“You learn something new every day.”
How often have you heard that?
Is there truly something to learn each and every day? If we each took a few minutes every evening to reflect on what had occurred during our day, I believe that we would be recognize a learning opportunity.
There’s a lot that I have learned as a parent of a child who had a disability as will as in my role as a coach and consultant, working with human services organizations. Here are some of my lessons. Can you relate?
Expect your plans to change. It’s a good idea to have a vision for your life and to set goals to achieve what you want. Realize however, that when Heraclitus, a Greek philosopher was quoted as saying, “change is the only constant in life”, he meant that change is to be expected. It’s how you respond to the change that is key. While you set your personal or organizational goals, whatever they may be, try not to lock yourself into an expectation that likely, will soon change. This way, you will be less disappointed or frustrated when things don’t go as planned.
Use your emotions in a positive way. Unexpected circumstances or a turn of events can challenge your emotions. Is there a way that you can turn your sadness and frustration into determination and purpose?
You develop an understanding for inclusion, diversity and equality. It is surprising to learn that unless you have been personally affected, whether directly or someone you know, there isn’t much thought given to people who are marginalized. My experience has taught me that everyone has a valuable contribution to make; that differences are to be embraced, not feared; and that as fellow human beings, it’s important to support one another, regardless of age, race, culture, ability, sexual orientation, level of income and so on.
Success can be defined in many ways. Whether you are a teenager still learning to hold a spoon, a young adult learning to read, a student entering medical school, or the owner of a profitable business, your success is as individual as you. How are you defining your success? Is it a comparison to others or to the status of other organizations? Stay focused on what is important to you and celebrate your uniqueness and individuality.
There is an opportunity for growth. Over the years, I have discovered that people, who live through a personal challenge and those who support them, are given a chance to learn about their own strengths, values and beliefs. Difficult times can foster feelings of vulnerability and shame. Telling your story helps others to have a greater understanding of reality and it can be a way for you to release your emotions and move forward.
Let go and let it flow. If things don’t go as planned, or as envisioned, instead of trying to hang on to what your originally wanted, embrace what has occurred. As I mention in my blog post, The Detour, “you begin to appreciate the opportunity and realize how much you are learning. You didn’t know this path could offer so much. Your eyes have been opened to a whole new existence. Your fear has subsided and you are proud of your courage. Your anger is replaced with a sense of enlightenment and wisdom. Your life is richer and more meaningful than you had ever imagined.“
If you need help, ask for it. Simple and straightforward. Family members, friends and neighbours are more than willing to assist; all you have to do is ask. A coach or consultant can provide an objective lens for transition and learning. Look at asking for help as a sign of strength and confidence.
Mindful meditation really works. We continue to learn about the health benefits of mindfulness meditation. It is known to relieve stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain and improve sleep, to name a few. I have tried it and I know it works. Take some quiet time sit quietly and focus on your natural breathing or on a word or “mantra” that you repeat silently. Allow thoughts to come and go without judgment and return to your focus on breath or mantra. If you can do this for at least 10 minutes a day, you will experience positive results.
Forgiveness is important. Forgiveness allows us to see things more clearly and to make decisions and offer ideas that are not clouded my resentment, bitterness or anger. There are two sides to every story; can you uncover what you share in common and stay true to that?
If you are genuine, and listen to others, your response will be real and authentic. Simply, be honest with yourself and with others. If you work in human services, whether it be in education, healthcare or social services, your role is to teach, support, nurture and assist others. Listen and genuinely pay attention to what people are telling you and keep their message, paramount in your actions. Make it about others before you make it about yourself. I can assure you that the reward and satisfaction will be more than what you had expected.