Life’s lessons are not always learned at home, at school, at church or at work. Sometimes those lessons come from the most unexpected places at the most unexpected times.
I consider myself a work in progress; a lifelong learner always seeking the unknown. I am a dreamer, a hard worker and probably one of Bill’s biggest cheerleaders. However, as I was teaching him the art of writing, he taught me something much more valuable.
Over the course of 17 months, a book was completed, and in the process, Bill snuck up, caught me unaware and taught me about myself. Each memory of his time at Clark was passionate, witty and poignant. I quickly realized that no one tells a story like Bill. He not only captivated and entertained me, but he also introduced me to a world filled with hope, doubt, faith, failure, and triumph. Bill’s book changed my heart and my life’s priorities.
It would be selfish of me not to share the lessons, however as you read the book you will find yourself changing as well. These unexpected lessons may seem basic, but I went through most of my life never learning them.
Lesson 1: Mistakes Can Be Fixed
The funny part about this lesson is that I always told my students that mistakes can be fixed. The problem was that I never thought mine could. Perhaps it is because I made too many, or maybe, I lacked the trust in myself to make things right. Bill taught me that we all make mistakes and as long as we learn the right lesson from them, we will be okay.
Lesson 2: I Can Do Just About Everything.
Taking on the job of working with Bill came at a very hectic time in my life. Life was pulling me in a hundred different directions. Yes, I admit, I am an overachiever, but I used to walk away from things if I failed. Failure is no longer a possibility. Now, I have a commitment to completion no matter what the outcome. Bill taught me I can do anything and everything if my heart is in the right place.
Lesson 3: A Friend Is a Friend, No Matter What
We all want this be true, but sometimes someone screws up. The hope is that people will eventually see past your flaws, but we cannot control how others feel. Bill saw those flaws in me and continued our friendship. It is through him I learned the true meaning of the word FRIEND!
Lesson 4: New Vocabulary and Alphabet
Working with anyone who has served in the United States military often exposes you to an unusual vocabulary. However, it was not just my vocabulary that grew; I learned a brand new alphabet- the Alpha, Bravo, Charlie alphabet. I didn’t realize it at the time, but it comes in handy more times than one would think.
Lesson 5: What Is Trivial In Life
Over the 17 months of collaborating, I came to learn what is important and what is trivial in my own life. Because of Bill, I’m making strides personally and professionally. I learned that life is not about how many things I get done, it’s how important the things are that I get done. Rather than trying to figure out how to pack more stuff into my life, how to stay busy, how to sleep less and how to do more in less time; Bill taught me how to do the important things more effectively.
Lesson 6: You Don’t Succeed Alone
More of us live on our own and work for ourselves than at any other time in history, but Bill has shown me that there are just some things you can’t do on your own. At the most basic level, the “buddy system” keeps you alive in a fight, but understanding that there are times when the individual is less than the team is a valuable lesson for everyone. I used to get frustrated and downright pissed off if I couldn’t solve a problem by myself. I also struggled with trusting people. Bill taught me that being part of a team makes all things in life run more smoothly.
Lesson 7: Confidence
There is no place for uncertainty or hesitancy on the battlefield. Individuals and teams get in trouble when they get caught in the middle ground; out in the open in a vulnerable position or not exactly certain of their objectives or location. Bill taught me to have confidence in my decisions. I learned that confidence is a crucial component of success. Bill showed me that once I’ve decided on a course of action, carrying it out to the best of my abilities is always the way to get it done.
Lesson 8: Listen to the Experiences of Others
As I sat and listened to Bill tell his stories, the people and places came alive. With each new character, I gained a new view of my own life. Listening to Bill’s stories revealed just how interconnected our paths really are. Our personal hardships were different, but Bill’s stories carried universal lessons. Those lessons guided and enabled me to overcome obstacles and feel as if I was no longer alone.
Lesson 9: Push Yourself Harder
I think it would be fair to say that until I started this book with Bill I always colored inside the lines, never really took chances and seldom did anything that made me feel uncomfortable. Bill showed me that I have the capacity inside me to rely on my abilities and trust in myself. He also taught me that I always need to dig deeper into my reserves because there are always surprises.
Lesson 10: Get Comfortable with Being Uncomfortable
This was the first and most valuable lesson I learned from Bill. Some of the chapters in the book took me to places that sometimes scared me, and other times embarrassed me. The thought of discussing some of the details with Bill made me cringe. However, Bill helped me overcome my anxiety. He taught me to change my perspective, so I could be more comfortable with the uncomfortable. In other words, I could discuss anything with Bill and he would never judge. Bill prepared me for anything tossed in my direction. Running away from things I am afraid of, or situations, where I fear I will fail, is part of my past.
In the big picture of life, Bill taught me about life and how to live it to the fullest. More importantly, he gave back to me the ability to believe. For anyone who has ever met me, BELIEVE is my word. I believed in others and their abilities, but not in myself. After 17 months of hard work with Bill, I not only believe in him, but I also believe in me.
Bill’s words and actions possess an everlasting power. He inspires me through example and continues to help me grow. I hope that I have helped him project that power into his book, so his impact lasts for generations to come.
When I sent this post to Bill to review, his email response was one of shock. He commented, “I mean I am glad, but really never saw me as having that kind of effect on anyone.”
We all go through life never realizing that we have made a difference in the lives of others. Our personal and professional stories carry enormous weight. Those stories often leave a lasting impact and provide the courage to press on, or offer one more reason to never give up.
With that said I am offering a word of advice and hope you consider taking it. Tell people the importance they have in your life today. I invite you to share your story with us. Let us know how others have left a lasting impact on your life in the comments below.