Lessons from Dr. Seuss

“Oh The Places You’ll Go!” What Dr. Seuss Taught Us About Life

When people ask me what my favourite book is, I always respond with “Oh, The Places You’ll Go” by Dr. Seuss. This isn’t just because I am really just a big kid who refuses to stop colouring outside and dreaming big. This book, in the most simplest and dearest of ways, (without sugar coating) sums up the reality of what life presents, and what it can bring you if you approach it in the right way. It is just as, (if not more) relevant for us in our adult life, to those who are just getting started.

This book, is pretty much my bible (apologies to the thumpers out there, but this book is more colourful and has cute little characters). I have read it every time I have moved cities (6 times), changed jobs (1000 times), had a break up (who’s counting!?) or just a bad day to remind myself what this thing we call life, is really all about.

Here are (just some) of the important lessons this book teaches and how to apply it to your life today…

life lessons from Dr.SeussYou are capable. For the most part, you have a world of options to choose from and the best part? It’s ultimately up to you! To end up having a fulfilling life for you, start with you. Reminding yourself that you have the control, and you have the potential to choose how you live and perceive the life around you, will give you a powerful push!

How to apply this: Write down all the things you love to do, all the things you have accomplished (since you were 2!). Ask your friends to write a list of what they admire about you. Read it. Repeat it to yourself. You feeling confident yet? If not, keep doing it until you do! 


Dr Seuss - Oh the Places You'll Go It’s easier to view opportunity when you expose yourself to it. It’s a very big world out there! Common sense, right? It’s easy to think about the fact that there are different countries with different cultures, that eat different food that comes in different colours.  Ok, we all know the world is full of differences. But understanding how it’s different. Experiencing the differences, trying the differences, gives you a whole different perception on how you live your life. This, in some kind of weird universal, law of attraction, maybe Jesus, maybe Allah, whatever- will open you up to opportunities you never even knew existed.

How to apply this: Not everyone has the means to hop on a plane and travel to Papa New Guinea and join some birds of paradise tribe and learn how to view the world through natures eyes. All you have to do is learn, and discover something new. Most cities these days are diverse. Go to a cultural festival. Try food that has a smell you didn’t know existed, and eat it with your hands (unless this is seen as a culture disgrace, of course!) talk to people, ask questions – the older the people are, the better! Read a memoir about someone you never heard of. The point here is to explore and discover. 


Dr. Seuss Oh the places You'll Go!Trust and confidence gets (and keeps) you going. These are the ultimate hammer and nail tools in your box that will get you through.

How to apply this: Walk the walk. Assume the position. Think about the person you want to be, or better yet- if they were going to make a movie out of your life, how would you want them to portray you? Be that person. Introduce yourself as that person. Dress like that person. Get it by now?


Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You'll Go!

You will experience and witness beautiful things in life. Don’t let it pass you by. Whether it happens to you, or you bare witness to it, there are beautiful things around you that are happening, right now!

How to apply this: Be inspired! When your neighbour’s flowers are blooming tall and beautiful, don’t sit there in jealously, ask him how he did it. The result? You will learn something new! Did you finally sign up for that personal trainer? Embrace this moment, right now! It’s this present moment that you will look back to and think, “That’s when it all began!” It’s easy to focus on the desired result, and feel a rush to get there. Embrace and be inspired by all that is happening around you. To get you on the right track of thinking, ask yourself, “What can I and others learn from this?” 

Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You'll GoIt’s not all rainbows and butterflies. Okay, I know up until now some of you are thinking by now “Ya, okay- all this is easier said than done!” Reality is, there are circumstances and factors that get in the way of where we want to go, and what we want to achieve. That is, and always will be the case. It isn’t personal. Disagree? Well, that’s just the way you are choosing to look at it. Bottom line: Shit happens. To all of us! It’s all relevant, and we all go through it.

How to apply this: Accept this as the reality. Expect it as part of your journey. When shit hits the fan, know that it was bound to happen! And that’s okay! It’s easy to compare your problems with those of others (that’s when it gets personal). Stop. It happens to everyone, in different ways and only you can control how you perceive it. So be aware and expect it to happen so when it does you can say to yourself “This is all a part of it.” Need more? Learn about Steve Job’s story. (And keep reading here!)

Dr. Suess Oh The Places You'll Go

These stumbles in your life will make you feel stuck. You will reach a point (multiple points!) where you figure it’s easy to hang up the hat! That trust and confidence were a part of some pipe dream, and this low point is now the indication of how you will feel the rest of your life. My goodness, that was the most depressing sentence I have ever written! But it’s true! You will FEEL like that. As mentioned above, the feeling of failure, just as this feeling of giving up is a part of the reality. Dr.Seuss isn’t sugar coating it here for you!

How to apply this: Un-slumping yourself is not easily done. It can however, be done. What happens during this time is you loose that trust and confidence. Build it back up, remind yourself it’s there. Remind yourself how far you have come. Think about that movie of your life. Do you really think blockbuster hits are based on people who just throw in the towel and say “Shit got real- I’m out!” It’s not the easy road, but it’s the rewarding road. (For more on this read my previous post, HOW SOMETHING SUPER HORRIBLE THAT HAPPENED TO YOU CAN BE SUPER AWESOME).

