Learning is not “I need to know everything.” Learning includes unlearning. It’s also about admitting that you were wrong, and it’s ok to change your mind.
There are two kinds of learning in this world: proactive and accidental.
Proactive learning is deliberate. You commit to studying when you go to school to finish a degree. Your intention is clear when you visit Google’s site and type on the search box, “How to make pasta.”
Accidental learning happens when you stumble on some information you weren’t searching for but found helpful later. Accidental learning happens mostly in our everyday lives. For example, many of us became more careful touching a candle or a stove when we got burned during our childhood. Some of us became smarter and wiser in our future romantic relationships after surviving a bad heartbreak. I teach and train for a living, but I’ve discovered so many lessons in life from the impromptu remarks made by my students in class.
Both types of learning are essential to our growth, but accidental learning is usually painful because it comes at the cost of losing something or someone. They say that while experience is the best teacher, it’s also the most vicious because it only teaches you the lesson when the mistake is already made. And unfortunately, some of these mistakes break us.
Here’s what I’m learning so far with adulthood: we’re all like glowsticks. Many times, we need to break ourselves first before we can shine. Mistakes, failures, and embarrassments that we never forget in our lives. I am a better leader only because I’ve committed dozens of past errors in managing my employees. I am a better motivational speaker because I screwed up a few talks while starting in the industry. Failure isn’t the opposite of success. It’s a necessary condition for success to happen. The earlier we fail, the faster we get our goals right. Failure isn’t always a loss. It’s a near-win. It’s the state of accumulating the ingredients you need to get that recipe right. The more we fail, the more skilled we become in making decisions during the most critical parts of our lives. That phase is called adulthood. It’s when we are forced to make life-changing decisions and become responsible for other people.
You’re still forgivable, excusable, and tolerable when you’re young. It’s totally ok to make those mistakes. But mistakes won’t be a luxury forever when you get older. So when you have an opportunity, go ahead and break like a glowstick. Enjoy the ride, and don’t forget to shine.
*This excerpt is taken from the newest book of Jonathan Yabut, Everything Will Be Alright, available now in paperback http://www.feastbooks.ph!