Learning to Live Well
This week I read that protesters were pepper-sprayed by police in Santa Monica (California) when they interrupted a college Board of Trustees meeting by chanting, "No cuts, no fees, education should be free." The irony is over-whelming! Education has always been free (or nearly so)! As I've often written, we live in a remarkable time when all the books ever written are available to anyone who wants them.
Whether (or not) we read is, of course, a very different question. Whether (or not) we listen to powerful audio programs, or take the classes, or ask the questions and seek appropriate mentors, is (as always) a deeply personal decision. But education and skills, ideas, history, biography, and wisdom are easily available to all who seek them. Obviously, diplomas are expensive! But education is basically free or "cheaper than dirt."
Throughout my adult life, I've read at least a book a week, usually a bit more than that. I've read history and business, biography and humor, even a few mysteries and thrillers just for fun. I think it's helped. It's certainly taught me a few things. So when I hear that most adults rarely read a single book, or when folks complain that learning is hard or expensive or "out of reach," I tend to roll my eyes. Diplomas are expensive—and often worth it! But education is free. And all of us are "self-taught." Do yourself a favor. Learn something new this week.
I apologize for ranting. Perhaps I should get a book or go online to learn something about impulse control or anger management. But I do maintain that, "Those who do not read are no better-off than those who cannot read." To me, that's worth pondering.
As a guy who benefitted from many years of formal education, including four graduate degrees, I strongly believe in school! I encourage you to stay in school, go back to school, to hang out with students and surround yourself with people who hunger and thirst for knowledge! Get where it's good!
And, I freely admit I've had some wonderful teachers and some of my best teachers were even paid to teach. There was Wendell Whalen who taught me about philosophy and Bob Crandell who taught me to love good literature. And I am profoundly indebted to "Miss King," the saint we tormented mercilessly while she patiently taught us to write in complete sentences. She's surely long-dead now, but generations of teenagers owe her more than we can ever repay.
But many of my best teachers were never paid to teach. There was Bob Ekegren who taught me about business. And Bob Martinez who taught me the Zen of pistol shooting. And Thomas Leonard who taught me the difference between coaching and teaching.
My list could go on, but I want you to think about your own teachers and mentors. Who has helped you along the way? Who are the people who helped make your life possible? And, perhaps most importantly, who are your current teachers?
Who is mentoring you? Who is helping you find your way to "the next level?" Who are you watching and listening to, who are you following to find out "how they do that?"
In the end, we are all self-taught. Learning is a never- ending process and we either intentionally pursue knowledge, or we drift and learn things haphazardly along the way. And, unfortunately, not everything that happens to come our way is actually helpful in reaching our goals or living the life we intended.
Read more and read smart. Hunger for knowledge and seek wisdom. Our world seems to have a remarkably short supply of smart, disciplined people. Why not be one of the few who "know stuff" and live life based on the best information available, and then pass it on to others?