This month I am celebrating 5 years in business, which has prompted me to look back and reflect on the lessons and pieces of wisdom I have gained throughout my life and career.

I have been fortunate enough to face certain challenges and overcome certain obstacles.  This journey has left me with countless life lessons that I feel privileged to have learned first hand.  These are the 10 best lessons I’ve learned so far.

1.)  Hard work will always outweigh talent.  The number-one lesson I’ve learned in my lifetime is that nothing beats hard work.  Hard work outweighs talent and intelligence and is necessary if you want to succeed.  This not only means working hard when things are going well, but working harder when things are not.  It means taking calculated risks and sticking to them, no matter how challenging they are.

2.)  Be confident enough to accept your faults.  No person is perfect, and everyone has faults, no matter how successful or unsuccessful they may be.  Don’t waste your time trying to cover up your faults.  Instead, accept them, face reality and do your best to work around these faults.  There is no greater sign of confidence than self-acceptance.

3.)  Learn from the past.  So many people focus on the future, and while having a plan in place is important, it is equally important to never forget to learn from the past.  Don’t be afraid to look back.  Your past performance actually does reflect future performance.  This is something to remember both in your personal ventures and your financial ones.  You must make mistakes to build character and to make yourself a better, more rounded individual.  Make sure to look back on these mistakes and learn from them.

4.)  Education is the best investment you can make.  Throughout your life, you will be faced with countless investment opportunities.  A truly successful individual knows that there is no better investment than an education.  Invest heavily in your education, but only on things that truly interest you.  Investing in education for the sake of getting a paper degree will not pay off in the way that investing in a passion of yours will.  Education is a lifelong process.  It doesn’t end when the class does.

5.)  Never make a decision based solely on financial gain.  Making money is a huge motivator in all of our lives, but I have learned firsthand that you should never travel down a road just because there is a promise of financial gain.  You need to have a real passion for what you are doing and the decisions you are making for these decisions to be worth it.

6.)  Give respect to others and love to your friends and family.  No matter where you go in the world, you will find that all people share one similar trait; they all want to be loved.  Respect every person you meet, no matter who they are or what type of status they hold.  As for your friends and family, love them unconditionally, and never forget about them no matter how busy you are.

7.)  Don’t discriminate against any opportunity that presents itself.  During my lifetime I have been presented with all different types of opportunities, and I have learned to never judge any opportunity too soon.  You may be presented with a business opportunity that is completely foreign to you.  Don’t discriminate against it right away just because it is outside of your wheelhouse – you never know what this new opportunity could mean in the future.

8.)  Nothing is important as your health.  Never sacrifice your health for anything, not even success.  Nothing is as important as your health and nothing ever will be.

9.)  Don’t be afraid to start small.  So many people are afraid to get started because they think they need a lot to go somewhere in this world.  Don’t be afraid to start small.  Everyone has to start somewhere, and you don’t need a lot to do it.

10.)  Take risks, but calculate that risk first.  It is okay to take risks.  In fact, it’s great to take risks.  However, these need to be calculated risks.  Taking risks without weighing your options is just foolish and reckless, but calculated risks tend to lead to the biggest rewards.

No matter what journey you take in your life or where your professional goals take you, there are certain life lessons that you can always apply to your own path.  It doesn’t matter where you came from or where you are going, I’ve learned these lessons can be universally applied to us all.