Lessons from Those Who Made My Life Interesting

These are not meant to be prescriptive, but I hope you can learn from what went well and what did not and pass it along to others. Thanks to everyone who encouraged me, trusted in me, and told me like it is.

Lessons from My Parents:
  • Dad passed down advice he got from his Father which was, no matter what you do in life. Be the best and do a good job. 
    • Also, love what you do. No amount of money can compensate spending a third of your life in a job that you hate.
  • "A Jack of all trades, a master of none, is always better than a master of one." I know my parents didn't invent this quote, but they sure lived it. I would rather know a little about everything, there is too much interesting stuff out there to stick to just one.
  • When my parents were dating, my Mom wanted to be a Nurse. Her family told her she could never do it and she should just play it safe and go to school to become a secretary. My Dad told her to read Nursing Magazines. Even though she had no idea what they meant, when she went on to Nursing school she understood faster than anyone else and graduated in the top of her class. Even though my parents are divorced, my Mom will still say how grateful she is to my Dad for that advice.
  • It is a wonderful thing to be a Geek, never be ashamed of it. You will have more fun than those boring people who have nothing they are passionate about.
  • Schooling is really good at teaching you to think inside the box. It is just a game to get a piece of paper. 
    • Dad says his lack of formal schooling is probably what allows him to be as creative as he is.
    • Both of my parents taught me that learning is for life and we are responsible for taking charge of that learning.
  • Always read books that are challenging to you. If you didn't learn or think during it, then what was the point?
  • Dad always had to have the newest technology, he bought the first Laserdisk, Betamax, Intellivision, Apple II C, Newton, Powerbook, Palm Pilot, etc. This meant I had a great teacher and a lot of awesome hand-me-downs.
    • Dad once sat down and learned BASIC programming with me. To this day, that is the coolest thing in the world.
    • I learned how to take things apart and see how they work.
  • Mom and my Dad took me to the Library all the time so we could all check out books. I still think the Library is one of the most sacred places on Earth. Before the Internet became so widespread, we could go in and learn anything for free. I hope the Library is able to reinvent itself and continue as a hub for learning in the 21st Century.
    • Read! If not for yourself, then for your kids.
  • Road trips were never boring with either parent because we would have deep scientific, political, or philosophical discussions.
    • Talk to your kids as adults, and they will appreciate it and learn more from you. 
  • Both of my parents found success in very unorthodox ways. Enjoy life's journey. Reminds me of Woody Allen's quote, "If you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans for tomorrow."
  • Mom had to learn how to fend for herself at a very young age. She made sure that my brother and I learned to cook, clean, and take care of ourselves because you never knew when you would need to be on your own.
  • Don't use your parent's failings as an excuse for your life. Use it as a reason to do it better than they did.
  • If you are feeling depressed, it may be because of your situation. See if you can get out of that situation. Having bad times, whether in love issues or family issues, makes you realize that no one can make you happy, except yourself.  You cannot look to others for your happiness. If you can't find your way out of your pain, it's no shame to ask for help, from loved ones or professionals. 
    • Also I suggest Feeling Good as a resource in helping you to survive the situation.
  • Music is so important to ones' life. We always had a lot of music in our lives, and hearing it, playing it, or going to see performances is one of our family's most important bonding and growth experiences. I  have such great memories of all our musical times together. 
    • Learning to play instruments was a very important and fulfilling lesson to my brother and I. To this day, I still enjoy playing music and the feeling of creating or copying my favorite songs. For my brother it turned into a career.
  • Go camping outdoors in a tent. I went a lot when I was in the Boy Scouts and it gave us an important bonding experience as well as an appreciation for the Earth.
  • Live within your means, it is so easy to spend more than you make. A lack of money  will not ruin a family but certainly make it more stressed and strained.
  • Divorce will be the worst day of your child's life. Rather than getting your children therapy afterwards, get some counseling to stay together. If you absolutely must divorce, don't put your kids in the middle of it. Trust me it affects your kids when you fight.
    • Encourage and love your kids, there is nothing worse than the self doubt that comes when they do not have their family intact.
    • Learn from your first attempts at romantic love, don't think life is over if it doesn't work out, it's not supposed to. The more you love, the more you will know when the right one comes along. Don't settle for anything less. 

Lessons from School:
  • I still cannot believe I stood up to the school bully. That day changed my whole perspective on what I was capable of.
  • Do not get caught up in romantic relationships in Middle or High school. You may feel like an outcast for not doing it, but you will save yourself a ton of drama and you will accomplish so much more. Trust me on this one!
  • People who have knowledge will always take advantage of those who lack it. I learned this when I sold math programs, games, and the original instant messaging program that I wrote for the graphing calculators to others. They got their homework done faster and I made some cash. 
  • I am responsible for the first ever tie at my school for Band Drum Major. This told me that exactly half of the people in this world will probably like me and the others might not. It was a very humbling lesson. Ben Franklin said,"Be civil to all; sociable to many; familiar with few; friend to one; enemy to none."
  • Adventures always happen after 10pm.
  • I feel so bad for bullies. They must be so unhappy. If you are being bullied please know that you can eventually be tremendously happy so do not give up and please don't change who you are for others.

Lessons from the Set:
  • Many people dream of being on a movie/tv set but I have spent my entire life on one. It is truly my home as I spent more time on location and at studios than I probably spent inside an actual house.
  • I have known and met so many celebrities and supposedly important people. I am here to tell you that they are just like you and me. There are so many people out there who are worthy of our respect that will never be on the screen. Consider carefully who you and your family hold in high esteem.
    • The crew on movie sets are the most interesting people you will ever meet. I learned something amazing from each and everyone one of them. You will never be bored hanging out on a set.
  • If you ever get the chance to go down a giant hill in a kart that you and a Grip built, wear protection or you might regret it for the few months while you heal. However, it is totally worth it.
Lessons from the Military:
  • Don't think about time unless you need to. In Boot Camp we learned that "the days are long but the weeks fly by". I have tried to enjoy the moment or at least not think about what looms ahead because it only creates stress.
  • While I was in the Navy an Admiral once told me that the secret to his success was to show up to work on time, do a good job, be kind to others. Words to live by.
  • Doctors are not all knowing. I spent 2 years asking doctors what was wrong with my back, spending lots of money on my own therapy. Do your own research and be open to anything. Medical science is incredible but they do not know everything.

Miscellaneous Lessons:
  • You have no idea how little you can be happy with until you have nothing. I have lived with lots and little and you are more likely to find happiness when money is not involved. Having little money teaches you thrift and to be thankful for small things, and  to appreciate life's more important lessons, such as learning, loving, and giving. 
  • Learn Aikido, I have had to defend myself from those who wished me hurt or dead twice and I am grateful for the few things I knew, everyone should know how to defend themselves.
  • If you live in a city like Los Angeles or San Diego, go out into the desert away from all civilization and look up. You will finally see why our galaxy is called the Milky Way. I still don't think our technological advances were worth the loss of our sky. Of all of the things I have ever seen, our night sky is definitely the most impressive.
  • There is nothing like meeting your heroes and finding out that they are just as awesome as you though they were. 
    • I used to wake up at 5am everyday to watch Mr. Wizard's World. One day I met Don Herbert (Mr. Wizard), and he was so gracious and willing to talk to a kid who was forever transformed by his show.
    • Teller (Penn and Teller) sat and spoke with me for 3 hours about magic and performing.  
  • Never give up, it took me three times to become a member of the Magic Castle. Took me that long to overcome my fears and develop as a performer.  
Do you have a tribute or lesson from your life that you would like to share? Leave it in the comments and thanks for contributing.