Reflections and Lessons on My 30th Birthday

Today is my 30th birthday and, as a general reflective person, I cannot help but look back on the 30 (short) years of my life and make a notes on my thoughts. I am writing this because I am flushing out my thoughts on paper, an exercise I find gives me focus and allows me to see the big picture of my life and experience much clearer. Who I am and whom I aspire to be is shaped by my God, my parents, my closest friends and, most importantly, my wife, who, as my constant and my critic, has lovingly prodded and inspired me to be a better husband, father and man.

I find it interesting that I have probably learned more about life in my last 4 years than in the previous 26 years combined. I left college at the age of 22 and was determined to change be successful and make a name for myself. Among other lessons, I have found success to be defined very differently now than I defined it then and that life has so much more depth than previously perceived. With this in mind, my reflections are as follows:

Time is the Most Valuable Commodity

I understand that there are more valuable things in life than time, but nothing so clearly illustrates your priorities and heart than how you spend your time. As I have worked a second job (sometimes more full-time than part-time), had two amazing kids, become more committed to spending time with my wife (which unfortunately was not always true) and been more involved with our church and friends, I have found time to be at an ultimate premium. As with everything else as well, How much time I spend with my kids and with my wife reflect on the true weight I put on their part in my lives. As more and more things have vied for my attention, I have learned to be fully present in every moment. That leads me to another lesson I have learned…


Focus, or the lack of it, can impact me in two primary ways. First, as more and more things and people vie for my attention, I have found that I must focus on the moment, task or event at hand. Whether I am distracted by work when spending with my family or vice versa, I am never as effective or make my time as profitably as when I am fully present where I am. I also owe my focus to those who in that same moment are giving me theirs.

Secondly, I have learned to focus on those things that are most important, the things that I am best at, or the things that will give me the most return on investment. I have tendency to want to try everything and excel at everything I do. This can be a benefit, but it can also dilute my time even more and prevent me from make the most of the things that deserve my time and focus the most.

Experience Does Matter

When I first started working in a full-time job, I saw little benefit in experience and especially felt that should hold little weight in a hiring manager’s decision process. I remember losing out on a promotion and receiving the explanation that “you were very close to the person we chose over you but he/she had more experience in certain key areas.” My initial thoughts from this? “How absurd. These decisions should be based solely on talent and ability. I wouldn’t want to be part of of a company puts more weight on experience and tenure anyway.” I now see how naive and ignorant I was.

I never saw the value of experience until I had some. I now see experience as an extremely valuable tool in all areas of life. I have learned how to more effectively deal with customers and clients, and situations based on actually experiences I have been through. Each one shapes and sharpens me for the next.

These few lessons are only the highlights of what I have learned and now reflect on after 30 years. Thank you to everyone who has a part in my first 30 years! I truly appreciate you and your impact in my life and look forward to sharing the next 30 years with you!

By: Kyle Pfaffe

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