Too soon old, too late wise, or so the story goes. There a lot of things that would have been useful to know much earlier in life. No matter your age, it’s never too late. It’s also never too early. Here are seven things worth learning at any age.
How to Design a Life
Most of what you are taught in school is about helping you learn facts and figures, some ideas about history, how to do basic mathematics, and a little about your world. A large part of what you learn in school is conformity and compliance. You sit at a desk in rows with other people. You are learning the same thing, and you are, most importantly, all doing what is expected of you.
No one does anything interesting by doing what is expected of them. You should be doing something remarkable, something beyond what anyone might imagine. But to do something interesting and useful, you have to decide for yourself what you want.
Because you are not introduced to models, people whose example you should follow, you are not forced to confront the fact that they are no different than you, and that your potential is limitless.
How to Set Goals
Of all the things that might be helpful for you to know how to do, setting goals for yourself should be right at the top of the list, only behind deciding for yourself what you want. You should learn to set goals that, once completed, lead to the next, even bigger, and more transformational goals.
One thing you are sure not to be taught in school is the magic power of thinking big. There is little opportunity for you to explore what is possible for you or the contribution you can make.
Instead, you are taught to turn in your homework on time and prepare for a test, things that might be necessary, but mostly belong to the Industrial Age. Your success is mostly going to be the result of your goals and your initiative.
How to Work Effectively with Others
Most of your life you spend working with other people. In school, however, most of your work is done as an individual. Your effectiveness as a human being is mostly made up of your character traits, especially your emotional intelligence.
Much of the most meaningful work you do is done as part of a team. You need the ability to communicate, collaborate, and build consensus. You need to do your part and help others to do theirs. You also need to adjust and solve problems. You cannot learn to do these things by reading a chapter and taking a quiz.
Your Beliefs Are Installed and Can Be Uninstalled
Most of what you believe was installed in you. It can be uninstalled, and a good bit of it should be removed as soon as you can gain an awareness that all but a very few of your beliefs are your own.
You are programmed by your parents, teachers, preachers, and coaches. They teach you what they believe to be true, as was taught to them by their parents and teachers. Many–if not most–of those beliefs are limiting and constraining, all to keep you safe and to ensure you have a good life designed by people who care about you. When you notice that the people who tell you how to have a good life aren’t happy with theirs, you recognize the need to run a virus scan on your beliefs and remove them.
How to Think for Yourself
You are not taught to think for yourself. If you are taught this skill, it’s because you had someone who took the red pill and liked you enough to help you find your way out of the matrix. Now, as the media and social media provide the choice of a dominant narrative and counter-narrative, you have to work hard to find your way in a Post Truth world, one in which anyone can publish their ideas by carefully selecting a set of “facts.”
You need to learn how to think. No one teaches you how to recognize your biases, and mostly they try to infect you with theirs. You’re lucky if you are taught mental models in college, but even that isn’t very likely. Work to discover mental models as soon as you can and learn not to trust your judgment without questioning it and looking for weaknesses.
Different Cultures Have Different Beliefs
There aren’t too many things that would help you grow, expand your thinking, and help develop empathy and compassion like learning to take another person’s perspective. Most of what you are taught in school is designed to describe “others,” especially in social studies, and history, and any course on cultures.
No one teaches you the wisdom of Eastern faith traditions or how other cultures have different value systems, customs, and social norms. There is little chance that you will learn that our similarities are far greater than our differences.
This is often the starting point for learning to think of people as “others.” Something you will discover to be untrue as soon as you start to travel.
You Are More Than Your Profession
You should be much more than your profession or your work. Your schooling is, in large part, about preparing you to enter the workforce. People worry about things like their major when they start University, event though, in most cases, it is irrelevant.
The most important life lesson you should be taught, like much of what is worth knowing, you have to learn yourself. And that is that you can be more, do more, have more, and contribute more.
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Filed under: Mindset