“I never lose. I either win or learn.” – Nelson Mandela
I have a notable scar on my left knee because of my experience learning how to not to use an Exacto knife. Cutting something resting on your knee is just not a good idea! My scar is evidence to that catalyst of growth to better skills with, and respect for, sharp knives.
Even though we’re conditioned to only want good things to happen, a big part of feeling fully alive is experiencing things both amazing and painful. We don’t want to be stuck in a traffic jam, fight with someone we care about, lose money on an investment, or break an amazing heirloom that’s been handed down, from generation to generation.
Winning and accomplishment, in many ways, just reinforces what we already know how to do. But pain, challenge and struggle offer the greatest path to growth by forcing us to learn, and to find better ways of doing things.
I know I don’t really learn anything serious unless I’m in a situation of great difficulty. I go relentlessly hard, and it usually takes a brick wall to stop me so that I can contemplate that there may be a different way to approach something.
The principle is to fail fast, make lots of mistakes, quickly iterate and do something better.
Over the holidays, I took some time to reflect on the biggest, most painful experiences over the past year and 10 years, and how they were tremendous catalysts for my growth. And I’m grateful for dozens of them in all areas of my Work, Self and Life, and in important personal and business relationships. All of them have made a notable difference in my life and set me on a better trajectory.