Boyle McCauley News

Since 1979 • Spring-Summer 2021 • Circulation 5000

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Experience and Consequences

“Experience is the best teacher” is one of those cliches most of us have heard at one time or another. A while ago I heard a slightly different take on it, which went something like this: some people are smart and learn from other people’s experiences. Most of us, however, are the “other people.”

Taking this idea one step further, I would add that we really learn more from consequences than experiences. Sometimes a person can do something really wrong, but gets away with it. However, along comes the day when the person has to face the consequences of their actions. Maybe the person has been shoplifting and finally gets arrested. Or, the person has a habit of being rude to others, and someone finally calls them out on their behaviour. Perhaps it is something as simple as always misplacing their keys or phone, and so the person has to come up with some sort of system to make it easier to remember where things are.

Most people, one would think, will learn from consequences and try to avoid doing whatever it was that landed them in trouble. Yet I know some people who keep doing the same thing over and over again, and meeting the same end results. What was that saying about the definition of insanity?

Experience can be a great teacher when it comes to learning new skills and growing as a person. Many of us learn the most by doing rather than just by observing or reading up on something. And if we are smart or observant enough to learn from the failings of others, then great. But when it comes to some of the most important life lessons we may face, consequences can’t be ignored. Otherwise, we will just remain in a spiral of cause and effect that is ultimately futile.

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