2017 has been a year very generous in lessons for me.
As with most things, learning is a process. You first need to realize that you don’t know something. This is the starting point behind any meaningful effort to acquire knowledge. During 2017, I realized that I had allowed myself to fall into the trap of believing I knew more than than I really did. I thought I knew, but I didn’t.
From the lessons I learned, I can say that the following four stand out. Trivial, yet essential.
Lesson No.1: Capitalize on My Mistakes.
In pursuing your goals, you are going to make mistakes, you are going to experience failures, and that’s OK. I made quite a few mistakes in 2017, some that hit back dearly. Would I had been better without them? Maybe. I came to realize though that these mistakes were almost necessary for me to evolve. If I hadn’t made these mistakes, I would not have had the opportunity to take a deep look into myself and squeeze the life lessons out of my mistakes, the type of lessons you never forget, the type of lessons that stick. I have always been a believer of the notion that we should make the best of every experience we have, especially the negative ones.
It’s a fact that a failure hurts. But how are you going to work through these feelings? How are you going to engage into this important talk with your own self? How are you going to to say to yourself : “It hurts, but it’s normal. Learn from it”? Failing in something does not make you a failure. It makes you someone who acts. It means you go after your dreams, your goals. It means you are willing to take a leap into uncharted grounds. Someone who, if faced with a failure, will use it as an empowering experience, one that will help you grow and continue onto your journey stronger.
Our mindset is what makes a difference here. Sure, there are plenty of people around us that consider mistakes, negative news, failures, as stigma. How dis-empowering is this! Especially when these people are in the top levels of a corporate hierarchy! Because this notion of “I don’t like mistakes” easily translates to “I don’t support innovation, trying new things, thinking differently, seeing things from a new perspective”. If you are working in an environment with a culture of this kind, how do you respond?
Why go against the flow? Maintain the status quo. Keep things the way they are. Why risk it? But then again, what does this attitude mean for the organization? What does it mean for you? Does it change you? Is this environment a place you really fit it in?
To be clear, I am not saying we should favor mistakes. I am saying that we should be willing to go after new things, accepting that there is a possibility they may not yield positive outcomes on the first place. If mistakes or failures occur, we should use them creatively.
I will keep making mistakes, and I will be learning from each and every one of them.
Lesson No.2: You are on your own.
All of us have a network of friends, business partners, people that we appreciate and count on, to a certain extent. In times of distress, it’s normal to reach out to them. It’s also natural, deep down, to expect their support. I honestly believe that people with whom we share honest mutual appreciation have the positive intention to support (I put aside people who are close as long as they benefit from you, one way or another).
However, even for the people we feel really close, we should not disregard the fact that, simply put, these people have their own lives, their own agendas, their own anxieties. It is simply very ego-centric to expect from others to drop their own work, their own obligations, just to help you. Some will, but it doesn’t mean that the ones who won’t are not positively intended. If you can’t accept this, it makes you unappreciative of them, which beats the whole point.
In pursuing my goals, it is good to know that there are people around to help, but it is myself, my own strengths, my own capacity that I have to rely on. I am the one who has to do the hard work.
Lesson No.3: Surround yourself with positivity and creative energy
It all starts from having the mindset for success. I cannot even count the times that my internal voice has been whispering “This won’t work”, “You can’t do it”, “This is not for you” and other similar messages to an idea, a wish, an intention I had. The first obstacle to overcome before you venture into anything is yourself. These limiting beliefs, engraved deep into our mind, prevent us from realizing our potential.
There were times when I needed a positive inner-whisper the most. Times when uncertainty, fear, lack of faith were prevailing. Trying to manage these feelings, it often proved difficult to get out of this vicious mental loop by myself. If you see the mind as something tangible, say a muscle, then to keep it in good shape you need two things: You need exercising and you need the right nutrition. How do you get these?
There is so much positivity around us. Almost as much as negativity. You can find both either in paid or free versions. To keep myself in a positive mood, I make sure that I feed myself with “positivity food” as often as possible and stay away from “junk mental food”. I see it as a mental diet. I prefer, in fact I seek the company of people full of energy, full of ideas, people who are active in pursuing their own goals, venturers, people who see the opportunity behind a problem and not the problem behind the opportunity. Not because they necessarily succeed at the end, but because they carry the energy and the right mindset. At the same time, these people act as a role model, the right model to have.
Motivational material is also working for me. The easiest way to get it is a video in Youtube or a couple of motivational quotes, readily available in social media channels. Debating on their use with my sister, she came back to me saying: “These things do not work in the long run. They are not enough”. So what? What keeps me from getting my regular dosage of positivity and motivational energy day-in day-out? I get exposed to so much material every day which, if you think about it, serves no use to our inner-health. Why not devote a fraction of our time every day to feed our mind with the right food?
We all have our good times and our bad times. My way of keeping myself in good mental shape is to surround myself with positivity wherever and as frequently I can find it.
Lesson No. 4: Go out and meet people.
A number of amazing things can happen to you from meeting new people.As a professional, I realize the significance of developing, maintaining and expanding my professional network. Yet, I do not strictly see it from a business perspective. Every new person I meet can potentially be a source of inspiration, a great new best friend, the next business partner into a new professional adventure, someone who has walked the path you are currently onto and could offer valuable advice.
I am into social media, but personal contact remains for me the richest experience for connecting. This is how you can really bring out who you really are, what you stand for, and also how you can quickly identify true matches, people with whom you can share a real connection. Such a connection is the foundation needed for a brighter future, whether you see it from a personal or professional point of view.
I had the opportunity of meeting plenty of people during the year, and I feel blessed to say that I made a couple of new best friends and business partners among them.
Get out there and meet new people. This should be a moto for all of us.
Every experience can be useful, as long as we are open to spot the lesson in it.
What is the most valuable lesson you got from your experiences in 2017? Your lesson can be an inspiration for me and others.
p.s. The following article captures a number of valuable lessons shared by a diverse group of successful people. Definitely worth reading.
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