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  • Writer's pictureCalvin

Too Much Education

I’ve been watching MasterClass recently on lessons of leadership. The tutors were Bob Iger (CEO of Disney) and Howard Schultz (CEO of Starbucks).

I admire both men as practical leaders, and learned a lot of valuable lessons in the class. Both classes were worth my time, it’s just that sometimes I struggle to find a lesson that can be specifically catered to my own condition and preference.

School is so standardized these days. We’re taught the same lessons in class, whether it be English, mathematics, or science. And the tests we take to get into college are standardized to the maximum extent as well (i.e. SATs).

But, life is never standardized. Everyone has their own kinks and lifestyles. Everyone has different preferences and personalities. Work in different environments.

It’s almost unfair to expect people to do well with a standardized form of education. In an ideal world, education (like many other things) should be personalized and tailor-made for the man or woman that is using it.

This should be the trend going forward. More personalization in education, and less generalization. Sometimes, I’m a bit pessimistic on the value of education.

Once you go past middle school and go thru the basics of mathematics and English, it seems like everything else is not a pre-requisite. The more complicated the things we get taught, the harder it is for us to remember or comprehend.

I don’t know if I even use any of the stuff that I got taught in college in my current work. Even the leadership classes that I take - by greats such as Howard Schultz and Bob Iger - have minimal practical value when trying to apply it to my everyday work in the family business.

Running a small business is way different from running multi-billion dollar companies. Sometimes, I feel like I just need to figure how to best approach work and life on my own. I appreciate all the books and classes in the world. But at the end of the day, they are just guidelines - not rules.

I can deviate and walk my own path if I so choose. Education is kind of like that. It is important of course. But at some point, it gets redundant and the best type of application is practice in the “real” world.

It’s one thing to learn topics and tips, but it’s another thing to actually apply them in your everyday life. And that’s something I’m struggling with.

I’m taking some accounting courses on Coursera, and I realize that I only need to use the most basic of stuff from those courses in my everyday work in the financial field.

So, I realize that I don’t need to take such advanced courses and just stick with the basics. Instead of learning from tailor made instruction online, I’m learning on-the-fly through actual application on a day-to-day level.

This is not an assault on books or education in general. I try to read at least one book per month, and still enjoy reading on topics such as sales, business, and leadership - in hopes that I can gain some wisdom and apply what I’ve learned to my business and to life as a whole.

But, there are just so many books and topics to learn these days. Everyone’s got their own perspective on leadership and business that they’d like to cram into your head.

And there’s so many choices and options to follow. So many experts to choose from. Whether it be sales, negotiations, leadership, business, strategy, or spiritual talks. Everyone’s got their own opinions and ideas.

Sometimes, I feel like books should just be read as a form of entertainment - rather than as a goal to achieve something. Reading books is one thing, but applying it to the “real” world is another thing.

Similarly, you are taught countless numbers of topics in school - English, math, history, social studies, second language, biology, chemistry, physics, gym - the list goes on and on.

How much of that stuff do we actually remember or apply on a day-to-day basis? At the end of the day, many of us (hint: me) just want to get good grades and beat the system as it is laid out to us.

But there should be a better approach when it comes to education. Not simply as a means to get good grades. But, a means to practice and apply in day-to-day life.

That is where the true value of education comes in. Application and practice. Not just simply learning or cramming knowledge into the head. But, putting it into practice and exercise.

So, I hope to do more of that in my business. I’ve read countless books on leadership, listened to plenty of TED Talks, watched some riveting MasterClasses. But at the end of the day, all of that is just information for my entertainment and inspiration.

The real work at the end of the day comes from taking action and putting it into practice. It’s like they taught you in elementary school. Practice, practice, practice. And practice makes perfect.

From there, maybe we will develop our own strategies and theories about proper leadership. And walk our own paths.

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