A few weeks ago, I went out for a walk after issuing myself the following challenge: “If you could only pass on 10 pieces of advice for your children (and theirs) what would they be?” Two weeks later, I’ve come up with the following list, offered one piece at a time – in no particular order.
10. While it’s important to learn from your own mistakes, you can avoid many of them by seeking out and being attentive to those who already have made them and are willing to share what they learned.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t always have to learn life’s most important lessons “the hard way,” though many people insist on doing so. In fact, having been one of those “many” more times than I care to think about, I would strongly discourage you from doing so. Lessons learned the hard way are often painful (to you and others), can be highly disruptive and, on occasion, can have lifelong consequences. There is another way. Before running blindly down a path that your instincts tell you may be fraught with danger (or heartache), take advantage of the information super-highway at your fingertips (or if you are really inspired, your neighborhood library or bookstore) and seek out someone who already has traveled that road and lived to tell about it. Once you find them, listen attentively to their story with an open mind and heart. They’re offering you a valuable gift – a “reward” for your efforts. It’s a glimpse of the future a/k/a wisdom. Don’t assume their story “could never happen to you.” Assume, instead, that it likely will and, with gratitude for your guide’s selfless vulnerability, chart your course accordingly.
Don’t just take it from me – take it from a 28 year old trash collector: