The good, the bad and the learned

The good, the bad and the learned

I sat in my newsroom tonight, alone, trying to get caught up on some work. The only sound emanated from the scanner – the constant source of information and, at times, entertainment for journalists. I glanced around the room, picturing the people who would be at those desks in the morning. Then my mind wondered a little farther, and I began to envision those who occupied those desks a year ago, five years ago, 10 years ago.

It dawned on me as I took a few moments to reminisce that I had learned a great deal from the people who manned those cubicles and offices. Some of them I looked up to for they had helped me when I was just a kid cutting my teeth in the business. They answered all my questions. They offered me advice and tips. They made me a better journalist, editor and page designer. Some of them became like family as I felt a camaraderie and love for them that makes them special to this day.

Others, to put it kindly, I just couldn’t stand. They were irritating, braggadocios, incompetent … well, I believe you get the picture. But after some thought, I realized that I also learned from them. I educated myself in the ways not to do things or to treat people. I learned traits that I did not want to emulate. I saw things in them that if I avoided would make me a more productive journalist.

You see, a newsroom is a microcosm of life. We always will have those people in life that we love and cherish. Friends and family who stand by us and offer advice and tips that make us better people. These are people we love to be with and we want to experience as much of our life with them as possible. Then there are those people in life that we simply don’t care for. We separate ourselves from them, avoiding them as much as possible because we just don’t like them.

Both groups have something important in common – we can learn something from them. Countless people come in and out of our lives. There are those we look up to who are gone too soon. There are those we dislike who seem to stick around far too long. No matter our feelings for people we can learn something from everyone. Good lessons and bad help shape us and make us better people. How you view these experiences will help determine what kind of learned person you become.

If you avoid the irritants in life at all cost, you are going to miss out on valuable lessons. How will you ever know which traits are bothersome if you never experience them? How will you learn what mistakes not to make if you first don’t witness them? How can you become a better person if you don’t live life with some people who aren’t friendly or uplifting so you can see the flaws in your own character?

A newsroom is a diverse group of people who hold a common goal – to inform the public and put out the best product possible. Some people you will like, even love, and consider them treasured friends. Others you would gladly do the 25 to 30 years the judge might give you for your actions. But from all of them you can take things that will make you a better human being. And life outside of the workplace is the same. Everyone, good or bad, can teach you something if you are willing to learn from them.

As I reflected on the newsrooms of yesteryear, the names floated through my mind. I could hear old co-workers favorite expressions and tidbits of advice. I can recall the times we laughed together with a sense of humor only journalists can really appreciate it. I remembered those folks who were less than pleasant to work with and the lessons I learned from watching how they went about things. Both groups left a lasting impression, and hopefully, made me a better journalist.

As I continue to travel life’s path, I think about the lessons I have learned from everyone I have met along the way. Some were amazing opportunities with wonderful people who I will cherish forever. Other moments were painful, irritating and downright maddening, but contained valuable lessons of their own. The good and bad of life have helped me become more learned. And it did so more readily when I was willing to learn from everyone. How about you – are you willing to be taught by both friend and foe? If you are, life will hold far more lessons for you to learn and from which to grow.

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