Tag Archives: wisdom

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?

Have someone edit you. Life Lesson #20

Everyone needs an editor.

I may have mentioned before that I like to tell stories. I make them up easily. In 8th grade, I figured out how to help a good friend, “D” edit his report card story for his irrate Dad.

D hadn’t been studying or doing his homework. D was also the best player on our basketball team and we needed him. I didn’t know it then, but I was his editor, mentoring him on how to spin the story for his dad.  Worked too. D got to play, and we were runner’s up that year in the league.

Most of us come with a certain set of skills at which we excel. If you haven’t figured out what those are yet, stop, pull up google and get started. Trust me, you are good on some stuff. Very good at other stuff.

But ever wonder why top athletes have coaches? Why would Michael Phelps, the fastest swimmer in the whole world, need a coach? Or why would Stephen King and Malcolm Gladwell need editors?

The Democratic party just held a press summit. Their message was lost because of the typo on their talking cards. Opps.

My wife did the weekly info sheet at a church were I was the associate. One week she listed me as the Ass. Associate. Funny. But embarrassing.

We all tell our life stories from our own perspective. We see the world through our lenses. An editor can help us bring some balance, some clarity, and sometimes help us tell our story in a way that others at least understand.

The tough part is that editors usually aren’t popular. They challenge us. They force us to rewrite, rethink, reconsider and generally don’t fall for the lies we sometimes tell ourselves.  My kenyan friends called the place I lived “Little America.” I see myself as firmly middle class. Most of my African friends saw me as Bill Gates Wealthy. A few of my American friends put me a step above the trailer park.  I’m constantly trying to tell me story, as a person who cares for others, regardless of the socio-economic labels we put on each others. To do so effectively, I need editors.

Who is your editor?

Your emotions are a lie (sometimes). 40 Life Lessons I learned before I turned 40: #18

Emotions are real, but not necessarily true.

Doug Lowenberg has both a  DMin and is currently finished a PhD and teaching at a school in East Africa. He also taught many of the classes Tahnya and I took in our degree program in college. But his greatest statement to Tahnya and I was made in one brief pre-marital counseling session. The statement you see above.

What do you mean, Charles? Don’t trust you emotions?

Much has been written in the market about “Trusting your gut.” Malcolm Gladwell’s BLINK is truly insightful about trusting ourselves when we sense things about people or situations.

That’s not what I’m talking about. I’ve ruined very few relationships when I was calm. But angry, I’ve done serious damage. When I’m hurt or depressed I make bad decisions. Google the research on what happens to your thinking when your heart rate goes over 140. You can’t even think coherently. Few people get crystal clear when they are hyped up. Sure, my sarcastic ability goes into the zone when I’m angry. But how often has that improved my relationships and decisions?

Parenting brings out emotions like no other human endeavor. Teenagers will scream at their mother “I hate you!” then go on Oprah and tell of the most amazing mother. Which is true?

Emotions are real. Just not necessarily true.

The flipside is that relationships come with an ebb and flow. Denying emotions is just as dangerous. Suppressed anger becomes depression. Feelings of rejection lead to private humiliation. Telling someone not to feel is like telling Spring to not come.

The last three years, I have felt some of the most intense emotions of my life. Our son was diagnosed with a terrible genetic condition. I’ve felt despair, pain, depression, hopelessness like never before in my life. I’ve felt alone, like I “can’t do it anymore.”

Listen to your emotions. But question them. Run them by friends. Count to 10. Then wait 24 hours. Sometimes we shouldn’t rush to judgment.  Especially when the andrenal cortex is pumping.

There is real, and then there is true.