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The Best Advice I Ever Got - Issue #16

Sunletter from Ondřej Bárta
The Best Advice I Ever Got - Issue #16
By Ondřej Bárta • Issue #16 • View online
Good advice comes as a simple truth that you may perceive as self-evident, but more deeply, you understand you’re not living it. You might even dismiss it at first, but since it’s the truth, you have to face it one way or another.

The trajectory of my life is steered indirectly by my friends and family. They don’t tell me what to do; they don’t tell me what to think. Within the many conversations, I get to think about what I genuinely believe and aspire to become.
It wouldn’t be an overstatement to say that advice in this letter has turned my approach to life altogether. But I’ve written about this sort of thing before. This time I want to specifically highlight the best advice I ever got from people around me. The vast majority of the time, it was without realizing the actual value behind these simple statements.
While I won’t claim this advice will change your life as it did for me, I thought it’d be a pity not to share it when it did so much good for me. I will also highlight the people who gave it to me, as I believe these fantastic individuals deserve a shout-out. All of these pieces of advice were given to me by real people around me, not by any of the infamous internet gurus you find on TikTok. I respect these people deeply and can only hope I can live up to all they’ve given me.
This list is in no particular order.
Be humble - given to me by Martin Andrle
If your ego is as large as mine once was, you might find yourself fighting this statement to the root of your bones. Funnily enough, I don’t recall the context of our conversation that concluded in this statement. I somehow doubt Martin would remember either. But I recollect the pain I felt while confronting this simple truth. It’s not an overstatement to say I felt physical discomfort while contemplating it.
“I’m already humble; why would he even suggest I’m not? He’s so rude!” I thought to myself. But even back then, it was clear to me that my ego was too large. The sole reason I felt angry at this was that I knew it was true that I was not humble enough. When I saw someone else succeed, I felt I could’ve done it better. When someone made something, I would too often search for ways to criticize it, to appear better than them in my own eyes.
It wasn’t right away, but I’ve learned through experience that leveraging others is the best thing you can do to curb your ego. Learning to cheer for others, wishing them as much success as I wished for myself, or even more! Also, surrounding yourself with people better than you is a tremendously humbling experience. It’s not easy to allow yourself to be thrown into humbling situations, but it will allow you to be a better person.
What’s the worst thing that could happen? - given to me by Vladimír Mokrý
I couldn’t even count the number of times Vladimír would ask me this. Anytime I felt like asking a girl out. Or when I wanted to take on some new challenge in life. And in most situations, the worst thing that’d happen was that I’d embarrass myself. By any measure, this ain’t so bad. But let’s keep it real; it feels awfully bad while you’re in that situation. You don’t want to get rejected. The more confident you are about yourself, the harder reality check may strike.
This also boils down to a similar statement. Don’t worry about embarrassing yourself. This is quite close to the advice about being humble.
Put yourself into a position you want to be in - given to me by Inácio Schweller
How would your day look like if you were in the position you want to be in? I remember Inácio asking me this question when I sought a promotion at my job. I was perfectly aware that, in many ways, I was not ready for that next step. So, I made a singular goal for myself and spent an entire weekend thinking of all the ways I could put myself into the shoes of the person I wanted to become. I made a roadmap for myself to get that promotion.
Needless to say, I eventually got that promotion. And with that came a tremendous challenge that I definitely wasn’t prepared for. But, in the end, it was what I wanted, a new challenge. Something new to learn & overcome.
While writing this, I realized that Inácio started The Leader Grid. A good leader is hard to find, but if there’s anyone I always respected as a leader, it’d be Inácio, so I sincerely recommend you to check it out!
Write down your achievements - given to me by Inácio Schweller
Advice that’s very easy to take lightly or dismiss altogether. People have a larger emotional response to negative events than to positive ones. That can make people overlook their successes and mostly only look at the mistakes they’ve made. Even though your past is likely filled with things that you’ve done well and should be able to shout out.
Having a list of your personal achievements helps you in some fundamental things. Most of all, it helps you anytime you need to advocate for yourself. Knowing your own value is key to doing what’s best for yourself.
I applied this when looking for a promotion, salary raise, or even a new job. Interviews become easier once you know you actually have a good track record. Whether you present it to the interviewer or whether this just increases your confidence in your own skills (which helped by itself a ton).
The world is your oyster - given to me by Pavlína Kadlecová
I hear this advice rather often. You have to want the best for yourself, and Pavlína never misses an opportunity to remind me of that. People get so caught up in tunnel vision that their life is what it is; they miss the opportunities the world provides them. Your life is what you do with it. Let the world be your oyster.
While this is the end of this letter, it’s not an exhaustive list of all the good advice I’ve gotten through the years. I would also love to hear what advice you’ve gotten from your surrounding that changed the way you lived your life. Feel free to respond to this email! Or message me / tweet at me through Twitter!
PS: I also felt inclined to include here the almost measurable reason I believe this advice changed my life. I asked a couple of people around me how they thought I had changed over the past five years. I also read my old private conversations for self-assessment. There was a clear indication that, over that time, I became more of a person people would associate with. So there’s that, a measurable positive outcome.
PPS: I missed a couple of bi-weekly letters. Life ain’t always the way you try to make it & I broke my streak. But! I tried to make up for it by having this letter longer than usual. I started writing this in Vancouver, then stayed in Montreal, New York, and Czechia. And finally, sending it now from Berlin. Tough times, wrapped in beautiful packaging.
PPPS: I’m making a more extensive list of advice I’ve gotten over the years. I’ll be publishing it on my website & I’ll be adding new ones. Stay tuned!
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Ondřej Bárta

More personal than Twitter, less personal than a fika. No awkward silence, there's always something to say.

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