As long as you’re green, you’re growing. As soon as you’re ripe, you start to rot. – Ray Kroc
For most of us, our education stops the moment we finish formal schooling. From age 2 to probably 25, we attend various citadels of learning such as elementary, primary, secondary, higher institution, graduate school, vocational training school, etc. We get indoctrinated, instructed, programmed, our worldview gets shaped, we form lifelong relationships, even meet our future life partners or business partners in these institutions. But sadly for a lot of us, our learning atrophies because we confuse schooling with education.
Education is supposed to be lifelong, from cradle to death. The word “education” is derived from the Latin words ēducō, educate, educere and educatum. It means to bring forth, to draw out, to nourish. education is supposed to draw out our hidden talent which is latent in us. As American writer Mark Twain noted, “Don’t let your boy’s schooling interfere with his education.”
“Don’t let your boy’s schooling interfere with his education.” – Mark Twain
You can not give what you do not have and invariably, you can not take people farther than you have gone. As Greek poet Archilochus once quipped “We don’t rise to the level of our expectations, we fall to the level of our training.” To paraphrase motivational speaker Zig Ziglar “Personal growth is like taking a bath; if you stop doing it, you begin to stink”. We have our bath and brush our teeth at least once a day because the consequence is immediate (Stinking body and body odor). What you do not use, you lose. Our mind is the most powerful tool and it needs to be nourished continuously to prevent stinking thinking.
In “The Courage to be Happy: True Contentment Is Within Your Power”, authors Fumitake Koga and Ichiro Kishimi observed that “The objective of education is self-reliance, and the work that is required of the educator is assistance towards self-reliance.” The educator is a ‘counselor’ a trusted guide who seeks to point the student in the right direction.
The objective of education is self-reliance
Canadian-American motivational public speaker Brian Tracy in his book, No Excuses!: The Power of Self-Discipline, observed that you become 26 percent better yearly by doing the following:
Reading one hour per day in your field will make you a national authority in three to five years. This alone can give you your 1,000 percent increase over the course of your career.
By working on yourself a little bit each day—learning new skills, getting better at your key tasks, setting priorities, and focusing on higher-value activities—you can become 26 percent more productive over the course of an entire year.
By the Law of Accumulation, or the Law of Incremental Improvement, by the end of twelve months, you would be 26 percent better. If you continued to improve at 26 percent per year, by the end of ten years, with compounding, you would be 1,004 percent more productive. Your income would increase at the same rate. This formula works—if you do.
If you read in your field one hour per day, that will translate into about one book per week. One book per week will translate into about fifty books per year. Since the average adult reads less than one nonfiction book per year, if you were to read fifty books in your field each year, do you think that would give you an edge in your profession? Do you think that it would move you ahead of virtually everyone else in your business? Of course, it would!.
“The race will go to the curious, the slightly mad, and those with an unsatiated passion for learning and daredeviltry.” – Tom Peters
In his book, The 15 Invaluable Laws of Growth, author and speaker John C. Maxwell shares 15 strategies and insights for developing a personal growth plan. He called the 12th law- The Law of Curiosity: Growth Is Stimulated by Asking Why?. He writes:
Curious people possess a thirst for knowledge. They are interested in life, people, ideas, experiences, and events, and they live in a constant state of wanting to learn more. They continually ask why? Curiosity is the primary catalyst for self-motivated learning. People who remain curious don’t need to be encouraged to ask questions or explore. They just do it—all the time. And they keep doing it. They know that the trail to discovery is just as exciting as the discoveries themselves because there are wonderful things to be learned along the way.”
“The cure for boredom is curiosity. There is no cure for curiosity.”—Dorothy Parker”
Beginners know they have a lot to learn and are open to every possible idea. They are willing to think outside of the box. They don’t get hung up on preconceived notions. They are willing to try new things. If you have a beginner’s mindset in an area, do everything you can to maintain it. If you have come to think of yourself as an expert, beware! Find a way to rekindle a learner’s attitude. Find a mentor who is ahead of you in that area.
“The single greatest difference between curious, growing people and those who aren’t is the belief that they can learn, grow, and change.”
