Years ago, I read two books that greatly influenced my life. Both of them were written by the same author, Scott Peck, M.D. The first book was called The Road Less Traveled, which sold over five million copies. The second book was called Further Along the Road Less Traveled. Dr. Peck wrote the second book approximately twenty years after he wrote the first one. I actually think the second book was better than the first and perhaps is one of the best books I have ever read.
In his second book, Further Along the Road Less Traveled, Dr. Peck discussed what he believed were the two keys to life. As a psychiatrist he had personally counseled over forty thousand people in his medical career. He had also spent over twenty years in the military as a physician. He stated that he was constantly looking for the meaning to life, since he faced so many daily challenges within the human condition. He said one day it occurred to him what the two key elements were to all of life. He learned that life is really all about learning and growing. When I read that, I felt excitement in my heart because I know I can do those two things. I can learn and grow on a daily basis, and so can you. That is good news for all of us!
But, what does it look like to learn and grow? Although they are nice words and simple to understand, they are not that easy to apply. That is a principle that you will find over and over again in life. Things may be simple; however, they may not easy to put into practice. Maybe one of Dr. Peck’s stories will help illustrate what I am talking about.
One day Scott Peck’s lawnmower broke. Regardless of what he did, he could not get it to start. Finally, he pushed it over to his neighbor’s house, who was a good repairman. As Dr. Peck’s neighbor put the lawnmower up on his workbench and began to take it apart, Dr. Peck commented to his neighbor, “I have never been very mechanically inclined. I just don’t know how to repair a lawnmower.”
His neighbor humorously replied, “Aren’t you a psychiatrist?” Dr. Peck answered, “Yes, I am. Why?” His neighbor looked at him and said, “I am just surprised that a psychiatrist would lie to himself.” Dr. Peck was stunned and confused by the statement. He asked his neighbor what he meant. As the man started working on the lawnmower, he said to Dr. Peck, “Anyone who has been through medical school and become a physician surely can learn how to repair a lawnmower. You have just never taken the time to learn how to do that. It is not something you can’t do; it is just something that you haven’t learned how to do – yet.” Dr. Peck laughed and agreed with his neighbor. He later said that exchange had a powerful effect on his life because he began to ask how many other lies he believed that he had told himself. He wondered how many times he had convinced himself that he could not do something when in fact, it was actually something he simply had not yet taken the time to learn how to do.
That story meant a lot to me because it helped me to realize that I have learned how to do everything I know how to do. I did not just wake up one day and know how to do it. I had to take the time and effort to…you guessed it…learn and grow. Again, that is what life is all about. I am still amazed that I personally write these Tips each week. When I was in high school, in Miss Bertha Turner’s English class, I could not put two coherent sentences together in a row! Now I write books. No one is more surprised than me!
It seems that I have personally been challenged lately by many things that I wish I had known how to do. One of the things I wish I had applied myself more diligently to is learning how to type. I wish I had developed that skill earlier in life so that it could be easier for me now. However, I am learning and growing in that area and getting better!
Could it be that you are upset with yourself because you are not technically inclined or that you don’t know how to repair a lawnmower? Maybe you are frustrated that you did not learn a certain skill-set in school. Maybe there is a language that you wish you had learned or perhaps a course in business or finance that you wish you had taken. How are your public speaking skills? Warren Buffett said that was the one area he wished he had better developed when he was younger. The good news is that you do not have to beat yourself up any longer! You can always learn and grow. True, circumstances may make it more difficult to do those things now than when you were younger, but, please be encouraged! Your life is not over and there is still time!
If it is true that life is about learning and growing, then stop and ask yourself what new things you are learning and in what areas are you now growing in your life? I can assure you that life will have more meaning and will become an enjoyable experience when you are fulfilling the purpose for which you were created.
Things that have stopped growing soon die. I don’t want to die anytime soon. I am not afraid to die; I just still have a lot of things in life I would like to accomplish. Therefore, I will be on the journey with you, learning and growing each day. What an adventure! What an exciting time to be alive!
Tip: Learning and growing are the 2 keys to life!
Have a great week! God bless you!
Dr. Robert A. Rohm