The other evening, I re-watched the excellent Tom Hanks movie about Fred Rogers, “A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood.” If you haven’t seen it, I highly recommend it. Be sure to have a box of tissues next you too.
During the movie, a character who’s dying, says to his son, “It’s not fair, you know? I think I’m just now starting to figure out how to live my life.”
That line stuck with me because, I’ve had those same feelings at different points in my life. They come when one phase of your life is ending, and you feel like you finally got good at it, but now it’s over. Like raising your children, it’s not until they leave the house to venture out on their own you feel like you finally have parenting figured out, and now that part of your life is over. When I finally left radio, to teach broadcasting at the university, I thought I’d finally figured out radio management, only now to try and teach what I knew, to my students. And when I retired from teaching, I thought how I had finally figured out that profession, only to now be seeing it too, come to an end.
I started this mentoring blog over five years ago for the purpose of sharing with my students and my graduates, things that I had learned that might be beneficial to them on their life’s journey.
In today’s blog, I’m going to try and reflect on life’s lessons.
There’s More to Life Than…
Once upon a time, kids used to dream about what they wanted to be when they grew up. When Art Linkletter’s TV show “Kids Say the Darndest Things” asked kids this question, the answers were things like a postman, a policeman, an actor, a doctor, a teacher, but when kids today are asked that same question, the answer is “rich.”
Why do you think that the pursuit of making vast sums of money became the focus of today’s youth? Has our media, movies/TV/radio, been the driver of this change? Our parents?
The Great Recession was a real lesson in how no occupation is safe, and how what makes you happy, is what’s really important in life, not how much money one makes. Your family, your friends, learning and growing in responsibilities, and helping others are life’s greatest rewards.
Do What You Love
Early in my life, I wanted to be a disc jockey on the radio. DJs weren’t the richest folks in town, but they sure were the people creating good times, doing exciting things in their communities and making an impact on people’s lives.
The other career I wanted to pursue was teaching. I thought about teaching in the halls of ivy for most of my professional radio career. Just as I had envisioned, the final chapter of my working life was teaching broadcasting, sales and management, at a university.
Be Grateful for the Good in Your Life
It’s easy to fall into the trap of feeling sorry for yourself or thinking everything bad happens to you. We all have challenges in our life. No one has a “Disney Fast Pass” that allows us to bypass the speed bumps life puts in our way. What makes the difference is how you deal with those hard times and what you choose to focus on. Make time each day to be grateful for the good things in your life. Notice what’s going right and be grateful.
It can be as simple as being grateful that you have a bed to sleep in, enough food to eat or a hot shower to start your day.
Balancing Your Life
We all have the same number of hours in a day. How you decide to allocate your time, energy and talent will ultimately impact the life you will lead.
Life is filled with uncertainty, but if you have a strategy for how you will live your life every day, and keep your goals in front of you, you will be amazed at what you can achieve.
The relationship you have with your family is your most enduring source of happiness, but often when we’re starting our careers, we let our work dominate our focus. We over invest in our career causing us to under invest in our family. We let immediate gratification disrupt what’s really important in our lives.
Creating a Culture
Glassdoor just released their 2020 “Best Companies to Work” list. Companies that embrace a culture-first ethos made the top of the list. Culture defines how you prioritize the different types of problems you confront. Culture is what drives people’s engagement and creates a place they enjoy being in.
Culture, both at work and at home, can create an environment that causes employees and family members to instinctively do the right thing.
The choice you have is whether to consciously build a positive, nurturing, respectful culture or let one evolve inadvertently. Both ways, take time, only one builds a foundation for strong self-esteem and confidence that will prove invaluable over time.
Everyone You Meet Can Teach You Something
No matter how far in life you’ve gone, or how many degrees, or medals, or trophies you’ve earned, stay humble. Every person you meet carries knowledge about life that you can benefit from. Stay curious and be willing to soak up the wisdom from everyone that you come in contact with.
There’s an old saying that says, “He who knows that enough is enough will always have enough.”
Sadly, we live in times where everyone wants more and more and more. Maybe it’s to keep up with “The Jones” next door, or the people we see on TV, or the people we work with or people we grew up with.
The irony in life is too much of anything becomes toxic.
You already have everything in life to make you happy, the secret is embracing what you have and being grateful for it.
Your Only Possession No One Can Take from You
Life is full of uncertainties. So much of what we have, our jobs, our possessions, and our health, can be taken away from us in a moment’s notice. But there is one thing that no one can take away from us, and that is our values.
Your values were instilled in you from your parents, your school, your civic engagements, your church and others who were your mentors, or in other words, from the culture you were raised in.
The only one who can take your values away from you, is you.
You never will go wrong by doing the right thing.
Savor Every Moment
One of the things I would say at employee gatherings of radio stations I’ve managed was, “Look around the room, soak in this moment. I know I am. I’m grateful for each and every one of you. What a wonderful opportunity it is to spend every day with people who love what they do, are good at what they do, and work hard to be the best they can be. Thank You for being a part of this wonderful family.”
I used to say something similar at every family gathering, with the additional caveat that one day, we won’t all be here, as God calls us home. My oldest son used to say, “Dad, you always say that!” To which I would say, “And sadly, one day I will be right.”
As members of our family have passed on, he has learned how true those words are.
Difficult times teach us how to be strong. Good times let us enjoy life’s sunshine.
Both go by so fast.
Slow down and enjoy the things that really matter.