A gem cannot be polished without friction, nor a man perfected without trials.
-Lucius Annaeus Seneca
2017 was rough for me. Really rough…
I started graduate school classes while working full time.
I unexpectedly lost a grandmother.
I experienced the worst depression I’ve ever had.
My daughter was born prematurely and spent 2 weeks in the NICU.
And yet as I look back at everything that happened I’m amazed that I’m not scarred for life by all of this happening seemingly all at once. Each of these significant life experiences was only 3–4 months from the previous one.
How did that not crush me?
How did I survive having a daughter in the NICU after depression, loss of a loved one, and beginning graduate school?
More importantly, how has that turned into what is now becoming one of the very best years of my life?
It all started with a suggestion from my wife to read a book on learned optimism. I picked up the book Learned Optimism by Martin Seligman in between the crushing depression and when my daughter was born early and it couldn’t have come at a more appropriate time.
I learned how to not blame myself for my mistakes and difficulties, how to see that there would be an end to the hard times, and that just because I was suffering in one area of life that didn’t mean that all aspects of life would be crummy.
But more than that I learned to develop my passion for learning and reading books.
The learning attitude has made all the difference
Change is the end result of all true learning
I was depressed, so I read a book or three about depression.
When my daughter was unexpectedly born early I found myself already reading an applicable book for the situation, which helped us get her healthy and home significantly faster.
Over the holidays I recognized some weight gain, so I picked up Brain Powered Weight Loss and began learning more about how our brains are more to blame for the state of our bodies than we believe.
I continued to accumulate and absorb books on Family, religion, focus, grit, habits, business, and so much more.
What I’ve learned has changed me.
And I wasn’t just learning, I was working diligently to apply what I was learning in every facet of my busy life.
Learning means nothing without application
To learn and not to do is really not to learn
-Stephen R. Covey
And the application of learning is why I’m here, on Medium, today.
You have to learn by doing with business, health, Family, and everything else.
So I began to DO more.
Since doing more I’ve learned leaps and bounds faster than I did while just reading alone.
I still read and will always continue to learn that way. But I’ve committed to heart, through experience, the valuable lesson that having the vulnerability to just start something that you’re totally unsure about will significantly accelerate your learning and progression.
You’re never really done learning, especially by difficult experiences
Education is not the filling of a pot but the lighting of a fire.
If you think life is done teaching you lessons from the difficulties you’ve experienced, you’ve got another thing coming.
But another good thing for sure.
The “bad” accentuates the great and wonderful things that we have in life.
Difficulty teaches us to be grateful, among so many other things.
And that gratitude, in turn, brings great light into our souls.
Learn to love learning. Through books, by experiences that you choose, and especially by the experiences that you don’t choose.
Your difficulties, whatever they are and however deep, will deepen you.
But only if you let them by learning from them.