Learn from the Mistakes of Others

By John Teng

When I was in High School one of my teachers told our class that “those who don’t learn from history are bound to repeat it.” One of the earliest pieces of valuable advice that I received came from one of my Uncles. He told me “if you don’t use your head your whole body will suffer.” My uncle was known for being a very cranky man, but I spent a lot of time helping him with construction projects around his home during the summers so we built a good friendship over the course of a few construction projects. My uncle had not lived an easy life and over time I came to believe that that my uncle cared enough about me to share this advice as his way to help me avoid some of the mistakes that he made in his own life. And to my credit, I have tried my best to consider that advice before making some of the most important decisions of my life thus far.

Since then I have understood the value of surrounding myself with good mentors who were willing to teach me a skill, or share with me a lesson that they had learned in their lives from having made a particular mistake, that I would be wise not to repeat in my own life if I could help it. So before I founded Midlife Magazine I wanted to make sure that the core of the message came from real people sharing real stories of personal successes, failures, and lessons learned, that could be passed on to other people to help them on their own personal journey through life. Maybe someone out there has a unique perspective on dealing with an adult child that is suffering with a serious drug addiction that could benefit another family facing a similar circumstance that feels like they are at their wits end. Maybe someone out there is about to celebrate 50 years of marriage to the same person and was willing to share how they were able to keep it together in a world where the words marriage and divorce are almost used in the same sentence.

Mentoring the Next Generation
I also hope that many of my middle age readers will take on the role as mentors to younger adult readers who haven’t reached middle age, yet, but could benefit from hearing from somebody who is further along the line and who could sound a voice of warning on how to avoid a potential pitfall that they might face as they continue along their own life’s journey. Just today I was speaking with my personal fitness trainer about life. He is an intelligent young man with a bright future in front of him, yet not immune to the potentially destructive distractions that lure so many young people who still have limitless amounts of energy and a sense of immortality. I told him of one a friend of mine who suddenly and unexpectedly died from a massive stroke. I told him that my friend’s sudden death reminded me to enjoy and appreciate every day as if it were my last. I told him that death was obviously unavoidable but I challenged him to live a life that did not expedite the inevitable. I could see in his eyes that he was thinking about what I said and in that moment I felt like I had a chance to plant a seed of wisdom in a young man who has such promising life in his future depending on some of the important decisions that he will have to make during this phase of his life.

Collaborating with Your Peers
Hey does anyone know a good commercial insurance agent? That’s a question I asked another business owner and friend, to which he replied that he had a referral to an agent who had saved him over $20,000 in his premium payment. How about a good dentist, a reliable mechanic, or a caring and competent therapist? These are the type of questions that people who know and trust each other ask about during their conversations. I want my peers to be discussing what is working and what isn’t. I want to discuss the real life issues that we face during middle age and how we are struggling and overcoming those issues.

Learning from Those Who Have Gone Before
One of the greatest privileges of that I enjoy from those of my friends who are older than me, is getting a heads up on what I might expect to experience in life in the years to come. A military force values the use of reconnaissance as a way to understand more clearly what potential dangers await in front of them. So, too, you friends who have a few more years under their belts than you can provide you will valuable “reconnaissance” that could potentially help you to avoid dangers that may lie ahead as well as opportunities you should embrace. Here’s another way to look at the value of this group of friends: How much would you pay to have the answers to a test before you took it? I’m not advocating cheating on a real test here, but what I’m saying is that by learning from people who have gone before you, you are in essence getting a chance to peak at the “test” before you take it!

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John Teng praises the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline for their toll free telephone number that provides men, women, and children with a wonderful resource to help them if they are contemplating suicide, or if they want to learn how they can other family members and loved ones who are feeling desperate. Visit http://www.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/