4 Inspiring Life Lessons from James Altucher




This essay forms part of a series I’ve titled: Inspiring Life Lessons.

In it, I document Inspiring Life Lessons I’ve picked up from Inspiring Folk who have Inspired Me.

Today’s essay focuses on the ever-inspiring, James Altucher

To learn about the rest, and who else features, open this page ⇒ 

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I recall closing the book and looking out over the canal. A deep breathe. A relaxing, relieving one.

A warm, sunny day. Spring, so everything around me was fresh: the air, nature, each scent.

I’d finished working for the day. I was still new to the “working for myself” world.

Still finding my feet.

Still wandering.

Still exploring, very much so.

I was about to meet my parents for dinner, at some restaurant in Hebden Bridge. I arrived early, just walked around and cleared my head. Sat by the canal and finished the book I was reading.

‘Choose Yourself’ by James Altucher.

This was my first real interaction with James’ work. I’d read a few blog posts. Listened to an interview or two. He seemed cool. I liked his style. I felt like he had value to offer.

Still, at this stage, I was reading a lot and consuming as much as I could from as many people as I could.

Just another expert.

Just another author…

When I started the book, I figured I would forget him sometime soon.

Yet the moment I closed it by the canal, I realized I never would.

Inspiring Life Lessons From James Altucher

I’ve never spoken to James in person. The odd email, here and there.

But we’re not friends. Nothing like that. Yet the impact he’s had on me… substantial.

Not just through his book, podcasts and written word.

But how he goes about being himself.

I find that’s important. The ones who inspire you the most… it’s not just what they do or how they teach that matters, but rather who they are and why they are; the things they don’t say; the aspects that lie between the lines.

Here are 4 Inspiring Life Lessons James Altucher has unknowingly passed onto me.

1: Choose Yourself

His book, ‘Choose Yourself’ had an impact on me. It’s a great book. One I’ve recommended to many people, especially when I speak to younger folk: those with their lives ahead of them.

The message is simple enough: Choose Yourself.

Not the path you think you need to take.

Not the one your parents want.

Or that society chooses.

Or the media or whoever else.

Choose the one you wish to choose.

It isn’t that a “job” is bad, but it isn’t for everyone.

The same applies to university and college.

Choose YOU — whatever that looks like.

And even when you do Choose Yourself (as I did some years ago), you need to continue to do so. 

  • As you work with clients
  • As you build a team
  • As you fall in love and start a family

You have to keep choosing yourself.

What other option is there?

2: Be Yourself

I don’t know James. I know people who do, and I hear great things. But I don’t know him.

Yet I feel like I do because he seems to be true to who he is at all times.

  • It comes across in his writing.
  • When he does an interview
  • On his own podcast.
  • Across social media.

We can only ever be one person: Who We Are.

Yet how often do you wear a mask?

How often do you try to be someone you’re not?

I do. Less so these days, but I still do it.

It’s hard to be myself Sometimes I don’t like the person staring back.

Maybe you can relate…

If so, you can change.

But whatever happens, you remain you; flaws and all.

I found Kamal Ravikant through James. 

Mr ‘Love Yourself” himself.

He is very much true to who he is.

James seems to be, too.

It’s raw and honest and vulnerable, and it will both pull and push people away.

Nobody is loved by everybody. But who loves anyone who tries to do exactly that?

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3: Be an Idea Generating Machine

James talks about a practice he does where he comes up with 10 ideas each day. Good, bad… it doesn’t matter. He comes up with them and follows the process to see what happens.

I do not do this.

I do not list 10 ideas each day.

Yet I don’t think that’s the point.

You see, I’ve always been a bit of a dreamer. Coming up with ideas isn’t something I struggle with. What I do struggle with is allowing those ideas to “be” — without judging them or thinking, “that will never work.”

I’ve learned to sit on my ideas. Accept them. Embrace them. 

Some come to life, many others do not. That’s okay. 

There’s no right or wrong, and it’s an important lesson I’ve learned. For too long I was quick to judge those ideas in my head. It’s led me to judge myself and others. No good comes from that. All ideas, however crazy or wayward they may be, are worth having.

Being an idea-generating machine is no bad thing.

4: Read Eclectically

Around the time I read ‘Choose Yourself’, I very much felt like I had to read certain books.

It’s ironic, but I read ‘Choose Yourself’ because I saw other people read it. It felt like a book I should read. So I read it.

I don‘t do that so much anymore.

You know, the current bestseller that everyone raves about.

Or the one from that one guy who everyone says is fine and dandy.

If there’s one thing James has, it’s eclectic taste.

Sure, he reads business books… but he also reads fiction and philosophy and whatever else.

I see this in more and more people, the more I take notice of them.

Those who seem to be happy and content consume without prejudice.

Like a balanced diet, they don’t read or watch any one genre.

They find ways to find inspiration from all walks of life.

It may sound stupid, but knowing that has given me a sort of permission to read whatever the hell I like. 

It’s a much better way to live.

And honestly… a more effective way to learn.

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4 Inspiring Life Lessons From James Altucher

Maybe one day I’ll sit down with James. Maybe not. It doesn’t matter.

Inspiration can come from all directions, and at any time.

What matters is taking notice of when you are inspired.

Pull that thread, pick up those breadcrumbs… hop down that rabbit hole.

Alice did, and she seemed to have a fun time.

  1. Choose Yourself
  2. Be Yourself
  3. Embrace Ideas
  4. Consume Eclectically

Inspiring life lessons indeed. It’s funny, but when you pick up a book you never know what it will lead to. A few years ago, I picked up James’, assuming it would be just another package of paper with ink flung across it. Yet here we are, some years later as I write an article about the lessons I’ve learned from him.

Funny, life is.

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