Looking Back: Three Lessons from 2015

When I think about this past year, the first word that comes to mind is gratitude. I’m thankful for where I’m at today. The second word that comes to mind is challenging. It’s been no secret, that 2015 has been one of the toughest years of my life, both professionally and personally.

It was about a year ago (December 2014), that I had a dream that 2015 would be a “trying” year. The dream didn’t have much context, but the message was clear; 2015 would be hard. The one word that kept getting stuck in my mind was trying. Well, 2015 lived up to all those words, and I’m happy to move on to 2016, but I’m thankful for all the great lessons I’ve learned. Listed below are the top three things I learned in 2015.

The Meaning of Value

Yes, I know this sounds simple, and many people understand what value is. But what I’m alluding to is bigger than just a simple definition. Over the last year, I’ve learned that value is much more than just a definitive word, for me, the meaning of value has truly impacted my life. The meaning of value has became a positive and very inspiring feeling in my world.

I have learned how to nourish and grow valuable relationships in my life. Both professionally and personally. 2015 was a year that “valuable” relationships in my life came to light, which I’m truly grateful for. I have been blessed with great family and friends, both new and old.

I have learned the importance to be of value in my professional life too. To be successful in business, it’s a necessity to always be providing value. Not only to your clients/customers, but also to the team you have surrounded yourself with. This year, as a professional, I learned how to take an honest assessment of myself and genuinely ask, “How am I being of value to the people around me?”

Like I stated above, my meaning of value expands to much more than just a definitive hard answer. Value in my life is now measured on a scale of “how much impact” is being given and received.

The Importance of Follow Through

Yes, I know, another “simple” concept. Although follow through might seem simple, I’m not sure it’s natural for a lot of people. In 2015, I have learned how much of a benefit it is to actually follow up with people, and follow through with what you promise.

I won’t lie, at times in my career, I’m guilty of being bad a this. In 2015 I made strides at following up with clients, investing in co-workers, and delivering on the promises I made. Follow up and follow through is not only simple, it’s 1,000% beneficial. Like I said- Follow through isn’t natural for a lot of people, so therefore, it doesn’t happen all the time. Once you show some effort and investment and deliver on a promises you made, or you follow up with someone (especially with no strings attached), you start to be known for not only being “reliable”, but for also being consistent. Reliable, consistent, and honest are all things I want to be known for, and it all starts with the simple concept of “follow through”.

The Benefits of Reading

One of the best things I discovered in 2015, was the love I developed for reading. Prior to 2015, the last book I read was in 2011 for school. I hate to admit that, but it’s true. I read three full books in 2015, and started three more.

My whole life, my lovely grandmother has preached to me the importance of reading. She reads, no joke, one book a day. She says reading has kept my grandfather sharp and young. And now, years later, I’m starting to believe her. She’s a well of knowledge and stories, and a lot of that is credited to the books she has devoted her time to. She’s in her 80’s and she’s “with it”. I have to believe some of that credit can be given to the love she has for reading.

I have found that reading helps me with memory, my everyday writing, and more than anything, it helps me wind down. Currently, I love reading about business and entrepreneurship. It gives me a chance to be a sponge and to learn valuable lessons who essentially have want I want, and have done what I strive to do.

When it’s all said and done, and I truly look back, it’s safe to say 2015 was not just a “trying” year for me, but it was one filled with big lessons. In hindsight, it’s always easier to say that. Fortunately for me, I’m in hindsight mode right now.

I’m very blessed. I have a job I really enjoy, great people in my life, and a passion for success that burns inside me that I can’t deny. I know most of you, my readers, share that same passion. 2016 is going to be a great year for me. I can feel it, and I’m excited for it.

Last but not least, I want to thank you. For everyone who has taken the time to read and follow my blog. In 2015, I started to create a small audience my website, and for that I’m always grateful. Thank you all sharing 2015 with me.

James David Harper