Wisdom for This Year: Lessons We Keep Learning Over and Over by Shawn Doyle

Image 1-Cover-Doyle-Jan.jpg

A while back, I had oral surgery in order to remove an impacted wisdom tooth. My family dentist said the tooth needed to come out, and after reviewing my X-rays the oral surgeon also agreed that the tooth needed to come out. So off I went one early Friday morning to have dental surgery. I was asleep during my surgery and woke up feeling pretty good, and Friday night I slept fairly well. On Saturday I had a tiny bit of pain but felt well enough to go to the mall to do some shopping. All of that changed on Sunday night when the pain was so bad I was waking up all night long. By Monday I was miserable, popping painkillers every four hours and feeling extreme pain and fatigue. I was hurting. My day was a blur of prescriptions and ice packs and naps—when I was able to sleep. This pattern continued on for an entire week. I expected to recover in one or two days, but instead it took me eight days to fully recover. I was told by medical professionals that I was recovering slower because I was an “older patient” (I was 55 at the time) and because my surgery was “more involved” because I had a tooth that was impacted and laying sideways under the gum line. During my eight “lost” days I was not able to work, drive myself around, or really even think very clearly at all in my Percocet haze. Don’t get me wrong—I know that there are many people fighting long-term chronic diseases, and I was sick for only a measly eight days. I know that is nothing. It was, however, the most painful experience of my life in terms of the length and severity of pain.

But when I woke up on the ninth day, I felt so much better. I had energy! I was no longer in pain and no longer on pain-killing drugs. So as I embraced feeling well again, it got me thinking at the start of a new year—what do we take for granted?

Healthy is normal – Why do I feel that getting up and feeling great every day is normal? What if for a 56-year-old man that is not the norm? What if I am the exception, not the rule? So why do we blithely ignore the blessing of good health? I don’t know about you, but as for me I plan to celebrate each morning that I wake up and feel healthy and have energy.

That we will always have a job – Even in today’s economy, I think when people lose their jobs due to cutbacks or layoffs they are often shocked. “But I was the best marketing person in my department!” they say, or “I was the best salesperson in the region.” Unfortunately layoffs and cutbacks are often not related to the skillset of the person who’s been let go. It’s based on numbers and headcounts and budgets. As an entrepreneur and professional speaker, I never assume that I will have work, and I am always looking at the calendar for the next several months because my work is never assured. So why do people take their jobs for granted? One theory I believe is that once people come to a company and are hired, they assume that their position is permanent until they decide to leave. I call this the “job security mythology.” As for me, I went to celebrate every success that I have and will continue to be grateful for the business that I can produce.

That people will always be there – As a person who lost my wife suddenly over five years ago, I know that there is no assurance that someone I know will be there tomorrow. A friend of mine recently lost a dear colleague at work, and she had worked with him for over 15 years. She left the company a few years ago and so she had lost touch with him, but she had always planned to go back by the company to say hello to her former coworker. But he died of a sudden heart attack so she never had the opportunity to say hello, only goodbye at his funeral, and she regrets it. So I think that we take life for granted and we take the people in our life for granted. It’s a good idea when we lose a loved one to use that experience as a reminder to appreciate people who we love and like. As for me, I will make sure that all the people that I know, love, and like will be told this year that I love them and that I like them and truly enjoy working with them.

The supply of time is unlimited – My time in recovery at home was eight days, but it seemed like the first week lasted a month. Time crawls when you are in pain. On the flip side, when we are having fun, we perceive time to fly by, but I also see how as a society we waste time and throw it around so lightly. For example, the average American watches 32 hours of TV a week but then says they “don’t have enough time.” Imagine what they could do with those hours! I for one will not waste my time and will only watch one hour of TV a day (and some days none at all). I want to do more important things.

So what are you grateful for? Why?

What should you not take for granted? Why?

What do you need to look at more carefully? Why?

The answers to these questions will lead to a better life. It’s funny—having my wisdom tooth taken out may have helped me became wiser.

Image 2-DoyleHeadshot.jpg

This article originally appeared in B2B Magazine and has also appeared in The Good Men Project. For more business and personal development insight from Shawn Doyle, check out his titles from Sound Wisdom, including his Jumpstart Series, The Sun Still Rises, The Leadership Manifesto, and Two Months to Motivation.