A letter to my younger self – Andy Acton
Andy Acton continues our new series – A letter to my younger self – and explains what he’s learned during his hugely successful career.
For me the notion of a letter to my younger self is fraught with danger. I am who I am today exactly because of it being a life of journey and discovery. If I had really known then what I know now, I can guarantee I would be in a different place!
However…if I could sit down with a 16-year-old Andy Acton, I would impress the importance of these three points.
Say yes more than no
It is 1982 and I was watching Germany play France in the semi-final of the World Cup with Stefan, a foreign exchange student living with my family over the summer.
The excitement we shared during that game was epic. When Stefan arrived, he could only say ‘hello’ in English. Six weeks later he had good conversational English. He said yes to the opportunity to visiting England and all the adventure that came with it. My regret is I did not take up the offer for a return visit – a big regret.
As I’ve aged I do not want regrets of not doing things. Like the opportunity to spend the summer in France living a different life for a short period.
When I was younger, I naturally assumed that people older than me were wiser. They are more able to assess opportunities and make better decisions than me.
As I got older, I realised only part of this assumption was true – they were just older.
I now have a much better idea of what is important to me and where I want to spend my most important resource, my time. With this knowledge it becomes so much easier to say yes to opportunities. You can quickly assess if they help you achieve your own goals, be them personal or business.
It also helps with increasing the speed of my decision making. Procrastination is a killer of time and opportunity.
Barack Obama said to a congress in Brazil: ‘You don’t have to get to 100% certainty on your big decisions. Get to 51%, and when you get there, make the decision and be at peace with the fact that you made the decision based on the information you had.’
I would much prefer to regret the things I’ve done in my life than missed opportunities and have a life of ‘what ifs’.
The power of consistency
It’s often said if you are persistent you get something. If you’re consistent you will keep it. I wish I knew the power of consistency 30 years ago.
A simple analogy is using the principle of compound interest. If you save £400 a month and spend the interest earned you would have £96,000 after 20 years.
If you did the same but left the interest earned with the amount you invest and say got a return of 5% per annum you would have over £165,000 – 72% more than if you did not allow the interest to compound.
The same principle applies to consistency in other areas of your life.
Saving money, eating well, drinking in moderation, exercise, building a business, managing your profile. If you are consistent with all these over time you will get much better results.
Over the past couple of years I’ve made a conscious decision to be more consistent with my social media marketing. The results have been worth the investment.
Consistency means creating content, posting it regularly across a variety of platforms, engaging with your audience and doing this daily for a couple of years.
Most people like the idea of consistency. But they are not prepared to make the commitment necessary or do but only for a short period of time.
This was definitely the younger me.
Understand your self worth
This is our internal sense of being good enough. Don’t confuse this with self-esteem, which relies on external factors like a business success or winning a medal.
I would tell my younger self that your self-worth is not delivered by external validation. It will not come from your bank account, job title, how you look, and your following on social media. These things have nothing to do with your self-worth or how valuable you are as a person.
Appreciating who you are as a person and not what you do is a great starting point for understanding your own self-worth.
With society’s increasing focus on high self-esteem, this takes us further away from paying attention to our own intrinsic value.
Catch previous letters to my younger self:
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