Some Mildly Ranty Background
As you may recall from the introductory post on Personal Agility, learning new things is one of the defining behaviors of an Agile person. Learning new things first requires that you admit to yourself that you don’t know something, which is a healthy way of keeping you honest and humble. But it won’t work this way if you just learn one new thing and then call it quits; what you’re looking for is a real appreciation for the process of learning and valuing learning, in the truest sense, because of its many wonderful outcomes and just because it’s fun!
I point this out because there’s something bothering me that I think needs some exploration, or at least, the opportunity to be expressed with its rightful nuance. There seems to be a tension in American society between college-educated folks and non-college-educated folks, between white-collar America and blue-collar America. In academic circles, I’ve heard talk of a “war on intellectualism,” and among others I’ve observed some saber-rattling over the idea that we should promote trade schools and associated careers with the same level of enthusiasm that we promote college and its associated careers. Somehow, it seems that many people are perceiving the perspectives of others as an assault on their own egos rather than just living their own lives the way they, themselves, see fit.
I have three degrees and am working on a fourth. A degree doesn’t make anyone better than anyone else. It does, however, open some doors for some careers and personal satisfaction for some people. But what it really boils down to is, if you want a degree or not, regardless of your reasoning. If you want to go to college, great! If you want to go to a trade school, great! If you know what you want and are willing to work hard to get it, great! I want to be there to help people get what they want! Where we get into ego trouble is when we start comparing ourselves to others instead of comparing our current self to our past self.
Education is beautiful and it comes in many forms. If a person earns a degree and then is done learning, that person clearly doesn’t value education. Likewise, if a person finds reading boring and only wants to watch reruns of SpongeBob Square Pants, then that person probably doesn’t value education, either. What we need more of in society are life-long learners, personally Agile folks, who love solving problems by digging into challenges and applying new knowledge. Some personally Agile folks have degrees and some don’t.
In addition to being a defining quality of an Agile person, personal development is predicated on life-long learnership because it demands a practitioner to have an ever-present desire to be better on their own terms and to regularly and intentionally reflect to bring out their best self. So if you want to do personal development and to be successful with it, I recommend learning things as much as you can and to learn to appreciate what learning feels like.
Read books on topics that interest you, surround yourself with sources of inspiration, challenge old ideas with new ones, ask Why, and stop comparing yourself to others. If you’re a plumber, I hope you become the best plumber you can be. If you’re an investment banker, the same applies. I believe in the power and greatness of people to overcome what limits them and to achieve their dreams. We all just need to believe in ourselves a bit more, don’t ya think?