Dan Waldschmidt

by Dan Waldschmidt

April 28, 2020

301 Rules For Living A Successful Life In The Middle of Troubling Times.

I often joke from the stage that my mom used to tell me “If you can’t do something brilliant, just don’t do something stupid.”

By this time in my life and after hundreds of keynotes I’m not actually sure if it was my mom or someone else that told me that. Maybe it was a book. Who knows?

The reason why that quote has so much impact for me — and why it’s incredibly sticky once you hear it — is that it rings true for each of us.

No matter how many good decisions you make in your life, your results will always be limited but the scale and scope of your bad decisions.

In other words, no matter how good you are, you’re never better than your worst decision. In that moment at least.

In truth, living a successful life isn’t about being perfect. That’s impossible. It is about, however, about stopping from time to time to make sure your rulebook for success is up to date.

Here are a few important rules to consider:

  1. Accept responsibility for your actions, attitude, and influence.
  2. Care about others, yourself, and big dreams.
  3. Enjoy the journey. Make sure each step matters.
  4. Lead by example. Lead when no one is following.
  5. Open your mind to the possibility that there is an option you haven’t considered.
  6. Reduce the amount of time you spend “thinking about doing” instead of doing.
  7. Settle your differences with class, maturity, and dignity.
  8. Teach those who want to learn.
  9. Account for how you spend your money, your time, and your passion.
  10. Carry your emotions on your sleeve and the burdens of those weaker than you on your back.
  11. Count the number of times you keep trying as the measure of your success.
  12. Examine your motives, your bank account balance, and the direction you’re headed — every day.
  13. Learn a little bit each day from something that goes horribly wrong and frightfully right.
  14. Order your relationships, your priorities, your beliefs, and your daily schedule.
  15. Refer to women as ladies and to men as a gentleman. A little respect goes a long way.
  16. Shake hands firmly. Look the person you’re speaking with in the eye.
  17. Tell the truth, but be kind about it. Especially when it’s hard to hear.
  18. Achieve big goals by working hard — not by looking for shortcuts.
  19. Catch a case of gratitude. Let it infect everything that you do.
  20. Cover up your weaknesses by focusing on your strengths.
  21. Exist for a reason. Live with purpose.
  22. Have a kind word ready for anyone you meet.
  23. Leave your negative thoughts in bed when you get up in the morning.
  24. Reflect often on the difference you can make in the world around you.
  25. Tend your relationships like a garden. Plant seeds, nurture often, and reap bountifully.
  26. Act like a hero every day of your life.
  27. Cause ordinary people to achieve outrageous success because of your encouragement.
  28. Create a legacy of helping other people reach the finish line with you.
  29. Expect life to treat you unfairly (often).
  30. Head towards where you want to be. Don’t waste time looking back.
  31. Lend a hand, a dollar, or a bit of advice — as often as you can.
  32. Own your results. Jump to your own conclusions.
  33. Refuse to believe that anything is impossible for you to achieve.
  34. Share the spotlight with those who helped you get there in the first place.
  35. Test your limits. Don’t ever be satisfied by what you did yesterday.
  36. Add people to your cause by the example that you lead each day.
  37. Change the conversation. Own the thoughts you have. Choose to be positive.
  38. Cross off tasks on your “getting things done” list. Be proactive.
  39. Experience the quiet moments that are happening around you each day.
  40. Hear the silent cry for help coming from those in need around you.
  41. Let criticism drive you to work harder, be more focused, and live more boldly.
  42. Pass the time living life on your own terms.
  43. Regard fools and idiots like the nonsense they really are. Ignore them.
  44. Shoot for the moon. Work hard enough to actually get there.
  45. Thank the people around you who help you get to where you want to be.
  46. Admit when you are wrong. Say “Thank You” and “I’m Sorry” a little bit more often.
  47. Charge ahead with your big idea. The only thing standing in your way is “you”.
  48. Cry when you get hurt. Then heal. And get back in the fight.
  49. Explain your intentions often and early. Don’t expect people to just “get it”.
  50. Help make the world a better place. You’ll benefit forever from the good you leave behind.
  51. Lie to others (when you have to) — but never lie to yourself.
  52. Pay more for the people you hire to help you get to where you want to be.
  53. Relate to other people. Work at it. It’s a skill worth investing in.
  54. Think about how you would feel in a particular situation. Don’t be a jerk on purpose.
  55. Affect other for the better by being who you are.
  56. Check your ego from time to time. Arrogance can bury you all too easily.
  57. Cut back on what you spend money on. Big dreams need a big budget.