Dr. Seuss Oh The Places You'll GoWith success, comes risks. Whether it’s what job to take, what school to apply to, there will be choices and decisions that have to be made. Some will seem like a no-brainer. Others, will seem risky. This will cause some anxiety. Uncertainty usually does that.

How to apply this: Understand that if you don’t know for certain where it’s going to lead you then you shouldn’t assume that it’s going to lead you on a pathway of failure. The truth is, even if you feel like you made the “wrong” choice there is still opportunity to make the best of it, and shape it. In fact, try and look at uncertainty as an opportunity to make it your own. While getting opinions from others may offer you some insight, just remember from the first point that it is your life, something only you can control. Don’t get locked into the perceptions of others, develop one of your own, make the call and make the best of it. 

Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You'll GoWaiting is being on a rocking chair. (Inspired by Van Wilder’s view of worrying). Basically, waiting is that boring useless activity that doesn’t get you anywhere. Opportunities won’t fall on your lap. If you don’t make a decision for yourself, chances are someone is going to make it for you, probably only to fulfil their own motives. You won’t feel like you accomplished something unless you actually accomplish it.

How to apply this: Get off your ass. Do something. Learn something. Teach something. Discover something. Just get off your ass.

 Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You'll GoDesire to experience delivers opportunity. I am not just talking about 3 years working at a reception desk will lead you to an Administrative Supervisor position. When you go out and DO, you experience. Through experience, you gain a perception, an appreciation, maybe even a new skill, or better yet- a new found desire to try something new. You are exposed to opportunity.

How to apply this: Think about what it is you are waiting for.  How is it that you want to feel? What will make you feel that way? Work back from that goal on how you can make it happen. Who you need support from, what skills you need to develop to get there. Build a skeleton for your journey. It will give you something to explore vs something to wait for.

Dr. Seuss Oh The Places You'll GoYou are always inspiring someone when you are happy with the life you are living. I overheard someone at a restaurant once say “I wish I could be content driving a $10,000 car, but I can’t!” Even when you think you have nothing, if you have confidence, and passion you are capable of inspiring others. You are as good as famous. Think about how much pressure Kim Kardashian would be released from if she just accepted her laugh lines and lip size! That’s right- I can inspire Kim Kardashian! Celebrate all the rewards, big and small and you will feel like the winning-est winner of all.

How to apply this: When people are talking (boasting) about their latest bonus, or corporate deal they landed, be just as happy and proud about that tree you just planted (you have given life back to the earth!) or that pottery class you signed up for! Chances are, if people aren’t saying it, they are thinking “Oh, I would love to do that!” Boom. Inspiration. It comes in all forms, and can lead to great things.

Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You'll GoIt’s not all about you.  You shouldn’t have to feel like this is all just on you. Everything you do effects those around you. So include those that add value to your life. Collaborate with like-minded (or not like-minded) people on a new project. Build a support network, share your successes, ask for feedback and ideas. Involve others, it makes it a less lonely game!

How to apply this:  Surround yourself with those who are inspired by what you do. They may not be close friends and family- could be complete strangers!  Get involved in meet up groups, look online for community events and projects. Get involved. You never know when you can use a support team to help with a project, initiative or even when you just need a confidence boost. 

Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You'll GoWhen something unfortunate happens, you will get over it. As you experience more in life, you start to understand how to pick and choose your battles. How to apply your efforts and energy. You will see people for who they are, and not always give in so easily. You will start realising that challenges are a part of the journey and they make it all worthwhile.

How to apply this: Be there for others. Take this knowledge and experience and support others who may not be as strong as you. Make others aware of their actions are affecting others. I often get criticised for not selling enough, not being more aggressive in the business aspect of what I do. I let them know what it is that is actually making me feel fulfilled, what I am currently focusing on, the stage where I am at. Basically, in a nice way “Fuck off, it’s my life and I am happy!” Reflect back on how you overcame previous obstacles, what did you do? Who did you surround yourself with? Apply previous lessons learned. 

Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You'll GoDistractions are the cracks in the sidewalk. We go through phases where we LOVE distractions! We love to escape reality, our responsibilities, and the tough choices we have to make. Well, if anyone looks at Charlie Sheen, and can honestly say that’s the life for them- then good on ya! Otherwise, it’s not sustainable. There is a difference between release and distraction. We don’t have to let go of our goals, and focus in being happy and fulfilled to give ourself a break.

How to apply this: Know the difference. My full time job was a major distraction to what I really wanted to do. But I was scared. I had grown custom to a lifestyle that I wasn’t prepared to sacrifice. But what I was really sacrificing (realised later in life) was my own happiness. I was applying all my skills and knowledge in helping other people be successful and not feeling much in return in my own life. Think about what truly makes you happy. What you want to accomplish. How is the current balance of your life supporting that? You may need to make drastic changes or just shift focus but make sure your happiness comes first. 

Dr. Seuss Oh the Places You'll GoSuccess is yours. It’s yours to define, it’s yours to own and determine. Dress it up however you want! It’s your little barbie doll, or if you are one of those weirdos who dresses up your dog… well you get the picture! Chances are, if you apply passion and dedication while keeping trust and confidence as your tools, you will succeed.

How to apply this: Think about how you measure success. What is it that you admire most in others? It’s not about the money, or cars but it’s how fulfilled you are. And you get that feeling when you don’t need distraction, when you can brush off those who try to bring you down, when you can make confident decisions and make the best of it.

Are you there yet? 


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