When I was growing up, I used to love the song “Oh La La” because of the lyrics “I wish that I knew what I know now, when I was younger”. At every stage of growing up, I used to think, “if I only knew this a few years ago…”. If you think about it, it makes perfect sense that you will be better off with more information so it’s pretty obvious that if you add life experience into the equation before you actually have it you will be much better off. Imagine all those things that you regret doing or the mistakes you made being wiped away because you knew better before you did them. Wouldn’t that be nice?
Now that I am a little older, I don’t think so and here is why:
1. You end up regretting not doing more things in life than you regret doing. – If you ask any old man or woman what they regret more, the things they did or the things they didn’t do, most would answer the things they didn’t do and the lost opportunities.
2. Life is made up of all our mistakes – We learn from our mistakes and we shape ourselves by our mistakes. People who don’t make mistakes are pretty boring people who will have nothing to show for their lives when they look back. It is all the mistakes that you look back at and laugh about years later.
3. Some things are too hard to do – Life is hard and it is full of hard learning experiences. Just look at a baby learning to walk. They pull themselves up and keep falling down. They can’t balance themselves, yet they keep trying to take that first step. They look around at everyone around them and think to themselves “hey, everyone else is doing it, it should be pretty easy”. It is that ignorance that helps them push through each step so that they eventually learn to walk. If you could tell a baby and explain to them in a way that they would understand how hard life is, do you think they will still try the way they do. The many long years of really hard work that they will have to put into schooling just to get a job in the real world where they will have to work even harder and longer. The same goes for marriage. Imagine explaining to a man or woman in love that just got engaged how much work a marriage really is and how hard it will be.
Personally, I have seen this over and over with starting a business. It looks easy before you start and then you start to realize one step at a time what is really involved. Right now I am working on Temphunt and after many lessons learned (and many more to come), you can check it out at Temphunt.
4. Young people see what is possible and Old people see what is not possible – Ask a kid what he wants to be when he grows up and he may tell you an astronaut, a doctor or movie star. Ask an adult what he’d like to do and he’ll tell you, well, I can’t be an astronaut, I don’t have the training to be a doctor and I’ll never be a movie star. If kids could actually comprehend how much work really goes into each of these professions, they would be standing around with the adults.
Steve Jobs in one of his most famous speeches tells Stanford University graduates to “Stay hungry, stay foolish.
Pearl S. Buck said “The young dont know enough to be prudent, therefore they attempt the impossible & achieve it, generation after generation.”
If we actually ever knew what we were really getting into, we would never get into it and what a loss that would be for us and for society at large.
Here’s a video of Oh La La just for fun.