In 5 years, you’ll be wrong

My mentor Bassam Tarazi has finally published his second book, In 5 Years You’ll Be Wrong: 68 Life Lessons To Help You Jump In, Calm Down, Show Up And Stand Out and this one’s a real cracker.

I know what you’re thinking: “another self-help book, just what the world needs.” If that’s what this was, I would punch myself in the face.

Instead, this book is a collection of advice on living in a world of unlimited choice and information from a guy who’s been around the block a few times.

My favorite thing about Tarazi’s lessons is that, like the passage above, he is honest and direct, even blunt, about his observations. This kind of confidence makes for a fun read from a unique perspective. At the same time, Tarazi has a kind heart that shines through his prose, which obviously comes from great love. He’s like a wise uncle that knows he can be tough on you, since he’s not your dad, but always has your best interests in mind.

Tarazi is a guy who’s been in the trenches where we are, struggling like we struggle, and driving ahead anyway even when he doesn’t have any answers. He’s been a coach, author, speaker, teacher, nuclear engineer, project manager, film producer, and mortgage banker. He intuitively understands how the “onslaught of data and boundless opportunity,” while undoubtedly a great thing for society and for our individual prospects, can also hamstring us with fear of change and invite crippling negative comparisons between ourselves and the Internet darlings popping up daily (this he calls Comparalysis).

Another neat thing about this book is how Tarazi weaves in lessons from behavioral psychology without writing in jargon or techno-babble. That direct and clear voice is always there to make sense out of complex ideas and decisions. We learn that a habit takes on average 66 days to form, that competence is a powerful intrinsic motivator, that people who have more 2-hour dinners with friends live longer, that adding “because” to an e-mail request makes it doubly likely to be granted, and that the most passionate employees are not those who “followed their passion” into a position but instead those who stuck around long enough to get good at what they do.

Tarazi also has a gift for delightful metaphors and fresh aphorisms:

Fear, apprehension, and sweaty palms mean that you are probably about to learn something you’ll never forget…

Push notifications and news feeds are the world’s way of throwing us off course. There’s a reason trains don’t pick people up wherever people want to get picked up; trains wouldn’t get anywhere…

How do you know where to point your ship in the beginning? Point it in a cardinal direction that parallels your character, skills, and interests, and take action on where you want to be tomorrow, next week, or next month. Rinse and repeat… you can’t predict every iceberg, island, or leak you might encounter. Al you can do is patch the hull, change course, and keep moving…

There’s no such thing as making it, only making it further than where you were yesterday…

A genuine smile is always accepted…

The world owes you nothing. It gave you life. Let’s consider that paid in full.

Really, just reading the Table of Contents is enough to give you a flavor for what Tarazi is bringing. My favorites are the ones that articulate overlooked, obvious-in-retrospect principles:

  • Happiness isn’t reached, it’s tended to
  • Danger is real, but fear is our reaction to danger
  • Don’t change the world, change the moment
  • No one is thinking of creative ways to give you money
  • Have more average days
  • We don’t want to accomplish our goals, we just want to continue being liked by our friends

In 5 Years You’ll Be Wrong is an invigorating read that will get you thinking about what you want from life and your strategies for pursuing those things.