  58. Express kindness and gratitude a little more often than you do now.
  59. Hide your fear behind activity.
  60. Like yourself enough to keep trying even when you screw up.
  61. Perform like the world is watching even when no seems to notice that you exist.
  62. Release your inhibitions. Dream like anything is possible.
  63. Shout. Scream. Fight. Lead. Live. Love. Never stop trying.
  64. Throw your worries on the altar of activity. Keep working towards where you want to be.
  65. Afford to invest in yourself.
  66. Choose the high road — and the long road. There are no shortcuts to success.
  67. Damage the bridges you use a little bit less. You never know when you need a better route.
  68. Extend your experience by taking risks and venturing boldly into areas that scare you.
  69. Hit the ground running each morning. Start by getting things done. That will continue.
  70. Limit the excuses that you make. More responsibility never hurt anyone.
  71. Pick your friends wisely. You’ll become a lot like the people you hang around.
  72. Remain open to learning new things. The moment you stop learning, you start dying.
  73. Show your critics you’re serious by working hard each time you take the field.
  74. Touch those around you with your generosity and gratitude.
  75. “Agree to disagree” instead of holding a grudge. Move on.
  76. Claim the high ground with your attitudes and actions.
  77. Dance when you’re happy. Cry when you’re sad.
  78. Face the fact that you’re not going to get it right the first time around.
  79. Hold onto inspirational words, big dreams, and winning moments. Let them empower you.
  80. Link your life to good people and good things around you.
  81. Place yourself in the scary position where success is hard to achieve. It will make you tougher.
  82. Remember the hard-working people around you who help you get to where you want to be.
  83. Shut your mouth on angry words, unnecessary criticism, or passive aggression.
  84. Train yourself to stop thinking negative thoughts. Be deliberate about protecting your thoughts.
  85. Aim for perfection. Keep working until you get there.
  86. Clean up after yourself. No wants to have to deal with your baggage (or your dishes).
  87. Deal with the facts in front of you. Don’t guess or worry about things that aren’t there.
  88. Fail with grace. Don’t blame other people for your own unsuccessful attempts at greatness.
  89. Hope big. Dream big. Try big.
  90. Listen for what isn’t being said. Be emotionally intelligent. It’s a skill that makes a big difference.
  91. Plan to get knocked down in life and you’ll find yourself better at getting back up.
  92. Remove your ego from judging critical feedback. Just be awesome. Ignore the “nuttiness”.
  93. Sing when you’re happy. Cry when you’re sad. Live with your emotions under control — but on your sleeve.
  94. Travel more. Use virtual meeting tools less. Serious business people shake hands and talk face-to-face.
  95. Allow yourself to be convinced of other options and possibilities that are out there.
  96. Clear your mind of doubts and just press on — even when you don’t feel like you know what you’re doing.
  97. Decide to keep moving forward regardless of the cost or effort required. Make up your mind to be badass.
  98. Fall for love. Fall for the opportunity to matter. Fall forward into something that matters.
  99. Hurt your critics most by just ignoring them.
  100. Live every day like it matters — because it does.
  101. Play with competitors who are better than you. You’ll take your game to the next level that way.
  102. Repeat what works. Repeat what isn’t working yet but truly matters.
  103. Sit down and enjoy the sunset from time to time. You’re never too busy to be a bit more inspired.
  104. Treat your enemies like people. They are, after all, human.
  105. Answer hard questions with a question. You deserve to know “why”
  106. Climb the corporate ladder without stepping on the people around you.
  107. Deliver results — even when it’s hard (and especially then).
  108. Fasten your seatbelt. You never know when life will throw you a curveball.
  109. Identify your weaknesses. Work to improve them.
  110. Look at your situation from another perspective. You can always benefit from being more emotionally intelligent.
  111. Point out the ways you plan to improve. Be clear with your intentions when you want to do better.
  112. Replace worry with action. Now.
  113. Sleep when you’re tired. Work until you drop. Make achieving your goal a life long passion.
  114. Try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try and try again.
  115. Appear when there is a problem. Not showing up makes you seem like you don’t care.
  116. Close your ears to criticism, unfair comments, and other people’s opinions on what you should be doing.
  117. Demand excellence from yourself even when no one else cares.
  118. Feed your brain, your soul, and your body with the best fuel.
  119. Imagine success. Dream success. Plan for success. Let it consume you.
  120. Lose your doubts, your expectations for safety, and your plan for getting it right the first time around.
  121. Prefer to lose hard than to win easy. You’ll win more in the long run.
  122. Reply with a kind word — or no word at all — even when you don’t like it.
  123. Smile more. It makes you awesome.
  124. Turn negative life moments into learning opportunities.
  125. Apply what you’ve learned from life to your goals and ambitions for you now.
  126. Collect great friends, great ideas, and great motivation. They will keep you going for a long time.
  127. Deny yourself the opportunity to quit, feel sorry for yourself, or pout.
  128. Feel deeply about what you do. Let the emotions of your life drive you to better results.
  129. Improve. Don’t stay stagnant. If you aren’t winning, keep learning.
  130. Love what you do, who you are, and the dreams that propel you forward.
  131. Prepare to be weak and you’ll make yourself stronger.
  132. Report. Track. Measure. Improve. Take stock of where you want to be.
  133. “Sorta” or “Kinda” or “Maybe” — They aren’t strategies for success. Ever.
  134. Understand what makes you tick. Use your “secret sauce” when you need to blow away the competition.
  135. Argue for yourself when it matters. (That usually isn’t most of the time)
  136. Come to play.  Stop playing it cool. Sweat. Bleed. Fight. Triumph.
  137. Depend on others. Be vulnerable enough to ask others for help.
  138. Fight for yourself. No one else cares for your dream like you do.
  139. Include others in your dream. Make it a movement — not an individual effort.
  140. Make waves. Stir up trouble. Aim for impossible. Do what “can’t be done”.
  141. Present problems as opportunities for growth. Your brain works better that way.
  142. Represent yourself like you’re more confident that you feel on the inside.
  143. Sound like you know what you’re talking about. Spend time practicing what you want to say.
  144. Use every moment to get a little bit closer to where you want to be.
  145. Arrange with thoughtful care your finances, your reputation, and your goals.
  146. Commit to be amazing. Don’t try to hedge your bets. Jump in with both feet.
  147. Describe in living color the dream you have for you. Make it personal. Live religiously.
  148. Fill your life with meaningful moments.
  149. Increase the number of times you say “Thank You” and “I’m Sorry” each day.
  150. Manage the details. Big problems always start as small issues that are easy to ignore.
  151. Press forward even when it seems like there’s no easy way to go.
  152. Require the best of those working for you. Don’t let the mistakes of others bring you down.
  153. Speak clearly and plainly. Double-talk is frustrating for everyone involved.
  154. Arrive on time. Plan ahead. Communicate early and often.
  155. Compare your best against someone who is better. Take your game to the next level.
  156. Design the future that you want to live in — not one you have to “deal with”.
  157. Find ways to make other people smile throughout the day. It’s contagious.
  158. Indicate the ways you plan to be better by writing out your goals and expectations.
  159. Mark your friends, your enemies, and the people you want with you when things get tough.
  160. Prevent whiners and wimps from bringing you down — avoid them at all costs.
  161. Rest. Your brain and body function best when you take time to recharge.
  162. Stand up for your friends, your beliefs, and those who can’t stand up for themselves.
  163. Visit the places that remind you of your journey. Make it a pilgrimage. Get religious about you.
  164. Ask for help when you need it. There is no glory in being ignorant.
  165. Complain less. Work more. Replace worry with action.
  166. Destroy the nonsense around you that distracts you from being amazing.
  167. Finish what you start. Get in the habit of developing new disciplines.
  168. Influence others around you with your enthusiasm.
  169. Matter. Do what matters. Be what matters. Create change that matters.
  170. Produce results. Talk. Dream. Share. But work. Nothing works if you don’t.
  171. Start doing what you’ve been scared to do up until now.
  172. Vote for you. Work for you. Fight for you. Be all in on you.
  173. Attack bullies and their behavior. Stand up for those who can’t up for themselves.
  174. Complete what you begin. It won’t be easy, but it will be worth it.
  175. Develop new skills. Be open to new thinking. Push your personal limits.
  176. Fit into public settings without always being the person who needs all the attention.
  177. Inform more. Communicate better. Be candid. Be thorough.
  178. Promise only what you plan to deliver.
  179. Return the money you borrow. Be extra careful with other people’s money.
  180. State the truth. Be kind about it. But don’t back down from candor.
  181. Wait for karma to take care of bad people. Don’t let them be a distraction to you.
  182. Avoid whining. Avoid making excuses. Avoid negative people.
  183. Concern yourself with doing the things that really matter.
  184. Die to your ego. Look past your feelings and make better decisions.
  185. Fly above the chaos and fear and pettiness that try to hold you down.
  186. Intend to be amazing. Intend to work passionately. Intend to keep going.
  187. Mean what you say. Do what you mean.
