In school, you learn the lesson and are then put to the test.
In life, it’s the opposite:
you are put to the test and then learn the lesson.
--- Anthony Silard
There is much irony in this disconnect between education and reality. In real life it’s constantly brand-new material, so there’s no reason to get down on yourself for making mistakes. As the Bohemian-Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke perceptively observed: “There are no classes in life for beginners; right away you are always asked to deal with what is most difficult.” Yet most of us are accustomed to using the word ‘failure’ in association with our performance. How did this start? We began judging ourselves from our first days in elementary school based on the marks our teachers gave us to indicate their perception of our performance; and we haven’t stopped since. When you received a ‘D’ or an ‘F’ on a test, you were told that you ‘failed.’ You have most likely perpetuated this internal line of reasoning – “When I don’t perform well, I am a failure” – to this day. Reflect this week on your self-voice – the procreator of your voice with everyone else. When you catch yourself in the act of beating up on yourself, stop in your mental tracks and remember that there’s no dress rehearsal for life, and the important thing is not whether or not you made a mistake, but whether you embraced the necessary learning to move further toward your goals.
Anthony Silard is the president of The Global Leadership Institute and the author of the Simon & Schuster book The Connection: Link Your Passion, Purpose, and Actions to Make a Difference in the World. To receive Smile, It's Monday each week in your inbox and a free copy of Anthony's new audio CD, "The Surprising Source of Your Passion", enter your email here (1-step only).