Ten Things I’ve Learned in 2006

As a student of life, I am constantly learning and soaking up as much information as I can.  I have memories of going to the library after school in the third grade and checking out books to read.  I was the seeker of knowledge and wanted to learn something new every day.  That’s why when Rosa invited me to contribute to this learning project, I jumped at the chance to share what I’ve learned so far this year.  For me, 2006 has been a phenomenal year as far as learning goes.  In sharing these ten things that I have learned, perhaps you’ll learn something new today as well.  After all, that’s what we’re here for, to share our gifts with the world!  This is what I have learned…

1)  As we get older, we pay less attention to other people’s opinions of us and more attention to what makes us happy.  What’s more important is your own opinion and thoughts about yourself.  Do you have high self-esteem or low self-esteem?  How you think about yourself determines how far you will get in life. 

2)  Life is about relationships, not material things.  This goes for business relationships as well.  If you don’t have good relationships with your suppliers, vendors, or customers, then your business will suffer.  Many business people are so busy chasing money that they forget what’s most important. Galaxy

3)  Humans are little balls of energy in this huge galaxy.  Can you imagine how small an atom is?  That’s how small we are in relation to The Universe.  In the big scheme of things, we’re just specks of dust on this planet we call Earth.  Try taking yourself into outer space for a moment…Can you see what I see?

4)  It’s nice to have a plan, but don’t forget to live in the moment .  In my early 20’s I had my life all mapped out – be married by the time I’m 25, have 2 kids, and a home with a white picket fence.  Uhhh….that didn’t happen. Now I realize that there’s a Bigger Plan, so now I just have “goals” instead.  I write down my goals and look at them every day. Actually, to be quite honest, I’m still trying to grasp this whole “goals” and “plans” thing.  You see, I’m still a kid at heart and love to just enjoy the moment with no worries about the future.  Which brings me to #5….

5) The future doesn’t matter.  What matters is NOW.  This moment in time.  Are you happy right now?  If you’re happy right now, that’s all that matters.  If you’re not happy right now, do something to make you happy RIGHT NOW.  Even if it means you have to stop reading this post.  Don’t worry – I won’t hold it against you ;)  Just come back when you’re feeling happy! 

6)  Follow your own bliss – not someone else’s. For many years I tried to fit into everybody’s plans for me.  I wanted to make them happy, however, I became unhappy in the process. 

7)  Whatever you give out you get back ten-fold.  This goes for monetary giving as well as emotional and spiritual giving.  If you don’t have that much money, well, you always have a smile!  A smile goes a long way in terms of positive energy.  Try smiling at everyone you come in contact with and watch how good you start to feel.   

8)  Customer service is the #1 key to success in business.  At the time I was working at Nordstrom I wasn’t fully aware of this.  However, since I started writing at Customers Are Always I’ve begun to realize that you can have a great product and a big marketing budget, but if you’re customer service isn’t up to par your business won’t last very long. 

9) Your mind is powerful – more powerful than you think.  Whatever you want to be or do, all you have to do is think it in your mind and it will happen for you – if you just believe in yourself and have faith.  Recently I watched the movie, The Secret, and it was truly inspiring and motivating.

Ghandi_1 10)  Be a leader, not a follower
.  There’s a time and place to be a follower, but in order to get far in life, one needs to be a leader.  I’ve learned that in order for things to get done, somebody needs to take action and that person to take the first step could be you.  Why not?

"The history of the world is full of men who rose to leadership, by sheer force of self-confidence, bravery and tenacity." — Mahatma Gandhi

"Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other." — John F. Kennedy

Maria Palma is the author of The Good Life, and Customers are Always.


  1. says

    Aloha Maria,
    This is humbling for me Maria. For your title alone is challenging me to think, could I list 10 things that I have just learned within the past nine months of this year? I teach, coach, and mentor constantly; it is what I do and who I have become. However what have I learned which is indisputably new for me? I’m starting my own list”
    Hey Starbucker, this blends really well with your Crash Davis belief statements, don’t you think?
    A side note: For all our guest authors, I have not been reading these articles until they are posted, just skimming to help with the TypePad formatting that may be needed, because I’ve wanted to have the same “forum experience” as everyone else. Ironically, my Thursday article for Lifehack.org today is about humility too.