  188. Protect your dreams from the critics around you.
  189. Reveal your insecurities. You make them less powerful with your openness.
  190. Stay the course. Keep moving towards where you want to be.
  191. Walk the talk. Be the person you advertise you are.
  192. Base your decisions on where you want to be in the future — not tomorrow.
  193. Confirm what you hear. Ask if what you think you heard is accurate.
  194. Disappear when you’re not needed. Stop hogging the spotlight.
  195. Fold when you don’t have the cards. You can’t always bluff your way to success.
  196. Introduce smart people to each other.
  197. Measure greatness by the number of times you keep trying.
  198. Prove yourself by working tirelessly toward achieving your goals.
  199. Stick to your core. Don’t be led astray by what seems easy, quick, or cheap.
  200. Want more for yourself. Don’t apologize for having big dreams.
  201. Be a better person. Don’t just do better things from time to time.
  202. Connect with people who can help you get to where you want to be.
  203. Discover new limits by putting yourself in situations where you have to be better.
  204. Follow the best lessons of those around you. Learn from everything that happens.
  205. Invite challenges. Be bigger than the problems in your way.
  206. Meet fear head-on with massive amounts of activity.
  207. Provide a safe landing zone for those around you who want to soar.
  208. Rise to the occasion. Seize the opportunities around you.
  209. Stop complaining. Stop whining. Stop wasting your time with things that don’t matter.
  210. Warn those (who want to listen) about the pitfalls ahead of them.
  211. Beat the odds. Be the one that does “what’ll never work”.
  212. Consider your options for lashing out angrily. You can get wound up another time.
  213. Discuss obstacles with inspiration in mind. Problems are often opportunities to grow.
  214. Force yourself to stop being negative. Flush fearful thinking while you’re thinking it.
  215. Involve those around you in your success. Don’t be a mooch. Be an inspiration.
  216. Mention to those around you their best traits. Encourage deliberately.
  217. Publish good news boldly. Even if it’s not yours. Be the guy who has something awesome to say.
  218. Roll your eyes. Be a skeptic. Don’t believe everything you hear (or don’t hear).
  219. Study the best habits of good people (and bad ones). You can learn from everyone. Do it.
  220. Wash your hands of other people’s nonsense. Don’t automatically adopt other people’s problems.
  221. Become a better person instead of just doing better things.
  222. Divide your enemies. Take them on 1-by-1. Force them to fight each other.
  223. Forget the past. Move forward. There is always more to achieve.
  224. Join with people who can make you better. Hire a coach. Get a mentor.
  225. Pull out all the stops. Don’t hold back. Be powerful and deliberate and determined.
  226. Run towards where you want to be. Don’t procrastinate.  Get there.
  227. Succeed even when people tell you you won’t. Be the rule breaker. Be the exception.
  228. Watch out for negative people. Avoid them at all costs.
  229. Begin each day with a clear set of goals and a renewed sense of purpose.
  230. Contact someone today and tell them that you were “thinking about them.” Smile.
  231. Do what needs to be done. Do it each day. Until you’re done.
  232. Forgive those who do you wrong. Don’t let negativity cripple your ability to be amazing.
  233. Jump into achieving your goals with both feet. Don’t hold back.
  234. Mind your manners. No one likes to be around a slob.
  235. Push past the pain you feel. You’ll feel better when you get to where you want to be.
  236. Suffer silently. You don’t get extra awards for being dramatic.
  237. Wear your emotions on your sleeve. Be passionate. Live courageously.
  238. Believe that what you are trying to achieve matters.
  239. Draw a line in the sand and don’t let the enemy cross it.
  240. Form your own opinions. Don’t let other people force their bias on you.
  241. Keep your head in the game. What you think about you become.
  242. Put your priorities in order. Don’t let the small details fall through the cracks
  243. Say what’s on your mind, but mind what you say. Kindness is a virtue.
  244. Suggest good ideas when you’re asked. Don’t hold back for later.
  245. Will yourself to win. Will yourself to figure it out. Tough it out.
  246. Belong to something that matters. Invest in others. Give to great causes.
  247. Continue doing what you’re doing now. It takes time to deliver big results.
  248. Dress for success. More importantly — live like you want to be successful.
  249. Kick your plans into gear. Don’t wait to get started. Move now.
  250. Move to the next level. Don’t stay complacent. Push past the obstacles in your way.
  251. Raise the bar. Do better tomorrow than you did yesterday.
  252. See the powerful, positive side of any situation.
  253. Win big. Lose big. Try big. Don’t error on playing it safe.
  254. Break the bonds of debt. Spend small now. Live big later.
  255. Contribute to the success of others. Don’t be selfish.
  256. Drink less. Exercise more. Develop better life skills.
