Quora Saturday: Bravery, leadership lessons, habits of successful people, simple life, and embarrassing misconceptions
Continuing my Saturday series on posting my answers to questions from Quora, here are my next questions answered:
- What’s the bravest thing you have ever done?
- What situations have taught you the most about leadership?
- What is one small, specific habit every successful person does?
- Is leading a simple life overvalued?
- What’s the most embarassing misconception you’ve ever held?
Q: What’s the bravest thing you have ever done?
A: I swam across the Hudson River from New Jersey to Manhattan with a friend. No boat or guide to help in case of a problem. No practicing. We wanted to do it so we did it.
I left a note in case my body washed up on shore somewhere that I was doing it to live my life, not for any other reason.
I posted the story hereâ€”Saturday Morning Hudson Riverâ€”including pictures.
It has become one of my defining achievements and I wouldnâ€™t trade the experience for anything.
Q: What situations have taught you the most about leadership?
A: The challenges taught me the most:
- Almost going bankrupt
- Having to look people who did good work in the eye and lay them off
- The investors squeezing me out of the company I founded
- Board members yelling
I learned the importance of emotional skills to leadership over hard skills like accounting.
It took me years to learn the lessons after the incidents happened. I wouldnâ€™t wish these things on anyone, but I donâ€™t think you can learn to lead without some equivalents.
Q: What is one small, specific habit every successful person does?
A: One? That every successful person does? Your question presupposes an answer that probably doesnâ€™t exist.
But the top three things I find at the root of most success are
- A healthy diet
- Regular vigorous exercise
- Regular sufficient sleep
If you donâ€™t have those, getting ahead is like running in sand. If you do, you have a platform to build your success on.
Q: Is leading a simple life overvalued?
A: Overvalued? By whom?
Everyone has their values, so they value it for themselves appropriately.
If you find someone else values it more than you do, you donâ€™t have to accept their values. If you think you value it too much, you can reexamine your values or change how you act on it relative to others until you think its right for you.
Q: What’s the most embarassing misconception you’ve ever held?
A: As a kid I once said, â€œI wonder if July 4th ever falls on Friday the 13th.â€
My sister still reminds me, decades later.
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