I strongly believe that in order to realize your full potential and to live life meaningfully and purposely, you must be a learner to grow your knowledge bank. But first and foremost, you must seek for great mentors who will share life’s greatest lessons that you can utilize as a roadmap to your own success and happiness.
The will to win, the desire to succeed, and the urge to reach your full potential. According to Confucius, these are the keys that will unlock the door to personal excellence. But, is it really so simple? Isn’t will fickle and finite? Doesn’t desire make us do stupid things? How can we know how big our potential is?
Our roads to excellence, fulfillment, and happiness are narrow and full of trials. We all choose a different path, but we’re all tempted by the same envy and vanity, the same judgment and lust.
So, we must all follow the same rules. Settle down rebels and free thinkers, they’re only recipes for a good life.
I’ve learned them the hard way, so I want to make yours easier.
However different they might be, we’re both in pursuit of the same destination.
These are my five life’s greatest lessons that I learned from my mentor where I know will be helpful for you lead not only a successful life but fulfill one.
1. Don’t Get in a Way of People Who Go After What They Want
First things first – if you’re still fighting your fears of failure, I’ve got some news for you. Achievers are not born achieving, and the only obstacle that stands in your way is you.
The way I see it, you’ve got two choices: either start overcoming your own fears and obstacles, or stop getting in the way.
If this sounds harsh, that’s only because your quest to fulfillment will be harsh too. It’s like that for all people, no matter how privileged, gifted, or brave they are. We’re all fighting our own battles. Your hubby fights his, your children, your friends, and even your boss isn’t excluded.
The point is if you’re surrounded by people who have the courage to chase their dreams, don’t be the one standing in their way. Instead, let their fearlessness inspire you to pursue your own. Support your husband, help your children, friends and listen to your boss. Chances are, you’ll learn something great.
I remembered the day of my university graduation, my best friend and I got an offer as an Accountant for a Real Estate Management company who was willing to pay for our continued education.
So, I asked my best friend to pursue a three years Accounting designation where we would only study for two years due to our university’s reputation and credentials, we were allowed us to skip the first year.
I mean why not? We were fresh off school and were still very much in the study mode plus having this designation will differentiate us from others in the industry.
Sadly, not only she wasn’t interested in doing it but she was trying very hard to convince me that it was a waste of time and that we should focus on traveling and partying.
That moment I realized that it’s always ok to say no to opportunities in your life but you cannot deny someone else who wants to grab that chances that are presented to them.
Being happy for those who’ve succeeded before you may be the most difficult trial of all. If you give your best shot, you’ll find that applauding another person’s progress is also healing and liberating. It means you’re done with envy and vanity, and that’s already a huge battle won.
2. Sometimes You’re the Problem
I had great opportunities working for various bosses. Regardless of how bad or good they can be, I always learned something from them. This is one of my favorite life’s greatest lessons.
What I’ve learned watching them is that ambition has a bad habit of blurring the lines between right and wrong. More often than it should, one step closer to the corporate top equals two steps back for personal growth.
And, those steps back don’t have to be huge at all. Sometimes, it’s a failure to hear a better idea only because it comes from beyond. Other times, it’s simply boyish cockiness. But, that’s the thing with respect – the sooner you earn it, the longer and harder you need to defend it.
Never get high on your ambition, at least not too high to notice that the problem might be you.
Always ask for a better idea, and always apologize for your cockiness. If you don’t, then your behavior, your habits, and your attitude might be the obstacles in someone’s way.
Accepting your flaws and admitting your mistakes is another exhausting trial. Even thinking about it might do some nasty things to your self-esteem. Still, no road to happiness is ever sunny and straight, and its overcoming of such obstacles and trials, temptations and tests that gives you the strength to go on.
3. Always Find a Way to Help Others Even When the Sun Don’t Shine on You
Call me a dreamer of improbable dreams, but I’ll still be a proud believer in kindness. In the forgotten art of giving without expecting anything in return. In altruism and love. You may say that I’m a dreamer, but I know that I’m not the only one. I know that deep down, you share my dream too. Yes, you do.
You’re a believer in logic and reason, you say? The math is even simpler than – the more you give, the more you’ll receive. And, the more you receive, the happier you’ll be.
Let’s not be petty and small, that’s so unrewarding. Let’s help each other, and in return, help ourselves.
I visit my country every two years to connect with my family in Cambodia and during that time, I take the opportunity to give to the homeless and the elderlies whenever and wherever I can.
One day my sister and I were in the rush to go see my grandmother for lunch a block away from my aunt’s house as we were late. While we walked out of the house I noticed two elderlies sitting in the corner of the house with their heads down, so I asked my sister to wait while I grab food for them.
She got irritated and said – “Kolyanne, you can’t save the world.”, she was right that I can’t save the world but I can make someone’s day bright so that they can remember that the world is not so bad after all.
I will always remember that day.
There’s little that can make you as fulfilled as giving back to the world. If your quest has been too hard on you, if your trials have been difficult enough to make you think that it’s every man for himself, then at least plant a tree.
Do it in your own grouchy way, but always find a way to help others.
4. Practice to be The Last to Speak
When I was started working in the Corporate industry, I’ve always found ways to speak first in the meeting to ensure my boss noticed me and all the other senior management in the boardroom.
After some time spent on the team, I’ve realized that the only people ever to miss the promotion were the only people to always have all the answers. Sadly, that was me.
Why is that, I wondered. When I finally got promoted myself, I gathered the courage to ask my superior. The way he explained, it’s exactly those people who sit and listen to all solutions from different perspectives that deserve a shot, because it’s exactly those people that have the best possible solution.
It’s simple to understand but it’s not easy to do. One of the hardest life’s greatest lessons that I learned and never forget.
As grumpy as my boss was entirely right. Being the first to speak is very tempting, especially when we’re young and self-confident, but wisdom takes time.
Practice patience in all aspects of your life, and you’ll learn just how prudent it is to hear all the other solutions first.
5. Seek First to Understand Then to be Understood
Being promoted to a Process Improvement Manager, and having already worked for one of the largest real estate management companies in North America, I’ve had the pleasure of learning another important lesson about speaking and listening in both business and life.
Even today, my job is the same – to provide fast, yet effective solutions to people’s problems.
Now, I know that the only way to solve the problem is to actually understand it. What keeps striking me as odd is how much problems my colleagues have with employing this simple and obvious technique.
Instead of seeking to understand, they seek to be understood. Instead of listening to what others have to say, they keep interrupting them. And, instead of already being successful, promoted, and happy senior managers, they are still wiggling in their status quo. The same, of course, applies to all matters of life.
Life can be complicated but we can make it simple if we so choose it to be. Have the ability to listen with empathy, understand the actual message that the person is trying to convey and clear out any judgment you may have on the situation. If you don’t, you will end up providing solutions that benefit you but not the person who are seeking help.
What’s Your Favorite Life’s Greatest Lessons?
My five ultimate life’s greatest lessons to a better, happier, more fulfilled existence. Try following them gracefully and modestly. And you’ll already feel a little better, a little happier, and a little more fulfilled. That change you want to see in your life comes from the inside, so keep growing your way through!