What do you do with your aha moments?

Mary Kay Knief, a friend of mine from my graduate school days at Kansas State, told me that she recently took a course on aha moments – those moments of clarity and insight that give you wisdom that can change your life. Our conversation made me think about my own aha moments, and I’d encourage you to do the same.

Here are three that quickly came to mind:

  • Before we were engaged, my wife, Pat, told me that I had a tendency to blame my lot in life on issues revolving around my family. “You need to stop that,” she said. “They’ve done the best they know how. Now it’s time for you to take responsibility for yourself.” I was 24, and that was great advice. We all have to figure out whether we’re going to make excuses or make progress, and the earlier we stop making excuses, the faster we can progress.
  • Jocks aren’t bad people, just because they’re jocks. Judging from Glee, the cliques from my high school days still roam the halls today. As part of the non-jock crowd, I was quick to judge that the jocks were all shallow and dumb. Then, during one of the Olympics, I came to realize that excellence should be appreciated wherever it’s found. People who pursued it – whether it was through music, art, sport or any of the thousands of other courses available to us – should be respected. Once I figured that out, I also figured out that we’re all just humans trying to do our best, jocks included. Of course, at that point, I didn’t see them only as jocks but as people. Today, in my own small way, I work on staying fit and healthy through running and other activities.
  • Similarly, just because people see things another way politically from the way I see them doesn’t mean they’re bad people. It really is possible for two people to be committed Americans, hoping for the best for everyone in the country, and yet have different opinions about how to achieve a stronger country. That’s hard to remember in this era of heated rhetoric, but I think we’d all be better off if we kept it in mind. Barry Goldwater and John Kennedy could argue strongly on the floor of the Senate and then go out for a drink. It would be healthy to see more of that happening today.

As I was doing some research for this entry, I discovered that Mutual of Omaha has been encouraging people to share their aha moments for quite some time. In fact, the company is building a 2011 advertising campaign around the best aha moments as selected through a voting campaign on its website. Go here to see the 10 aha moments that will be featured in the campaign.

I’d like to hear about some of your aha moments and what you’ve done with them. Please leave a comment!

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