Lessons Learned

What happens if a fundamental tenet of life turns out to be wrong?  Does it depends on the nature of the premise or belief? How central is it to how you manage your life? Does this realization fundamentally change your subsequent behavior?  Do you become a different person than you would have become with this belief intact?

At some point in early life, you learn that Santa Claus, the Easter Bunny, and the Tooth Fairy are really your parents or perhaps other relatives.  This has a minimal impact on presents under the tree, chocolate eggs and bunnies, and coins for lost teeth.  Such realizations do not seem to ruin children’s lives.

Later in life, if fortunate, you learn that not everyone is honest, fair, and caring.  You learn that you should not automatically trust everyone.  This leads you to be more circumspect in human relations.  You pay attention to cues and instances that provide evidence that trust is warranted.

I have found that the distinctions between hand waving and bravado, and outright lying, trigger in me decisions to revoke trust.  Now I know that the actors in question are not just arrogant or bragging, but instead are willing to deny or fabricate outcomes to bolster how they are seen.

Later yet, perhaps, you learn that peer group perceptions are poorly founded.  Not all Asians are STEM wizards, not all Blacks are great athletes, and not all Eastern Europeans love polkas.  People are much less easily categorized than we had thought.  Now we need to approach everyone as individuals.  This is a lot or work.

We need to approach people in terms of who they are, where they grew up, how their paths led to today’s reality, and where they think the world is headed.  This can require much listening, a skill that is invaluable throughout life.  Listening can result in enormous learning.  You learn much more when you are not the one talking.

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