Ten More Things I Learned Growing Up


This continues the previous list with some additional thoughts.

11.  Sometimes bad people win and good people suffer

As a kid, I grew up watching cowboy movies where the good guys always win and the bad guys always lose.  But, in real life this is not always the case.  In fact, many times the opposite seems to occur.  We’ve all seen people who excel in their jobs because they step all over other people to get ahead.  We’ve also seen people use force to take what they want.  Life isn’t fair and all the complaining about this lack of unfairness will not make it any better.  If you want a Biblical lesson in suffering, read the book of Job.  Job suffers a great deal, unfairly at that.  Yet, on the last day when Christ returns we will receive our inheritance of the resurrection of our bodies and life everlasting.  That may not always be a comfort to us as we’re going through the midst of sorrows, but in the end that is what we must cling to, because that is the hope and promise that God gives us through Jesus Christ.

12.  Don’t speak where God has not spoken

This is actually closely related to #11 above.  God doesn’t tell us why we suffer nor why other people suffer. In some cases in the Bible he tells us why those people suffered.  But, He does not specifically tell us why we or other people in our own time suffer.  We can state generally that we live in a sinful world and therefore endure the consequences of sin, but we can’t say for sure exactly why we may suffer.  So, we ought not to speak where God has not spoken.  Instead, we can speak what He has spoken, because that we can be sure of.  That sureness is the Gospel, the Good News of the forgiveness of sins, reconciliation to God and each other, and eternal life that God gives us on account of Jesus Christ.

13.  It’s better to suffer a wrong and move on than to hold on to it with resentment and anger

Sometimes bad things happen to us that we can’t help.  We can either hold on to it with resentment and anger (and maybe even embarrassment), or we can move on.   Moving on is hard to do, because it means forgiving the person who wronged us and chalking up the wrong as a life lesson that gives us character.  The alternative of resentment and anger, though, will eat us alive.

14.  Sometimes you have to be the hypocrite and sometimes you have to be the “bad guy”

I realized this once I had children of my own.  I often tell my kids not to do the very same things that I did as a child.  I guess I’m a hypocrite for this, but my calling as a father is to be that hypocrite for the sake of my children.  I have to guide them according to what’s best for them, even if I did the very same things when I was a kid.  Likewise, sometimes you have to be the bad guy.  People need to hear “no” to certain things.

15.  Show respect for God’s creation

God made us to be stewards of His creation.  To me this means exercising reasonable care for it, not wasting resources, and not wantonly killing animals.  As a kid I saw an episode of “The Andy Griffith Show” where Opie killed a bird with a sling shot.  It turned out that the bird was a mother with young chicks.  That episode scarred me for life.

16.  ”Righty tighty, lefty loosey”

The indespensible mnemonic to remember how to tighten and loosen bolts and screws.  Want to tighten it?  Turn it to the right.  Want to loosen it?  Turn it to the left.  How do you remember? – “righty tight, lefty loosey.”

17.  ”Measure twice, cut once”

Another good piece of homespun wisdom.  Before cutting that piece of wood, metal, or fabric measure twice; otherwise, you run the risk of having to get another piece and try cutting it again.  It helps to measure using the metric system, because remembering 33.8 centimeters is a lot easier than trying to remember “13 inches and a little less than 5/16th of an inch.”

18.  The OODA Loop

This is a concept created by Col. John Boyd to describe how people or organizations make decisions (see OODA Loop).  It stands for Observe, Orient, Decide, Act.  Boyd’s point is that we instinctively follow these steps each time we do something.  His initial application was to warfare, but the principles of the OODA Loop apply to any competitive activity.  If you can “get inside” your opponent’s OODA Loop then you can seize the initiative and keep him in a position of reacting to your decisions.  That is, if you can process through your OODA Loop faster than your opponent can process through his, then you have the advantage because he’ll continually have to re-orient to the new conditions your actions have presented him.

19.  Strive for the “long view” and the 95% solution

I had to read the “Art of the Long View” by Peter Schwartz while in college and the concept stuck with me.  He uses examples from various companies to show how they took the “long view” during times when other companies engaged in short term planning; the “long view” companies came out ahead.  One of his examples is Shell Oil.  In the 80′s when oil prices fell, many oil companies sold fields and equipment.  Shell, on the other hand, bought up these resources on the cheap.  Then, when oil prices went back up, Shell was in a position to capitalize on it.

Similarly, the concept of the “95% solution” comes from another book (I forget the name now).  The point is that, normally, having 95% of the desired functionality is good enough.  To squeeze out that extra 5% tends to take a disproportionate amount of time and money.  The comparison made in the now-forgotten book is between the US Postal Service and FedEx.  The Postal Service has to serve 100% of all homes in the US.  For this reason it is expensive to run and inefficient.  FedEx, on the other hand, satisfies itself with servicing about 95% of all homes.  The last 5% it doesn’t service are in hard to reach areas with poor roads.  By not concerning itself with delivery to these areas, FedEx can be more cost and delivery efficient, offering same day guarantees.

20.  Take into account opportunity cost

Put simply, opportunity cost is the cost of not doing something or of the next best alternative (see Opportunity Cost).  For example, if I go fishing on Saturday, then I can’t mow the lawn.  Or, if I have $500 burning a hole in my pocket I can spend it, but then I can’t invest it.  In the business world, a company could decide to invest in developing a product.  If they don’t, then they cede potential business to their competitors.  Or, if I have 10 developers in my company, I can allocate them to various projects, but the opportunity cost of them working on a certain project is that they can’t work on other projects.  The point of Opportunity Cost is that a decision is not “free,” it impacts other things because by doing one thing you can’t do another thing.