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.