Last week, my colleague and I took a handful of students down to San Juan, Texas to work with Proyecto Azteca, a nonprofit organization that helps low-income families living in rural colonia communities along the Texas/Mexico border get adequate housing. Similar to Habitat For Humanity‘s model, the families have to help in the construction of their homes. It’s called sweat equity. The idea is that if the families want the houses, they will put in some work in order to have them and that they’ll take more pride in the house once it’s constructed because they helped build it. This pride will translate into them taking care of the house and paying off the low-interest loan (in some cases, no-interest loan).
At the same time last week, I was mulling over my life and some of the mistakes I’ve made. Now, really, calling them mistakes is just one way to look at them. I could call them lessons because I’ve learned a great deal from my mistakes but I found myself wishing that I didn’t have to learn certain things the hard way.
After a few minutes of my pity party, something occurred to me. You have to put your own sweat equity into your life. Some lessons will have to be learned the hard way so you really get it. It’s your job to grow, expand, progress…shape yourself into the person you want to be. It’s definitely not easy, but it is certainly worth it. So-called mistakes help us to clarify who we’re being, what we’re doing and how we want to be in the future. Mistakes are tools. We should use them, not lament over them.
Choose to see whatever you’ve been regretting as a guidepost to who you’d like to become and change accordingly.