It’s Teacher’s Day in the US and it got me thinking about school, which got me thinking about the School of Hard Knocks (SHK).

I realized it’s a school that most people never graduate from and that’s all right because we’re not supposed to. I’m writing this post for myself, as much as for you, because I’ve been knocked down more times than I can count.

Graduation is a time of transition. However, learning—if you’re lucky—never stops. At different points in our lives (or in my case, consistently) you may find yourself in the SHK again.

I’m not going to talk about getting knocked down and standing up again.

Nor will I talk about having courage, perseverance or resilience.

No, I want to talk about the teachers.

The School of Hard Knocks is filled with teachers—many of them are scary, some are undervalued, most are not seen—but we need them.

What do these teachers look like?

They are the client, reader, or boss who rejects you.

The backstabber.

The person who steals your ideas.

The person who’s better than you at every turn.

I could go on and on, but you get the picture. Teachers in this school challenge you. They don’t make life easier; they frustrate you and hopefully help you improve. If you don’t learn the lesson they try to teach you, you’ll have to repeat the class.

We see this in extreme cases—the person who dates a string of jerks, the person who constantly gets fired because of an ‘attitude’ problem. They never learn.

In life, we have many teachers.

I once had a teacher, who I’ll respectfully call ‘Hell Hath No Fury,” who was smart, funny and amazingly creative. I was thrilled with the chance to work with her. The only trouble was she refused to listen to any suggestions I made.  I didn’t want to dampen her impressive creative drive so I listened and listened and listened (more than I should have).

That’s when I discovered what I needed to learn. I realized I was being stifled, while I was letting her soar. So I spoke my mind.

And she blew up at me. The partnership ended and…I felt relieved.


Because I’d met her before, it was a repeat class. But I’d finally learned an important lesson. I realized the relationship—although we did some fun collaborative projects—was toxic.

So take some time and reflect. Instead of getting down, celebrate your SHK teachers, not for their sake, but for yours. Learn your lesson, but don’t get upset when another teacher shows up. As long as you’re alive, there are plenty of lessons to learn.

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“Lessons” © 2016 Dara Girard;  Image copyright at top of post © 2016 by Volha Kavalenkava/123rf