Learning the hard way.

“What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” – Friedrich Nietzsche.

Attributed to the German philosopher, this quote is probably one of the most effective motivational quotes of all time.

Not everyone is born with a golden spoon. Perhaps it’s best not to measure life with who and who are born with a golden spoon. Materials do not own us. Hence, they are not capable in shaping our life, both high and low. It’s how we make use of them.

According to Association of Psychological Science (Gopnik, Griffiths & Lucas, 2015), we become less open to new ideas as our knowledge grows. It was also shared that younger minds are intrinsically more flexible and exploratory. This means that how we grow up as a child and how we interpret our life before, now, and the future have lot to do with the exposures guardians put us through at the beginning stage of life.

Whilst there could be many interpretations, the two most prominent include:

The ambition interpretation: This is who I want to be when I grow up, and

The hard interpretation: I deteste this life and I will come out better than this with time

The ambition route relies highly on passion and how robust an ambition was exposed and planted at young age, ie: highly convincing, made belief that it will come true with focus and dedication over time. Having said that, ambition may also slack over time when there are other better options that come along with knowledge, having nothing to lose, and when the gains are no longer vivid.

The hard way requires strong determination to succeed. Push stemming from difficult experiences at young age.

The fact that one no longer wants to be put back into previous struggles is the momentum forward.

It is also these struggles that made us learn in appreciating hardship and come out stronger than before, a real test to independence. In spite of that, some may also give up amidst unbearable challenges, feeling hopeless, and parking life as destiny instead of ownership.

Based on the association findings, human beings have the most flexible and intelligent brains, and the longest childhood of any species in exploring possibilities in an unrestricted way. Learning exploration at young age sharpens learners’ effectiveness as they grow older (Buchsbaum, Bridgers, Weisberg, & Gopnik, 2012). As we grow older, we are more resistance to new ideas. We hear a lot about ‘train ’em young‘, no?

Whichever life interpretation one adopts, young age is a critical period in shaping one’s will to succeed. For instance, the idea of having no back-up in life teaches one to be more vigilant, and therefore building a solid foundation becomes a priority for future security. Or the idea of becoming a doctor to save lives drives one to go through years of medical training. An idea is just an idea. Learning the hard way is still applicable in making an idea true. 


Photo by Ian Chen



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