One book that I keep next to my bedside is Rochard Reed’s If I Could Tell You Just One Thing…. Reed talks about his experience growing up with his father, where a particular moment propelled him to make a commitment to himself: “whenever I met someone remarkable, I’d ask them for their best advice.” So as a result, the book was born.
Good advice, as Reed says, is like a nutrient-rich broth. “Most people when asked for advice are happy to give it. This desire to help is a manifestation of the better part of human nature; it costs nothing, can be shared infinitely and will last indefinitely.
So, embarking on his journey, he would ask these remarkable people just one thing: Given all that you have experience, given all that you now know and given all that you have learnt, if you could pass on only one piece of advice, what would it be?
So I won’t share all the details here, but I will just share one line, to sum up the advice from all fifty people Reed interviewed.
It is important to know that this will obviously not give you a deep idea of the reasoning behind their advice and for that the book needs to be read to truly appreciate the words of wisdom. There are strong and valid reasons behind these words of advice.
So here we go:
President Clinton: One of the most important thing is to see people.
Marina Abramovic: Give your 100%, and then go over into what more can you do
Terry Waite: What you have to do is live for the day. Invest in every day.
Joanna Lumley: Love everyone you meet.
Stephen Fry: Avoid the trap of thinking it is somehow easier for other people.
Esther Perel: Quality of your life is dependent on the quality of your relationships, not on your achievements, or how smart you are, or how rich.
Heston Blumenthal: Question everything!
Annie Lennox: Find your light (the a-ha moment) and acknowledge it. Find other people who share that passion. Cultivate it. Find that deeper purpose in your life.
Simon Cowell: Listen rather than talk.
Shami Chakrabarti: Solidarity, the basic human connection we can all have with one another, is stronger than fear and racism.
Ari Emanuel: Be curious. Show up. Stay in Touch. Keep Reading. Chase down anything that seems interesting.
Martha Lane Fox: Be bold. If you’re bold you might right royally screw up, but you can also achieve much more, so be bold.
Harry Belafonte: Discover the joy of embracing diversity.
Sandi Toksvig: Just work hard and be passionate.
Sir David Attenborough: Never lose the sense of wonderment, do what you can to always keep that sense of magic with our natural world alive.
Dame Judi Dench: Look for pluses in life.
Corporal Andy Reid: Don’t look back on what happened. Instead, look forward to what you can do.
Sir Richard Branson: All of it is life. Don’t waste any of it doing something you don’t want to do and do all of it with the people you love.
Katie Piper: The only way barriers exist is in our heads. We create them, feed them, and we choose to keep them alive.
Mike Bloomberg: There is always someone else who can do what you can do, so you’ve got to make sure you do it first.
Diana Athill: Do not be possessive. The trick is to love the person, not to possess them.
Andy Murray: Always believe that when you iuap[ply yourself, you can achieve anything… don’t forget, there is no substitute for practice.
Dr. Maki Mandela: All the answers that we want are within us. Live your own life. Walk your own path.
Mario Testino: You have to learn how to sway. You have to be open to what slightly puzzles you, to what you feel curious about.
Lt. Col. Lucy Giles: Life is about doing the right thing, on a difficult day, when no one is looking.
Anthony Bourdain: I just worked hard, avoided assholes and always turned up on time.
Alexander McLean: The lowliest-looking person is filled with gifts and talents beyond your imagination. Love such people as yourself.
Edna O’Brien: Retain the innocence and conviction of when you started out. Never forget what bestirs you.
Nitin Sawhney: Do not let others define you. Tune into yourself and define yourself by being your authentic true self in every given moment.
Jo Malone: When bad things happen you can either let them bear you or you can stand and fight. And if you do, you can always turn things around.
Bear Grylls: It’s those who look after each other, who remain cheerful in adversity, who are kind and persistent and positive. These are the characteristics that help you, not just to survive, but to enjoy it.
Dambisa Moyo: Everyday I look in the mirror and I tell myself that I am going to go out there and face it and not curl up in a ball because somebody said something or thinks that I couldn’t be or do something simply because of who I am.
Mickey Hart: Find your rhythm. Live your life to its beat.
Clare Balding: In life, we are no what we look like, we are not our gender, sexuality or religion or race, we are how we act and the impact that we have on others.
Nancy Hollander: Whatever you do, do it with intent. Just one good kick and one good punch is better than twenty you didn’t have any intent behind.
Jude Law: If you are going to be late, enjoy being late.
Joan Bakewell: It could be anything, but change something. Don’t just drag on a set of circumstances which just aren’t falling into the right places. You’ve got to listen to and then act on that inner spark.
Ahmed Kathardia & Denis Goldberg: The fight for justice will inevitably lead to success. No matter what the sacrifices are.
Lily Ebert: Make always the best from what you have, no matter how little it is.
Richard Curtis: If you want to make things happen, you have to make things. And even better, make it funny too.
Jude Kelly: I’ve got one life, I’ve been given life, it has been breathed into me and here I am and I should it for the best possible purpose.
Michael McIntyre: You have to surround yourself with people who bring the best from you, who will help you, who will help you grow that confidence.
Noella Coursaris Musunka: Any voice you have in this world, you have to use it. If you can only give an hour of your time, then do that.
Indra Nooyi: Don’t take holidays. When you get to my age, you will regret taking them. Read books.
Ueli Steck: I really play on the edge. And it works, you really concentrate, you really hit precisely.
Margaret Atwood: Until I know what they (characters) are wrestling with, how can I give advice?
Tony Blair: Find the thing that makes you passionate and do that…in the end, the things that give the most fulfillment are the things you do for others.
Ruthie Rogers: Give and you get back what you give. Treat everyone as individuals: understand how people are and encourage them.
Johnny Ive: Just do one thing and aim to become the best in the world at it.
Helena Kennedy: Treat everybody as equal value, irrespective of his or her status or who they are.
Lord Waheed Alli: But the most important thing of all is the maintenance of aim. If I could pass on one thing, it is that.
Olivia Colman: If you’re ever lucky enough to be successful in what you choose to do, don’t ever believe your own hype, and remember it could all stop tomorrow. Take the job seriously, but not yourself.
James Rhodes: Just survive. Just survive any way you can.
Libby Lane: One needs to find something that gives a sense of safety, of security, of home. And that comes with accepting we are all known by God and loved by God. If you allow the truth in, it enables you to find freedom from fear. So you can live not out of fear but of hope and gratitude.
Alain De Botton:We have to turn our ghost-self into a real person. We need to bring the ghost to life.
Ruby Wax: Don’t get depressed about depression. Take strength and solidarity from those numbers.
Shep Gordon: Follow your bliss. If you want to a good life, you have to find out, and then only do, what makes you happy.
Sarah Jayne Blakemore: The important thing is to cut them slack. Allow them time and space for their brain to do its thing. Don’t hurry them. Their adult brains will thank you.
Lawrence Dallaglio: Are you working as hard as you could? Have you done everything and I mean everything, you can to get ready for that match? And the answer always has to be yes.
Margaret Busby: It’s amazing what you can accomplish if you do not care who takes the credit.
James Corden: So my advice to someone younger is search for the thing you’re good at and don’t stop.
Nicola Sturgeon: And speak in your own voice, in your own words, in a way that makes sense to you and could not be from anyone else.
My Take-Away Notes: