Saturday, June 04, 2011

Did you learn anything from it?

As I mentioned once before, we all make mistakes in life. However, the only real mistake is the one you learn nothing from. If you do something you shouldn't and take away some value, then it's a learning experience. If you don't, then it's truly a mistake. This is not about any one mistake that anyone has made. Rather, it's about allowing history to repeat itself and getting what you deserve. Remember the "fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me" saying? If the same person fools you twice, in the same way, then it's hard to feel bad for you because you should have known better.

I had this conversation with someone just yesterday who was complaining that people don't change their behavior and he has a hard time with it. We went around and around on the phone and I stopped him finally and said, "if every time you invite me over your house I show up and punch you in the face, eventually you'll stop inviting me over." You learn about bad behavior and avoid it. Now... if you say "I didn't know this was going to happen" then you haven't been paying attention. If you knew it was going to happen and didn't care, then it's on you for welcoming this negativity into your life repeatedly and, therefore, lose the right to complain.

It reminds me of another favorite quote of mine - if you always do what you've always done; you'll always get what you always got. If you don't change your approach, why would the results change. Shit in, shit out, as they say.

Some things are mistakes and there's no way around it. That doesn't mean they have to be a negative force in your life; totally devoid of any value. Ever get a question wrong on a test? Would you get the same question wrong a second time? Hopefully you learned and better negotiate the exam the next time. It sucked to get it wrong, but you found value and learning in the experience and ended up stronger for it. Truth be told, that scenario may even be more positive because the correct answer has been reinforced that much further after getting it wrong the first time.

I see this a lot, and I know I've done it myself at times. It's stupid and counter productive. As humans, we do the wrong thing sometimes, but why do we allow ourselves to repeat it and subject ourselves to the negative circumstances again and again? More importantly, why do we stand for poor treatment from other people repeatedly?

A wise, old friend* of mine mentioned the same thing to me not long ago. He was 100% correct. In business we look for ROI (return on investment). If we consistently lose money on a deal, we stop making the deal. Translate that to relationships and emotions. In both business and science, we make this call after we've collected enough data to do some trend analysis and be sure. Do the same thing in your life.

For those looking to pinpoint hypocrisy in my writing, and I know you exist, I'm not talking about judging people. I've taken a hard line against judgment like that. You can, however, judge the value of a relationship. Do you think an alcoholic judges people who drink? Not necessarily. Will they spend time with people who frequent bars though? Probably not. They have no beef with the person, but choose not to keep company with them, for their methods are in opposition to each other.

I guess I have a hard time watching friends of mine get a raw deal from other people that they know they're gonna get a raw deal from. It's no surprise, you can't change a person, cut your losses and press on. Losing people always sucks, but if the relationship loses more than it gains it's time to walk away. In very rare cases, a single instance is enough to break the bond, but that's not my story today. Today it's about a small, recurring issue that happens so often, it no longer feels small to you. It's a negative trend and a poor standard. Move on, you'll be better for it.

*By the way, my wise, old friend is not old. He's a wise friend and an old friend, as to say we go way back. He, in and of himself, is not old. ;)

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