Every time I look back at a painful experience, I attempt to re-frame it by asking myself what lessons I learnt from that experience?
There was one such experience for which I paid what was effectively “tuition” of thirty five thousand dollars – a massive amount. For a long while, I was annoyed at what led to that experience. But, once I passed it through the re-framing filter, I realized that the most important lesson I’d learnt from that experience was one about emotional intelligence.
I was listening to “Mastery” by Robert Greene during that period and I distinctly remember the moment Greene spoke about emotional intelligence as (paraphrased) the ability to ignore what people say and, instead, to listen to what they do. In listening to what they do, he asked us to pay careful attention to their behavior when the chips were down, how they behaved when they thought no one was watching, their choice of partners, etc. It was one of those moments of clarity for me. I finally realized what I was meant to learn from thirty five thousand dollar experience.
A few days ago, I wrote about the idea that “falling is guaranteed.” The flip side of that idea is that, as you take bigger risks, some of those falls become rather painful. You might break a metaphorical bone and pay the tuition for that experience – this can be money, burnt relationships, dents in your confidence or a sense of discomfort when you think about it. As you pay this tuition, it is tempting to want to block this experience off entirely and not think about it. But, my experience has taught me that there is a lot to be gained from wading in within that discomfort and pain and really extracting the value from the tuition paid. My emotional intelligence fall came with scars. I live with them everyday. But, I look at them now not with disgust, but with gratitude for what they taught me.
The saying – “Success comes from good judgement. Good judgment comes experience. Experience comes from bad judgment” – holds absolutely true. The part that is missing is that the experience follows only after careful reflection and analysis of our errors in judgment.
That process is painful and uncomfortable, but worth it.