Life Lessons After Education
Education? Completed it mate.
3 years of infant school, 4 years of junior school, 5 years of secondary school, 2 years of 6th Form and 4 years of University. 18 years of formal education.
Reflecting on this lifetime education I will share with you 5 lessons. 5 lessons shared with the benefit of hindsight.
Take them separately they will be useful to you. Together, you will be powerful.
Knowledge comes from learning; wisdom comes from living. – Anthony Douglas Williams
This quotation really stands out to me. It speaks to the necessity of a practical learning experience in the classroom. Hearing something is one thing. Applying it and if possible, doing it, is entirely another.
Learning is best when practical. Most schooling is not practical enough. You must bridge the gap yourself. For me, this was chasing opportunities to apply my learning and learn new things such as via clubs and societies at school and uni.
The fact is that you can’t predict or account for real-life experience. You can talk about it, hear others’ experiences, watch videos, read and all sorts of other things. But experience is irreplaceable. For me, that’s when knowledge becomes wisdom – with personal lived experience.
So, my advice to you all is to seek learning to gain knowledge in whatever area that is for you. Then, do your utmost to transform that knowledge into wisdom and genuine understanding by experiencing it however you can.
Manage your time before it manages you.
Time management is a fractious topic. Every person has it, every person does it. So, it’s no surprise when the next guru, leader, teacher or [insert person here] says they know how actually to approach time management.
There are lots of different ways to approach managing your time. There are several approaches which when combined have worked for me which I will share. But I caveat my sharing them with the statement that ‘they work for me’. So, I am not going to tell you what to do. The only thing you can do is test what works and learn from it.
But what works for me? Well, as the heading suggests if you do not manage your time in some way it will manage you. What I mean by that is that you will lose it, waste it, spend it doing tasks which are not a priority.
My first thought here is around the relationship between time and productivity. Our traditional perception in my experience is wrong. We tell ourselves that the more productive we are in our projects, jobs and hobbies the better we are as people. We reward and applaud overworking and even burnout. My perspective is that the less you work the better and keeping the results the same is ideal.
One rule I use to my advantage to make this happen is called Parkinson’s Law. Which states that a task will take up the time allotted to it. So, if we are smart about how we manage ourselves, our deadlines, and our time. Then, our time does not manage us.
Use it to meet your deadlines earlier and make more time for the things that you care about. That's what counts.
Chase your Ikigai at all costs.
Why do you get out of bed each day? What truly energises and excites you? Ikigai is an ancient Japanese concept of fulfilment which I found through the mainstream in the self-development space a couple of years ago and it changed my outlook on life.
Illustrated by the Venn diagram opposite, (without being too dramatic) it acts as a bridge between all that exists and what is possible. Bringing together an individuals’ passion, mission, profession, and vocation. Ikigai lies in the middle. It’s somewhat complex but actually quite simple once you understand it.
The visualisation takes the adages “do what you love and you’ll never work a day”, “find what you’re good at” and “get paid for what you love” among others and combines them together.
So, that is the aim. The Ikigai. The centre between what you're passionate about, what your mission is, and what you do as a profession and vocation. It will change over time but often not too much. You likely already have ideas of what yours could be, really. Even if you doubt if it’s possible.
Do you. Live only as you can. You are unique. Break outside of the box.
Find your Ikigai. Chase it. Live it.
If your actions inspire others to dream more, learn more, do more and become more, you are a leader. – John Quincy Adams.
Leadership is a practice. A skill. A trait. It manifests in words in emotions but most of all in actions. The one thing that leadership is n
ot - is a position. Not all teachers are leaders. Not all bosses are leaders.
Leaders have followers, not subjects. If what you do is meaningful to others, then you are a leader.
Taking actions towards being a leader instead of becoming one has been a transformational change for me. What I mean by that is I have changed my perspective to see myself as an equal to everyone that I speak to. It has changed the dynamic of conversations I have had and allowed me to speak on an equitable level rather than be spoken down to.
My advice, then, is to decide what you can and want to lead others in – and chase it.
Direction is more important than speed. Most people are going nowhere fast.
We are constantly under pressure to know. To know where we are going in our lives and careers. To have achieved a certain level of wealth or status by a certain age. In fact, we glorify young prodigies and tell ourselves that you are ‘gifted for your age’.
My advice on this level is to be content with your direction and to prioritise that over the speed of your life.
This is contrary to popular advice which tells us to be sure of what path we lead, which relationships we protect, which career we will enjoy and what hobbies to take up. You get the picture. The list is endless. But for me, this is wrong. Because that list is endless. Meaning it does not finish and so we are never going to be satisfied with where we are and where we are going right now.
We are so focused on the false reality of getting anywhere quickly that we let ourselves slip into doing just that without a second thought as to where that actually is.
A focus and acceptance of going somewhere you are happy with slowly will change your perspective and personal happiness – it has for me.
Notice how all these lessons are focused on one key theme. The self. Self-worth, self-respect, self-acceptance. Start with yourself because that is all that matters in an unapologetically selfish way. Education gets you so far, living gets you the rest of the way. These lessons will serve you well but remember to apply them. Reading is one thing, acting is another.
So, that was fun! I will leave you with these sentence summaries:
· Focus on becoming wise, not a vessel of knowledge.
· Manage your time before it manages you.
· Chase your Ikigai so you can live it.
· Inspire others and become a leader in your own way
· Don’t forget to prioritise direction over speed.
Good luck out there!