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Lisbeth Calandrino
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I come from Copake Lake, New York; a small, country, town in the Berkshire hills. The people were simple. There were twenty people in the winter and two hundred in the summer. It used to get lonely in the winter. Compared to the way people think today, people seemed ignorant. The people weren’t ignorant, the times were. It was over sixty years ago.

Many of my friends had horses, and we all learned how to ride, bareback. There was a saying, there’s no lesson learned in the second kick of the mule. In those days it wasn’t a mule, it was a horse. No matter how many times I heard the expression, “Watch out for the horses’s hind legs”, I never took it too seriously.

To this day, I can remember turning my back on the horse and getting kicked!

Despite the warning it seemed to be an unavoidable happening. Despite the pain, it was never enough to get me to focus on the horse’s back legs. I was too caught up in riding the horse.

When the equivalent problems come along, businesses handle it the identical way. Despite the problem, they don’t seem to learn from it. Sure enough, a second kick is around the corner. There is another expression that goes with it; it’s called, “learning from experience.” Rarely do we learn from experience. It just doesn’t work.

People learn from an “evaluation of their experiences”, not the experience itself. Most people are so happy to be out of the situation that they forget the experience. This brings me back to the second kick from the mule. Our experiences use up our time and ultimately, our life. What could be more valuable?

I wrote a speech about life being like tiny pearls strung together and my writer friend, Shelia Carmody, added her twist. Her thoughts were that “The more you invest in what life has to offer, the shinier your pearls!” Why have plain pearls when you can have shiny ones?

How can you learn from your experiences? (Karen Keller has some interesting thoughts on learning from experience.)

  • Be clear about the experience, not the one you made up but the one you had. Rather than seeing things the way they are, we make the experience into what we want it to be. No wonder it comes out wrong. How can you learn from an experience that never really existed. The experience was the one we wanted not the one we had.
  • Be open to learning. You’ve all looked at the photo which contains one old woman and one young woman. At first, you may see nothing, but if you turn the photo upside down, you see two photographs. Be willing to look at the situation from another angle. (If you haven’t seen this, it’s worth a look.) People get so invested in making up their experience rather than dealing with what it actually was
  • Write down what you’re doing and thinking. Ask yourself, does it make sense? Am I looking at it clearly? When you write your experiences down, you’re likely to see a pattern. Stay focused, and don’t lose these important lessons.
  • Consider change your friend not your enemy. Many people are afraid to change. If you let your imagination loose, it will run wild with you. Don’t get ahead of yourself.

Filed under: Business Practices

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