Have you ever heard the expression, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger?”

I hadn’t heard it for a while, but the other day a co-worker said it to me as he recounted to me the horror story that was his day. He had been on a job site for over eight hours for what was supposed to be a fairly routine installation of a new component. What happened from there was anything but routine and was played out directly under the South Florida sun in the summertime, meaning it was very warm.

As is the norm for this guy, he got the job done on site and then came back and began his day here at the plant. As he was driving away from me on a forklift to his next task, he uttered that line and added, “Maybe you should write your next article on it.”

So, is it true? If it doesn’t kill us, does it make us stronger? When you get right down to it, what the expression really means is, we learn from our mistakes, right?

Remember back in history class in high school when the teacher told you that those who do not learn from the past are destined to repeat it? Have you learned from your carwash past, or are you destined to repeat it?

At some point in our careers, we’ve all made major mistakes either through ignorance or arrogance. How we choose to process these incidents defines whether we let them kill us or make us stronger. It’s nice to celebrate our successes, but it’s our defeats and how we react to them that play a bigger role in our development both personally and professionally.

Early in my career, I was on a ladder in the tunnel with the equipment running. Before I knew what happened, I was on the floor; the ladder had been pulled into the wrap brush, and the car that was in process was taking a beating from the ladder. I never put myself in that position again. It didn’t kill me (although it could have), and I learned from it. I, indeed, grew stronger from having gone through that.

There are several other stories similar in nature to that one in my past — I’ll spare you all the details — but each one left its mark. Obviously, none of them killed me, but each of them made me a little stronger. I’m sure most of you have gone through the same.

Washing cars isn’t for the faint of heart. We all have tough periods that we have to endure. Enduring the tough times is what makes the good times so much sweeter.

So, my colleague was right. If it doesn’t kill you, it makes you stronger.

If it doesn’t, another expression comes to mind: “You can’t fix stupid.”


Bob Fox has over 30 years of industry experience and is an instructor at CarWash College™. Bob can be reached at [email protected] For more information about CarWash College™ certification programs, visit CarWash College or call the registrar’s office at 1-866-492-7422.

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