Sometimes, there really is no substitute for experience when you are learning and growing (and this means making mistakes)

This year I had one of those experiences, which at the time seemed horribly complex and unpleasant.

Looking back though, the lessons I learnt were enormous.

Now, I “knew” all of the lessons in a theoretical sort of way. I understood the law, had done the courses and possess a fair degree of common sense. So I felt, going into it, I was reasonably prepared.

And then it all came quite unstuck.

Which taught me two very important things:

  • There’s no substitute for experience, for actually going through something. It is not the same as theoretically understanding something. It’s not until there are actual real life implications for actions that your own actions (and those of others) become much more critical. It’s not until you understand what happens when governance is bad, that you make sure that governance is accurate and transparent.
  • To trust my gut, my experience and my intuition. If something doesn’t feel right, it probably isn’t. At the very least, ask sensible and clear questions, and keep asking them until you get sensible and clear answers. Lack of experience doesn’t under value anyone’s ability to ask questions, even if they fear that they are the “dumb” questions (and they usually aren’t).

Now, both of the above points are blindingly self evident, but again, it takes history being viewed through the lens of an external party to take stock and “really” learn the lessons (as opposed to “know” the theory).

The trick will be, going forward, to remember the hard learned (and earned) lessons and not have to relearn them again. To that end, and in the spirit of reflection at the end of another year, I’d like to leave you with the beautiful poem by Portia Nelson.

I walk down the street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I fall in.
I am lost… I am helpless.
It isn’t my fault.
It takes forever to find a way out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I pretend I don’t see it.
I fall in again.
I can’t believe I am in the same place.
But, it isn’t my fault.
It still takes me a long time to get out.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I see it is there.
I still fall in. It’s a habit.
My eyes are open.
I know where I am.
It is my fault. I get out immediately.

I walk down the same street.
There is a deep hole in the sidewalk.
I walk around it.

I walk down another street

I hope the end of the year is being kind to you, and that you are enjoying the lead up to the festivities.  This will be my last blog for 2014. I will be back again in the first week of 2015.  Thanks to all of you who have kept reading every week, and for all the kind comments and observations on my writing during the year.

Wishing you a wonderful Christmas and a safe and happy 2015.

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