Life Lessons

"Stop and take a picture on the way to the top." That's another thing I've learned. This picture of me was taken by my friend James Kyle as we hiked Old Rag last fall.
“Stop and take a picture on the way to the top.” That’s another thing I’ve learned. This picture of me was taken by my friend James Kyle as we hiked Old Rag last fall.

I’m not old enough to be considered a wise old sage. In fact, even when I reach that age — whatever it is — I doubt I’ll be qualified. But these first six months of retirement have given me time to think about some of the big lessons I’ve learned so far in life. Here are 12 of them:

Do it right the first time. I learned this from my high school band teacher, George Corradino. He had me label the shelves for the music folders. I did a sloppy, haphazard job because I was in a hurry. He made me do it over and pointed out that I’d have finished a lot sooner if I’d just done it right the first time.

Under promise and over deliver. Everybody’s happier if I do more than I promised. Nobody’s pleased if I do less. So many people don’t seem to understand this concept. I keep a jar of Smuckers jam on my office shelf to remind me. Smuckers has a solid reputation to uphold. If the jar says 18oz. you can be sure there’s at least 18oz. in there. And it tastes pretty good, too.

Discipline can be learned. And success breeds success.

I don’t have time not to pray. Bill Hybels wrote a book by this title a few years ago. Reading it and applying the principles changed my life.

Scripture reading helps calibrate my compass. Most every morning, I read a few chapters each from the Psalms, the Old Testament, the Gospels, and the Epistles. Amazing how this exercise prepares my head for the day.

Nobody can be pigeonholed. Nobody is all bad. Nobody is all good. My life can’t be summed up with a Myers-Briggs designation of INFJ. And neither can anybody else’s. We’re all complex. And part of the joy of life is in learning all the ways each of us defies the stereotype.

There are more than two sides to every issue. Life is full of nuance. And most of us change, grow and mature over time. If I focus on “either/or” I can often miss the happy synchronicity that comes from recognizing the truth in each side of the equation. You’ve probably heard the old political saw, “If you’re not a liberal when you’re young, you have no heart. If you’re still a liberal when you’re old, you have no brain.” Truth is, the body needs both brain and heart to survive.

Everything in moderation… including moderation.

Life seems to go easier with generous use of the words “thank you” “I love you” “sir/ma’am” and “I’m sorry”.

Hard work can often make up for lack of talent. I’m a living example of that truth!

Handle stuff only once. That applies especially to email, decisions and snakes.

Read deep & wide. I read novels, biographies, history, spiritual nurture, professional development, business and finance, technical journals, and political stuff. I have acquired a taste for a wide variety of books, magazines and blogs. Cross-disciplinary reading enhances my understanding of life.

Well, that’s some of the stuff I’ve learned in my first 63 years. Can’t wait to see what’s in store for the second half of life!

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