  2. says

    I’m glad to have inspired you to create your own list. It’s a great exercise in realizing the gifts of experience that we’ve been given!
    Thank you so much for the opportunity to share my thoughts here. I am eternally grateful ;)

  3. says

    Maria, a fantastic, thought provoking, and truly inspiring post (the trifecta!). Rosa is absolutely correct, this is a true companion to the Crash Davis Belief Statement – what we learn and what we believe are both powerful things. Well done.

  4. says

    It truly has been a year of learning! I’ve learned so much from reading your blog and the Crash Davis exercise helped quite a bit. Thank you!

  5. says

    Maria, I keep coming back to your article today, and I’ve been wondering: for so long, Nordstrom had been held up across industries as the ones who truly “get it” when it comes to customer service. Yet in #8, you say you didn’t come to that understanding (of the importance of customer focus) until you left. Can you share a bit more on this with us?

  6. says

    10 things you’ve learned? Wow, that’s an amazing list Maria, and one that inspires me to get off my butt and learn some more. This year’s not done yet, and yet you have had quite the GREAT year. #7 is my favorite, and you have given us a LOT with this post. Well done, and thank you for sharing these with us.

  7. says

    Can’t resist: Ten Things I’ve learned about the no-longer-lurkers of the Ho‘ohana Community
    1. We are attracted by aloha even before we completely understand what it means. Funny how that happens despite the immensity of the blogosphere. Like bees and honey.
    2. We can individually disappear for weeks at a time, but slipping back in is amazingly easy. We’re all in it together, so everyone understands.
    3. We are all getting bit by the relationship geek virus, and we don’t want to be cured.
    4. We are getting increasingly impatient about taking some of our connections offline. Phone call charges? Who cares.
    5. We challenge each other to write better without even realizing it. Linking is not about traffic; it’s about admiration and appreciation.
    6. We welcome all comers, as long as their voices are positive ones. Optimism and enthusiasm absolutely rule. Respect is a given.
    7. As far as we’re concerned, geographical distance is completely irrelevant. So are time zones.
    8. We all spend too much time online, but we’d say, “We read a lot.”
    9. We are absolutely, unequivocally obsessed with learning. We’re getting much better with asking terrific questions.
    10. We suspect we are on the verge of something great, just not sure what it is.

  8. says

    You know Rosa, I LOVE your list, and I think that all that you said is so amazingly true. WOW!
    I would add #11: Though many of us have never met in person, the Ho’ohana community pulls us all together in ways not possible before blogging (was there a time before blogging?).

  9. says

    Rosa, you and Phil have said it all here – you’ve got me (and we) pegged! As Randy Travis said, “Forever and Ever, Amen”. Long may this community live!

  10. says

    Great article Maria. I agree with you about living in the moment. Today is the only day we have. We can’t go back to yesterday and tomorrow is just a dream.
    I have an acrostic that reminds me of the battle we all face each day. It is Wisdom, Action, and Roadmap which spells out war. We gain Wisdom from the past, we need Action for today, and plan out a Roadmap for tomorrow.
    When we realize we are at war with those negative nabobs in life that want to bring us down, we can truly be thankful for the positive influence of this blog and the Ho’ohana community!
    Thanks for sharing your top ten with us!

  11. says

    Maria…your post has inspired my own thinking, but it has also fueled some amazing comments as well. In fact, as I’m contemplating all that is written here, I am coming to this simple conclusion:
    *We are better when we operate out of a sense of belonging to something worthwhile.*
    Being a part of this community has fueled my own creativity, motivation, sense of excellence, desire to learn, feelings of significance, and discipline to press on. I often feel that independance is overrated.

  12. says

    Tim, you’ve just helped something click in my brain as I read your comment here” at work, we need to consider more carefully how the team dynamic can harness the same kind of excitement and camaraderie being generated in our virtual blogging communities.
    If I had to sum it up, it occurs to me that the biggest transition I’ve made in my own management coaching business has been toward more team coaching and less one-on-one coaching (although the inclusion of an executive’s coaching is a must in the SLC model). Yes, we reach more people that way, but more importantly, we put them in project teams which in themselves accelerate the learning pace and support. Peer-to-peer coaching then connects to, and magnifies our MWA curriculum coaching. Essentially, the new glue within the team takes our place, and they don’t need us anymore; the coaching has worked.
    And ideas which arise from the interaction of the Ho‘ohana Community most certainly give me team catalyst action steps all the time.
    Blaine, with your blogging expertise on Stronger Teams, and Dan, with yours on Rogue Projects, would you add your thoughts here for us too?

