Thought for the Day: The Benefit of Crap

Thought for the Day So this is my thought for the day. I’m not ashamed to say that Monday was not the best day for me. Without going into all of the details (as I’m sure you can fill in the blanks from your own life), I had difficulties. But what I’ve realized–and my colleague gave me dubious kudos for–is that there is a lesson in everything. Now yes, we may be tempted to chalk miscommunications up to stupid people being stupid–as was my colleagues take. That might be the case, but there is a lesson even in that.

Every misunderstanding I have ever had has taught me something about myself and the art of communication. Every boss that has ever belittled me. Every associate that has every misrepresented him/herself. Every vendor who has “accidentally” misplaced that invoice. Every email that wasn’t quite received as intended. The deadline that was missed. The account that was lost. Every single mishap that happens is a learning experience.

At the time, it feels like crap. Your self-esteem takes a tumble, your confidence takes a dive. You might question what you are doing and why. But that’s a GOOD thing.

Questioning your own actions and motives is not a bad thing. Have you ever met someone who was doing something just because they were told to but had absolutely no idea why–have you ever been that person? Did it have disastrous consequences? I know it did for me. Humans are sentient beings, we have brains for a reason. To use them! And there’s nothing like a small disaster to make you think. Am I doing the right things? Am I doing the best that I can do? Am I where I want to be? Everyone should reflect on these questions regularly to stay on (or find) the right path.

Likewise, a dose of humility is also not a bad thing. For myself, I am extremely confident in my abilities, but I can forget the abilities of others. And the truth (whether we like it or not) is that everyone needs someone sometimes. Whether it’s partnering on a project, functioning as a team player,  figuring out how to move up the ladder, or any number of other situations, you are going to need someone. And no one likes working with the know-it-all or the I-am-everything or the I-don’t-need-anyone colleague. A small knock to the ego is sometimes right on time. Sitting high on the horse can feel really good, but not if you look around and find yourself alone or worse, in hostile territory. Sticky situations may function to remind us that we are all only human, and as such, we all make mistakes.

All of this functions to your benefit if you chose to find the lesson in it. How can we judge our successes without some failures and missteps? Many people can attest that they have learned more from the oops then the perfect performance. If you already do it well, there is no room for improvement. For growth. But it’s the growth that keeps us feeling alive.

Personally, I get bored if anything is too easy. I’ve recently taken up Wii Fit (yes, I know I’m about five years late with this, but it’s better late than never, right?). I cursed the machine every time I started,  until after a few tries, I unlocked more advanced levels. Ah! I thought. Now the real challenge. At just the moment when I was considering quitting was when I found that sweet spot I was looking for. I had to take the small insults (“You’re not quite strong enough for this exercise yet, keep at it every day!”) and the vexing put downs (“You’re out of rhythm, look at the other avatars’ feet”) to get to the phrase I was so longing to hear–Nice Job!

There’s a sizable portion of life that feels like crap. And it is. No one thinks they should have to put up with it–and if it is truly detrimental to your psyche, you shouldn’t. I am not an advocate of abuse, harassment or the like–but without the crap, we couldn’t make fertilizer. It’s the dung that makes the richest soil for plants to grow and flourish. So it stinks, but it just might be necessary for you to become the rich and vital person you are meant to be.

It’s trite, but take the trials with the triumphs. Writers worth their salt will tell you it all makes for good material. It is! Good material for you to build the life you want. My very good friend always says, “What’s the lesson when you haven’t learned the lesson? Learn the lesson!” It took me a whole lot of crap before I figured out what she meant. So learn your lessons, learn from the crap. There really is no better teacher.

Kate E. Stephenson is a freelance communications specialist whose business encompasses content writing, comprehensive editing and quality resume services. Lexicon is her brainchild, a blog all about Language—insight into today’s job market and hiring tips, book releases and reviews, and general folly concerning the many mysterious facets of the English language. Be sure to read more about Kate, check out a full listing of services and rates, and enjoy her weekly columns on!



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