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7 Important Lessons We Learned Outside of School

7 Important Lessons We Learned Outside of School

In the Western world, there tends to be fixed and regimented ideas concerning what should be included in the national curriculum. It is only recently that these tried and tested educational subjects have been challenged, however, as both the British, American, and Australian governments look to introduce a mandatory program of financial literacy for high school students.

Given the pace of technological, scientific and social advancement, it makes sense that each country’s curriculum should change to meet the evolving needs of its subjects. This is the approach adopted by educational authorities in Hong Kong, for example, who have been teaching the principles of morality to students for more than a decade.

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Morality is typically a lesson taught outside of the classroom, with parents and guardians setting the example for children to follow in their formative years. This is just one of many topics that can be taught through life experience and the example of others, and which form the basis of our outlook and philosophy as we approach adulthood. Consider the following:

1. How to consider and care for others

Learning how to consider and care for others is one of the most important life lessons you can learn, as it enables you to enjoy satisfying and mutually beneficial friendships as you grow older. Without this, you will be perceived as selfish by your peers and ultimately fail to develop relationships, whether romantic or platonic. This is a lesson that is usually learned within individual social circles, as those who fail to consider the needs of their friends will ultimately become ostracized from the group.

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2. The art of compassion

On a similar note, it is also important to develop empathy and compassion for your fellow person. This applies to both friends and strangers, as a compassionate outlook enables you to become an excellent friend, boss, and mentor to the people who you come into contact with. This is usually learned through harsh or challenging life experiences which force us to understand the nature of emotional distress and how it impacts our philosophy and behavior. Without compassion, it is extremely difficult to evolve as a person and engage in positive adult relationships.

3. How to maintain successful relationships

Learning about compassion and understanding will undoubtedly help you to enjoy more successful relationships, although this also depends on alternative aspects of the human psyche. Developing the skills to cultivate positive relationships is a life-long pursuit, and you must remain open-minded when learning how to deal with others and adapting to accommodate their needs. Over time, your communication skills will evolve as you interact with a growing number of people from different social circles.

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4. Life is not always happy or positive

Even with the best of intentions, our personal and professional relationships can easily turn sour. The same principle can also be applied to life as a whole, as it is an unpredictable entity that is capable of delighting and disappointing in equal measure, This is a lesson that can be exceptionally hard to learn, although it is vital in terms of teaching you to manage your expectations and resolve the problems that complicate your life.

5. Perseverance is the key to a content life

Whether you are experiencing problems in your relationship, or struggling to fulfill expectations at work, perseverance remains the key to unlocking a happy and content life. It is crucial that you are proactive in appraising your problems and attempt to work through them diligently, even if this involves confronting difficult or emotive feelings. While it may be tempting to bury your head in the sand when confronted with a serious issue, life soon teaches you that this will only exacerbate your problems over time.

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    6. When to challenge authority

    There is an old adage which suggests that you should “pick your battles” in life, and this means that you must be careful and exercise discretion when challenging authority. The issue with this is that we tend to be more fearless in our youth, and will challenge anything that we deem to be unfair or contradictory to our unique sense of justice. As you grow older, you must learn from experience and consider a dispute from all possible angles before deciding to confront your boss or superior.

    7. The importance of future planning

    With the former point in mind, it is clear that the impulsiveness of youth can often deliver important life lessons for the future. One of these is the importance of forward planning, which can include everything from investing in real estate, to ensuring that you make regular contributions to a private pension plan. While such considerations are unlikely to play on your mind when you are young, it is important that you make formative plans for securing your long-term future while you still have the opportunity to influence it.

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    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    The Gentle Art of Saying No

    No!

    It’s a simple fact that you can never be productive if you take on too many commitments — you simply spread yourself too thin and will not be able to get anything done, at least not well or on time.

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    But requests for your time are coming in all the time — through phone, email, IM or in person. To stay productive, and minimize stress, you have to learn the Gentle Art of Saying No — an art that many people have problems with.

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    What’s so hard about saying no? Well, to start with, it can hurt, anger or disappoint the person you’re saying “no” to, and that’s not usually a fun task. Second, if you hope to work with that person in the future, you’ll want to continue to have a good relationship with that person, and saying “no” in the wrong way can jeopardize that.

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    But it doesn’t have to be difficult or hard on your relationship. Here are the Top 10 tips for learning the Gentle Art of Saying No:

    1. Value your time. Know your commitments, and how valuable your precious time is. Then, when someone asks you to dedicate some of your time to a new commitment, you’ll know that you simply cannot do it. And tell them that: “I just can’t right now … my plate is overloaded as it is.”
    2. Know your priorities. Even if you do have some extra time (which for many of us is rare), is this new commitment really the way you want to spend that time? For myself, I know that more commitments means less time with my wife and kids, who are more important to me than anything.
    3. Practice saying no. Practice makes perfect. Saying “no” as often as you can is a great way to get better at it and more comfortable with saying the word. And sometimes, repeating the word is the only way to get a message through to extremely persistent people. When they keep insisting, just keep saying no. Eventually, they’ll get the message.
    4. Don’t apologize. A common way to start out is “I’m sorry but …” as people think that it sounds more polite. While politeness is important, apologizing just makes it sound weaker. You need to be firm, and unapologetic about guarding your time.
    5. Stop being nice. Again, it’s important to be polite, but being nice by saying yes all the time only hurts you. When you make it easy for people to grab your time (or money), they will continue to do it. But if you erect a wall, they will look for easier targets. Show them that your time is well guarded by being firm and turning down as many requests (that are not on your top priority list) as possible.
    6. Say no to your boss. Sometimes we feel that we have to say yes to our boss — they’re our boss, right? And if we say “no” then we look like we can’t handle the work — at least, that’s the common reasoning. But in fact, it’s the opposite — explain to your boss that by taking on too many commitments, you are weakening your productivity and jeopardizing your existing commitments. If your boss insists that you take on the project, go over your project or task list and ask him/her to re-prioritize, explaining that there’s only so much you can take on at one time.
    7. Pre-empting. It’s often much easier to pre-empt requests than to say “no” to them after the request has been made. If you know that requests are likely to be made, perhaps in a meeting, just say to everyone as soon as you come into the meeting, “Look guys, just to let you know, my week is booked full with some urgent projects and I won’t be able to take on any new requests.”
    8. Get back to you. Instead of providing an answer then and there, it’s often better to tell the person you’ll give their request some thought and get back to them. This will allow you to give it some consideration, and check your commitments and priorities. Then, if you can’t take on the request, simply tell them: “After giving this some thought, and checking my commitments, I won’t be able to accommodate the request at this time.” At least you gave it some consideration.
    9. Maybe later. If this is an option that you’d like to keep open, instead of just shutting the door on the person, it’s often better to just say, “This sounds like an interesting opportunity, but I just don’t have the time at the moment. Perhaps you could check back with me in [give a time frame].” Next time, when they check back with you, you might have some free time on your hands.
    10. It’s not you, it’s me. This classic dating rejection can work in other situations. Don’t be insincere about it, though. Often the person or project is a good one, but it’s just not right for you, at least not at this time. Simply say so — you can compliment the idea, the project, the person, the organization … but say that it’s not the right fit, or it’s not what you’re looking for at this time. Only say this if it’s true — people can sense insincerity.

    Featured photo credit: Pexels via pexels.com

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