What Do You Wish You Knew Then That You Know Now?

This is a guest post by Adam Donyes. He is the Founder and Director of the Kanakuk Link Year. He lives in Branson, Missouri with his wife and dog. You can read his blog and follow him on Twitter. If you want to guest post on this blog, check out the guidelines here.

There’s an old proverb that’s states, “Like a dog that returns to his vomit is a fool who repeats his folly” (Proverbs 26:11). But what if we could better prepare ourselves to stay away from folly all together, yet alone repeat it?

A Young Man Talking with His Older Mentor - Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/asiseeit, Image #9971840

Photo courtesy of ©iStockphoto.com/asiseeit

As I turned the corner from my 20s and entered into my 30s I realized how much I thought I knew, when in reality I knew nothing. I began to find myself as the fool repeating his folly in so many leadership decisions I was making.

It was a humbling realization to say the least, but I would not be defeated.

Rather than accept the fact that folly was inevitable, I spent the past twelve months polling fifteen respectable men I admire—men that have lived lives of integrity, men who are faithful husbands, and have been deemed successful in their chosen vocation.

The list of men I asked included presidents of nationally-known ministries and corporations, authors of best-selling books, CEOs, CFOs, a Division 1 basketball coach, and even a man listed on the Forbes 400.

Many of these conversations were face-to-face, while a few were correspondence via e-mail. Listing their names is not nearly as important as listing their responses.

The question I asked these fifteen men was this, “What are three things you know now that you wish you knew when you were thirty?”

I was hoping that these men would share the folly they had experienced as leaders and in life, so that I might not repeat their mistakes.

The forty-five responses I received from these men were packed with wisdom, humility, and truth that struck me to the core. I printed them out, laminated them, and placed in my office where they serve as a daily reminder and encouragement to lead well in all areas of my life.

Learning from the mistakes of others will help me avoid my own mistakes and, therefore, be less likely to be “a fool who repeats his folly.” I took the list of forty-five responses and reduced it down to the top fifteen. Some of the men had similar answers, so I took one answer from each leader, so that the list was not repetitive.

  1. The most important person you can lead is yourself.
  2. Nothing is more valuable than relationships.
  3. Maximize the moments with your children.
  4. Listen—you will never find the pulse of your family or organization if you don’t learn to listen.
  5. Worrying is temporary atheism. Rid yourself of worry.
  6. Become a better steward of your financial resources through investments and wise decision-making. The older you get the more you’ll want to give away, being able to do so begins with the financial decisions you make today.
  7. Balance—the words “No” and “Not now” are empowering when accompanied with wisdom.
  8. Spend time reading and receiving the Truth every morning, because the world will only lie to you the rest of the day.
  9. Saying “I’m sorry,” when spoken from a genuine heart, has great healing power.
  10. Character should always trump talent.
  11. Retreat and Rest—if ships don’t come back to the harbor, they’ll eventually sink.
  12. Don’t stop learning—you’re not as smart as you think.
  13. Learn to value patience. You’re likely to learn more while you wait.
  14. Time management—without it time will control you.
  15. Develop authentic and deep relationships with men who will sharpen you and see through you.

I hope that for any of us that aspire to be great leaders, we can look at this list that was compiled by men in their 50s, 60s, 70s, and even 80s, and learn from their lives well-lived. May we heed their wisdom as to prevent folly in our endeavors to become better spouses, parents, and leaders.

Question: What do you wish you knew when you were younger that you know now? You can leave a comment by clicking here.
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  • http://twitter.com/joannamuses joanna

    I’m about to graduate college. I managed to work out and do all of this, so it is more what I’d tell someone else starting or thinking about college

    – Take up as many extra opportunities as you can- study abroad, lead a club, play sport, write for something other than academic essays, volunteer, whatever you can find where you will learn something. These things are often more helpful than you expect when trying to find a job for after you graduate and will probably be where you will make some of the best college memories.

    – Be committed to Christian fellowship- Yes it is awkward trying to settle into new Church when you are new in town but if you follow Jesus you need fellowship and occasionally visiting random churches won’t cut it. Pick a church and stick with it. A campus Christian group can also be an excellent addition (but not substitute) to church. I have been part of groups belonging to the International Fellowship of Evangelical Students (called intervarsity fellowship in some countries) in both countries I have studied in and have grown immensely as a result.

    – Work hard so you keep your options open- You may not be aspiring to things like study abroad, scholarships or post-graduate research now but your plans might change. It would be a shame to not qualify due to your marks being lower than they should have been because you were lazy. At the start of my time at college I didn’t plan for sociology to even be my minor let alone something I’d major and do an extra research year in. Because I put the work into something that wasn’t central to my plans at the time, my plans were able to change later.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Great insight! Being committed to Christian Fellowship, even when it’s awkward is huge when experiencing any type of transition.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy


      great list. I told my children as they started college to enjoy it and take advantage of as many opportunities as you can, you may only get one shot at some of them. Great wisdom in your words.


  • michael kilpatrick

    Wow- great post and great list- I’m going to post that on the wall in my office!!!

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Great idea. Doing that has served as a daily reminded to re- check my priorities.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy


      I agree, I have already copied and added it to my evernote account.


  • http://twitter.com/EspinosaJoey Joey Espinosa

    Half my life ago, I wish I knew to consider others’ feelings / needs first. I’m still having to learn that lesson over and over now (in my marriage, ministry, and work).

    • Joe Lalonde

      Joey, that’s a great one. It’s also something we’ve been commanded to do by Jesus – “So in everything, do to others what you would have them do to you, for this sums up the Law and the Prophets.”

  • Sherri

    Oh, I wish I’d had the maturity 10 years ago to absorb these truths! I’m so hard-headed sometimes I’m my own worst enemy. I wonder what I will say to myself in another 10 years about this list????  

    I was especially struck by #5: Worrying is temporary atheism. It made me stop and consider my own life. I need to remember this one.

  • Amy

    Why didn’t  he interview any women?

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      He’ll have to answer that for himself, but I think he was looking for role models for himself.

    • Adam Donyes

      These were men that have directly influenced me either personally or from afar. Your question makes me want to encourage my wife to compile a similar list with woman who have impacted her.

      • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

        Great Idea adam, please share it when she is done.


  • Murphytina

    That I am worth being loved.

    How important it is to your loved ones to put yourself first.

    How much being a mom would change me for the better.

    In order to thrive and excell in my profession my relationships need to be healthy

  • http://jasonfountain.blogspot.com Jason Fountain

    What strikes me about this list is what is absent – no mention of working harder or focusing on career or striving to me “more.” It’s all about relationships and Christ and character and personal leadership and balance and family. There’s a great lesson just in that piece. How do we get to the point where we can really focus our lives on these important things and stop striving for vain glory? Good list!

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      To strike you even more, the list of 45 also had no mention of career or spending more time at work. I agree with you, something that stood out to me for sure!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      I agree Jason, I think it was Ken Blanchard who said that there should be two ladders you climb. The ladder of competency and the ladder of character. The ladder of character will take you the highest.


  • http://www.leahadams.org Leah Adams

    I wish that I had realized that it is not all about me. I knew it, but I did not live it. Yes, I must take care of myself physically,spiritually, and emotionally, but the world does not revolve around me and what I like/want. As I, now in my late 40s, pour my life into others in order to help them know Jesus as their best friend, I feel the smiling nod of God on my life and work.

    Great post, Mr. Hyatt.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I’m still trying to realize that it’s not all about me :)

  • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

    Thanks for compiling all this great advice.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Your welcome

  • Perryh

    I wish I had put more value on the input of others that had gone before me. I wish I had believed more that I have what it takes. I wish I could have walked out my faith instead of just talking about my faith. I am encouraging the young people that I mentor to do exactly what you did and seek the wisdom of those that have/are harvesting a crop that you would like to harvest some day.

  • Mike Buenaventura

    Fortunately, I am young enough to soak in the wisdom that Hyatt provides.  Though I do consider Hyatt to be very inspiring, I know, no matter how hard one tries, they will fail.  I am going to actually keep some of that advice.  This one is my favorite, “Listen—you will never find the pulse of your family or organization if you don’t learn to listen.”

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I agree that all of us will fail, regardless of the amount of advice or wisdom we receive, however, I believe we can minimize our failures by heeding wisdom from those who have gone before us.

  • http://vvdenman.com/ V.V. Denman

    In my twenties, I was pretty sure I knew everything. I probably spent fifteen years figuring out that I didn’t. If only I’d known. :)

  • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

    Worrying is temporary atheism. 

    Dang. That’s tough, deep.

    I wish I understood team dynamics and meshing personality types in order to better seek out relationships with people you are tasked to work with. In some instances, people I go to battle beside in ministry but battle each other behind closed doors. That’s the season I am in right now. Big growth period for me. 

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Chris, what have you found is the most effective way to battle conflicting personalities?

      • http://chriscornwell.org Chris Cornwell

        The biggest thing has been understanding my own personality and accepting that. That allows me to better understand why I gravitate towards or even make certain decisions. When I finally reached that place I was able to better perceive how it will affect others and how they view me.

        • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

          Great thoughts. I notice I often gravitate towards “yes” people, and I’m realizing this isn’t always the best thing for me.

  • Bob Osborne

    I used to believe that if I couldn’t turn an organization around in 5 years I needed to leave. Now, after 10 years in one place, I see the lie of that belief and have seen how much more you can do through long and trusting relationships.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Love this!

  • http://twitter.com/RookieWriter David Barry DeLozier

    Love your list – I too will print and post this near my computer.  Will there be a book forthcoming?  Sounds like there should be, based on the level of research you conducted.
    I wish I’d championed the causes of other individuals earlier in life, caring less about my own. I wish I’d been less competitive, more compassionate.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Ohh, I like that. Less competitive, more compassionate. Very convicting. About the book, you are the 3rd person to tell me to do so. Maybe I should have Michael teach me to do an e- book ;)

  • Lynn

    This is a good post, like it a lot. One thing I wish I had known is that I should have found a mentor. Offering support and advice to someone, helping them to be their best self, is so worthwhile.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I completely agree. Hebrews 10:24

    • Joe Lalonde

      That’s a great one to add to the list Lynn. I’ve been struggling with that one lately as I’ve taken a look at my past. There was never a real intention to have a mentor and no real encouragement by anyone to have a mentor.

  • mikesadie

    Wow… thanks Michael. Heading into the 30’s and this is a great post in season. Now only to apply. 

  • Anonymous

    This is a great list and I’m glad to have it now, in my 40’s. I don’t know that I would have fully appreciated all of this wisdom even ten years ago. At 30 I did seem to think I was fully-equipped. 

    I try not to think of life in terms of regrets so I don’t wish I had different wisdom ten years ago. The mistakes I made knocking around then have helped make me who I am today, and I’m okay with that. But, that said, these days I am  always appreciative of opportunities to learn from the mistakes of others. Thanks for sharing Adam’s post. 

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Your welcome :)

  • Anonymous

    Thank you for this post. Very well done. 

    – I agree with every line of this post. I also believe that you should not procrastinate. If you want to do something…do it now. Don’t wait. Travel, start a business, stay connected with family or whatever that something is for you. I heard it recently stated as “speed of implementation.”

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Great point! I would love to hear how you differ from exercising patience and procrastination. Because I loathe procrastination, but I’m trying to be more patient. Make sense?

      • Anonymous

        Adam, patience is very important, however, I see too many people sitting around waiting for something to happen when I believe God can direct you easier if you are moving instead of sitting still. Patience has more to do with enjoying the journey and not being frustrated when it may take longer than you expect. I believe you learn more by doing and possibly making a few mistakes…not waiting.  Frankly the journey can be the best part of the experience. That has been my experience.

        • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

          Well stated.

  • http://www.thegiftofmondays.com/ colleen laquay urbaniuk

    “learn to value patience. you’re likely to learn more while you wait.” how true. how timely. no one likes to wait. not in our we want it now and we want it fast culture. but there’s value in the waiting. there’s lessons to be learned. there’s character to be found. what a great list. what a great reminder. thank you.

  • Anonymous

    “Develop authentic and deep relationships with men who will sharpen you and see through you.”

    I want to know exactly how one does this ? ( am a woman not a man )
    I got married  , did my masters degree and worked at the same time and yet despite doing all this made it a priority to make time for my friends

    However , despite making considerable sacrifices to do so – they made it a point to not make time for me saying i shouldn’t bother because i was probably ” too busy ”

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      For me personally, I have discovered that if I expect others to make time for me I should make time for them. Also, the more open, authentic, and honest I am with them the more it is reciprocated.

  • Aaron Foster

    I wish I would’ve known how worthless education was back then. Luckily I figured it out within the first 6 weeks of college. Since then I’ve spent thousands on self education and have a far better real life education than an education based pretty much on theory. 

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      When you say education, do you mean attending a university?

      • Aaron Foster

        Sorry for the delay Adam, as I was out. Yes, I am referring to attending a University.

  • http://www.CFinancialFreedom.com Dr. Jason Cabler

    I’m 44 years old have had time to learn some of these lessons the hard way.  My toughest one to learn was to not be overconfident in my ability. Just because I have a talent doesn’t mean I have all the knowledge and ability. 

     Next was worrying.  I am so much better at not worrying now, I do my best to turn it over to God and let Him bring the solution instead of raising my stress level.  I love that worrying was called “temporary atheism”.  I’ve known this for awhile but never heard it phrased that way.  Brilliant!!!