In his 2005 inspiring commencement speech at Stanford University, ex-CEO of Apple Inc. Steve Jobs advised, “Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish”. He implored that we let our curiosity be our compass and guide to navigating the roller coaster called life. He said:
When I was young, there was an amazing publication called The Whole Earth Catalog, which was one of the bibles of my generation. It was created by a fellow named Stewart Brand not far from here in Menlo Park, and he brought it to life with his poetic touch. This was in the late 1960s, before personal computers and desktop publishing, so it was all made with typewriters, scissors and Polaroid cameras. It was sort of like Google in paperback form, 35 years before Google came along: It was idealistic, and overflowing with neat tools and great notions.
Stewart and his team put out several issues of The Whole Earth Catalog, and then when it had run its course, they put out a final issue. It was the mid-1970s, and I was your age. On the back cover of their final issue was a photograph of an early morning country road, the kind you might find yourself hitchhiking on if you were so adventurous. Beneath it were the words: “Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish.” It was their farewell message as they signed off. Stay Hungry. Stay Foolish. And I have always wished that for myself. And now, as you graduate to begin anew, I wish that for you.
If you wish to improve, be content to appear clueless or stupid in extraneous matters. Don’t wish to seem knowledgeable, and if some regard you as important, distrust yourself ~Epictetus.
Former United States Secretary of Health, Education, and Welfare (HEW) under President Lyndon Johnson, John W. Gardner delivered the “Personal Renewal” Speech at McKinsey & Company on November 10, 1990. In the speech, he spoke about the need to stay curious and deliberate personal growth. He noted
Life is hard. Just to keep on keeping on is sometimes an act of courage. But I do worry about men and women functioning far below the level of their potential.
We can’t write off the danger of complacency, growing rigidity, imprisonment by our own comfortable habits and opinions. Look around you. How many people whom you know well — people even younger than yourselves –are already trapped in fixed attitudes and habits.
There’s a myth that learning is for young people. But as the proverb says, “It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.” The middle years are great, great learning years. Even the years past the middle years. I took on a new job after my 77th birthday — and I’m still learning.
Learn all your life. Learn from your failures. Learn from your successes, When you hit a spell of trouble, ask “What is it trying to teach me?” The lessons aren’t always happy ones, but they keep coming. It isn’t a bad idea to pause occasionally for an inward look. By midlife, most of us are accomplished fugitives from ourselves.
“It’s what you learn after you know it all that counts.”
Someone defined horse sense as the good judgment horses have that prevents them from betting on people. But we have to bet on people — and I place my bets more often on high motivation than on any other quality except judgment. There is no perfection of techniques that will substitute for the lift of spirit and heightened performance that comes from strong motivation, The world is moved by highly motivated people, by enthusiasts, by men and women who want something very much or believe very much.
I’m not talking about anything as narrow as ambition. After all, ambition eventually wears out and probably should. But you can keep your zest until the day you die. If I may offer you a simple maxim, “Be interesting,” Everyone wants to be interesting — but the vitalizing thing is to be interested. Keep a sense of curiosity. Discover new things. Care. Risk failure. Reach out.
“Be interesting,” Everyone wants to be interesting — but the vitalizing thing is to be interested. Keep a sense of curiosity. Discover new things. Care. Risk failure. Reach out.
One of my favorite things to do in the whole world is striving to become a better version of myself on a daily basis. I try to spend at 3-4 hours either listening to an audiobook, reading an ebook or physical book daily. I love having epiphanies, aha moments, reading about lessons learned from people I admire, noting insights, and applying best practices from the best. It is often said that if you want to be the best, you need to study the best. We get rewarded in public, what we diligently practice is private.
Personal growth compounds over time, you would begin to stretch your imagination, expand your worldview and relentlessly execute on great ideas. I commit to personal growth through challenges such as the 100 Books Reading Challenge (since 20216) and the 50 Audiobooks Challenge (2020). The journey has not been easy as it requires a lot of time commitments, dedication, and trade-offs. From personal experience, I can testify that personal growth and development are worth the sacrifice.
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.