Tag Archives: personal growth

At least learn from it. Life Lesson #21

What are the learning opportunities here?


Jim Ferriera is a long time friend and mentor. As the dean in college, he constantly repeated the line “what are the learning opportunities here?”

Life can be “the school of Hard Knocks.” Life can also be the “School of Lucky Breaks.” Here is a reality. You are living. Obvious isn’t it? But since you are going to live, and have experiences, you might as well learn from them, so as to not repeat the mistakes of the past, and increase the chance you’ll get the repeat the good decisions, right?

2013 was the toughest of my life. I reached the highest place of my professional accomplishment to date. I also had several of the worst experiences of my life. Failure and success have walked hand in hand. I’ve had people work hard to extort money from me and I’ve had some of the most meaningful personal interactions of my life.

What are the learning opportunities? I’m sharing some with you here. Others, I’m writing down and letting sit for a while.

Certain roads I never want to travel again. Others, I want to travel over and over.

Goes back to reading the map doesn’t it?

Why experts still read the manual. Life Lesson #16

Learn to read maps.

Centrax delivers lost luggage for the airlines at Minneapolis/St Paul international airport. For a few years right out of college, I was one of their contractors, delivering the delayed bags to homes and businesses all over the Twin Cities.

In the days before GPS, we had to learn to read the map books. Kings and Hudson’s were the standards. Learning to read these maps made the difference between making good money and lousy money. To find some places, a simple glance at the number would suffice. 1525 Portland Avenue S would be somewhere between 15th and 16th street, on the odd side of the street. No need to consult the map. Other times, even the map didn’t clarify where we were going. The homeowner would have to meet us on the street.

At first, the lines and markers made no sense to me, requiring constant revision. As time went on, the grid dropped in my head.  However, if you ever got lost, you’d call George*. George was almost incomprehensible, his diction a teacher’s nightmare. But George knew everywhere in the Cities.

Funny thing about George though. He still consulted the map frequently. He knew more than all of us combined, but he checked himself according to the map all the time.

Learning how to do life is often like reading a map. We repeat mistakes, over and over. Wisdom and maturity comes in when we take a step back and say “wait a minute. I’ve been here before. How did I get here?”

Coming up on 40, I realize I’m not quite where I want to be in some areas of my life. I’m re-evaluating, looking at the map again. How did I get here, and how do I get where I want to go?

Still consulting the map.

Don’t quit that loser job: 40 Life Lessons I learned before I turned 40: #11

Don’t quit your job, even if it’s a bad one.

My great Uncle Donny grew up in remote Arkansas. He tells of going hunting with friends for squirrels. On their way out into the woods, the boys passed Grandpa, holding his shotgun just sitting in a plastic folding chair in front of an enormous oak, right along the tree line.

“Grandpa, come with us.”

“No, thanks boys. Ya’ll have fun.”

And they did have fun, hunting all afternoon, walking miles upon miles.

Sundown saw them coming back up the back forty to meet up with grandpa, their day’s haul proudly displayed. Grandpa smiled knowingly, and showed them his squirrels, shot from the folding chair. You know the end of the story now, even though its true, right?  Grandpa had just as many squirrels as the boys who had taken the long loop around the valley.

You’ll never get the perfect job because face it, you’re not the perfect person. Finding that perfect position means that you’ll only screw it up. Sorry.

For 20 years, my pattern was that of many young adults. Eighteen to twenty four months and I’d need a change. Change apartments, change jobs, change, change. I could never seem to quite “get there.” My ideas were working, I felt I was makjng a difference, but the breakthrough, both personally and professionally, just wasn’t coming.

As I look back, that fascination with change is endemic of my generation and the one that comes after. Except we aren’t climbing the ladder. We’re broadening our experiences. (Read Code for “not going anywhere.”)

Here’s the truth. At some point, your experience is broad enough. I don’t currently employ someone, but if I did I’d rather hire someone who worked their way up from the mail room to the marketing department than someone who got their degree in marketing and has had 5 jobs in 6 years.

Stick with that bad job for four or five years. You’ll be amazed what you learn and how you will grow. When you make the shift, you won’t be shifting from menial to menial but from mid-level to mid-upper-level.

Retro-gunge-hippie is only cool for a decade or so. Trust me. Or don’t. We’ll hang out in your parents basement and watch TV on your huge TV, play some video games and then I’ll go home to my wife, kids and life.