  • http://bloggingwithamy.com Amy Lynn Andrews

    “Worrying is temporary atheism. Rid yourself of worry.”

    I’ll especially be chewing on that today…along with something sort of similar I read yesterday from Oswald Chambers:

    “Discouragement is disillusioned self-love, and self-love may be love for my devotion to Jesus—not love for Jesus Himself.”

    Wow. There’s gold in that list. Thanks, Adam!

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I love Oswald, thanks for sharing that.

    • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_4GU5M5KF3CBHBPVJK7JSD4TASM Michael

      My Great-Grandmother would use those same words. Her words of encouragement and love are more clear now than they were then.

  • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

    #1. Walking around with a chip on your shoulder holds you back from real success in relationship. 
    #2. Vulnerability is extremely important. 
    #3. Just because others hurt you doesn’t mean everybody wants to. 

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Great top three!


      • http://www.sundijo.com Sundi Jo Graham

        Thanks Jim. 

  • http://beckfarfromhome.blogspot.com/ Beck Gambill

    Great post! Your desire to learn from others  and share what you’ve learned shows wisdom. I will come back to this list again!

    I wish I had known more about humility in my twenties. Realizing that I didn’t know everything and valuing others more.

  • Rick Barry

    People are where it’s at. We all have hopes, ambitions, interests, hobbies, but the bottom line is that, after our relationship with God, our relationships with other people come next in importance.

    • http://bloggingwithamy.com Amy Lynn Andrews


  • http://twitter.com/WriterRickBarry Rick Barry

    People are where it’s at. We all have hopes, ambitions, interests,
    hobbies, but the bottom line is that, after our relationship with God,
    our relationships with other people come next in importance.

  • Karen

    Great post…great insight…Please remember all leaders aren’t men….would love for you to include some women leaders….

    • http://amylynnandrews.com Amy Lynn Andrews

      Oh yes, I’m sure we all would agree there are many outstanding female leaders as well. To me, this is a celebration and appreciation of excellent, life-changing wisdom, not a celebration (or lack thereof) of gender. I’m just grateful to glean solid insight from anyone with more life experience! :)

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I responded to someone earlier on this. And I am fully aware that there are some phenomenal women leaders, my wife being one of them. But this list was men I look up to, aspire to emulate, and follow their example as they follow Christ. As men, husbands, and Fathers. But i am going to encourage my wife to compile a list with the woman who have influenced her.

  • Joe Lalonde

    Looks like you found some great words of wisdom Adam! I appreciate you sharing those with us.

    As for what do I wish I would have known when I was younger? I would say it would be “Read non-fiction books. Study and learn all that you can from those that have poured out their wisdom in written form”.

  • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

    #2. Vulnerability. I agree, however, Sundi don’ t you feel we should still be cautious of this who will have nonregard for our personal emotions or well being?

  • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

    Joe, what are your top 3 non-fiction suggested reads?

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=736545227 Karla Reisch Akins

    I wish I wouldn’t have turned down opportunities because I was afraid it was the wrong thing to do.

  • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

    I responded to someone earlier on this. And I am fully aware that there are some phenomenal women leaders, my wife being one of them. But this list was men I look up to, aspire to emulate, and follow their example as the follow Christ. As men, husbands, and Fathers. But i am going to encourage my wife to compile a list with the woman who have influenced her.

  • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

    Mark 12:29-30 :) now if I could get better at living it out.

  • Anonymous

    Excellent list, Michael. Thanks for sharing what you learned from others.

  • Francarona

    I just took my 18-year old granddaughter to college.  I want her to know, and I wish I had known, that the choices one makes have far-reaching consequences.  Consequences for good or bad.  Some of the choices she will make at this age will impact her for the rest of her life.  I hope she will choose to take advantage of the opportunities before her.  I hope she will grow in her faith.  I hope she will choose friends and activities wisely.  

    I also wish I had known that the choices I make affect other family members, again in a positive or a negative way.  As a Christian, she is Christ’s representative on her campus.  And she is also our family’s representative.  Her choices can bring honor or dishonor.

    I told her that success in life is all about learning to excel at Plan B.  Things don’t always go the way we plan.  I wish I had known to look for God’s hand in my detours and took look for the hidden gifts in adversity.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I like that! Learning to excel at plan B

  • Marybeth6

    I have a son who just graduated from high school. I am going to print this list out and give it to him. He’s very mature (I tell him he’s a 30 yo trapped in a 19yo body) so I think he’ll really take this to heart.
    Thank you for creating it and sharing it here.

    I like the idea of your wife making a list for women. If she does, I hope Michael Hyatt will post it here.

