9 Inspiring Lessons from the School of Life

take your shot

A few years ago, I found myself sitting on my couch at home watching a movie that would fundamentally alter the course of my life, School of Life. Here are 9 lessons from the movie that speak to our purpose in life:

1. Life is a Hero’s Journey

Whether you realize it or not, you are the hero of your story. At the end of your life, all you’re going to be left with is a story made up of events and experiences. The most important thing you can do is to make that story epic. That is why I suggest that you always choose a life made up of experiences instead of one made of possessions.

2. Your Potential is Unlimited

Somewhere along the way, we started to get this ridiculous idea that our potential is limited. It might have been a bad grade or somebody criticizing us that caused us to believe in limits. Eventually, our belief in limits becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy. The truth is that your potential is unlimited. Once you start approaching every situation with this in mind, a world beyond your wildest dreams will open up to you. If you ask yourself what’s possible, you’ll see far beyond what you know today.

3. You’re Perfect

Self improvement is an interesting concept that is inherently flawed because the underlying premise is that there is something wrong with you and something you need to change. You’re actually amazing just the way you are. When you start to walk through the world with that in mind, you will soar to new heights and shine so bright that you’ll light up every room you walk into.

4. Take Your Shot

I’ve said before that your tolerance for risk will impact your potential for success. The idea that risk is a bad thing is somewhat of a virus that spreads through society limiting what people are really capable of. But it’s only when you’re willing to take some big risks that you get an opportunity to find out what you’re really made of. Why walk on to the field if you’re not going to play in the game?

5. Celebrate Success

You’d think it’d be easy to celebrate success right? Sometimes we gloss over our success because we’re so busy chasing it. It’s important to celebrate your small victories because they are what give you the drive to keep going. Don’t undervalue your small victories just because they are small.

6. Celebrate Failure

The other night I was watching a documentary about the creation of Pixar. You might know John Lasseter as the genius behind Toy Story, the world’s first feature length animated film. What you might not know about his story is that he was fired from Disney in the earlier part of his career. Getting fired from Disney was what connected him to the team that would eventually become known as Pixar. At the time it happens, failure is one of those things we can’t seem to understand. It tends to demoralize, destroy and defeat us. The wisest thing my dad has ever said to me is that everything happens for a reason. What he failed to tell me is that the reason may not be clear for quite some time.

7. We Don’t have That Much Time

Eckhart Tolle said that the present moment is all we have. The average life expectancy is 78 years. Every single moment is precious and it should be treated like gold in the palm of your hand. If there are things you want to do before you die, don’t wait another day to get started. Make the decision that today is the day. Take the first step in the direction of a dream and watch it unfold.

8. It Takes Less Than Death to Kill Us

Just because you are breathing, it doesn’t mean you’re alive. People die on the inside everyday and their wasted potential is the saddest thing in life. Emotion is what makes us human and alive. In any life there will be days that push our limits well beyond our breaking point. But, every one of us has the capability to bounce back built into us. The miracles in our lives emerge when we find it in ourselves to bounce back and show the world that we’re not down for the count.

9. Worry about Who You Are Being Not What You’re Doing

The amount of money you made, the jobs you’ve held, your performance at those jobs, the number of subscribers to your blog, the number of followers you have on twitter, and your Klout score won’t be on your tombstone (hopefully we never reach a point where they are). Arbitrary external measures of success drive so many of our actions, and so much of our behavior, yet ultimately they’re completely meaningless. People will tend to remember you for the person you’ve been not what you’ve done.

Make a choice to be remarkable, unforgettable, and amazing. After all that’s who you are when you overcome the fear of who you really are.

20 thoughts on “9 Inspiring Lessons from the School of Life”

  1. Srinivas,

    Thank you for this wonderful post. It was quite all encompassing.

    I especially liked # 3 – You’re perfect. How quickly we forget that important point. I wrote a post similar to this point on my blog. You can find it here

    I also liked # 6 – Celebrate failures. None of us would be walking if we didn’t fall countless times, before. Yet we continued to get up and persevere. I wrote a post about mistakes being learning opportunities. Here’s the link http://thepowertolive.com/168/finding-the-gifts-in-failure/

    Thank you for sharing such a wonderful post and for starting my week off right!


