Getting An Education Delays Your Success

Kid Learning on iPad
We don’t give kids enough credit. They can learn plenty on their own.

Education is something I’ve pondered quite a bit in my life.

My mom was a first grade teacher nearly her entire adult working life. I respect the work she did. I think she was a great teacher that really loved working with kids.

I remember a number of times that past students would come back to visit her in their adulthood to thank her for the impact she had on their lives.

To me she was “just Mom”, but to those kids she made a real impact. And the older I get the more I appreciate her (and my dad’s) parenting.

But I’ve struggled with the idea of education for a good portion of my life.

Late 20th Century Public Education

The standard education in the US in the late 20th Century was going to a large school building for 12 years. Kindergarten through Senior year in high school. Age 5 or 6 to age 17 or 18.

It’s not that I didn’t like school. I was a pretty solid B student. And that was usually without ever studying. I’ve written my feelings on that before.

But I never really liked being in class. I felt like I could be doing other things. Maybe not things that would fit the “normal’ way of getting an education, but perhaps better ways.

Courses, Classes, Books, etc.

The Internet has been great for education. It’s actually been incredible.

And the smartphone has been another huge leap.

I remember even as a teenager thinking how amazing it was that literally any bit of information was at my finger tips. Just a dial-up away.

I have vivid memories thinking how powerful that was. The entire human history prior to that hadn’t had access like that. It was crazy.

No with the smartphone you don’t even need to be in front of a computer with an Internet connection. And since those early days a lot more information has been uploaded and shared.

It’s incredible.

One interesting thing I’ve noticed is the trend of courses, classes and even some books and things like that.

I see it in the business world because that’s where I spend a lot of my time, but I see it in other areas as well.

Someone in business will put together a course. On just about anything. Social media. Working with freelancers. Turning your service business into a product service.

I have a couple thoughts on those courses…

Shouldn’t It Be Free?

Selling a course reminds me of the music industry.

For decades, the music industry thrived by selling a way to listen to music. But many in the industry were under the illusion they were selling the music.

And I think us consumers of music were under the same illusion most of the time. But then the Internet blew up our world and suddenly we realized we could share music with each other. And it was natural to share music and not feel bad about it.

We may not have realized it, but we didn’t feel bad because the entire time we had just been paying for a way to listen to the music.

Obviously the music industry has been kicking and screaming every since. Although I think it’s lessening now.

Education is going through the same thing.

I heard a prominent entrepreneur say something to the effect of:

A teacher today, especially a young teacher, is basically a bookstore owner in 1996. They have no idea.

The idea of kids going to a school will go away. Not without a fight, of course, but the costs don’t make sense anymore. Just like paying $20 for a CD didn’t make sense when the Internet came around. In fact, I’m actually kind of surprised kids go to school pretty much the same way they did in 1970.

But anyway, I’ve gotten a bit off course.

Those business courses, classes and things like that…

Shouldn’t the information be free?

In most cases, it is. The information people pay hundreds and even thousands of dollars for is often wasted. The information is pretty much out there for free. Other than a very small number of instances you can get great information for free.

How is information monetized today? Here are a few of my thoughts on branded content.

Education Is Procrastination

I’m oversimplifying this, but it sounded too good not to type.

But those business courses and things like that really are procrastination. It’s especially true in the entrepreneur world where wannabe entrepreneurs that think they want to run a business buy courses. They think they need to learn more before they jump in.

That’s procrastination.

Ted Moseby did this on How I Met Your Mother.

Final Thought

There’s a weird thing you notice amongst many successful people. Especially entrepreneurs.

They’re people of action.

Not necessarily doing action for the sake of action. But they’re always working on something. It’s focused usually, but they’re always doing something.

And along the way they’re learning. They’re learning by doing. They have a destination in mind and to get there they learn what they need to and usually only what they need to.

But it’s weird. If you ask some of them what they would change they often say they wish they would have gotten an education. I think that’s just a society thing. Society, in the past, put so much self worth in getting an education.

But maybe the best way to get an education is not in a classroom or not with a course.

But with action. Doing something. Having something you want to do and doing it and learning along the way.

Maybe we should be looking at the entrepreneurs that went to the “School Or Hard Knocks” for our inspiration on what a real education looks like.

Sitting in a classroom or in an online course is just delaying success.

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