    Loved the quote “Worrying is temporary atheism.” Profound! I think I need to tweet that!

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I would be delighted to do that!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Mary beth,

      I have a young group that I mentor and I am going to pass it out to them also.


  • http://www.wol.ca/staff/lyons Charlie Lyons

    I might just print the list and laminate it myself! Fantastic content here. So glad I read this post this morning. Blessings!

  • BCullum

    Michael, great post! I’m doing a very similar thing for my brother who will graduate high school this year. I’ve been asking those voices who I respect what would be the one thing you would tell yourself when you were 18. I would love your input as well!

    Love this list, worrying is temporary atheism is gold.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      YOu are correct, how do you get young people to understand and live by this? That is the challenge.


  • http://wewannado.com Ryan K

    Awesome. I’ll print this out and reflect on it often.

  • Pingback: I Know Nothing at 30. #FB | The Lid()

  • http://helloheady.com Heady

    Great list.  Of course you can always add more but I think this list hits on some great takeaways.  It definitely provides enough to help people keep a GO WIN attitude!  Keep writing Michael.  LiveHappy!

  • http://somewiseguy.com ThatGuyKC

    What an awesome idea! Are you gonna write a short ebook or something with more of the shared wisdom?

    I’m almost 30, but I wish I knew and practiced the power of saving money at 20.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      It has been encouraged. We will see.

  • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

    Thank you, Michael.  Great wisdom!  

    Our founder and I are working on a study right now of the habits behind peak performers (interviewing leaders, Olympians, athletes, elite military, and elite performing artists) and this is great fuel for the conversation.  Picking up from yesterday’s post, we will start to ask them all about wisdom they have received from mentors and their not to-do’s that have led to their habits and convictions.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Travis, would love to see that study when it is complete.

      • http://www.irunurun.com Travis Dommert

        Sure thing, Adam.  It’s been fascinating.  Drop me a DM to @TravisDommert. We’ll connect.  And, sorry for not giving you credit for this post…initially thought it was Michael’s!

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy


      I think that those are two questions that you should ask any leader is what are you not doing now that you did a year ago and what habits did you learn from your mentor.


  • http://twitter.com/CassiLeTourneau Cassi LeTourneau

    Thank you for taking the time to research and share these GREAT insights!!  Definitely going to keep this list close by…

    The best advice I’ve been given – “Stop expecting people to respond/behave as you would”. 

    That small truth has served me well in relationships both personal and professional.  It seems to me that a great deal of our struggles to come alongside one another–whether in marriage, friendship, ministry or the office–begin when one person chooses to be offended by another person’s words/actions.  If I remind myself (often!) that everyone’s knowledge and experiences are different from my own I am more apt to be forgiving of their “offensive” (to me) behavior. 

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Good word

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy


      I think all of us care to much about what others think instead of living out our lives as God has asked us to. If we would just listen, we would avoid many of the mistakes that we make.


  • Jjewelsea

    I wish I had understood the essential importance of setting clear rules and tasks for your children with consistent consequences. Today’s children are nutured and loved, have their needs met, but are growing up without a sense of responsibility.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Couldn’t agree with you more

  • Anonymous

    Great list. Thanks for sharing this.

    I wish I had thought more about others’ dreams and goals and how I could help THEM to be successful, instead of being focused on how others could help me.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Interesting you say this, recently my wife and I made a bucket list, and one of the things on my list was helping someone else achieve their dreams!

  • BRCullum

    Adam, great post! I am doing something similar for my brother as he is about to graduate high school. What would be your advice for yourself right after graduating?

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I actually taught High School Seniors the past 4 years, and my advice has always been these three things:
      1. Get accountability (Proverbs 27:17)
      2. Either the Word will keep you from sin, or sin will keep you from the Word (Psalm 119:11)
      3. Find a consistent mentor (1 Cor. 11:1)

  • Anonymous

    Michael – This is very powerful.  I am in my mind 50’s. I wish I had the passion for Christ, intentional Bible study and a circle of strong Christian men in my life while in my 20’s.   I grew up a Christian.  I was always considered to be a “stand-up guy”.   However, I was gently slipping away.  Like being at the beach out in the water and enjoying it, I was ever so slowly being carried out and away from where I started.  I did not do anything “bad”, I was successful at work, well liked and highly thought of by friends.  It was the great deception.  Thanks to Christ at age 40 he blew the whistle and I realized just how far I had gone.  During the “trip” back to shore, I was confronted with the daily choices I had made and the consequences that resulted from them.  Yes, we can all be healed, but the consequences remain.   What I realized was what I thought was joyful and fun, normal, seizing the day; was in fact empty, false and robbed me of so much.   The true joy I have now, I could have had 30 years ago and build upon it.  But I spend a good two decades building upon sand.

