Whether you’ve learned a lot in a literal classroom or received a PhD in life lessons, know that every experience has meaning and can be used for learning, growth and helping others
Have you ever read, Tuesdays with Morrie? The book, which is based on a true story of the author’s final moments with his mentor, is filled with beautiful and powerful exchanges of wisdom between an older and younger man. Take this one, for example:
Morrie (teacher): “Have I told you about the tension of opposites?”
Mitch (student): “The tension of opposites?”
Morrie (teacher): “Life is a series of pulls back and forth… A tension of opposites, like a pull on a rubber band. Most of us live somewhere in the middle.”
Mitch (student): “Sounds like a wrestling match. Which side wins?”
Morrie (teacher): “Love wins. Love always wins.”
Every day that we wake up, we have an opportunity to live and learn in the midst of “life’s tension of opposites”- of beauty and brokeness, love and pain, winning and losing. What we do with these experiences matters.
Reclaiming wisdom exchange between generations
In the not-too-distant past, older generations passed down stories, knowledge and wisdom through oral tradition and family gatherings. But with the explosion of technology and culture changes, even in the last couple of decades, the world has become a vastly different place.
As a result, we no longer interact with other generations in the same way. In our ever-more-mobile 21st-century society, we are busy and scattered across the country, texting short messages to one another on mobile devices. Families are lucky if they get to sit down for dinner together on a few choice holidays; more less the rest of the year, when life feels too busy to slow down and talk.
In the middle of life’s ups and downs, we need each other. We need the stability and wisdom of those who’ve gone before us (and made it through) to teach us what they’ve learned and to affirm that everything is going to be OK. Likewise, we need the energy and passion of the rising generation- and the insights they’ve gained- to keep us optimistic for the future.
Intentionality is everything
Sharing wisdom is not contingent on age, having all the answers or creating an agenda. It is about caring for someone, listening to them, asking questions, checking in, sharing experiences and walking through life with them. It’s about having their best interest in mind and doing all you can to help them be successful. This could be as simple as meeting for coffee or checking in with a text message.
In the class of life, each generation can be both student and teacher by doing three things:
- Living fully. You make choices every day. Do you live a life of adventure knowing that there could be beauty or pain waiting on the other side? Or, do you wear clothes covered in bubble wrap that keep you safe and protected from the outside world? Living fully is risky because things may end well… and they may not. One thing is for sure- you will never know until you try.
- Learning deeply. Whether you experienced a life changing event, or simply took on a new project at work, it’s worthwhile to pause and reflect on the lessons you learned in the process. Capturing your thoughts on questions like, “What went well? How can I replicate the success? What didn’t work? What could I do differently next time to get a better result?”, is pivotal for your personal development, as well as the potential growth of others.
- Sharing experiences forward. Every experience matters, and can be multiplied in value when shared with a pure intent of helping others. If one life is positively impacted by the transferring of your knowledge, wisdom and experiences then you have done your job. A+ on your “classroom of life” report card!
In the middle of life’s tension of opposites, be brave and live fully, learn deeply and share what you’ve learned with others to help make their path a little easier. We owe it to the rising generation; we owe it to each other.
Have you ever had a “Morrie” in your life? Maybe a teacher, mentor or coach? What did you learn from them? Have you thanked them lately?
And now a tougher question- are you someone else’s “Morrie”? If not, are you willing to be?
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