I try to not spend too much time looking back, unless there’s a good reason for it.
My goal is always to look for the lessons in my experiences, so that I can use that wisdom to make myself a better person.
Otherwise, looking back too much and for the wrong reasons can lead to dwelling or lead to focusing on things that you can’t change. The past is the past. There’s no altering that…
But what you can do is take lessons from your past experiences and turn them into fuel for the future.
I occasionally got into trouble when I was a kid. Nothing too serious. Just normal kid stuff. And my parents weren’t the sort of people who just let us kids get away with whatever we wanted to… There were consequences we had to face.
When I was sixteen years old, I did something stupid. My parents were furious, so they grounded me.
Now, when I say I had to pick walnuts, I’m not referring to a few trees we had in our backyard. I’m talking about having to harvest walnuts on a 5.5-acre orchard.
I hated harvesting walnuts. Hated it.
And they knew that I hated it, which made it the perfect punishment. If you’ve ever picked walnuts before, you know how nasty of a job it can be.
The process will turn your hands completely black, sometimes for weeks after the job was done, and the picking part took at least a week to complete. It was the last thing I ever wanted to do, but it did teach me how to do hard work.
I’m grateful for that. But it also taught me something else…
It taught me how to work smarter.
You see, I knew that, regardless of whether or not I was going to get punished again, that harvesting those walnuts was going to be my responsibility, one way or another. At that time in my life, it was my fate.
But I knew, even then, that there was a better way to do it.
One day, I was walking through the hallway of my high school, and I saw a sign taped to the wall. It read:
“Senior Class Fund Drive: Raise $1,000 For the Senior Trip!”
Immediately, a light bulb went off in my head, and I walked straight to the senior class president.
I approached him and said, “Hey, why don’t you come help me pick walnuts at my family’s orchard? I’ll contribute to the $1,000 you need.” He immediately agreed, and said he’d meet me the next morning.
Now, I was hoping he’d show up because I was dreading spending another day by myself picking these walnuts…. But then…
Cars, trucks, and vans all started to show up. There must have been at least 50 kids! In just about 2.5 days, they picked the orchard completely clean. It was amazing. But then, I realized…
I was faced with a new problem.
How on earth was I going to pay all these kids?
I really didn’t know what I was going to do. I had traded one problem for another. But then the parents of the kids actually offered to buy the walnuts from me. I just needed to name a price.
Remember, I’m just a teenager…
I didn’t have any business experience yet. I was an average student. All I knew was that I needed to throw out a number that would put us all in a good position…
So that’s exactly what I did.
And you know what happened? They bought all of the walnuts. All of them.
Not because they thought I was giving them such a good deal… I made a killing that day.
They did it because of their kids’ hard work, and because they loved their kids and saw value in the exchange.
That day taught me three incredibly valuable lessons…
- In every experience, there is a lesson… But you have to look for it
- Work smarter to create better and more efficient outcomes
- You’ll always face new problems — stay calm and find the value
I’ve carried these lessons with me throughout my entire life.
And without them, I never could have created a $150 million company from scratch.
— Brandon Dawson