ABCs of Positivity: E Is for Education
When you think about the amount of education each of has received, it can be mind-boggling. It wasn’t necessarily book learning or formal study, but pretty much everything you know how to do, someone taught you: Tie your shoelaces. Turn on the computer. Read. Cook. Use the internet. Set the clock on your VCR. You weren’t born knowing these things – someone had to show you how to do them.
Education is so much more than the information we receive in school, and the most successful people are lifelong learners. Education can show up in a multitude of ways, from a formal school setting to workshops and seminars to books to magazines and journals to videos to hands-on experience to mentors, and everything in between. Depending on which survey you believe, the top CEOs and executives read four to five books a month, or about one a week.
In order for any education to work, we must first be open to receiving it. We’re not going to learn anything – or retain information – if we take the attitude that either we already know whatever the lesson might be, it’s boring, or we just don’t need to know it.
I had the best computer tutor in the world in my son’s father. Anthony was – likely still is – a genius when it comes to all things computer related, from hardware to software to programming. He was always ahead of the curve when it came to learning anything about Macs and PCs. He taught himself C++ from a book and built the first website I ever saw to host a list of his rare and bootleg CD collection. Light text on a black background, it had the graphic of a column of CDs running down one side and a menu across the top. This might have been 1996 or 1997, when the Internet was brand new and no one even knew what a website was.
After that, Anthony bought equipment to record audio and video on the computer – and he offered to teach me how to use it. The idea terrified me, but instead of admitting that, I just told myself, “I will NEVER need to know that stuff.” It’s kind of a V8 clunk-myself-on-the-head moment when I think of how much further along I could have been in my marketing knowhow had I taken him up on that offer. I could have been an early YouTuber, instead of trying to get my channel started now, one in a sea of a 37 million.
All I can do is shrug and know everything is in divine right timing. I got here, with this blog post in front of you, and I’m OK to be ramping up my video presence now. And I am grateful for the software and Internet foundation Anthony did give me – because they set me up to be quite good at some things I might have taken years longer to master had it not been for his help.
In another episode of “I’ll never need to know that,” I blew off my college advisor when he suggested I needed to take a lot more poetry to graduate with my creative writing degree. Imagine being 21 years old and thinking you know everything. Perhaps it’s just a human right of passage, a phase we all go through. I have relatively few regrets in my life, but one of them is that I didn’t listen to Professor Shelton when he told me I needed to take more poetry. “No, sir, I don’t. It says right here in the course catalogue that I have to take only two poetry classes to graduate with my degree in nonfiction writing – and I’ve taken two poetry classes.”
The wise old man put on his glasses and examined the line I pointed to with my know-it-all index finger and said, “Well, I’ll be damned.” He seemed to know he had lost the argument, but he tried valiantly to change my mind. His exact words were, “You will regret it later if you don’t take more poetry.”
And my smarty-pants response was, “No, I won’t.” I hated poetry and was terrible at writing it. I found it tedious and boring and I just didn’t see the point. So at the time, from my very limited vantage point, I thought I knew how I would feel in the future. Was I ever wrong!
My life is wonderful now – but it could have been richer, fuller, more lyrical, and filled with much more beauty and joy if I’d hadn’t thought I knew it all when I was 21. I keep thinking I will take a poetry class, but other things keep taking priority. I don’t think it’s ever too late – but my stubbornness cost me an amazing opportunity.
In order to become a lifelong learner, we must have – or develop – a curiosity about the world around us. Interestingly, I would often ask Anthony, “Have you ever wondered …?” about one of the dozens of things I wondered about daily – and his reply was almost universally a monosyllabic, “No.”
I’ve wondered the weirdest stuff for the longest time. When I was in grade school, I wondered how often I’d had the same tray in the cafeteria. I never did it, but I thought about marking one tray and checking every day to see if I got the marked tray. Similarly, when I walk the same path frequently, I sometimes still wonder, if my footprints were visible, what the trail would look like. How many of them would overlap and how many would be isolated and undisturbed by the others.
I’ve asked so many odd questions and been curious about so many odd things that I actually put all those wonderings into a book – my first – titled 1,001 Real-Life Questions for Women, the eBook version of which won the first annual Global eBook Award in the Women’s Studies category.
Benefits of Lifelong Learning
It helps us build confidence. When we voluntarily choose to further our education through any means, we are likely looking to master the thing we wish to learn. Mastery builds confidence – and it also opens new doors and opportunities. Mind you, it helps to prioritize our lifelong learning – like I mentioned in the post on Brilliance and Balance, we can do everything, just not all at once. There can come a point when we are juggling too many new things at one time. This might work if all you’re after is a haphazard or surface knowledge; it won’t serve you if you’re actually trying to master the new skill.
It makes us more interested – and interesting. When we follow our natural curiosity to the point where we seek education in a specific subject matter, we are expressing interest. The more interested we are – in things, people, places, ideas – the more interesting we are. This makes us better conversationalists, better communicators, better writers, and more accomplished overall.
It increases our versatility and adaptability. When we view continuing education as an opportunity, rather than a chore, we realize we have a choice regarding what and how we learn. The stronger a foundation we build, the more easily we can add new skills and adapt to new technologies.
If there’s a class you’ve been meaning to take, a subject you’ve been wanting to study, or a skill you’ve felt you could or should develop, what’s holding you back? Tomorrow, next week, next month, next year is going to pass whether or not you take the class. Don’t be like my friend Tim who always regretted not pursuing an architecture degree but thought he was too old by the time he’d reached 30. Those next six years were going to pass, whether he pursed the degree or not. “What if I spend the time and money to get the degree and I hate it?” he asked.
“What if you don’t get it – and you would have loved it? I guess you’ll never know.”
ABCs of Positivity A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
Laura Orsini is an author, speaker, consultant, publisher, and creator of Fairy Positive, an antidote to the worries of the world. Find her on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn.
15 thoughts on “ABCs of Positivity: E Is for Education”
I believe in life long learning and try and learn something each day to show my son the importance of schooling since I Homeschool him full time. Do I always manage this no, and when I don’t then I apoligize to Charlie and tell Charlie I’m human and I will do better.
Thank you for the response, Glenda. You are human – a pretty important lesson in its own right!
Totally enjoyed this post; and while I know the importance of learning, I have been guilty of doing both the non-wondering thing and the know-it-all thing at different points of my life (even now for certain things). I am certainly learning to be more open to learning and more curious… and this post reaffirmed my thoughts in so many ways.. Thank you for sharing your story as well..
Appreciate the thoughtful feedback, Vidya. I’m certainly learning to be a bit vulnerable in telling my truths for this blog – and challenge.
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