Ralph Waldo Emerson once explained "... every man I meet is my superior in some way, and in that I learn of him.” By taking this humble approach in our interactions with others, we can learn valuable life lessons. Learning from others can prevent us from making some of the same mistakes in life. An approach that may be helpful for you is to ask others at every opportunity, “What is one thing that you have learned in your life that you wish you understood in your younger days?” This question has the ability to draw out profound life lessons that will improve your life.
1. I wish I spent more time with my family
As I spoke with a wealthy retired businessman, he described his relationship with his children. He spent so much time away from his family, providing the comforts of life, and chose to sacrifice time with his children. He explained that if he could go back and do it over, he would have traded some of the luxuries of life for a better relationship with his family. He explained, “Children only grow up once. You can’t go back and do it again.”
As a man, husband and father, I have found that discovering the balance between providing the necessities of life and spending a sufficient amount of time with family is a challenge. Whatever we do, we would be wise to remember Zig Ziglar's counsel, "You can't truly be considered successful in your business life if your home life is in shambles."
2. I wish I was more honest
This lesson came from a 96-year-old woman in a small town in Western Australia. She was a kind and tenderhearted person. Her soft smile spoke of a healthy prosperous life. After pondering a lesson to pass on, she explained “I wish I was more honest in my life.” A lesson of honesty, coming from a woman who had nothing to lose, makes you appreciate the value of the lesson. She discovered that honesty is always the best policy. We should never fear the consequences of being honest. Honesty will bring you confidence. The more integrity you have the better you will feel about yourself. Perhaps her long and successful life can be attributed, in part to her honest character. Be honest.
3. I wish I pushed myself a little harder
From his rough skin and hardened lines on his face, it was obvious that he was a very hard working industrious man. After asking him about something he has learned in his life that he wished he understood in his younger days he explained, “I could have done a lot more. I wish I would have pushed myself harder.”
Looking back on an experience, it is easy to criticize ourselves and feel as though we could have done better. If we don’t push ourselves a little harder, time may pass by without our notice, and we can reach a ripe old age, look back on our life and wonder what just happened. To accomplish something great in life, we must push ourselves and be mindful of how we spend our time.
As you ponder your life, consider the lessons of wisdom passed down by these great people. Make an effort now to spend more time with your loved ones, to be a little more honest and to push yourself a little further. Start sharing your wisdom now by answering this question in the comments below, “What is one thing that you have learned in your life that you wish you understood in your younger days?” You may just be the means of improving someone’s life.