29 Lessons from the Past 29 years

It’s hard to believe it. Today, I turn 29. The last 29 years has been an incredible journey. Here are some lessons I learned over the last 29 years. God is good.

  1. Meditate on the Word day and night. My identity, faith, legacy and my very purpose flows out of what I believe and in whom I believe. The BIBLE is a Basic Instruction Before Leaving Earth. The more you immerse yourself in the Word, your 20’s will be grounded with an unshakable foundation.
  2. When choosing your career, follow a leader worth following instead of an organization that pays well. Growing under a respected and liberating leader will help you to catapult your long-term success.
  3. Discover your sweet spot in life. Start discovering your natural hard-wiring/ temperaments, giftedness, passions, and life story. 20’s is a perfect time to discover who you really are.
  4. Choose your friends carefully. They will either help you grow or inhibit your long-term potential. One of my mentors told me, you are the average of the five people you spend the most time with.
  5. Break from the bondage of spiritual strongholds that suck the joy and peace out of your life. If you are wrestling with addictions, whether that is binging, smoking, pornography, or drinking, these are the very tools that the enemy will use to destroy your marriage, family, and work life.
  6. Begin with the end in mind. Stephen Covey was right. Where does God want you in the next 20 to 30 years in life? Paint a visual, compelling vision. Rewind back to where you are today and ask yourself, “What do you need to do and be in order to become the person God desires?”
  7. Practice 5 Gears in your Five Circles of Influence (self, family, team, organization, community). 5 Gears is metaphor of a manual stick-shift car. It’s an emotional intelligence and work/life balance tool. 5th gear is focus mode; 4th gear is task mode; 3rd gear is social mode; 2nd gear is connect mode; and 1st gear is recharge mode. When you operate on the wrong gear the wrong time, you fail to connect and be present with people. Read more about 5 Gears here.
  8. Eliminate FOMO by practicing gratitude. Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) is the epidemic of the 20’s. The nature of social media platforms, including Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter is all about the positive, almost never the negative. Instead of feeling jealousy, practice gratitude in every aspect of your life. Don’t’ take anything for granted.
  9. Freely give what you freely received. True influence starts when I am for the person instead of being for Remember you’re a steward, not an owner. Give generously because it’s not yours in the first place. Your time, talent, and treasure is a gift from God.
  10. Read great books. Here’s a good list to start off with. Oswald Sanders said it best: “If a man is known by the company he keeps, so also his character is revealed in the books he reads.” It’s not about who reads the most books, it’s about who reads “great” books and how the content transforms you.
  11. Be interested before being interesting. I realized people don’t care about how much you know until how much you care.
  12. Be intentional over being accidental. Success and significance doesn’t come out of nowhere. Above all, it requires intentionality. Are you being intentional with your growth, family, team, and organization?
  13. Be innocent and as a dove and wise as a serpent. I grew up hearing this mantra (Matthew 10:16) endless times from my mom growing up. I always go back to this Scripture to measure my character.
  14. Cherish every moment with your family. I left my family at the age of 14 to study abroad in Canada. I regretted all the days in the past where I took my family for granted. Being alone for so many years helped me to realize that family is where I always go back to.
  15. 신언서판(身言書判). Surprised it’s in Korean and Chinese? This is a saying my dad used to tell my sister and I in our teenager years. First, I must take care of my appearance. Stewarding my body is absolutely important – whether it is what I eat or how I project myself. Second, I must articulate my thoughts very well. Third, I must excel in writing and focus on my penmanship. Lastly, I must have discerning mind for wise judgment.
  16. Listen, listen, listen. I used to simply teach others what I knew. I never truly listened to my family, friends and colleagues. I realized how listening is the secret to great communication.
  17. Find a “good” girlfriend/boyfriend. I spent four years dating someone where I felt our vision was different. Though we had similar interests, we were in conflict fundamentally. The sheer amount of financial, emotional, and spiritual investment that takes dating is huge.
  18. Skin, Skeleton, DNA. Or should I say DNA, Skeleton, DNA. Finding the right person, whether that is in an organization or marriage requires you to look at three areas. GiANT Co-founder Jeremie Kubicek taught me this important lesson.
  19. Life is way shorter than you think. Most of my life, I heard from “older” people saying that “I’m young, and I have a lot of time to think about my future.” Every year as I get older, I realized that’s so true. I broke down the “actual” time I’ll be on earth and it blew my mind. Read here on my analysis.
  20. Traveling gives life perspective. Augustine once said, “The world is a book. Those who do not travel read only a page.” I had the privilege of traveling numerous countries and it has served me well. I have realized how I am a frog in a small pond and helped me to realize while people are so different, we are essentially the same.
  21. Sports reveals my character. As a tennis fanatic, I played the sport for over 14 years. While in the heat of an intense game, I noticed bursts of anger and emotions that I usually never accessed. Under intense pressure, I realized I had certain areas I needed to “work on.”
  22. Journaling. I started journaling since I was 14. Though it started off as an assignment from my ESL program, I am grateful I continued this habit. As I look at my writings, I was able to relive my past experiences both good and bad. I hope to use this information to write my autobiography one day.
  23. Consistency matters. I’ve always been curious about what makes someone “great.” Some have incredible talent but I see they are wasting away their lives. On the other hand, I see people with “mediocre” talent but reach unprecedented heights. Looking at my dad, I realized how consistency and diligence was the game changer.
  24. Simple always wins. I love ideas and theories. Growing up, I had this perverse pleasure of making things complex. I reveled in the idea of sounding erudite and scholarly. Not only in the last several years have I realized I was undermining my influence because of this desire to boast in my words. Apple has done an incredible of making complex simple.
  25. Listen to your parents. Sounds so obvious, but I look back in life and wished I could have listened more attentively. This would have prevented me from making so many mistakes in life.
  26. Humbition always wins. Humbition is the combination of humble and ambition. So much in life, I’ve struggled with pride. When I am humble in Christ, my ambition is no longer about me. It’s about making Jesus famous. Reading the Book of Proverbs helps me to keep my perspective intact.
  27. Practice 10,000 hours. When I was 14, my singular goal was to master the English language. For the next 10 years, I put 10,000 hours into memorizing vocabulary, reading countless books, making presentations. In hindsight, though it was sometimes grueling, putting in the hours has served me well.
  28. Live with a stewardship mentality. The Parable of the Talent reminds me of how significance comes from knowing my life isn’t really mine. My life is a gift from God and He wants me to take good care of the time, talent, and treasure He has entrusted in my life.
  29. Life-long learning matters. Gandhi said it best, “Live as if you were to die tomorrow. Learn as if you were to live forever.” The key to unlocking life-long learning really starts with an insatiable curiosity.