Life is not a test

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Life is not a test, it is an opportunity to learn.

3 reasons to never be ‘the finished article’.

Life is not a test, it is an opportunity to learn. Yet much of our conditioning rushes us to find and get to a goal, to be right or wrong, to hide or blame failure. Achieving our goals is of course important & brings excitement, but fulfilment comes from the journey to the goal. So Success is to achieve the Fulfilment & the Excitement. If we approach every challenge, success & failure as a chance to learn, not a test, then we will stay flexible, keep developing throughout our lives & be better able to help others. So here are 3 reasons to nurture learning – 3 reasons to never be ‘the finished article’!

1) Time of personal change is a wonderful time of renewal, not a rush to show ‘I always had a plan’.

Renewal requires an ending, a chaotic discovery time, and a beginning.

Much of society only values getting to the destination, and forgets that finding the right destination takes time, and fulfilment is in the journey. Whatever is the new chapter you are embarking on, give yourself the chaotic discovery time between the end of what is past and the beginning of what is to come. It is uncomfortable time, but it is the key to asking & answering new questions which enable you to come out with greater self-knowledge & spirit to set about the future. This can be between jobs, careers, relationships, young adulthood into I-have-bills-&-commitments-adulthood (!), turning 30, turning 50…. The best is yet to come!

On a simple practical level, I suggest to go walking twice, on your own without a phone, each time for 2 days, with 2-4 weeks in between. Do 2 specific tasks, & of course anything else that your mind uncovers ….(a) Tell yourself the story of your life so far (talk it out loud), and tell the story again looking back from the end of your next chapter. (b) Answer the question – what is important to me? Lots of answers will come … force rank them (you may need post it notes and a big piece of paper for that one!)

For greater depth & inspiration on this, do read the wonderful book ‘Transitions’ by William Bridges.

2) We learn deepest when we face up to failure and learn from it. 

When I hear the following 2 phrases, I know there is work to be done!

“I am what I amâ€

If this is so, then what choices do you give yourself when you are involved in a failure? The failure is evidence that you can’t do it, for which you will be judged. So you either

  1. a) accept it – I can’t do this stuff & I don’t want that pain again, so I won’t stretch in that direction in the future, or
  2. b) blame someone else or hide it … it wasn’t me …. it never happened!

Neither of which will help you or anyone else.

which leads us to phrase 2….

“Who is to blame?â€

Blame leads to fear, which causes people to hide failures, which means that no-one learns.

So, have a strong purpose in life, and then embrace all opportunities to learn, & be flexible how you reach your purpose. Instead of “I am what I amâ€, how about “I want to be the best meâ€. Don’t blame. Ask for feedback. Give feedback to others with the pure objective to help people learn, not to get them to do it your way!

3) We really can now live life with 3 parallel tracks instead of 3 sequential blocks.

A generation or two ago in some cultures, and sadly still in others.. life was broadly in 3 sequential chunks… Learn (school / college) … then Work (earn money, work hard, have a family, have some fun when you are not exhausted or resentful), then Rest & Play (retire, only to find you are not sure what your purpose is now & you are too tired to do the fun things you used to want to)!

But now, we really can live the 3 chapters in parallel, and their inter-action is synergistic, i.e. we work more productively because we are still learning & we make time for fun.

Learn ———————->

Work ———————->

Rest & Play —————>

…. and you can start the new model at any age, so don’t delay!

Peter Soer
Peter Soer
Peter combines experience as a coach, marketing leader & someone who has faced the fear of being found out. He harnesses this experience with his natural optimism & determination, to help people thrive in their work and enjoy the life they want. To achieve our dreams, we have 2 resources, time and energy – so use them well.

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