The 5 Most Important Lessons Learned in 2015

My Obligatory New Year's Recap Post

If you’re anything like me and read more than a few blogs, you’ve endured a month-long series of year-in-review posts. So here is another one. :)

Lessons Learned in 2015 - Year End Recap

When I looked back on the year that was, I realized that it was a year of ups and downs, wild successes and miserable failures, excitement and boredom. In other words, it was just like any other year. It was a microcosm of life itself.

What else should we expect?

The truth is, in most regards, 2015 was my best year ever (thanks, Michael Hyatt!). In others, it was more of a struggle, but I know without a doubt that those things will improve in the coming year.

In a moment, I’ll share the lessons I learned in 2015, but first here’s a quick snapshot of the year that was for me personally:

  • We completely changed our business.
  • It exploded (in a good way).
  • Our four-year old daughter can officially read and write better than I can.
  • Our son was born.
  • My wife and I celebrated our 7th anniversary.
  • Christmas.

Hey, I said it would be a quick snapshot.

Now for the part that matters to you.

5 Lessons from 2015

1. Saying “YES” to one thing always means saying “NO” to something else.

I technically already knew this one, but it was a theme of 2015.

What I noticed about the most successful people we work with is that they have the discipline to say “no” to good in order to say “yes” to great. They know that saying “yes” to one thing always means they are saying “no” to something else.

The key is saying “yes” only to great opportunities.

2. Meditation is not weird.

Prior to this year, I’d never meditated (intentionally) in my entire life.

I thought it was woo-woo weird and that to do so, I’d have to give up meat, live in a commune, and only listen to Yanni. Boy, was I wrong.

I started meditating more and more throughout the year and found that it brings peace and calmness to me. Plus, I am more focused throughout the day.

Try it!

3. Goals should be set in every area of your life.

In 2014, I set some big goals…for our business. Nothing else.

And they worked. We tripled our income and that was awesome (again, thanks to Michael Hyatt for his 5 Days to Your Best Year course).

But this past year, I set them with my wife. Now, life tends to throw some curves and we didn’t hit all of them, but the process of setting them together was powerful. I was able to rediscover and focus on what is really important to me (my wife, our children, my health, my spiritual walk).

When we started doing the exercises in Michael’s course together and setting our goals, none of the first six goals had anything to do with business or money. That showed me what is truly important in life.

4. I learn more by being ignorant.

I had the amazing privilege this year to interview a truly inspiring man, Itay Talgam.

He recently released a book called The Ignorant Maestro. A must-read book with a central theme:

You learn more and get more from your team by being ignorant. At the very least this means not thinking you are the smartest person in the room. This means asking good questions, letting others think for themselves, and allowing them to make mistakes (yes, even costly ones).

The most dangerous position to be in is when you are the smartest person in the room. There is no growth when that happens.

It’s the breeding ground for stagnation, self-centeredness, and pride. It kills creativity, destroys morale, and puts an end to innovation. It’s the precursor to boredom, the downfall of your business or ambitious pursuit, and signals the end of your development.

Your greatest asset is your ignorance.

When you embrace it, you grow.

You empower others.

You discover hidden talents.

Embrace your ignorance.

5. We all have an amazing story…and we need to share it.

My friend Jeff Goins released an amazing book this year called The Art of Work.

You should go buy it right now and skip to Chapter Five because it’s all about me. Kidding…sort of. You really should read it.

When he first interviewed me for the book, we weren’t friends at all. In fact, we barely knew each other. So, when we first talked, my story went like this:

  • I’m awesome.
  • I make good money.
  • Please like me.

OK, that is a rudimentary summation, but you get the idea. After we spoke, however, this is what he wrote to me:

You know, in reviewing the first email you sent me and then relistening to the audio from our interview yesterday, something struck me.

Your original email talked a lot about how you started making a living, and a good living, at doing what you love. Money, it seemed, was an important part of that equation. Now, don’t get me wrong; I think a lot of good can be done with money. But it didn’t seem like that great of a story. Still, I was curious to talk to you more.

Then when you told me you were fired four different times, and each time you failed your way a little bit more to your calling, I thought, “Now THAT’S the story.”

Anyway, just one dude’s opinion, but if you aren’t focusing on that when you tell your story, you might try it. There’s a lot of power to it, especially given the amount of failure and rejection you faced, and how God was using all that stuff to get you to where you are now.

Yeah, it’s cool that you make a good living, really cool. And it’s even cooler that you have a heart to be generous. But what will give people hope, and I again pardon my being so bold in sharing this, is that there is humanity to the story. That you failed and still somehow succeeded.

