Wednesday, April 18, 2012

More Life Lessons From A Fellow Traveler

A couple of days ago I posted a blog on some of the life lessons that I've learned along the way. Here are some more that I hope you'll find helpful. Feel free to share some of yours in the comments section.

Fail Forward
Everyone blows it, some of us more regularly than others. The difference is that some learn from their mistakes while others don't. Failing forward means growing through our failures; pulling something good, some lesson learned, from each setback we encounter. Someone said that when you fall you may as well pick something up while you're down there.

Thomas Edison came up with the incandescent light after a thousand failures. Some of my greatest lessons in life have been learned from failure. What we need to remember is that to fail doesn't mean we are a failure, it simply means that we've identified something else that doesn't work, and we have the opportunity to try again more intelligently. The question is not whether or not we'll fall, it's which direction we are facing when we get back up - keep moving forward.

Pursue Excellence
One of my pet peeves is to hear people say "that's good enough." As a Christian, part of my worldview is that God is not just God in Church; He's God of all of my life. For that reason, all that we do should be done with excellence. We see the results of this kind of thinking in incredible masterpieces like the Sistine Chapel.
The artists, including Michelangelo, went to painstaking detail on each fresco, whether a centerpiece, or one that was hidden in a dimly lit corner. When asked why they would take such great effort to paint something that no-one would see, one of them said "because God will see it."  The quality of their work has stood the test of time.
We are losing this value in our culture, whether it's in furniture making or in music. We tend to look for the easy way, rather than the right way. Yet, when we are looking to purchase something, whether a car or a table, we expect quality. I'm not an artisan, I'm more of a wordsmith, and I'm certainly not saying that I'm anything special. But whatever I do create, I'd like it to be of good quality and I want to give it my best effort. As my mother used to say, "If it's worth doing, it's worth doing well."
Your Attitude Will Make You Or Break You
This, obviously, is one of the most important life lessons to be learned. Each of us will face problems in our lives. Each of us will encounter hardships, be treated unfairly and have our share of bad breaks. I like the words of Viktor Frankl, who survived one of the Nazi concentration camps. He said: "Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: to choose one's attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one's way."
William James writes that "The greatest discovery of my generation is that human beings can alter their lives by altering their attitudes of mind." I have found this to be very true. So here's a question, what are you feeding your mind? The computer term GIGO (Garbage in: garbage out) applies to people as well. I learned a long time ago that reading the right books, listening to the right people; attending the right events can actually make a positive difference in my life. I try to monitor my attitude and keep myself exposed to positive influences and correct my thinking when it gets off track. "Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:2)
Let me conclude by sharing a quote from Charles Swindoll which I've kept for many years: "The longer I live, the more I realize the impact of attitude on life. Attitude to me, is more important than facts. It is more important than the past, than education, than money, than circumstances, than failures, than successes, than what other people think or say or do. It is more important than appearance, giftedness or skill. It will make or break a company... a church... a home. The remarkable thing is we have a choice every day regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude... I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% how I react to it."
So, what are the life lessons that have made a difference to you?
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