  257. Gain benefit from the stories and experiences of others.
  258. Kill fear with kindness. Kill cynicism with results.
  259. Reach the point in your life where you care less about the opinions of others.
  260. Supply the world with inspiration by how you live your life.
  261. Wish your way to a better life. Work your way to actually getting there.
  262. Build the environment you want to live in. Don’t live in someone else’s world.
  263. Control the words you say and thoughts you allow yourself to have.
  264. Drive hard. No need to hold back. Have some urgency.
  265. Get passionate about your goals. Let that passion consume you — and transform you.
  266. Knock out tasks every time you have a free moment. Waste less time watching television.
  267. Need to be better. Don’t just try to be better, ache because you’re not better already.
  268. Read great books. Readers are leaders. People who don’t read are idiots.
  269. Sell better. All of life is a sales pitch. Get better at the craft of influencing other people.
  270. Wonder at all the amazing things happening around you. Let that magic inspire you.
  271. Cook up your own recipe for success. Might take longer to make but you’ll enjoy the meal better.
  272. Drop anything (or anyone) who is holding you back from where you want to be.
  273. Give your time and attention to people who want to better their lives.
  274. Know the difference between patience and laziness. You need the former — not the latter.
  275. Notice the difference that effort makes over time. You can achieve anything if you work hard enough.
  276. Realize your full potential by working tirelessly to be the best version of you each day.
  277. Send flowers when you do something wrong. A proper apology goes a long way.
  278. Suppose you were in their position. How would you feel then? What would you do?
  279. Work as hard as you can. And then keep working. Don’t expect that working smarter will help you be amazing.
  280. Buy books. Buy a great coach. Invest in a great team to help you get to where you want to be.
  281. Copy the best attitudes and intentions of high performers around you.
  282. Go further than you did before. Each day push yourself into situations where you can emerge as a champion.
  283. Last longer. You can’t be a champion if you aren’t able to stand the test of time.
  284. Obtain good information before making important decisions. Invest in better intelligence.
  285. Receive criticism for what it is — the opinions of other people. Use what helps you best.
  286. Separate facts from fear. Don’t make decisions based on how things “might go”. Live inspired.
  287. Survive the day-to-day grind. Don’t let life beat you down. Stand back up and keep fighting.
  288. Worry less about what other people think about you and more about how you are working.
  289. Call it as you see it. Don’t be unkind and don’t be passive-aggressive.  Just be candid.
  290. Correct yourself when you could be doing better. Get serious about being the best version of you possible.
  291. Enable those around you to reach their full potential.  Be a friend, a mentor, and a shoulder to lean on.
  292. Laugh at yourself. Learn to be humble. Love the opportunity to be better today than you were yesterday.
  293. Recognize talent, great advice, and helpful mentors. Make your team better each day.
  294. Serve those around you. Make it less about you getting what you want and more about helping others get what they need.
  295. Take time to enjoy the journey. It might be rough but it’s your moment in the sun. Savor each second.
  296. Encourage greatness in those around you. Be the fuel others need to be amazing.
  297. Handle bad news with dignity. Handle good news with humility.
  298. Offer to help whenever you can — even when you feel like you need help.
  299. Talk less than you listen. Think more than you do either of those.
  300. Write down your goals. Make them an indelible part of your daily motivation.
  301. End the nonsense that saps your budget, your motivation, and your free time.

We all love a comeback story.

You can always change where you are in life.

You can always level up. Getting better as an option for anyone at any time.

Just know that your decisions have consequences, for good or bad. And know that all the incredible decisions you make on a daily basis — even a minute-by-minute basis — can be easily negated by a thoughtless, harmful decision.

So slow down. Think. Don’t let how you feel right now create a mess for yourself down the road.

About the author

Dan Waldschmidt

Dan Waldschmidt doesn’t just talk about leveling up. He’s obsessed with it. He's set records as an ultra-runner and been the personal strategist for the leading business leaders of our time. He wrote a book, called EDGY Conversations that accidentally became a worldwide bestseller and continues to share his insights from the stage as a keynote speaker and on the blogs and podcasts you will find here. Most days, you'll find Dan heads-down, working on breakthrough strategies for his clients at EDGY Inc, a highly-focused, invite-only, business strategy execution company based out of Silicon Valley.