That’s the kind of hope people need. It’s the kind that I need.

I never knew I had a story. But I do.

And so do you.

Your story is beautiful.

Your story is powerful.

Your story is necessary to others.

Tell it.

Question: What was the biggest lesson you learned this year? You can leave a comment by clicking here.

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  • I learned (or relearned) the power of mastermind. I need people in my life to push me, and I need people in my life who I can push.

    • So powerful indeed. I’ve started two and I am in two now, with a third one coming up next year.

      Are yours all virtual, in person, or both?

      • Mine is virtual using Zoom. We are spread across the country: Texas, Washington, Georgia, and Pennsylvania.

        • Nice! Yeah we’ve had members in Washington, California, Tennessee, Alabama, North Carolina, Colorado, Georgia, and even another guy here in Fort Wayne. Gotta love the Internet!

      • Can you tell me more about how you started yours?

  • There are multiple lessons that my family learned in 2015 but here are a couple of them. They are based off the story of losing our daughter Gracie Jade only after 56 minutes of life.

    #1.God doesn’t make mistakes. He creates miracles, and EVERY life is precious.

    #2. Pain is a privilege that changes you. It makes you better if you let it. No matter the circumstance continue to serve Him, grow to know Him more and make him known to hurting and lost people.

    These are both quotes that my wife said. If you’d like to know the full details of our daughter Gracie Jade story you can go to http://www.GracieJade.com

    Thank you Matt for letting me share.

  • There are multiple lessons that my family learned in 2015 but here are a couple of them. They are based off the story of losing our daughter Gracie Jade only after 56 minutes of life.

    #1.God doesn’t make mistakes. He creates miracles, and EVERY life is precious.

    #2. Pain is a privilege that changes you. It makes you better if you let it. No matter the circumstance continue to serve Him (God), grow to know Him (God) more and make him known to hurting and lost people.

    These are both quotes that my wife said. If you’d like to know the full details of our daughter Gracie Jade story you can go to http://www.GracieJade.com

    Thank you Matt for letting me share.

    • Wow Dustin. When was this?

      • It happened June 25, 2015 just 6 month ago this Christmas. Our lives are forever changed. Although it been hard we realize that hope and pain walk together and that s ok. We are learning to continue in our purpose even in the mist of pain. Even though we didn’t get the miracle we hope and prayed for, we did receive one and that was the miracle of a changed heart.

    • Putt

      Dustin,
      I lost a stillborn child a few years ago. It’s incredibly tough. I wrote/journaled about the experience days after the event. Eventually I was able to find someone to put lyrics to it and create a song.

      If your interested, I wouldn’t mind sharing. It helps when I want to reflect on our child that was lost.

      Sincerely.

  • Great lessons Matt and I can personally say numbers 1, 2, & 5 would also make my top five list (if I made one). For me I would boil down my major lesson in 2015 to one thing: Be open to what appears in your life because chances are it has shown up for a reason. I won’t belabor the story here, but I started 2015 with a desire to get clear on my vision for the next 10 years and experienced multiple occurrences throughout the year where exactly what I needed to take the next step showed up at just the right time.

    My take on this…once you get clear about your vision and begin to speak it into your mind the path emerges and the resources appear, IF you pay attention and see the connections, then take action to capture the moment. It has put me on a path for 2016 that has me more excited about my work than I have ever been, and for that I am grateful.

    • That would be my number six :)

      We completely changed our business last year, all because of a single phone call with someone. A new door open and it opened WIDE, so we went through!

  • Putt

    2015 rocked for me!
    My goals were to:

    Pray More
    Read more
    Start a journal
    Exercise routinely

    I broke them down slowly and built on them.

    2014 – read 3 books; 2015 – read 16 books.
    Journaled 200-250 days in 2015; which is precisely 200-250 times more than the year before.

    I began Unbeatable Mind Academy from SealFit.com and that has helped tremedously.

    Getting to your question though…..What I learned was….?

    I need like minded people, coaches and mentors to surround myself. I love my extended family and friends but they if they are not making me into the person God meant me to be then I need to focus my time on others that do.

    Have a great year! Matt!

    • That is awesome! Your lessons and those of Jon Stolpe are similar.

  • Too many to list! And I enjoyed reading yours as I reflect on 2015! Happy New Year, Matt!

  • Agenna Mathley

    Thanks for sharing Matt – I enjoyed reading your list, and it prompted me to really contemplate what lessons 2015 had for me.