Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow
Courtesy of Purewow
By Ryan Harwood
July 4, 2015

The Leadership Insider network is an online community where the most thoughtful and influential people in business contribute answers to timely questions about careers and leadership. Today’s answer to the question: What advice would you give your 22-year-old self today? is written by Ryan Harwood, CEO of PureWow.

When asked for the best piece of advice I would give someone starting out in his or her career, it’s often the same advice I would give someone at almost any stage of his or her professional life. There are a few basic principles I try to live by that allow me not to overcomplicate things:

You can’t control everything
Focus really hard on the things that you can control and let the rest go. This is important. Life is 10% of what happens to you and 90% of how you react to it. I used to always think of the “what ifs” when I was younger and never wanted to make a wrong turn. Those are unnecessary concerns that burn time and energy.

There are never any shortcuts
Don’t hope. Hope is not a strategy. Don’t expect things to work out. No matter what your circumstances are, go out and get it. I truly believe if it isn’t hard, it isn’t worth it. You can always control how hard you work, and if you’re not working harder than your competition, you will lose. Never give up. Giving up is always easier than not. When things seem bleak, keep going. Your defining moment may arrive just when you feel surrounded by adversity.

Always be the bigger person
Rise to the occasion and be nice to everyone. Never burn bridges. What goes around comes around and it will always bite you in the ass.

If you did something wrong, own up to it
Take responsibility for your own actions and don’t be defensive. Admit your mistakes and own them. It’s the only way to improve and it shows self-confidence. People will appreciate that more than covering it up or making excuses.

Actions always speak louder than words
Don’t brag about your abilities or accomplishments. If they are good enough, other people will do the talking for you. Same with love: If you love someone, show them rather than tell them. Don’t point out a problem unless you have a better solution.

Your reputation is everything
Make your parents proud. Jeff Bezos said a quote that resonated with me big time: “Your brand is what people say about you when you’re not in the room.” Two things will ultimately define you: your patience when you have nothing and your attitude when you have everything.

Read all answers to the Leadership Insider question: What advice would you give your 22-year-old self today?

A nobody can still make a memorable first impression by Shahrzad Rafati, founder and CEO of Broadband TV.

Even this CEO knows it’s okay to fail by Kyle Wong, CEO of Pixlee.

How starting at the bottom gets you to the top — quicker by Frederic Kerrest, co-founder and COO of Okta.

What entrepreneurs get wrong about success by Lynn LeBlanc, CEO and founder of HotLink.

Why you should never get promoted too quickly by David Kong, CEO of Best Western.

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