This message arrived today for me:
By way of introduction, my name is Eric Wu from New York City (originally born in LA). I stumbled upon your website from a link on a site called Reddit – you seem like you’ve lived an extraordinarily interesting and adventurous life. You’ve gone from one career to the other, and when your nephew asked why you did the month long Spain-France hike, you said “because I’m still trying to figure out what I want to become when I grow up.” I really subscribe to a similar mentality and philosophy, and I just wanted to hear what life and career advice you would give to a 22 year old, recently graduated, working a corporate job that he’s not particularly fond of. I understand this is very open-ended, but I would love to hear about your life philosophy.
Here is my response:
I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your request about my life philosophy. I am just unsure exactly what it is. I think that I have always been an opportunist, in that I do not actively seek opportunities, but when one appears I have a serious look at it. At the same time, opportunity often appears more obvious to one who is better prepared to take advantage of it.
Life advice? Be honest, both with others and yourself – the second is much more difficult than the first. Be caring. All major religions (and I am neutral about religion) stress the theme – Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. In plainspeak, if you wouldn’t like it done to you, don’t do it – whatever it is – to others.
I have been extremely lucky in my most important relationship – my marriage. We have both brought out the best in each other for over 55 years. That doesn’t mean that we don’t have “frank and open discussions”, as the politicians say when they are at loggerheads, but we have always respected each other and each other’s needs. We have also always given each other whatever privacy and space the other partner needs. So what? So seek out a person whom you can love, respect and learn from – and each be 100% responsible for the nurturing and care of the relationship.
You will learn that things are not nearly as important as relationships, so make sure that your ladder of success is resting on the right wall. Giving really is more rewarding and satisfying than receiving, so get involved with others less fortunate than yourself.
Career advice – do what is necessary to get qualified to do something, then expand your search for something that really satisfies you. The personal reward – and growth – will be much greater than the financial reward that you might be giving up.
I still am unsure about what I am going to be when I grow up. At any point in my life, if I could have looked forward five years, I would simply have not believed what would be going on in my life five years later. So what? So don’t lock yourself into a five-year plan. Planning is great and so is opportunity, so during the execution of your plan, if opportunity knocks on the door, open the door! Life may allow you to aim much higher or wider than you can imagine – it has for me!
I am going to suggest that you have a look at both of my books, because you will find out much more about my life philosophy in them than I can put in a brief message. Type my name into Amazon.com and you will find my books, A Journey of Days and A Journey of Days Continues. Both include a section at the back about Life’s Lessons Learned that may help you create or solidify your own life philosophy.
Let me know if this helps, or just muddies the waters.
And Eric’s response to that:
Thank you very much for that detailed response. It’s quite an interesting and thought-provoking read. You’ve given me a lot to chew on, and I will be sure to check out your two books!
Feel free to post the letter and the response, and also feel free to publish my twitter handle (https://twitter.com/thericwu) if you please!