As a kid, I used to have a knack of putting my fingers in the electric sockets at home. Worse, as my parents have told me many times, I knew to turn on the switch before sliding my finger. My parents say they used to pull me, or block the sockets with tapes to prevent me getting electric shocks, but still I remember a few times I was left with burnt fingers. One incident which I very clearly remember is when I put two ends of a copper wire into a socket and turned the switch on. There were sparkles and cracking sounds which left me with black hands and shit scared. I think I escaped getting electrocuted that day because my little experiment took the fuse of the whole house with it. That was the LAST time I played with electric wires and sockets. Lesson well learnt.
So why am I telling you this story? Let me try to answer this with another question. Do you think my parents never told me that playing with electricity was dangerous? They did, but I never listened. Well, until that day when I had black fingers to show and a lot of sparkling to wreak havoc with the house fuse. But I never repeated the act after that. Because I had scars to show for my mistake and I have learned my lesson well.
So here is the point – The lessons we learn best are the ones those leave us with scars to show. Without the scar, there is no incident ingrained in our memory (like I remember this incident even after 25 years). Without the scar, it is like the event never happened. You can learn about things by reading books, watching videos or doing any alternate learning, but nothing can match learning by directly being in action. Because when you read a book, there are no consequences of a ‘mistake‘ you just read about, so in a way nothing was learnt at all. You can remember a book and its lessons for a few days, but you will never forget a lesson which has a personal imprint in your memory because it had consequences (a scar, a burnt hand, or whatever).
The habit to be safe looks good and noble on the outside, but it very dangerous. Let me explain why? Any lesson learnt from somebody else’s mistake makes you miss the most important part of learning, which is seeking answers to your questions. We all have numerous questions as a kid, but in an attempt to act safe, we rarely ask the questions when we grow up and miss the chance to become stronger and better prepared for the future. (that doesn’t mean you jump into fire to see if it is hot or not)
Lessons learned from a painful experience can hurt, but they are necessary. You can’t learn from a lecture how it feels to race your bike and then fall down on the road. Only when you feel the pain in your bones and see your blood when your skin scratches against the road, you will learn the lesson properly as there is pain, fear and you can feel your heart beats right to your core. No book can replace that feeling.
Why you should keep putting your fingers in the socket too?
There is a process of life – of trying something new, finding hurdles, getting hurt, trying again and then succeeding and moving on to bigger hurdles. Through this cycle only people change the world, start new companies, and do the unthinkable. Don’t break this cycle by reading about how to avoid getting hurt. Find your hurdles and then learn your lessons in overcoming it. That curiosity and desire within all of us is the seed of something big. When we act safe, we kill that seed and never give it a chance to blossom into a beautiful flower.
Let that seed grow. Stop being safe and expand the size of the tasks you take on. And it is not something we have to learn new, because as kids we all do that. We jump a distance, then try bigger and bigger distances. Obviously there will be some pain to feel and some scars to show. Do you have any scars to show which resulted in some achievement in your childhood? Do you have some stories revolving around your scars which you tell people with pride?
You are grown up now and are more mature. But that doesn’t and shouldn’t stop you from going out and playing bigger games. Get some new scars to be proud of, some new memories to share, and some new lessons for the future. You need to feel the pain as long you are alive. Without the pain, there is no joy. And without pain and joy, there is no life.