Today was my last day at the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation. After more than a dozen years working to improve people's lives around the world, I thought it would be fitting to share a few hard-earned lessons that I picked up along the way. Advice is easy to dispense, but I think these recommendations apply to both personal and professional situations.
1) Do your homework: no matter the situation, do some research, so that you know what you're dealing with. Expect the unexpected; plan as much as you can.
2) Know your audience: understand who you are addressing and why. Try to learn as much as you can about them, so you can appeal to both their heads and their hearts.
3) Put yourself in other people's shoes: take the time to learn what makes people tick -- their hopes, dreams, fears and desires. This will help you calibrate your message.
4) Be clear about what you expect from others: most misunderstandings occur as a result of mismatched expectations, so articulate what you expect, don't assume anything and don't take anything for granted. Craft your message with care.
5) Listen to others: successful communication requires active listening. While you may be tempted to say what's on your mind, sometimes you stand to gain more by patiently listening to what others have to say.
6) Always try to do the right thing: treat others with respect and courtesy. Stand up for what you believe in, even when it is hard--especially when it's hard.
7) Don't accept toxic situations: if you are unhappy with the direction your life is taking, change it. No matter how bad things may get, remember that you can always walk away, even if it is difficult. Only you can control your own destiny.
8) Make it count: life is short, so try to live without regret. Do things that scare you and make you feel alive. You only live once.
9) Play the long game: life is played out over years, not days. Usually, things take time. Plan accordingly. Know what actually matters and what does not. Learn when to let go and when to persevere.
10) Our similarities are greater than our differences: the world is a much different place than twelve years ago, yet I still believe that we are all driven by a yearning for love, family and security. We try to heed our better angels, but we're often tempted by our lesser selves.
As I prepare to embark on my next adventure, I am filled with gratitude for my experiences and with curiosity about the future. For the next few months, I plan to listen to others, observe their ways of life and learn from their experiences. I will walk with respect among the people of the world, with hope in my heart.
In the words of Henry Miller, "One’s destination is never a place, but always a new way of seeing things."