Sunday, April 12, 2015

5 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE School

A most common and fun question to answer when I get interviewed goes something along the lines of this: "What do you wish you knew before......" Dedicated to all you wonderful people who were willing to interview me for one reason or another... and, continuing on this running theme of student and career oriented posts...

HERE ARE............!!!

5 Things I Wish I Knew BEFORE School

1. Earn your stripes, earn them early.
This is relevant to high school, college, graduate school,.. basically anything during and surrounding emerging adulthood. We've all heard that phrase, "Start 'em early!" In many ways, I agree... within reason of course. I tell many people that I mentor as a life coach (of sorts), "Make your claim to fame, and, move on." What I mean by this, is that earlier you start in pursuit of an ideal, the quicker you are likely to achieve it and/or something else truly significant along the way.

We've finally emerged into a point in humanity where schooling only means so much. As it stood earlier in the 20th century, schooling actually gave competitive and functional advantages to those who earned degrees. However, the world is now saturated with graduates at all levels. Information is no longer useful; ability is. Therefore, start on something. Pursue with the intent of perfection.

It is like what my Brazilian Jiu Jitsu instructor likes to remind me of: The next belt promotion isn't the goal, BLACK BELT is the goal. In life, there are no shortcuts and there are no breaks. The only way to get better in life is to do it; school no longer offers the shortcuts we wished and hoped were still available. The earlier to earn your stripes, the higher up you will be in the areas of life you aim to be.

2. Work hard. Grind harder. Fight even harder. Win.
I've said it soooo many times before: As a corollary to "It's not what you know, it's who you know"... I remind those I mentor, "It's not what you do, it's HOW you do it."

The only way to get better at something is drilling it, practicing it, perfecting it, and dedicating your life's energy toward it. If you work harder than those around you; if you're at the grind with more effort that those around you; if you put out that much more than those competing against you in the fight... You. Will. Win.

Work ethic is the fuel of success. The rest, is made of wise choices, fortuitous circumstances, and catching the ball when it comes. 

3. Earn everything, because you deserve nothing.
One of the things that truly irks me about an emerging cultural element in our society is entitlement. UGH! Even writing that word out makes me a little ill.

This kind of has its own relations to my first thing I wish I knew "Earn your stripes." So often, especially among youngsters, there's this attitude that so long as I do something, I deserve it. NOT THE CASE IN LIFE. What is the case in life is that you must EARN IT. A degree, a certificate, a participation trophy... none of those things makes one deserving of ANYTHING. It is the earning, the achieving, the laboring, and the suffering endured that truly makes someone deserving of anything at all... and even then, they didn't deserve it... they EARNED it.

Once you graduate, you've only earned your degree; you must earn everything else.

4. Knowing is second to the ability to apply it.
So much of our educational system is based on knowing. So little has to do with applying. I remember this hilarious discussion with a pharmacist years ago when I was learning undergraduate chemistry. Immediately, she rattled off all these useful chemical interactions and how you could do certain things to make one drug into another. When she found out I was learning numbers in chemistry, she just about lost it: "That's not chemistry! That's theory."

What I really wish I knew before school was that anything I learned NEEDED applicational platforms otherwise, the knowledge was no more valuable than the words on the page that I gleaned it from.

5. Relationships are everything.
There is far too much emphasis on all the other aspects of life when it comes to schooling. You take a look around, and no matter the level of education (save perhaps graduate business programs), no one ever stresses the importance of networking relationships.

When you finally hope to put your schooling to economic use (ie getting a job), no one will care what you know. The truth is, EVERYONE knows what you know because everyone went to school. However, just like I mentioned above: "It's not what you know, it's WHO you know."

This old adage reigns true today, perhaps even more so than our recent past. So, I can only stress to you (as I mentioned on my Resume Tips post), make sure you connect with people early on in your learning so that when you need to truly cash in on those connections, they are there for you and willingly so!

By the way, I find it in no curiosity on these statements:
  • It's not what you know, it's who you know.
  • It's not what you do, its how you do it.
That the words "WHO" and "HOW" are but a difference of arrangement.

That's all folks. Until Next Time!

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