Personal development

The little life lessons you can learn from those around you

Do you sometimes find that life’s smallest interactions can end up having a unexpected impact on you? I do. Let me explain.

Today I stopped on the way to the office to grab a cup of tea. The coffee shop was busy, with a long queue, and the staff were going out of their way to move it along pretty quickly.  All good – until one very impatient customer tried to skip ahead a few places because he was ‘late for an important meeting’.

Not up for an early-morning confrontation, most of us averted our eyes, except for the young girl behind the counter. She very sweetly, but firmly, explained that she’d get to him as soon as she could, but everyone in the queue was in a hurry to get somewhere, and he’d have to wait his turn. The man huffed and puffed, but she stood her ground, and he retreated to the back of the queue. And I thought – grace under fire. That’s my lesson for today.

You’re never the finished article

Because I often find that, even in life’s seemingly unimportant moments, there are things I can learn. Working in the people development business gives you unending opportunities to think quite deeply about yourself, your character, how you impact on others, and what unfulfilled potential there is inside all of us. It might sound exhausting, but working in this business has made my life quite an adventure. I know I’m a long way from being the finished article, and I don’t ever want to feel that I’ve done all the growing I can do. It’s what helps me evolve, and keeps me interested and curious about the world.

Being open to life’s lessons

So I try to stay open to what other people bring to the workplace. The person who can free-flow and explore wide-ranging ideas without restraint; the person who says very little but when they do it is wise, considered and full of impact; the manager who has the courage not to force their own agenda but to ask, what is the most important thing we can talk about today; and the team-member who knows how and when to ask for help without fear of appearing vulnerable or inadequate.

Be the best version of yourself

The point here isn’t the examples I’ve given – it’s to encourage you to keep yourself open to who’s around you, how they approach life, and learn a little something from them. Because if you’re not growing, learning and stretching yourself, then you’re not giving yourself the chance to develop into the best version of yourself.

So take a look around today – at your outspoken colleague, at the person in the office whose style is opposite to yours (but you can see that it’s effective), at the friend you meet for lunch. What qualities are they showing you that you can try on, and learn how to make your own?