What I've learned in the last 15 years:
1) Your loyalty is only as good as WHO you're loyal to. I've been in situations where my life was at risk - literally and figuratively - and they were all caused by "friends" that needed to be kept in check. The company I now keep knows how to circumvent unnecessary conflict but also when to "ride out." It's a different feeling when you know you popped off on somebody else over your own homie's belligerence.
2) You'll often get more mileage out of your negatives than your positives. I have never once been in a situation where I got screwed over by someone that "respected" me. Courtesy, decency, and trust on the other hand are fairly situational - how much of those are extended towards you by somebody might as well depend on their mood. All of your good qualities dissipate when you end up on somebody's bad side - the fear of you, however, never really does and keeps people in check. It's good to cultivate some of it in the men around you. Enemies are easy to deal with... it's "allies" that can do the most damage.
3) People assume motives, and everybody likes playing Sigmund Freud. I've seen situations where people were hell-bent on seeing negatives in stupidly minor things. Transparency will sometimes convince people that they know all about you too, which they'll use to presume flaws. I'm not judgmental myself, and I refuse to walk into somebody else's courthouse. I don't listen to idiots. I'm realer than the people I get to deal with, and that's what's hard to navigate - you tend to assume that the people around you have this quality too. Sadly, most don't.
4) Humility is overrated. If you're not an asshole, nobody should shame you for taking pride in who you are. "Virtue" is often used to control people as is. I love me, myself, and mirrors, motherfuckaaa.
5) I have never, and I mean NEVER, doubted my own ability. If I can't get something done, I see it as a matter of time. I know how to stick a goal to the wall and pursue it relentlessly. I never lose, because the battles you lose teach you the most. My nickname was literally "The Problem Solver" - it was just... a mouthful to say and an earful to hear. 😂