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  • Writer's pictureBill Petrie

Lessons Learned

A list of teachings life bestows if we pay attention.

Lately, I’ve been feeling, well, old. Maybe it’s because my boys are halfway through college in what seems like a blink of an eye. Perhaps it’s the fact that at 53, I’m closer to 70 than I am to 35. It could be that it’s the season of life when parents are passing away, which reminds me of my own mortality. Regardless of the reason, I’ve been very reflective and contemplative as of late as I try to put life events into their proper perspectives.


Don’t get me wrong; this hasn't been a negative, depressing exercise. On the contrary, this state of mind has allowed me to ponder what I’ve learned in life – both from others and from experience. In fact, it’s given me joy to realize that with age comes the realization that life is a series of lessons, and it’s up to each of us to embrace those learnings. So, with that in mind, I thought I’d share my current list of life lessons:

  • The best classroom lies at the feet of an older adult.

  • Someone genuinely expressing gratitude to me makes my day.

  • Being kind and considerate is far more important than being right.

  • Always stop and buy lemonade from a child – and be overly generous with the tip.

  • The less time I have to complete tasks, the more I get done.

  • Everyone you meet deserves a smile and a look into their eyes.

  • Music is a time machine that we can all access.

  • You can't want more for others than they want for themselves.

  • Playing catch with your child is one of the best gifts parenthood can give you – and you’ll always want one more.

  • Set deadlines and stick to them – for yourself, your family, your friends, and your clients.

  • It’s more important to have a small close circle of friends you can be yourself with than a large cadre of acquaintances that require you to be their version of yourself.

  • There are no shortcuts to success – if you want it, you have to work for it every single day.

  • A physical book will always feel more meaningful than reading from an electronic tablet.

  • Giving always feels better than taking.

  • If you disappoint someone, own it and apologize honestly without excuses.

  • Always double-check that you selected ‘reply’ and not ‘reply all’ when responding to an individual on an email.

  • Ignoring a problem always makes the situation much worse.

  • If you love someone, tell them often – you never know when it will be your last opportunity to do so.

  • There will be people in your life who are terminally self-destructive - help them as much as you can but also know when to get out of the blast zone to avoid going down with them.

  • Spring and autumn are far better than summer and winter

  • Truly forgiving someone is the best way to shed emotional weight.

  • Don’t wait to do something.

  • Under everyone’s gruff exterior is someone who wants to be loved and appreciated.

  • Neither money nor success buys class.

  • Never skip the opening act.

  • Time you enjoy wasting is not wasted time.

  • The best gift you can give someone is your undivided attention.

  • The transition from parent to friend is a joy I can’t explain.

  • The best way to grow is to surround myself with people more intelligent than I am.

  • Life is tough, but I’m much tougher.

  • Love, not time, heals all wounds

I could go on and on (and on), but that last one seems like a perfect stopping point. This list is constantly growing, and frankly, that’s really the point of getting older – we continually learn. For that, I’m grateful for every year I make my trip around the sun.


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