The School of Hard Knocks

As I sit down to write this, it’s about a week before New Year, and like every other year, we’re overwhelmed with information about prepping ourselves to make the upcoming year our best ever! And who wouldn’t want to have their best year ever? The season always ushers in more commentary about how we should approach our lives (personal as well as professional) than any other time of the year. Newspaper and magazine articles, blog posts, podcasts, self-help books and more, all positioned to help make us into the best version of ourselves we can be! It almost seems like we can screw up for the other 11 months of the year, but if we follow the advice of the professionals going into the New Year, we’ll be OK.

home inspectors celebrating new year

While the start of a new year is certainly a great time to set new goals, nowhere is it written in stone that it’s the only time you can reassess your objectives. Any time that you feel motivated to do so is a great time to review your status and make corrections on the route you’re taking to reach your goals. After all, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to keep on the straight and narrow road that leads to success.

We often get sidetracked from our path; life has a way of doing that to us. Hell, for me it’s a daily battle to keep moving toward my intended goals. And, honestly, most days I fall short, letting something sidetrack me from the course I should be following. I know that while the thing that’s dominating my field of view at this minute might seem important, if I step back for a moment, it’ll probably prove to be insignificant in the overall picture.

I’m the same as everyone else: a human with limited self-control. I know that I’m going to get sidetracked; I know I’m going to experience failure; I know I’m going to waste valuable time doing something that I’ll be kicking myself for tomorrow. It’s inevitable. We’re all going to fail. But, the most important thing to remind ourselves of is that we shouldn’t dwell on those disappointments for too long. Remember that we all have faults; sooner or later we’re all going to slip-up. But, in the end, it’s not the mistakes that are going to be our downfall. The thing that’s going to defeat us will be our failure to rise above those missteps and keep moving forward.

Don’t let the mistakes of yesterday dictate your actions of today.

Realize that sometimes (hell, probably most of the time) we’re all going to fall short of our daily goals. That doesn’t mean that we don’t get up, brush ourselves off, and try again tomorrow. Everyone experiences failure. But, in the end, the only people that really fail are the ones that refuse to try again. Get off the floor, pull up your big boy (or girl) pants, and give it another shot.

Failure is part of growth. You can’t learn unless you make mistakes, and you can’t make those valuable mistakes unless you’re trying. We all know that making mistakes is a painful thing to endure. Mistakes often come with great costs. Sometimes those costs are physical, like the time I lost my balance walking in an attic and lurched forward, grabbing at a wooden brace only to have a splinter wedge itself firmly under my thumbnail. Many times, the harm is psychological and you’re embarrassed, like when you’re standing in the hallway, imparting your knowledge to the client, when at the same time you both realize that you’ve overflowed the whirlpool tub you were about to test. But most likely the damage is financial, or some combination of all three costs: physical, psychological and financial, such as falling in the attic and having your foot come through the ceiling, right above the room where the client and agent are sitting.

home inspector stepped through the ceiling

While learning lessons the hard way is not without some level of pain, these are often some of the most valuable educational experiences you’ll ever have. Without graduating from the School of Hard Knocks, most of us would’ve never made it to our current level of business success. Our ability to go through the rough times, learn from those mistakes and come out on the other end better prepared to be a small business owner cannot be understated.

Don’t be afraid of failure, as without it you’ll likely never learn the lessons you need to become a winner. Keep pushing every day. Yes, sometimes it does feel like the whole world is against you, and no matter what you do it won’t turn out right. And yes, it’s days like those where you feel like you’d have been better off staying in bed, giving up because it’s just too hard. Just remember that it only takes one day, one time, one instant to turn around all the bad things that have happened and propel you to the victory that has long eluded your grasp.

You never know which day is going to be the one that propels you forward toward success. Keep going, because it could be the next one.

It would be ashamed if you gave up right before that day happened, now wouldn’t it.

It is only those who do nothing who makes no mistake.

Peter Kropotkin

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Thanks, Joe

pic of me, Joseph Cook Jr, home inspector