It can be really difficult to give advice to people you care about. It happened to me twice today where someone asked me what I would do in their situation. Many years ago I had to make similar decisions in very similar circumstances so by a “twist of fate” they probably came to the right guy……… or did they?
In both of my situations I made what I would, with hindsight, now consider the incorrect choice. So the advice to give should be simple, right? Of course not. In both these situations, the choices I made and their corresponding effects taught me a specific lesson that shaped or highlighted so many things that came after for me. Things that I would have been ill-equipped to handle had I not had the previous “mistake”.
These decisions that we make, live through, but look back on as “mistakes”, I’d like to try and give you a new perspective. Think of it like this, when you make a “mistake”, you get to retain and analyze all the information that led to the undesired result. So the next time you are presented with the same or similar issue you now have an advantage that works in your favor. In fact, I like to think about it as having some money or a coupon already set aside for a rainy day. Magically, this undesired outcome has now become a type of currency. Not just any ole currency you can trade for nonsense, this particular type of currency in which people who pay attention to their “mistakes” and make the effort to learn from can trade the currency for something you really cannot get reliably from anywhere else, wisdom.
In my experience, this is the only way a person can gain wisdom reliably. Make a mistake, and then with benefit of hindsight learn the indicators, the options you didn’t see in the moment (*which is key* hindsight always presents options you are blind to on the present), then a plan with indicators to identify similar situations to look out for, and finally what you would do knowing what you know now. Then you have the currency in the bank, just waiting for the situation to happen again so you can implement your plan. At this point, your currency goes into escrow. It sits there. No interest. No judgment. It will either get forfeited back into the ether from which it came if your plan fails or matches your previous attempt. If you exceed or succeed though that currency gets converted to wisdom
Now people will show you their car, their clothes, their house, zip code, some sick fucks might even show you a picture of their “picture perfect” spouse in an effort to sell your on some status that they have earned, achieved, created, fell into, whatever it may be. What they try to impress you with will be based on very quick assumptions based on educated guesses they will make in an effort to show you the right product at the start so you are instantly impressed with their brand. These are about half the people I know. Con men and women, no substance, constantly juggling their need to stay afloat financially by overspending on the items that will trick people into granting them respect or some consideration of respect since they must be doing something right if they have that car. These aren’t necessarily bad people, they’re just trying to survive like any of us. In fact, they always have a plan that will get them out of the hole they have dug in order to convince people they are successful, and sometimes those plans actually work out and they really do get in the clear. Don’t fret though these people are gamblers, they never know when to stop. Instead of investing, in reality, they expand their con to try to get to the next level. This is not a way to live. A life of never being as good as you claim to be is exhausting to even think about. In fact, anytime someone even attempts to sell themselves to you you would be doing yourself a big favor to walk the other way.
Now a person who has made a lot of mistakes, put in the work to correct what they can and a lot of thought to be prepared, gains confidence every time his package of wisdom gets released from escrow. He isn’t constantly hustling because he isn’t hiding behind a curtain putting on a show. He recognizes the strength in his “weaknesses”. That stress and the energy wasted on the juggle, that energy could be better-used building character. Character is kind of like you giving everybody around you a check with your name on it that is good for specific things that you have negotiated honestly with no smoke and mirrors, and wherever you go or whatever is going on, assuming you lived up to agreed terms, you know that when you need to cash that check, you can, you never have a doubt… and they will honor that check regardless of what it does to them, ESPECIALLY when it isn’t in their favor, because honoring those agreements are held in special regard as notice that their word is more important than greed.
So, I told them the decision I would have made now with hindsight. I didn’t mention I struggled with what to tell them. I gave them a shortcut in one way but I also may have disabled them in another. It’s very possible I did them no favors by jumping ahead of some of the struggle but then I thought “They came to me with this” and if that’s any indicator they will do the same in the future. If needs be, I will have the warning and opportunity to jump in and help if they take my advice and it backfires because they skipped a step.
The point of this, let’s just agree to call it a sonnet, is quite wide but let me summarise. You only get a single chance to make a decision and if it falls not only do you have an opportunity to earn wisdom but it is impossible to know what would have happened if you made the opposite decision first. Getting caught up in that loop, or the past, in general, is not a way I suggest you spend your short time alive. Any moment spent considering “if only I had made another decision” is a nonsensical way to spend any of your life. Instead, use the benefit of the present to look into the past to set yourself up for future success. That spilled milk you are pining over is a lesson for you and if you play your cards right it will gain you wisdom. So spill all the milk you can, and don’t be ashamed. What a shame it would be to look back at all the things you could have done in your life but you were to busy trying to not spill the milk or juggling. What I wrote here is a shortcut of sorts to many, many people that will unfortunately never have the time or perspective to understand.
Regardless, I’m pulling for everyone. Nobody that ever reads this is going to get out alive and we are only as far along as the weakest among us. If you are strong run to the back of the race and help them, and those that are used to being helped by you because they are family or close whatever, they may not get as far as before because you were helping others… but they can go back a bit and help as well. They might even be upset with you, ask you where you were when they needed you. You can reply with complete honestly that you were helping them. I know very few things for sure, but look around at what we have done. WE… EVERYONE. We made it more important for a few people to cross the finish line faster then it is for everyone to cross together. A few people have everything because of it. I’m going to throw it out there that it might be better for almost everyone if we all cross the line together. Either way, what can it hurt? Sonnet Over, As you were.