Final word: What I’ve learned so far

Esquire magazine has a feature I greatly admire. It’s called What I’ve Learned. Every month, the magazine’s editors pick a person and ask them to share their knowledge with readers. The person featured could be young, old, a great leader, a movie star, an unsung hero or even downright ordinary – but they all have interesting life lessons to report.

I decided this was a fairly noble exercise, so I took a stab at compiling a few of the things I’ve learned so far during my time here on earth. I don’t claim to be a wise man, by any means. And I understand that the only thing worse than a Know-It-All is a Know-It-All younger than yourself… So with apologies to both Esquire and anyone more than 38 years of age, here are a few things I’ve figured out so far in my life:

  • People will do anything for a free T-shirt.
  • Never kick a pullin’ mule.
  • Life is easier if you’re friends with your boss.
  • Arguing with a fanatic is a waste of time for you both.
  • If you’re allergic to a certain food item (say, peanuts) always trust your gut when a suspicious dish is placed in front of you.
  • A bullet – once fired – can never be taken back.
  • Always go to your class reunions (and suck it up and go to your spouse’s as well).
  • Business travel is a perk – just ask anyone who doesn’t do it.
  • If you’re a commissioned officer in the military, it can be a good career move to “accidentally” slip up and address an experienced, professional NCO as “sir.” (Thanks to my Dad for that one.)
  • Having said that, always remember that it’s sergeants who truly run the show – both in the military and out.
  • Sports cars are wonderful, but a good pickup truck is an absolute treasure.
  • You can’t drink a case of beer a week and expect to weigh 170 pounds.
  • Teach your children to say, “Yes sir,” “No sir,” “Yes Ma’am,” and “No Ma’am,” to their elders. You’ll be doing them a favor.
  • Don’t slow-cook steaks on the grill. Cook ’em fast over an extremely hot fire – six minutes per side.
  • If a decade or more has passed and you still wince when you think back to a particular incident in your life, you probably need to go and apologize to somebody.

That’s it, so far. Hopefully I’ll keep living and learning and have some new insights to add the next time I sit down and compile my lessons in life. And maybe I won’t wait another 38 years to do so.