I have over 100 books on my shelf. Really, a small library ranging from accounting to graphic design and computer science. I love lifelong learning.
I’ve read most of my books. Every morning I come into my office and sit down to learn something new, but it wasn’t always that way. There was a time that I came to my “office” to play video games and check Facebook.
I was a mindless zombie. But I got tired of being tired. I wanted a purpose in life. I wanted success.
Knowledge is the foundation for success.
Charlie Munger (Warren Buffet’s partner) said of Buffet’s success:
Warren Buffett has become one hell of a lot better investor since the day I met him, and so have I. If we had been frozen at any given stage, with the knowledge we had, the record would have been much worse than it is. So the game is to keep learning, and I don’t think people are going to keep learning who don’t like the learning process.
If Warren Buffett (one of the most successful men in the world) believes in lifelong learning, wouldn’t it make sense for you to do the same?
People who identify as lifelong learners for personal or professional gain create options for themselves. Being a knowledgeable worker makes you an invaluable worker, and if the time ever comes to change professions or strike out on your own, you’ll be able to with ease.
It’s just insanely difficult to “get into the zone” when it comes to learning. As Munger said – “I don’t think people are going to keep learning who don’t like the learning process.” There’s a problem with that, and not a very difficult one to pinpoint.
Public education is an assembly line.
It’s true – public education is a factory for factory workers in America. Whether those are the true origins or not, it has turned into a reality.
Listen to your lecture. Wait for the bell to ring. Focus on math, science and literature. Don’t talk during class. This is what you will learn today.
Students get pressured to score well on standardized tests. That’s the only thing that matters.
Students have nearly no personalized curriculum until high school, and, even then, the choices are extremely limited in rural schools. Sure, you can take a “gimme” class like Art I if you need a break in the middle of the day. Physical education is only required once during your high school career.
The focus in high school is Math, English and Science all four years. And these courses are rarely taught well. Teachers have no freedom in how they teach, they’re expected to cram students’ heads for standardized testing. Teachers don’t have time to go to each student, find what they need help with, decide how to help them, then implement. It’s just not possible.
It’s hell for a developing brain, and we put kids through it every week day during Autumn, Winter and Spring in the good ol’ U.S.A.
What’s the result of this mind-numbing torture?
The unfortunate attitude that learning is boring.
Kids don’t want to learn any more when they come home. Once they finish their homework they shut down and play video games or watch reality T.V.
Or worse, they drop out. As of 2014, 7.4% of high school students drop out, and only 75% of high school freshmen will graduate on time in the U.S.
Sometimes these vegetative habits last a lifetime. Go to work, come home, eat dinner on the couch with the T.V. on, go to sleep, repeat. It’s like high school stifled every last bit of creativity and determination out of these unfortunate souls. They don’t want to learn anymore.
But lifelong learning requires self-motivation and discipline. If a student doesn’t see the benefit of what they are learning, they aren’t likely to apply themselves to the process.
Maybe they don’t even realize how bad it is. That they’re making a wage that’s earning their bosses or the owners more money than they can imagine. The pitiful worker wants more money, but is afraid to ask for a raise.
A “good job” is all they want, without even realizing that a good business is the better end of the deal.
Even that “good job” is out of reach for the couch potato that doesn’t want to invest in their own education. The good business is just a pipe dream.
Want to finally level the playing field?
Knowledge is power, so it’s time to start learning.
Adopt the attitude of a lifelong learner. Your brain wasn’t meant to go stagnant at a certain age, so commit to learning new things.
If you don’t know what your purpose is, education is the way to find it. You don’t need to go back to school, but at least start researching topics you find interesting. Build your own curriculum.
By exploring deep into certain topics, you’ll gain rare knowledge. If you start applying that information to your life, you’ll become an expert.
And when you become an expert…well, the sky’s the limit.
If you have kids…
Try to instill in your children the value of curiosity. Hell, pull them from public schools and try to make learning fun by letting them explore on their own.
Find them mentors instead of math tutors. Dig into your children’s lives and figure out their interests, then encourage them until they develop expert skills. By the time they’re 14 they will have knowledge that college graduates will envy.
We don’t need a new generation of factory workers. We need creative, curious, intelligent people in our society. Let’s work on becoming those people ourselves, and work on getting our kids there, too. Kids who value lifelong learning will be our future leaders.
Make learning part of your daily routine.
That’s all it takes. For you or your kids. Just make learning part of every single day.
Whether you read a business book, browse a design blog, study how to draw or just start creating something – commit to lifelong learning by doing it every day.
Every. Single. Day.
I highly recommend Khan Academy if you want to tackle general topics or start exploring deeply.
Whether you’re looking into business or art, Khan Academy is a fantastic resource for getting your “general education.” Who knows, you might find you have a knack for something you think you’re horrible at.
I’d also be remiss if I didn’t mention the Book List. There’s a wealth of hand-picked knowledge just for you, our readers.
So…what are you going to learn today? Tell us about your plans for lifelong learning in the comments below.