Honor Your Past, Improve Your Future

Mark Twain once said, “I have never let schooling interfere with my education.” And I agree.

Look, before anyone jumps on my back and beats me silly, thinking that I’m attacking the years and money they spent getting an education and an advanced education, I’m not. I am saying that while you spent many years and dollars going to school, many of us had to work instead.

And there is a value to both. I would even say that your education only starts after you get out of school.

In the long run, I’ll even risk saying that your life experience is far more valuable than your degree. Yet, so few people honor that life experience, let alone acknowledge it. As a result, I’ve seen executives, entrepreneurs, and business owners fail and go broke simply because they had not learned from their previous failures or successes.

We should never abandon the knowledge we’ve acquired from our past experiences. We must draw confidence and swagger from what we already know. Every experience that we’ve ever had should be filed as education. Every mistake we’ve ever made should be a lesson learned to use in the future. We’ve learned that many people tend to repeat mistakes. And repeat them many times. People will fail at something multiple times and learn nothing from experience. The only mistake we can make is when we don’t learn something from the error or failure.

I teach a four-step process to effectively deal with failure and create a life lesson to be remembered. The process is simple. Just ask yourself these four questions.

  • Step 1: WHAT happened? (honestly evaluate the situation)
  • Step 2: Why did it happen? (analyze the cause rather than lay blame)
  • Step 3: How will this never happen again? (solutions)
  • Step 4: Move forward again with the confidence of this new knowledge

Life lessons are all around us. Learning should be a lifelong ambition. A very dear friend and cherished mentor passed a few years ago. In his last days, he was asked why he had spent his entire life pursuing knowledge. He simply looked up from his bed and said, “Because I always knew there was more.”

When we learn to analyze our mistakes and learn from them, we will save thousands of hours in the future by learning from our past lessons. We must take every experience, good and bad, and put it into a warehouse of knowledge benefiting us professionally and personally. We should never forget even the most minor lessons learned. Never ignore the consequences of your actions; these, too, were lessons. Honor every part of your life to date by improving your life and the lives around you by living and teaching your life lessons.

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