It was a question that made me pause.
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“What qualifies you to speak on this topic?” My answer – “Nothing but everything.”
I had just finished a keynote speech in front of hundreds of people in a distant corner of the world that was renowned for having a world-class education system. I didn’t have any formal qualifications in my verbal public ponderings.
That was the “nothing”.
But I was on the other side of the planet speaking after being invited to share my experience of building a global personal brand. So no formal marketing education but yet there were runs on the board. Creating content, sharing my insights which turned into worldwide visibility and revenue.
That was the “everything.”
And there lies the paradox. Education can be “learned” in the classroom but the reality is that nothing happens until it is put into practice. The “doing”.
Educators are everywhere. And many have never left school. I was one of those. And one day I left my teaching career behind. I wanted to discover the real world. I wanted to learn and I felt something was missing.
“He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches.” – George Bernard Shaw
It was time to take my formal education and dive into life learning.
These are the bright minds who go to university and become teachers and professors. Einstein and Stephen Hawking are two that come to mind.
We sit in classes and books are opened. Maybe the occasional link is clicked. The master speaks. Information is shared and dissected. And there is nothing wrong with that.
They have revealed magic to the world.
And there are the mavericks that don’t fit into a box and become successful leaders and entrepreneurs.
Bill Gates started an Ivy league university degree but dropped out to start Microsoft.
Richard Branson left school at age 16. He had dyslexia.
Steve Jobs attended one semester at Reed College and dropped out to visit India and study eastern religions. What qualified him for anything?
Elon Musk. Educated yes. But left to “do.”
“Experience: the most brutal of teachers. But you learn, my God do you learn.” – C.S. Lewis
Small school, big school, and graduating school are just the beginning. Sometimes the ticket to entry to the big leagues and the networks of influence. And then the real classroom is revealed. It bashes you up and knocks you around and its bruises are painful.
It’s called accelerated learning. Imagined learning meets reality. The house of information meets the village of hard knocks.
The best teacher is life, coupled with innate curiosity and doing. And actions speak louder than words. The information overload that we are sometimes confronted with means that we need to clarify complexity into simplicity.
Life is the ultimate educator.
My challenge to you
So you have taught yourself.
You have the gift of experience and life learning.
You now have a responsibility.
The next step is to share your insights with the world.
Where do you start?
Albert Einstein said “If you can’t explain it simply, you don’t understand it well enough.”
One of the best ways I have found to explain?
It’s painful but necessary. Sit in a quiet room and put it down on a page in black and white. Take the cloud of content confusion and distill it into clarity.
Just that act.
Taking the labored time to condense the infernal information and noise that bounces and confounds the numbed mind. Put it into words. Simple and concise. Wrangle the competing thoughts into your best wisdom.
Make common sense to the reader of what first seems like nonsense. Noisome chatter and clatter.
Then share it with the world.
And make a difference.
We’ve all done it.
Classes, teachers and tests.
Doing our best
The race to the education finish line
Then the question.
The striking reality
Is this it?
Or a beginning
The need for grit
We strike out into the wild
Not really prepared
For the truth
The cotton wool is unwrapped
Some of us jump
Are you ready
Stepping into a world without a map
We still have the mind of a child
Information needs more
The open door
Welcome it into the mix
Life needs more than a data upload
The normal seeding
A Google feed
Online classes streaming
We need to feel pain
We need to earn
We need to burn
Comfort is never your teacher
Embrace a life lived
Is just the beginning
To open your heart
Are you ready to start?
Dedicated to my beautiful children: Glenn, Annika and Kimberley.