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Three Amazing Life Lessons I Learned From Winn & Kathy

Life Lessons

By Caitlyn O’Shea, Future Professional at THE TEMPLE

“Be better, not bitter!” These are the words that keep repeating in my mind with an unwavering resound, ever since I left the Weinberg Center in downtown Frederick, MD on April 19th.

That morning I got ready for school at THE TEMPLE: A Paul Mitchell Partner School and went through the motions of my usual routine. But I knew that this wasn’t an ordinary school day. I knew that this school day was going to be something spectacular, not only for myself, but for my fellow schoolmates and learning leaders as well.

I knew this because Winn Claybaugh and Kathy Buckley were arranged to be our guest speakers for the day.  Now, for those that do not know these names, I suggest your familiarize yourself.  Winn Claybaugh is the co-founder, co-owner, and dean of all Paul Mitchell schools. Not only that, but he is one of the most kind hearted and inspiring people I have had the pleasure of hearing speak. And Kathy Buckley? Well, Kathy Buckley is an amazing human being… PERIOD.  She is a comedienne and motivational speaker who has overcome more obstacles than any one person should ever have to endure in one lifetime who speaks with a passion and enlightenment that could only stem from years of perseverance through tragedy (something we all need to reminded is possible, no matter the magnitude of our low points).

I have had the pleasure of seeing these two speak twice now, and each time I have taken something different away from the experience. Their words gift you with laughter and their stories are so heartfelt that you can’t help but feel connected to them and to everyone around you.

As I sat through the experience, I held my classmates hands on either side of me while we laughed, cried and laughed again. Afterwards I couldn’t help but feel lighter inside!

The overall messages that I have taken away from having the privilege of seeing these two people speak, can be divided and summed up in three parts:

Love yourself and love what you do.

This is so hugely important and yet somehow we forget on a daily basis to celebrate our lives and thank our lucky stars that we are able to get up every morning and go about our days as we please and that we have love and a purpose and are are deserving of happiness, no matter our shortcomings or setbacks. We forget to love ourselves among all the obstacles and self-doubt because it is easy to get lost, but that doesn’t mean that finding yourself and your place is impossible.

You can overcome ANYTHING.

Navigating the hard times can sometimes seem like a never ending plight of life. When we are in the thick of something difficult, whether by our own design or something that is completely out of our control, our knee-jerk reaction is to panic or become depressed under the weight of trying to find a balance/bright side. Does this mean that we will never be happy again? 

Does this mean the sun will never shine again?  It can feel that way, but feelings can be dominating and so you have to take control and put them in their place. Sometimes you have to forgive yourself and forgive others and show your strength of self by tackling a problem head-on. You control how you perceive a problem, so why can’t you control the brighter outcome?  It’s simple, although not necessarily easy to do. But the reality is that you can overcome ANYTHING if you really want to.

Never judge anyone.

This, to me, is the best lesson that anyone can learn. Not only in the cosmetology industry but in all walks of life.  So often we judge people without hesitation or pause.  We judge based on appearance, the way they talk or even by what we may have heard about them from others. And for what? To settle our own insecurities about the world and about ourselves? To project our self-perceived flaws onto another in order to make ourselves feel better?

Why?

Instead perhaps stop to consider that every single person has led a life up to this point that differs from ours and that perhaps we can’t possibly understand them enough to pass judgment on them. Instead of flexing these defensive muscles, why not instead take a minute to consider other people and their humanity? THEIR story. Not just ours. Flex that empathy muscle and remember that whatever shortcomings and obstacles you’ve worked hard to or are working hard to overcome, other people are working just as hard as you.

Which brings me to my opening quote as said by Winn himself… “Be better, not bitter”. Our lives, our future jobs and current jobs in this industry (or any industry, for that matter) are not always going to be easy. The one thing to always remember is to grow from every experience and to never let yourself harden to the point of losing your humanity, compassion and drive for what is important to you.  Be humbled, be grateful and above all… show em’ who’s boss!

Thank you Winn and Kathy, for renewing the love of this crazy cosmetology industry and inspiring a whole new wave of Future Professionals. It’s people like you that keep us vying for more!


Click here to read our blog about the event.