As of sometime yesterday afternoon, my boss’ boss has subscribed to my blog. I guess it’s time clean things up around here. 🙂
Month: September 2008
This is the third in my “Rules to Live By” series. Like every other professional, in every other field, over the years I’ve picked up a lot of things that make my life easier, or better, both professionally and personally. Most of these things can be summarized in a sentence or two, and I’ve decided to call them “Rules to Live By”. As much as any other reason, they are here to remind myself of things that I’ve decided to believe in, even if I don’t feel like it one day.
Pain is the best teacher.
I really don’t think anything else needs to be said. I won’t let that stop me, though. 🙂
If, hypothetically, I was a betting man, and if, hypothetically, I had a dollar to bet, I’d bet a dollar that when you read this rule, you thought of some experience in your life where you were hurt in some way, physically, emotionally, or otherwise. If I had another dollar, I’d bet that, since that experience, you’ve done everything you can to avoid a repeat experience.
If, hypothetically, I owe you $2, let me know.
So, what’s my point? Pain is unavoidable. Unfortunately, learning from pain is avoidable. Just because pain is the best teacher does not mean that I am an observant student.
Let me explain by analogy. Sure, it’s easy for my two year old daughter to remember to keep her hand off of the stove if it’s burned her before (it hasn’t, by the way), but that probably hasn’t taught her to stay away from the hot water valve in the bath tub. Why not? It’s, of course, because she is too immature to see the correlation.
Ouch. Immature. See where I’m going here? If not, I owe you another dollar. Hypothetically.
Pain is the best teacher, but we can be too immature to learn everything from it that we should. Note that I am not talking about immature in the “adult acting like an irresponsible teenager” way here; that’s an entirely different issue. It’s more about inexperience and lack of wisdom to some degree.
Nobody wants to admit that they are immature, and many of us may not even realize that we are. But we are. All of us are immature; no one is 100% mature, just possibly less immature than others.
“But, Scott,” you ask, “how do I become less immature?” Good question. The answer is simple: you need to become more wise. To paraphrase the best-selling book of all time, the first sign of wisdom is to seek wisdom. Wisdom is free for the asking.
With wisdom comes maturity, and with maturity comes the ability to learn even more and to gain even more wisdom. It’s a vicious cycle except that it’s not so vicious. Simply by seeking wisdom, you become more wise. As your wisdom increases, it becomes easier to see how “all of the pieces” fit together.
Suddenly, lessons taught by pain have so much more value than they did before. As my daughter grows, she will learn that the burns don’t come from the stove; the burns are caused by heat and the stove is just a thing that makes heat.
The best teacher is unavoidable. Let’s become more observant students.
I really don’t think anything else needs to be said — unless you have some comments.
Just wanted to put out a quick update about the new baby. A couple weeks ago we had an ultrasound and they thought we were having a girl.
Turns out they were wrong. At out appointment on Friday there was undeniable, ummm, proof that we are in fact having a son. So, at least until they change their mind again, we have stopped shopping for pink stuff and are now shopping for blue stuff instead.
This is the second in my “Rules to Live By” series. Like every other professional, in every other field, over the years I’ve picked up a lot of things that make my life easier, or better, both professionally and personally. Most of these things can be summarized in a sentence or two, and I’ve decided to call them “Rules to Live By”. As much as any other reason, they are here to remind myself of things that I’ve decided to believe in, even if I don’t feel like it one day.
I’m no more important than you are.
Regardless of rank, position or title, my life is no more important than yours. You are just as much a person as I am. My concerns are no more important to me than your concerns are to you.
Sometimes this is a really tough pill to swallow. It’s easy to minimize someone else’s accomplishments, fears and struggles in comparison to my own, especially if those fears and struggles of yours are causing you to act in a way I don’t appreciate. Recognizing that you might be facing issues of your own has really helped me remember that people aren’t intentionally mean-spirited. I know that when I am stressed by something that it can cause me to act in a way I wouldn’t normally act, and other people are no different.
Let me take it a step further now. My concerns should be no more important to me than your concerns are to me. What does this mean? Does it mean I need to solve your problems or be concerned with everything that concerns you?
The short answer: yes.
The slightly longer answer is, well, slightly longer. Obviously no single human can take on the cares of the world, or even the cares of their small subset of the world. But I need to be willing to do whatever I can do for each individual in my life.
I’ve gotten to the point where it is almost (almost) second nature for me to recognize that you are just as important as I am in the grand scope of the entire universe. It’s gotten pretty easy for me to see how your concerns are as important to you as mine are to me, but I have to confess that I struggle every day to concern myself with your issues.
How can I put that much energy into someone else? Why should I bother? Sure, I want to be a nice guy to my family (parents, sister, in-laws, etc.) and friends, but I have my own little family (wife and kids) to take care of, and more than my fair share of struggles. Surely you don’t expect me to take on the cares of everyone I meet. Why would I do that?
Call it a spiritual principle, karma, a law of the universe, or whatever you wish, but I’ve found that my life is better when I put this into practice.
When I hold the door for the man coming up behind me; when I stop what I’m doing to help a mother with her arms full of infant, toddler, shopping bags and whatever else mothers carry; when I help my 87-year-old grandfather up from his chair or down the steps; when I listen to some spill their guts on how someone else has hurt them; when I stop what I am doing to help a coworker through a difficult problem; or when I give a McDonald’s bag to the homeless guy on the corner of Market and 2nd Street there always seems to be a reward. Maybe my problems get smaller, or some even go away altogether. Maybe someone unexpectedly does something for me. Or maybe I just feel like a made a little difference to someone for a while.
So, my own personal goal is to, whenever feasible, do what I can for other people. I certainly don’t always want to, but I know I will later regret it if I don’t, because I am no more important than you are.