Reflecting on the year that was – 10 incredible lessons

Emerson Csorba - Tue Apr 17, 2012

And just like that, the year is over. Well, there are still 13 days left before May 1 hits… but you get what I mean! I have a smile on my face as I write this, because it’s hard to believe how fast time passes. But it’s also hard to believe just how much one year can bring, in terms of learning. The last year has been so much fun, but it’s also been humbling. It’s brought some great moments, but a fair share of failure as well. I could probably come up with 100+ things that I’ve learned this year, but here are ten of them!

  1. Learn to laugh at things: Sometimes, it’s easy to get caught up in the absurdities in the world, to lose sleep over things that might not go your way, and so on. Humour is one of the best ways to move forward. A good laugh can ease anxiety, put a smile on your face, and make you think, “You know what, that issue that I thought was really bad is actually pretty minor!” And 95% of what we think is significant, is actually pretty minor…

  2. Long hours do not always equal more success: You gotta work hard, but you also need to find what works best for you! Building a solid routine every morning, getting work done right when it hits your desk, and making change quickly rather than following extended periods of thought, all add up to what I like to call, “making things happen.” As the Nike slogan goes, “Just do it!”

  3. Stay active: Playing sports and running consistently have provided so much energy throughout the year. There’s nothing worse than long meetings, and sitting down all day. If you want to feel energetic, start by being energetic. Get up, get moving, and you’ll find yourself feeling better in no time.

  4. Most meetings have little to no value: Not too long ago, I watched a TEDx Talk, where the speaker encouraged everyone in the audience to cancel their meetings for that week. At first, I was like, “No way… This guy is so wrong.” Actually, was I ever wrong! Going from meeting to meeting = little time for thinking in between = a jumbled day = low productivity = tiredness. I encourage you all to cut back on meetings, and do stuff that you truly enjoy.

  5. Failure is great: I knew this from beforehand, from my time growing up as a pitcher in baseball (sometimes a bad games makes you refocus). Too many good days in a row can lead to a feeling of comfort, which is not always such a positive thing. Some of the best days are the ones that absolutely suck, where something hits you out of leftfield. You might be shocked for a little bit, but that’s a good thing. The Japanese proverb “Failure teaches success” couldn’t be more true.

  6. Write, write, write: So much of this job has been writing reports, briefs, more reports, e-mails and so on. When you finish that English 113 class, I hope that you don’t say, “No more essays for me,” because there might just be more essays in store.

  7. Read, read, read: Some of the people, that I’ve been very fortunate to work with, are voracious readers. They read a few books per week, they’re on the Edmonton Journal and the Globe and Mail each morning, and much more. The printed word is such a beautiful thing (it still blows my mind, thinking that we can transfer what we’re thinking in our minds onto a piece of paper). We don’t live forever, and we might not always have the chance to travel to Paris or Venice. But we can read about those cities whenever we want. Become a voracious reader, and never stop learning.

  8. Don’t overthink things: Sometimes, in months like September (where it is very busy), people will be in a rush, stressed, etc. If someone says something that sounds sort of rude, try not to react too sharply. You know why? Because that person might just be having a tough day. Or maybe you’re having a tough day, and misinterpreted what the person said. Take a nap, have a bite to eat, and chances are you’ll forget about it.

  9. Build the right team, and it can do amazing things: This year, I’ve had the pleasure to work with an incredible and inspiring team of execs. The work that they have put in cannot be described. But the SU is WAYYY more than a team of execs. The leadership provided by Justin, Kyle and Jon in Advocacy is unbelievable. Amanda and Giselle in the Student Governance Office have been stellar week in and week out. The SU Services bring so much energy to the organization, and create memories for students that they will never forget. Programming has put together some events, from this year alone, that I won’t soon forget (dodgeball and AntiFreeze!). I don’t have enough space to name everyone, but you all know who you are.

  10. I could never do it without family: In my first two years at the U of A, I would often be gone from 7 am until 10 pm, and spend little time with those that matter most to me. It’s pretty ironic, thinking about that… But this year, things definitely changed for the better. Family provides love, support, consistency, and that little force that keeps you level. (There’s nothing like losing in FIFA 2012 on the XBOX 360 to keep your ego in check!) For every person, family might mean something different. But whatever that family is, keep them close, because whether times are good or bad, they’ll be there with you.

Thank you to everyone for an outstanding year. It’s been a pleasure since day one, and nearly 365 days later, things haven’t changed.