5 Lessons I Learned in 2017

5 Lessons I’ve learned in 2017

I felt like 2017 was one of my worst years. And I have had some very bad years. Yes, we did hit some milestones: my social enterprise Uinspire is gaining momentum, our network has expanded and we have raised some money for life-changing projects. We also hosted our first successful event in London with the remarkable economist Prof. Muhammad Yunus and this month we will launch the Uinspire Digital Academy in Sri Lanka in partnership with Samasource (https://www.samasource.org). But the road was tough. I dealt with failure, I dealt with frustration and anxiety. But, at the same time, it was also a year of extraordinary personal and professional growth. This comes with the territory of being an entrepreneur, as the saying goes:no pain, no gain. So, as I look back at 2017 licking my wounds, I also contemplate my lessons. Here is what I’ve learned in 2017:


1.   Beware the cycle of negativity

A man may take to drink because he feels himself to be a failure, and then fail all the more completely because he drinks.” This analogy used by author George Orwell to describe a vicious cycle can also be used to describe a man drunk on his own negativity. Things go wrong, that is guaranteed, but how you react is not. There is nothing more deadly to success than wallowing in your mistakes only to make even more mistakes. A common mantra in Silicon Valley is “fail fast” – learn and move on, quick.  Forgive your mistake, reverse the downward spiral, create a fortuitous circle.

2.   You don’t always have to be “nice”

Being positive isn’t always about being liked. You can’t please all the people, all the time. While this doesn’t give a person license to rub everyone the wrong way every day, it does mean doing the right thing isn’t always doing what everyone wants. Focus on your goals and realise that every now and then someone won’t like what you’re doing. In fact, if everybody around you is smiling all the time, the chances are that you are doing something wrong.

3.  Making suffering a habit

This relates back to my original point: an opportunity for pain can also be an opportunity for growth. My worst year was also my best year because I learned so much. Get out of your comfort zone. A life spent taking the easy road, the shortcut, will not bring you closer to your goals. Contrary to popular belief, a certain amount of stress is beneficial to our physical and mental well-being. Just as an athlete will callus their hands or feet through rigorous training, so you must strengthen your mental resolve through struggle.

4.  No one is an island.

Yes, it is a cliché, but it is true. In a world that idolises the individual, the self-made man or the renegade, it is far too easy to forget the importance of others. All of us are the sum total of our teachers, our mentors, or supporters, our friends and our helpers. Is it vital to stay humble for we are all standing on the shoulders of giants. No one does it alone. Another lesson life has taught me: be kind to the people you pass on the way up, because one day you may meet them on the way down.

5. Be aware of your environment.

Yes, our success relies on others which is why it is so important we surround ourselves with quality people. It is the law of attraction, positivity begets positivity. Increase your exposure to other successful, driven people and you will yield the benefits. This does not mean surrounding yourself with yes-men and avoiding your critics, but it does mean avoiding negativity: people who see walls instead of bridges, and those who invite failure. Instead, seek out people who inspire you, who dream big, and aim high because it will rub off on you. People who think big allow you to expand. You cannot put your hand into a pot of glue without some of it sticking and likewise you cannot interact with inspired and mind expanded people without some of that rubbing off on you.

Let’s make 2018 the greatest year of our lives! No one is perfect, but everyone deserves happiness. May your life be filled with love, laughter, and joy in everything you do.

Here is to an EXTRAORDINARY 2018!!! Let’s do it!

Kieran Arasaratnam

About Author

Kieran Arasaratnam

Kieran Arasaratnam is the Founder of Uinspire. It is a social enterprise that connects people - to inspire, empower and enable them to achieve their dreams.