    If you are in your 20’s get serious about your faith and dig into the Word and Truth intentionally. 

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Great point. When I was in my 20’s I kept pushing good people away, I am glad in my thirty’s God said enough pushing, stand up and listen! I did and now have great teachers in my life.


      • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

        This is something that I’m learning, too, Jim. In order to grow, you can’t push people away. In order to grow, you need to stop being so self-centered. In order to grow, you must stop talking and listen to those around you who may know more than you.

  • Anonymous

    Wpetticrew, while the consequences do remain, I believe when we are restored by the Lord, He does not require us to start at square one. He graciously restores us to where we were when we began to drift away from the shore.

  • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill

    Had I known I would prove this incapable of making a living in this world without going conventional I’d have bitten the bullet and studied to become an accountant or a lawyer or something. At least I’d have an income.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes


      • http://blog.cyberquill.com Cyberquill


  • Kyle

    Another good piece of advice could be to come by and visit your friends as soon as you get to town…

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Thanks for contributing to the list above.

  • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

    Wow! The fact that you had the wisdom NOW to write more mature men – men who have “been there” – speaks volumes. I’m thinking your family and friends are very blessed. Not a lot of people would actually go through the process of reaching out to others like that. Thanks for sharing, Adam!!

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Thank you Mark. I’m definitely more blessed by them.

  • Sdye

    I would buy this in book form – with lots of stories and quotes from the “successful”

  • http://www.facebook.com/SMsimplifiedJB Joseph Byers


    I want to thank you for this post. The list at the end serves as a daily reminder first thing in the morning. Good stuff!

  • http://twitter.com/PaulaWhidden Paula Whidden

    “the words ‘No’ and ‘Not now’ are empowering when accompanied with wisdom.” from a great article today http://michaelhyatt.com/what-do-you-wish-you-knew-then-that-you-know-now.html

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy

      Thank you for sharing this link.


  • ScottE

    Wow!  What great wisdom.  I don’t have many older men in my life to glean wisdom from.  What a treasure these interviews are!  Thanks!

  • Jeremy Dixon

    I’ll be in college at Ouachita Baptist University in one day! I’m excited about this new time in my life, but also know this will be a pivotal point in my life. I think this list screams wisdom and will for sure make an impact on the way I live the rest of my life. Hopefully I won’t run into too much “folly. Thank you Donyes for sharing your wise words and spending time on the research that went behind this. After being a kanakuk kamper for 10 years I’ve met some awesome people but Adam is one of the very best. He has impacted so many peoples lives just at kamp. I’m glad he is sharing his wisdom with other people as well. Keep it up Donyes! And good choice Mr. Hyatt!
    Best advice I’ve been given that I try to live out is that “two things last forever: people and God’s word…invest in these things”Favorite on the list: “Worrying is temporary atheism” VERY convicting.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Thanks for your kind words Jeremy

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy


      I agree. Good luck in school.


  • Greg Johnson

    As always, great stuff, Mike. This topic is a big one for those of us who have made mistakes in life we wished we wouldn’t have. My high school basketball coach said: “There are four things you do with a  mistake: recognize it, admit it, learn from it, and forget it. If you can do all of that on the court in about 2 seconds, your game will go to the next level.” For me, the same has been true in my own walk of faith. It takes more than 2 seconds, but this axiom has never left me.

    The other one I found out on my own: When you have a fall…get up.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I like your coaches axiom, one thing I would add is seek forgiveness for it. I don’t know if I’ll ever forget some of the mistakes I’ve made, but I find great joy knowing I’ve been forgiven for it.

    • Anonymous

      This is a great principle.  I can’t wait to share it with my daughter (volleyball, basketball player) this afternoon.

    • http://michaelhyatt.com Michael Hyatt

      I like your last line and agree 100%.

    • http://twitter.com/jmhardy98 Jim Hardy


      I took note of your quote. I will share that one with my family.


  • http://twitter.com/CharlesSpecht GodAdopts.com

    I absolutely love #5 and #11.  Awesome.

    Worrying is temporary atheism. Rid yourself of worry.
    Retreat and Rest—if ships don’t come back to the harbor, they’ll eventually sink.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      It is so hard for me to stop and rest, but thanks to mentors in my life I am seeing great value in sitting in the harbor, even if nothing in me wants to do it.

      • http://twitter.com/CharlesSpecht GodAdopts.com

        Agreed, Adam!

