Coming to the end of my high school years, I find myself looking back at both what I learned and how I learned. Interestingly, I think I’ve learned as much from my missteps as I have in the classroom.
The best advice I ever received is after making a mistake, the bigger mistake is not learning from it. I’ve made more mistakes than I can count and I’ve had my share of times when I’ve compounded my mistakes by not learning from them, but it’s a good idea to take time to reflect on how one can do things differently going forward especially at a major juncture between two periods of one’s life; that time is now.
My mistakes mostly have to do with a lack of gratitude, humility, and grit. They are essential. They go a long way helping people become happy and successful.
Gratitude is first. Too often I do not really appreciate the good things I have in life. Instead, I sometimes focus too much on what I don’t or can’t have. The biggest part of having a more grateful outlook on your own condition is to compare yourself to who you were yesterday rather than to who someone else is today. Everyone has a different situation that they exist in, and some advantages have been distributed a random manner. But everyone also has innumerable choices about what to do with what they are given. If you take the opportunity to make those choices in a way that benefits your development and happiness, you will progress in a way that even you, your own harshest critic, can be proud of.
Some mistakes result from a lack of humility. If you assume that there is every person knows more about some subject than you do, you are far more likely to learn from them. Each of us is a limited being, making our way through the world with a finite body of knowledge and experience. And so, we must rely upon each other. When we realize that, we tend to be both happier and more productive. Coach Walker taught us to compare ourselves today with who we were yesterday, not those around us. So, surround yourself with people who treat you decently, and make sure you’re decent to the next guy.
The last of these three traits that I’m going to work to cultivate more in college is grit. I could fill this column with clichés about the going getting tough and the tough getting going, but the truth is this: physical things have prices in dollars, but goals have prices in sweat and blood. I know I need to do a better job of doing what is difficult but necessary to get where I want to go. This is hard to do. Truly living means you will occasionally suffer. But anything that is worth doing is going to be hard. You can learn to be tough and you can learn to be resilient. It’s self-taught and it begins with a conscious decision. It’s a good idea to do something every day that you think is arduous or insanely difficult for the sake of learning how to deal with things that are unpleasant.
Thank you for a great four years. It’s my goal to keep developing gratitude, humility, grit, and my character overall in the next four and beyond.