My Grandfather always used to say, “It’s a sad day when you don’t learn something new.” As one who loves to learn, I remind myself of this on a daily basis. I try and learn something new every day.
When we celebrate New Year’s many people are reflective, and I am no exception. Although I am not one who regrets, or wishes I’d done something different (after all, we learn best by our mistakes) reflecting on the New Year allows me to take stock of the things I’ve learned and incorporate them in to my life moving forward. Life lessons equate to wisdom, at least that’s my thinking.
I was recently having dinner with a friend who is about 10 years younger than I. We were talking about the aging process and I shared with her, “My 30’s was still about trying to impress people while making everyone happy yet not having a sense of who I was. When you enter your 40’s there’s this surge of confidence where you begin to realize there’s nothing you can’t do, however, wisdom hasn’t settled in yet, so some decisions are questionable. But when you hit 50, it seems like everything finally comes together. 50 brings confidence without arrogance, security without naivete, compassion without pity, insight without assumptions, experiences without expectations and relationships without conditions.
Last year was a year of new beginnings almost every day. I entered a new position without a clear understanding of what I was getting in to. Each day I learned what needed to be done and I set out to get it done. Each day, I realized that I had a choice to play the blame game, or to figure out what I was going to do to turn the ship around. Each day, I got to know the people around me and learn who was ready to go on this ride with me, or those who opted out. Some days were amazingly rewarding, while others were very, very difficult. Fortunately, I have an incredibly supportive Board and staff who believe in my ability to take the potential of the organization and run with it, without looking back.
So, there’s the conundrum, looking back. After all, isn’t that what the New Year is all about? Looking back and reflecting? Well, if you’re looking back to see how far you’ve come as well as lessons learned it’s healthy. If you’re looking back with the attitude of, “shoulda, woulda, coulda”, that will not assist you at all in moving forward. You’ve got to assess and progress. I look back simply to marvel at what life tosses our way and how, more often than not, we can surprise ourselves with what we’re able to handle. And with the things that aren’t handled well, it’s a learning moment, never a regret. Regrets do nothing more than set a roadblock for self-forgiveness.
With all that said, what did I learn this year? Here’s just a few of the many things I learned.
1. Never assume. Life is full of surprises so hone your flexibility skills and move along.
2. Communication is King. Unfortunately, not everyone communicates the same way so the best way to communicate starts with listening.
3. It’s never too late to change something that isn’t working.
4. Trust your gut, most often it’s right. Especially as you get older. (One of many perks of getting older).
5. It’s not how hard you’re working, it’s how much you accomplish.
6. If you trust someone enough to hire them, trust them enough to get the job done. (That’s under delegation 101)
7. Leadership can be lonely, surround yourself with great people. “Being a leader means finding the right solution, not the easy one.”- Kate Stull
8. Always remind your staff that their ideas and insight matters, they forget.
9. Steve Jobs said, “The only way to do great work is to love what you do.”
10. Working hard doesn’t always mean working smart. Assess your work and ask yourself, “Does this matter? Is it getting me closer to my vision while aligning with my mission?”
I could go on and on with all of the things I learned, or was reminded of that really matter in life. I suppose, aside from the top 10 things I listed, I have to address the many wonderful people I have met. People are amazing and there’s no better learning opportunity than meeting new people and listening to their story. So I suppose, if you’re not learning, perhaps you’re not listening- bonus tip. 😉
Here’s to an amazing 2015.