I like to think of myself as being perceptive – both when it comes to people and my surroundings. But, like anyone else, I inevitably miss the occasional cue here and there. On life’s road, there are many things that I have missed only to become aware of them when they were in the rearview mirror. Occasionally, this was because someone pointed them out to me and other times it was because I had a brief flash of insight. It’s usually been the former.
Throughout my formative years I have been like what my mom would call “a fart in a frying pan.” I would have a “great” idea to make money and then I would chase it down the rabbit hole until I was either burned out or just disinterested. This led to numerous scholastic endeavors – psychology, law school, MBA, Masters in Geriatrics, Master of Divinity, Professional Coaching certification, blah, blah, blah. Looking at it linearly from above, it looks like the Google Maps directions for someone heading for Nowhere. Looking at it from the other side, though, it looks like the process of being formed for something that I couldn’t have anticipated.
In your own life, you will find yourself doing things that seem utterly meaningless. You may be in that place of your own volition, or maybe because you just followed along with someone else’s hair-brained idea. You will likely ask yourself many times, “What the heck am I doing here?” But be careful not to count the experience as useless.
Yes, there are many things that we do that seem like a waste of time and often they are exactly that. Wrong choices, lack of foresight, not paying attention – all things that can lead us to be someplace that we don’t need to be. We end up spinning our wheels until we get burned out, rest a bit, and then hopefully get back on the right path. Even in such places, however, we can glean wisdom about life and begin to see our own path unfold before us.
Today, as a Professional Coach, I see that every single experience in life has honed me for who and what I am today. The failures, the victories, even the utter screw-ups that left me and others emotionally scraped and bruised prepared me for “a time such as this.” The mindfulness and compassion that I hopefully developed along the way have made me a more empathic listener. The education and experience have made it easier for me to walk in another’s moccasins. Even experiences that I discounted as meaningless at the time, have come back and enabled me to share in and truly understand another who had a similar experience. I never saw that coming when it was happening.
You will have many seemingly meaningless experiences. Some will be painful, some will be apparently pointless, and others will be enriching. Regardless of how the experience seems at the time or if you embark on a business or educational journey that is never carried to fruition, don’t discount it. You will most likely need and use those experiences one day.
As you travel your own path of life and are deciding what to do next, look back in the rearview mirror and see where you have been. It’s likely that something you did in the past can qualify you better than others for the future. In this backward glance you will find learned skills that you didn’t even know you had which will give you insight into what you’re qualified to do. Then, turn your glance forward, keep moving, and put those skills to work because only you can do it.