Willa Cather grew up on a homestead farm in the late 19th century. She eventually wrote several books about life on the prairie, O Pioneer! Being one of her best know. When I read her biography I realized that these words were straight out of her experiences as a child and adult living in the western parts, making a life, building a homestead. Be it calm or storm, lessons learned come to us in different ways.
It is in the midst of turmoil, franticness, panic and even catastrophe that we learn so much about ourselves and others. We better understand how we react to the unknown, how we handle pressure and surprise, and where we default to during times of stress. Most situations where we learn from a storm help us in our future endeavors because we now know we what we can or cannot survive. If we never face tragedy or the unexpected we never fully value the calm.
It is in the calm that we learn other things about ourselves. How do we handle time on our hands? Boredom? Or trying new things with little information or access to knowledge? Calm forces us to face ourselves, the things we have or have not done. It teaches us our tolerance for quiet, seclusion, how we handle being alone, and what we value in terms of activity levels. Most of the time calm provides us the ability to reflect, plan and act on our thoughts and ideas. Calm forces us to look deep and ponder the why of things. It shows us how we face unknown silences and days without much input.
Some of my best lessons were learned during or after a storm. I was forced to react to the situation and lean on my ability to multitask and lead. The harder lessons are often learned in calm, because they require that we think, be still, and face our current reality. The calm lessons are derived from time and silence both of which often feel too sparse in the mad cap world of today.
If you think about one of your greatest lessons learned, how did it arrive? Via calm or a storm? Maybe you are in the midst of one or the other of these things right now. Whichever one it is, be sure to give yourself the gift of reflection after the fact. The challenge is not the storm or the calm, the challenge is never learning the lessons each situation provides. Because if we fail to learn the lessons life presents, we are destined to make the same mistakes again.