  • http://twitter.com/YippeeTrio YippeeTrio

    Thank you Michael. Thanks for taking the time and effort to compile this & thanks for helping the world become a better place with your MichaelHyatt blog.

    & I thank God for using your talents to reach out.

    Your blog came at the right time as my wife and I are embarking on a two-year journey around the world with our baby daughter. Here are some of my thoughts:

    … I wish I knew about your BLOG when I was younger!!!

    2. Money can’t buy time. Treasure your time by investing it with your right people. Different people have different definitions of the “right” people.

    3. No matter what achievements you’ve made, how much money you’ve made, there will always be a “hole” in your heart. Sometimes it disappears, but it will always, always come back.
    & if you look really closely enough, it has a shape.

    Not triangle, not square, not circle, but


    Thanks Michael. For helping to fill it for me.

  • Laura Schmidt

    I often think about what I would have done differently in my twenties if I knew then what I know now.  For me the best lesson I have learned is to be patient with others and think before I speak. I have learned to be a much better listener. My stepfather said two things to me that really made a differnce in my life. The first is: “Even a fish wouldn’t get caught if it kept it’s mouth shut” (ie: listen before speaking) and the second: “Always give it 24 hours” (ie: be patient and think before acting).

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I love that fish comment, it reminds me of an old proverb that states, “when words are many, sin is not absent.” -Proverbs 10:19

  • http://idoneousurl.tumblr.com/ VerecundAmaranth

    What I wish I knew “then”? Many things come to mind, the article’s 15 points included, and yet in retrospect I realized all lessons must come in due time, when one is ready – like a child cannot learn to run before learning to walk, even though running must be learned eventually.

    Failing in life is a certainty, using it as an excuse to quit is a shame – this in addition to the 15 points, among others, is what I wish I knew “then”, would have trimmed couple of years worth of stagnation.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I agree that all of us will fail, regardless of the amount of advice or wisdom we receive, however, I believe we can minimize our failures by heeding wisdom from those who have gone before us.

  • Northgatefran

    This list is great! I wonder what their wives/or key women  might say.   ;-)

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      My wife is starting to compile a list as I type :)

  • http://www.betterhealthtoday.co Kay Wilson

    Thank you Adam for sharing such profound answers from leadsers you chose to answer some of the very same questions we ask oursleves.  i am going to print this also so I will have a constant reminder.

  • http://twitter.com/mbuildingbridge Men BuildingBridges

      Q:  What do you wish you knew when you were younger that you know now? 

    I freely acknowledge that in my 20’s & 30’s:  I didn’t know as much as I thought I did, and knew how to apply what I did know even less.  Fortunately opportunities always abound, practice helps.  A: What I wish I had known was:  the realization that the more I learned, the less I actually knew. It’s a daily humbling discovery: every day as I grow older, how the amount of what I have yet to learn keeps increasing – a positive feedback loop that keeps my feet firmly planted on the ground, with my eyes and ears open. Humility with a love of learning required constant cultivation and care in the word and with other Godly men.  

    Thank you Michael for sharing your list of answers.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Loved the last line. Couldn’t agree more!

  • Anonymous

    Things I wish I knew then:

    1)  All things “they” warn you about in terms of credit cards, turning 40, and watching too much television…all true.
    2)  In terms of leadership, covering up problems never works.  Problems must be dealt with ASAP before they become bigger problems, no matter how uncomfortable the process.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Karl, I agree with #2, I actually wrote a post about it yesterday :)

      • Anonymous

        I love the layout of your website. New subscriber!

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Debt will kill you slowly, over time. Many people learn that lesson too late.

      • Anonymous

        Afraid I learned that lesson through the School of Hard Knocks

  • Anonymous

    Related to this article:  I once taught a Sunday School class of young men from about 16 – early college years.  One quarter I had a different older gentleman in our church visit the class to answer the same question.  The humility demonstrated by these men as they opened up their hearts was as instructive as the wisdom they shared.  I’m not sure what the students learned, but my life was forever affected.

  • Anonymous

    Donyes, thanks for sharing this knowledge.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Patrick, thanks for being such a great friend!

  • Carrie Wagner

    In the past 6 months I’ve learned that confidence matters, it’s important to follow your calling, writing down your goals helps you achieve them, and I can do anything I set my mind to.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I agree! Goal setting, and having someone hold you accountable for those goals makes a huge difference.

  • http://cynthiaherron.wordpress.com Cynthia Herron

    I wish I would have concentrated on the “now” moment more and not fretted so much about the past or even the future. God was in charge of it all anyway.

    Adam, we’re practically neighbors. We’re just a stone’s throw from you. Blessings, fellow Ozarkian!

