When I recently stumbled upon a video titled “4 Important Lessons for a Successful Life,” I was expecting the usual clichés. You know, the ones about climbing mountains, chasing dreams, and perhaps a sprinkle of “seize the day.” Instead, I was introduced to the profound wisdom of… a pencil. Yes, you read that right. A pencil.

The professor in the video recounted a tale from his father, who, in a moment of profound insight, compared our lives to the humble journey of a pencil. Now, before you roll your eyes and think, “Great, another inanimate object trying to teach me life lessons,” bear with me. This pencil has more to say than you might think.

  1. The Art of Resharpening: Every pencil, no matter how pristine, eventually becomes blunt. And to be of any use again, it must be resharpened. It’s a bit like life, isn’t it? We face challenges, setbacks, and dull moments, but it’s these very experiences that sharpen us, refine our edges, and prepare us for the next chapter. So, the next time life grinds you down, remember: you’re just being resharpened for something greater.
  2. Erase and Redo: Ever made a mistake? Who hasn’t? But here’s the beauty of it: just like the eraser on a pencil, we have the capacity to correct our errors. We can learn, grow, and sometimes, with a bit of effort, make it look like the mistake never happened in the first place. So, embrace your inner eraser. It’s there for a reason.
  3. Leave Your Mark: Everywhere a pencil goes, it leaves a trace. Similarly, every place we go, every person we meet, we leave an imprint. Whether it’s a doodle, a masterpiece, or just a grocery list, never stop writing your story. And remember, sometimes the most profound marks are made when we least expect it.
  4. It’s What’s Inside That Counts: Break a pencil in half, and you’ll find its true essence: the graphite. It’s the core that makes a pencil, well, a pencil. Similarly, our true value isn’t in our exterior, but what lies within. So, whether you’re a sleek designer pencil or a chewed-up stub from the dollar store, remember: it’s your inner graphite that truly defines you.

Now, if I may be so bold as to add a fifth lesson to this pencil parable: Time is of the Essence. Just like a pencil, our time is finite. Every moment is a precious stroke on the canvas of life. So, sketch passionately, color outside the lines, and always strive to leave the page better than you found it.

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand & Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2024 Stephen Boudreau.