    1. Hi Connie,

      I’m glad you enjoyed the post. WE are quick to forget how amazing we really are. It’s an unfortunate part of personal development. We’re so busy trying to fix what’s wrong that we lose site of all the good things about ourselves. While it’s hard to celebrate failure sometimes I think it can be a blessing in disguise.

  2. I have never seen this movie, going on my love film list now though.
    I like the point about not having much time – so true, in the grand scheme of things, we are only here for the blink of an eye and this can help us minimise challenges and take bigger risks.

    I also had a giggle at the thought of social media stats on a tombstone…’here lies Kate, sadly missed by 331 Facebook friends, not forgotten by 250 twitter followers’….. hehehe. I really, really hope nobody ever does that!

  3. It’s so important to keep our purpose in life in focus. It’s so easy to get distracted and waste time headed in the wrong direction. Thanks for the great words of wisdom.

    1. Gary,

      People waste time everyday in the ego-driven pursuit of a life that looks good on paper because they have no sense of their purpose. It’s only when we can find that purpose that we’ll be truly happy.

  4. indeed – less so about achievements but more about passions and interests

    though a slight difference of semantics, in the chinese culture and being brought up by a tiger mum like myself, i’d say, we need to learn to think about what we want to “do” rather than what we want to “be” — we’ve been brought up to focus on what kind of identity we want to “be”, a lawyer, doctor, accountant etc, and not so much what we enjoy “do”ing

    so it’s all a balance. we need to think about what we like to “do” in terms of our passions and interests
    but not what we are “do”ing in terms of being too achievement focused

    1. I think that the excessive focus on achievement is a dangerous trap. In the Indian culture it’s extremely prevalent. You’ll never have your parents ask “what are you passionate about.” They just tell you what you should do.

  5. Srinivas – Great reminder to celebrate the little successes.

    I’ve found that when I focus too narrowly on the final goal I can become obsessed with a specific outcome and fail to notice the progress I’ve actually made. The whole project might be written off as a non-success just because the outcome I want to see has not manifested before my eyes.

    Indeed, there are many things worthy of celebration along the way to our destination which makes it a success. The act of celebrating fills us with a sparkling, joyous energy that inspires to move upward and forward. Thank you for this post.

    1. It’s not the easiest thing to celebrate our failures. It’s something I struggle with myself. But usually these so called failures had to happen in order for our successes to happen.

  6. Excellent message, Srinivas!

    So many of the points are so good, but the one I liked most is #8, that we can die long before our hearts stop beating. So many people live in the shadows of their own lives, shriveled and shrinking. Thanks for reminding us that we can step up to the plate of life and swing with all our hearts and whether we hit the ball or miss every time, life will still course through our veins for having stepped up to the plate.

    I also liked #9, caring more about being than doing. Such an important lesson to learn early on. Who we are will always speak much louder than what we do or who we claim we are.

    Thanks again for the wise words!

  7. Srinivas,
    I really enjoyed this post and am also going to put “School of Life” to the top of my movie queue. Many great reminders in here; my favorite is “choose a life made up of experiences instead of one made of possessions.” I’m looking forward to reading more of your blog. Thank you. J.C.

  8. I am looking for anything to help me out of this quicksand. I only find closed doors. I am a typical mother of this administration. My husband left to have an affair. He left us bankrup with no house. I have been doing great getting by. But I don’t want to just get by. I want to soar. I don’t want material things, just more happiness. A job, A place to live, something to look forward to.

    1. Oh my gosh, Dianne…reading that broke my heart! I feel so inadequate saying that I’ll pray for you, but I will pray while also working toward helping people like you with my own hands.

      You can do it, because you’re you. Ya, I don’t know you, but you do :) I know you can soar! And it’s these awful times that forge us, that burn our dross and make us who we can be. You’re up to this. And in the meantime, yeah, you have my prayers!

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