  • http://richardjamescochrane.wordpress.com/ Rick

    Great resource and great article!

  • http://ericspeir.com/ Eric

    This was some great advice. When we take the time to stop and listen to other great leaders we can learn a lot from them and learn from their mistakes.

  • Jancline

    I wish I would have known that I had a purpose in life. How many years I wasted by just letting life happen instead of living it on purpose and for a purpose. But even though I started realizing my dream a little late in life, it’s been an interesting journey full of twists and turns. I know now that the road from where I am to where I want to be is never a straight line – and that’s not a bad thing. In my youth I would never have accepted that.
    Jan Cline

  • Kyle

    To be a writer. I had no idea. I was in love with sports. 

  • Guest

    I wish I had known Jesus when I was younger.

  • http://twitter.com/MusicPowerStrat MusicPoweredStrategy

    Thanks for sharing.  Too often we have to be reminded of those areas that should be obvious in our life.  The wisdom of our mentors and elders is invaluable.  We should all be reminded to spend more time with people like this !


    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      Greg I couldn’t agree more. I’m convinced I am where I am today because of the invaluable men who have invested into my life!

  • Anonymous

    This is one of the most profound and insightful “life” lists I’ve ever read. This is something worth printing and hanging up where it can be seen regularly for the rest of my days!  As a matter of fact, I’m going to do just that as soon as I’m done with here.  Thanks for writing it and thanks to Michael for sharing it. 

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  • http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com Live with Flair

    Achievement, affluence, and physical appearance do not save you.  They are false Gods that never deliver what they promise.  I once agreed to follow God even if it meant I were poor, ugly, and anonymous.  It set me free indeed.  http://www.livewithflair.blogspot.com

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      Heather, it takes a lot to make a commitment like that. Thanks for the link; I like your site.

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  • Don Farr

    The list is great.  I wonder where – “Desire to truly know God and hunger for personal righteousness” might fit – #2, #4, #8, #12 or #13?

  • http://mymellowpages.blogspot.com/ bookncoffee

    This entry is great.  I have had to print it out!  That way I can read it again.  Some of your material is really helping me right now with a few things that seem a little bigger than me.  Sometimes I need a little coaching on training my thoughts to be positive.  I appreciate your blog entries.  You will never know when someone really needs what you are sharing and you’ll never know just how much of an impact it’s making.  Currently working on the LIFE PLAN right now too to gain some focus and clarity and balance. 

  • Linda

    I am in my 50’s and I wish that I had realized in my 20’s or 30’s that becoming a leader had much to do with how I decided to look at my future.  I think I would have pursued a few more educational choices in leadership – although I was busy at that time developing the next generation in my family!

    • http://www.forward-living.com W. Mark Thompson

      I’m with you, Linda! But then I told myself it’s not too late. Making plans to attend some leadership, speaking, and physical challenge events. Not going to be easy, but I’m having faith that it will be worth it!  :) 

  • Tim

    I wish I knew that most people around you want to help you if you have the courage to ask for help. 

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      I could definitely improve at asking for help!

    • http://brevis.me Robert Ewoldt

      As humans, we want so very much to be self-sufficient, but we find that, in both temporal and eternal things, we are not and cannot be.

  • http://uma-maheswaran.blogspot.com/ Uma Maheswaran S

    Thanks for these 15 timeless truths. A much needed advice for me.
    I agree that one cannot keep on making mistakes to learn everything in life. Then, this life won’t be enough to learn everyting by making mistakes oneself.
    On the other hand, it would be good to learn from the mistakes of others. It really makes sense. In fact, many leaders have acknowledged that they have learnt from reading autobiographies/ biographies.

  • Kevin Gary

    My way is not the only “right” way.

    Thanks for the list.  I will put it to use in my life

  • Anonymous

    We are addicted to what we know. May we always long for more. 

  • http://www.jeffrandleman.com Jeff Randleman

    Great list!  One of the things I do in my journal, is write letters to my younger selves, giving instruction on life lessons that I’ve learned.  It’s very similar to your list here.  Hopefully, not only I can learn from these types of things, but so will my children one day when they inherit my journals!

  • Tiffany C

    I would love to know what YOUR answer is to your own question.

    • http://www.wheresthelid.com Adam Donyes

      My response would be:
      1. Only chase things of eternal significance.-Everything else will be destroyed by rust and moths.
      2. How valuable God’s Word is, and how I wish I would of trusted it more.
      3. I would’ve found a Mentor way earlier in life.

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  • Dingheng0932

    Thank you to share!  I will continue to pay attention!

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