So... As friends have joked with me recently, I've finally come of middle age - last week I had my 30th birthday. This made me think, what have I learnt in my 20s - and the answer was a lot. Why? Because I've made lots of mistakes (how I learn most of my lessons) but also had a lot of fun.
- Failure is hard but learning from its lessons is priceless As I just said, I've made a lot of mistakes. In my early 20s, I led a youth group and it didn't go well - in fact it went so badly that I got asked to stop leading it and had to step down. This really hurt. However, it was through this process that I learnt vital lessons about what my strengths and weaknesses are.
- I am not Superman but I can play to my strengths: Aged 20, I thought I could take on the world but aged 22 (partly because of the above experience), I questioned whether I could lead anything. This process really changed me. I realised that I had to focus on what I was good at and not fret about what I wasn't so good at. I learnt that my strengths are thinking strategically, winning others over, forward thinking and being positive. This book StrengthsFinder 2.0 really helped me.
- Face my fears: Worrying is often easy, whether it's about what people think of you or about life circumstances, sickness, finances etc. I have worried about all the above but none of my fears helped change a situation for the better. As the saying goes, "fear is the sand that clogs up the machinery of life". One of my life heroes, Nelson Mandela, said "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."
- Spend time building true friendship: A great quote I read says "a true friend knows your weaknesses but shows you your strengths; feels your fears but fortifies your faith; sees your anxieties but frees your spirit; recognises your disabilities but emphasises your possibilities.” My 20s have included significant life change (such as getting married, becoming a dad and having cancer). Building strong friendships has helped me survive the hard times and enjoy the good times more.
- Encourage = In Courage: Encouragement literally means to put courage into someone. Other people's encouragements have certainly done that for me. Without encouragement, I wouldn't have got married, had a child or set up a business - and my life would have been a lot poorer.