What have I learned in the last 12 months?
As I reflect upon the last year and enter into 2015 I have a wide range of emotions I am dealing with. Charles Dickens put it best when he had the following lines at the beginning of his book “Tale of Two Cities”:
- It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to heaven, we were all going direct the other way - in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
I offer this as an example of the fact that while 2014 was a wonderful time for me in so many ways, it also proved to be quite a challenge in a few others. I’ll opine a few other thoughts about learning's from the past year in today’s post.
- Business is a journey and where you are today is probably related to what you did yesterday, last week, last month and last year. Nothing happens out of sheer coincidence. I firmly believe that all things happen for a reason and many things we are doing today reflect directly on what we did in the past. We are paving the way for our future with every action, thought and word. I also tell people that they are interviewing for their next job every day.
- Relationships are probably the most important thing you can cultivate in your life. Very little occurs without a linkage to another person and everything you can do to add and grow new relationships will be to your benefit at some future date. The return may not be immediate, and it may not be to your benefit, it may be for the benefit of another.
- The best relationships are those that are cared for on a regular basis and not those that are established and then forgotten. Relationships, good relationships, are like asparagus and not like rye grass. Rye grass can be planted and it will grow and die quickly. It requires minimal effort and provides only a short-term benefit. Asparagus is much different. When you plant asparagus you should realize that there will be no harvest for 2-3 years. Some of the best linkages you forge will be the same way.
- Relationships are a two-way street. Don’t establish a linkage expecting to only gain from the relationship personally. If you don’t fully expect to assist others, don’t waste their time setting up your own little pyramid. I have found in my 55 years that I gain most when I give. I try to use the same philosophy when I establish relationships. There are times I have to say no, but that no is typically a “not now” and not a forever no.
- Time is the greatest gift you can give another. Money is like sugar; you may give someone a short period of satisfaction with money, but time and friendship will go much further. We are only given a fixed amount of time and we don’t even know how much is in our account. Use the time you have wisely and fruitfully. Make others smile and they will do the same for you, probably in many ways you will have never expected.
- I am the sum of my experiences and my relationships. I didn’t become the person I am on my own and I need to give thanks to those who have helped shape me and form me over the years, even those who made things difficult for me. I have found that some of the greatest learning's in my life have come from challenges I thought I could not overcome. Likewise, failure is a great teacher. Don’t be afraid to fail. The only people who do not fail are those who don’t strive to be better or take risks.
- Daily prayer is a great benefit. I sometimes find I am so busy I don’t take time to think or reflect. Prayer is a great way for me to think, reflect and give thanks to Him who has made me who I am today. When I forget to give thanks through prayer, then I find my decisions and thoughts are less than the best.
2015 is shaping up to be the best of times and also the worst of times. I won’t go into great detail on each, but I suspect each of us can say much the same in our own lives.
Take time to pause, think, reflect and pray daily.
Each day is a journey and I encourage you go travel with others in this journey.
My best to you in this new year!
The verse below helps me when I need to reflect.
I hope it will do the same for you.
16 Rejoice always, 17 pray without ceasing, 18 give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.
1 Thessalonians 5: 16-18 (courtesy of Biblegateway.com)