Not every experience is valuable

Image by Rishi S via Flickr

Why do people always say if you’ve had a particularly bad experience that you should “learn from it?” Do they really mean it?

It’s not always possible to grow from something. Especially if that bad experience lasts longer than say five minutes. (I want to make it clear I’m not speaking about truly bad experiences like abuse.)

That’s not to say that bad experiences can’t toughen you and make you more resilient the next time they happen. For example being laid off after an account loss several years ago made me tougher. But is that really growth? Maybe it is but it’s not the kind I’m interested in.

Where is this going? I’d like to make the case that it’s important to stop trying to make the most of every experience and recognize them for what they are good, bad or just not very valuable. Whether they’re friendships, jobs, clients, work relationships, or an automobile they should be evaluated. Then we should change the negative ones, deal with them, or change how you deal with them.

Your time, your energy and your passion deserve more than to be drained for naught. Something like a bad job or relative can’t always be avoided. But you can focus your passion on the things that give the most back. For example, social media gives a lot back to me. That’s why it gets as much energy as I can put into it.

Writing email copy gives back less, partially because I’ve been doing it for so long. I’ve already gained most of the learning. That doesn’t mean I don’t do it with the same professionalism, I just don’t expect it to be the same learning experience and have the same depth.

Photography is the same – a simple studio product shot gets an hour, where a location shot with multiple subjects gets much more time.

What do you think? Is part of what you do daily draining? Other things rewarding? Do you think every task deserves the same dedication?

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Posted on: November 18, 2009, by :