Three Things I Would Tell my Younger Self

Do you every wish you could have a do-over? I have, many times. For example, I have wished I could start the conversation differently with my wife in a way that validated her feelings instead of going on the defensive.

In golf, a do-over is called a mulligan. I know a real golfer does not take a mulligan, but I am not a real golfer, and for me and the guys I golf with every two or three years, we need all the help we can get!

Remember Marty McFly in Back to the Future who travels in time to tell his older self some beneficial advice? In a recent leadership conversation with Dr. Henry Cloud, Dan Rockwell asked this question: If you could go back in time and give yourself any advice that would help you in the future, what would you tell your younger self?


Dr. Cloud shares a couple of ideas of insightful advice, and I add a third from my own experience:

Three Things I Would Tell My Younger Self:

1. I believe in you. You have what it takes. You can do it! We all need to hear this. I have always tried to communicate this to my kids as well.

2. It will be harder than you think. The reality is that whatever you set out to do, it is going to take a lot of hard work. You will need perseverance to push through when the going gets tough. Ringo Starr was right: It Don’t Come Easy.

3. It will take longer than you think. Most men are challenged at realistically estimating time for projects. In general, we underestimate by approximately one-third! Whenever I begin a project I think will only take 15 minutes, I plan on 45 minutes to an hour! So, start early. Start now. Be consistent. Sometimes the difference between greatness and mediocrity is only 15 minutes a day! (Or is that really 45 minutes?)

In real life, there are no do-overs, but we can improve our future. You and Marty McFly have arrived at a point in time, but this is not your final destination. If you allow these three nuggets of advice to penetrate your heart, and add the R.I.S.E. Diet that includes the four essential food groups for leaders, you can hope to arrive at an even more satisfying future!

Which of the three truths do you need to hear?

Order your copy of Boundaries for Leaders by Dr. Henry Cloud that just came out today!

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About Steve Morgan

I work in Global Leadership Development with my wife, Terry. We have been married for 36 years and have 4 grown children. I have a Masters in Global Leadership together through Azusa Pacific University. I generally write about 5 “L’s: Living Well, Loving Deeply, Learning Continuously, Leading Courageously, and Leaving a Legacy. I occasionally write about Laughing Loudly. Subscribe on the right side to receive an email whenever there is a new post. I invite you to leave your comments so we can dialogue on the various topics and learn from each other. If you are new to the site, you might start with looking at some of the top posts or doing a search on the right sidebar for one of the 5 “L’s” that interest you. Or you can view the blog archives for topics. Photo Credit:
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11 Responses to Three Things I Would Tell my Younger Self

  1. Andrea says:

    curious to hear what you would tell your younger self….

    • Steve Morgan says:

      These three things really resonate with me. I did not hear the “I believe in you” message from my dad. Only heard it from staff members after I came to know Christ. That message radically changed my life. On the 2nd two, Terry has really helped me be realistic with how hard and how long things will take. I can be overly optimistic and visionary but get blind sided when things get hard and want to quit. The other two help me get results. Do any of these resonate with you? What would you tell YOUR younger self?

  2. Brian Virtue says:

    Thanks for posting that Steve. I missed that presentation so that was a great nugget. The third one was the one I resonated with most. I love starting and designing and creating and going after new endeavors and I have the tenacity usually to push through. But I rarely leave myself the margin that such a project or endeavor takes because I underestimate how much margin I should leave so I end up crushing myself. Leaving more team and doing what feels like “overestimating” time is a good discipline I need to adopt.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      Thanks Brian. I need to remember to do that as well. Terry is naturally much better at this area but I am learning from her. When I tell her I am going to do something in a certain time frame, she sometimes will joke with me, smile and ask me, “So how long will that actually take?” So then I am reminded to multiply that by three!

      As I am processing this now, the problem with committing this error is similar to “over sell and under deliver”. Perhaps we should think 4 X the time it will take, then get it done in 3X. Then we would have under sold and over delivered, plus have a little margin in our lives.

      Do you think there are any root issues that get us into problems in this area?

      • I think when we’re talking achievement and margin there’s going to be a lot of good and a lot of character things too. I have the achiever strengthfinder so genuinely delight in challenges and accomplishing things and taking new ground. But there can be drivenness that creeps in there that pushes to go beyond what is healthy for our spiritual life and relationships. That’s why I like the wisdom of the 3X philosophy. I don’t see a problem trying to get after great pursuits, but good to integrate wisdom because my assessment of the time needed is always more rosy because of the excitement of the pursuit of whatever goal or accomplishment.

      • Steve Morgan says:

        Yes, Brian. I agree. I have the achiever in the Strengths-Finder as well. I also have a high challenge on the Birkman. I love challenges, but have to be aware that I need the time to finish one challenge before taking on a new one. The 3X philosophy helps me live less stressed in the midst of going after big challenges. You are headed out to a new big challenge. How is that going?

      • Good – we’re plugging along with logistics and within 2 months of leaving now

      • Steve Morgan says:

        very exciting. Know the feelings of plugging in logistics and transition. Adventures ahead!

  3. Pingback: Superman vs. Achilles: Why self-awareness is important for a leader | Leader Impact

  4. Wazir Nurani says:

    Not the right date in that Back To The Future meme.

    • Steve Morgan says:

      I just watched a clip from the movie and it looks like Oct 21, 2015. Sounds like you are a Back to the Future buff. Is that the right date? Thanks for pointing that out. I guess I may be able to repost/fix that next month! BTW, is there something you would tell YOUR younger self?

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