Learning: Every Experience Matters

“Never stop learning, because life never stops teaching.”

When I first came across this quote, I stopped, and re-read the particularly wise words that had shown up on my Pinterest feed… A few days later, I thought about them again. There’s a reason they stuck with me and continue to pop up in my mind during different scenarios. It’s because of these knowledgeable words, from this unknown author, that gave me an opportunity to learn from situations in life, whether good or bad. Now don’t get me wrong, I had the power to do this all along, and so does everyone else on the planet, but for me, I couldn’t ignore this specific pastel colored piece of advice that came at a time when I desperately needed motivation.

It took me a while to fully grasp the concept of looking at every situation as an opportunity to learn and change behaviors. It is not an effortless feat, especially if you are in a situation where the outcome wasn’t what you expected. However, once you train your brain to view everything as an excuse to learn, the difficult things come easier, and the good become even better.

I remember starting my first job soon after I graduated from college when I was so desperate to break into the marketing world. It was not at all what I thought it would be. This job required me to knock on homeowners’ doors (rain or shine, or probably even sleet) and tell them that they need their roofs and windows replaced. I. Was. Miserable. Not only was I bothering people who just wanted to be left alone, but I was also walking around neighborhoods all day from 10 am – 7 pm and generally coming back to the office empty-handed. I truly believed that NOTHING good was coming from this situation and that I was gaining very little to no experience that would actually be valuable to any other employer.

It wasn’t until I moved on in my career that I realized how much I actually learned from this daunting job. Not only did I experience how to work hard and persevere through tough situations, or how to relate to people (even if it wasn’t always a positive experience), but I also gained a respect (that I did not realize I was lacking) for other people in that line of work. Now, when I see a salesperson coming to my door (even if I’m in the middle of cleaning, cooking, or whatever) I can empathize with them and appreciate the hard work that is put into that job that they are probably not happy with.

Imagine how much easier that job would have been for me if I knew how much I was getting out of it. I would not have wasted time being miserable, focusing on my fatigue, or even feeling sorry for myself. I would have soaked up so many more unusual lessons from that experience in my life and who knows what I could have learned.

This job built the foundation for my work ethic. It helped me form the confidence to feel comfortable talking to people I would otherwise have been intimidated by, and if nothing else, it was part of the journey that I was supposed to take. I am not saying that I apply this practice to every single situation I am in. Honestly, it can be a very hard thing to remember when you are going through something tough, but, if you take the time to accept and appreciate the hard circumstances in your life, it can help keep your head above the waves and re-adjust your focus to illuminate the bright future that was intended for you.