  13. says

    Thanks for the invite, Rosa. Rogue Projects are almost always the result of “virtual teams,” or at least non-traditional teams (i.e. volunteers, often self-selected, etc), so I think the Ho’ohana Community is very instructive.
    I love the stuff you identified – the persistent optimism and positivity, the complete disregard for boundaries of time and space, the pursuit of distinctiveness & expressions of individuality, interdependance and high level of respect for the other members.
    Compare that with the traditional managerial worldview, which demands confirmation, control, conformity, restrictions and syncronized work time and location…
    And all of this leads to better quality, engaging and meaningful work, continuous learning/teaching
    And of course, the Aloha / Rogue approach is just so much more fun and human…

  14. says

    I am working on a book review this week (and marking up the pages) about a cross country team struggling against adversity and uniting to achieve great things. There are lots of parallels to the conversation here.
    In running there is a technique to run just off the shoulder of your teammate or another runner. Similar to the way of the geese; one breaks the wind, the other rests and honks encouragement. After a time, they positions are switched.
    September has been absolutely fantastic here. The Ho’ohana community has been living the way of the geese, someone leading each day, others chiming in (honking) and waiting their turn.
    We can go a long way like this!
    For more on the lessons of the geese: http://synergyweblog.blogspot.com/2006/01/lessons-of-geese.html

  15. says

    What a great team learning dynamic this whole Jubilee has generated, Rosa. Thank you so much for hosting it! Through the posts, individuals have learned from each other – which is great.
    An added, broader dimension has been achieved through the comments and discussion. Through discussion, the story of Brother George led to a reverent understanding of our indebtedness to dedicated teachers who hold thier students to a higher standard. Through discussion, a walk with a dog in Vermont led to an understanding that we each make choices for our lives and that we have the power to reconsider past choices. Every day, wonderfully written ideas were presented; ideas led to connections; connections led to new learning.
    Learning and connecting have been around forever, but they have been limited before because of locality. It often was only by chance that one would come into contact with others with similar goals, thought processes, and communication styles. What the Ho‘ohana Community has achieved is to bring us together, in ways that, as Phil’s #11 says, was never possible before.
    Is the Ho‘ohana Community a team? In terms of collaborative learning, absolutely! Three key characteristics of a team are that team members share common objectives, have complimentary skills, and are mutually accountable for results. I believe that the Ho‘ohana Community shares the common objectives of learning and connecting, and participants clearly have complimentary skills. I ask the community, to what extent is there mutual accountability for results?

  16. says

    Blaine, I can think of a few things:
    Accountability in this community means being ready to justify our actions or decisions made as a result of ‘talking story’ and it starts when I share what I actions I have taken and decisions made since September 1st.
    Decision: I have started my March to Impact 1,000,000 business owners.
    Action: I started a daily podcast, Daily Thoughts for Business (http://dailythoughtsforbusiness.com/). It all started September 14th and invite you to join me as I continue my learning through action and Alaka’i (leadership with initiative).
    Let us Imua! (go forward) and run the race with passion, vigor, and Ho’omau (perseverance, never give up).
    I am working on my own list of 10 things I have learned in September, stay tuned

  17. says

    Wow! Maria Have YOU got the ideas flying.
    Who’d have thought way back in August when we were invited to take part in this month’s concept that this series of comments would be the outcome.
    Your post is deeply thought-provoking and makes me want to get on to a list of 10 things I’ve learned as well.
    However this series of comments is bigger than just your post (Sorry Maria and not to underestimate your contribution) I think your post has been a catalyst, the latest spark that has a fire of enthusiasm and community running through all of our veins.
    Somehow Rosa’s original concept, an accumulation of writings and comments, and new relationships between us, has sparked motivation, creativity and a sparkle that’s just zinging through me.
    Thanks you one and all!

  18. says

    Wow – I am blown away from all the things I am learning from reading all the comments here. It is truly motivating to see such a community of ideas. There is certainly powers in numbers! I would have never know that this post would have sparked so much thought and sharing.
    Thank you all for providing such energy and enthusiasm!

  19. says

    Eleven Things

    Learning and connecting have been around forever, but they have been limited before because of locality. It often was only by chance that one would come into contact with others with similar goals, thought processes, and communication styles. What the