In my presentations to youth, I explain this new lifestyle in 4 steps. I love myself, I love others, I love life, and I consider my impact. 1. Love yourself. Start with acceptance. Accept everything about you, the good and the bad. Revel in the glory of your goodness and reflect on the challenges you face. They are not there to cripple you; rather they are there to motivate your effort in reducing these challenges or the severity of such challenges. We are all a work in progress; not until our 18th birthday, not until our 21st birthday, but our whole life through. This is totally OK to admit and accept because it’s true for all of us! Show yourself love daily. Try your best at all times, stand up for yourself when other people or life put you down, and say and do nice things for yourself when you can. Be cheery, confident, curious, prepared, determined, and flexible. In Summary, don’t sweat the small stuff and enjoy working to improving yourself daily. 2. Love others. This, to me is summed up in three words: kindness, forgiveness, trust. All of these things require that we forget our needs and our desires and stick our necks out for another. Hard to do, but worth the risk most times. My philosophy is that there is more good than bad in this world, and the more risk we take in finding that good, the more good experiences we open ourselves up to. Although sticking your neck out may not always end well, I feel it will end well more times than it won’t. Common courtesy is crucial when it comes to loving others. I’m not sure why we have strayed from saying things like “Yes Ma’am,” “Yes Sir,” “Please,” “Thank you,” “No Thank You,” “I appreciate you,” and “Would you mind helping me?” These are simple sentences which communicate effectively while maintaining manners, and displaying respect. No one is above extending common courtesy; CEO or otherwise. I also feel no one is exempt to the need for forgiveness. We all make mistakes; CEOs and otherwise. This is why softening our contrast to the opinions and actions of others will draw us closer to understanding and accepting them as they are. Our circle of control is small, filled with only the things that we own (our thoughts, feelings, actions, behaviors, habits). We must remember this in each interaction we have, relinquish control of their outcomes, and set an example you hope will be a positive influence. Trust is always a sticky subject. We all know the hurt of having faith in another person and being disappointed. We make everyone we meet pay for the actions of another by assuming they will likely do the same. We damage ourselves in the process. We become distant from other people, anti-social, and cynical. Life is too beautiful for cynicism. Life is too filled with light and energy to avoid it. I give people the benefit of the doubt as I would hope for the same. We all have bad habits, major and minor mistakes, and goals to become more than what we are in the present. There are exceptions to every norm, but it is foolish to allow the outliers to influence our connections with the rest of the world. Live to lift people up. They need it as much as we do. 3. Love life. Enjoy nature, respect nature, and immerse yourself in nature. This means appreciate all the world you were born into instead of chasing the materials of the world other people created for you. There was a world before you and there will be a world after you. Escape the city streets and walk through a field of grass, watch a sunset without a skyscraper skyline, watch the sun rise by the water somewhere. Don’t rob yourselves of these simple pleasures because modern day society says that’s the normal human experience. Be thankful for the world man had no part in making. Stand in awe of the mountains, look deeply into the ocean horizon, and feel the world around you. It is as alive as we are, and even busier. 4. Consider your impact. If you think of the people you remember throughout your life. There is a mixture of positive and negative experiences. Imagine if your name was attached to a negative experience someone carried with them their entire lives? Cruddy feeling. Now imagine if your name was attached to a positive impact which lasted their whole lives? Amazing, right? I know that my name is attached to a mixture of both; I wish I had spent my whole life considering my impact. We can’t reverse our impacts. This is why it is so important to consider them first, and be proactive about making every impact count. Human. The only category I belong to, though I may have common characteristics with a group of people. I’m just a human. We all function in about the same way. We all enjoy common courtesy. Notice the “love others” category was the longest. It is the most important. Love people just because everyone needs it. Love the wicked because they need it most. Someone had to teach them their ways. We don’t know their stories. Love is exactly what we need in good times and bad. So we ought to share it with others when they please us and when they disappoint us. Extend that understanding to yourself too. When we love ourselves, love others, love life, and consider our impact; life becomes truly amazing.