Until about three years ago, I defined education as two things. One: it’s the body of knowledge you accumulate throughout grade school plus the specialized information provided by college or advanced certifications. Two: it’s life experience and practice.
But my definition was missing a big slice of the pie. Three: education is a silver bullet that allows you to comprehend the nuts and bolts of practically any skill, even the ones that seem innate.
What I mean is, I never thought you could “learn” to be outgoing, confident, organized, a good conversationalist, or entrepreneurial. Until recently, I believed there was a long list of characteristics that couldn’t be acquired using the teacher-to-pupil delivery method. Even if you really wanted them.
Great news: I was wrong. If you find the right teachers, you can learn practically anything (I say “practically” because part of me is still so astonished by this realization, it seems too good to be true. Surely there is a limit to this super-power.).
Here are three examples of unlikely skills I’ve picked up.
Be an Entrepreneur
The mark of a good entrepreneur is resilience. You’ve got to be able to generate lots of different ideas and keep them at an arm’s length. You must learn to package and price things so one product can adapt to multiple situations. And you need lots of humility so you can quickly see when things aren’t working out and change course.
My three favorite teachers for learning to be entrepreneurial are Dan Miller, Dean Jackson, and Joe Polish. Dan Miller hosts the 48 Days Podcast. Dean and Joe share a weekly podcast called I Love Marketing. Both programs have drastically changed the way I think about business and growth. I still can’t believe the power of the education I’ve received from these guys.
Here, I’ve got one main teacher: Cal Newport. I first discovered him when I saw a guest post he did on a blog I read regularly. The article was called, “Drastically Reduce Stress with a Work Shutdown Ritual.” I was hooked. I use several of his organization methods to manage my tasks, projects, and to-do lists. I read every article and book he writes. Pure gold.
I haven’t ordered his new book yet, so if anyone’s looking for Christmas ideas…
Being a good conversationalist is top on my list of skills I’d like to improve. Quality conversation is the gateway to solid relationships with others, and I believe people are our strongest resource, regardless of your path in life.
I didn’t start targeting this one until yesterday and I’ve already uncovered some great lessons. There’s a whole series of articles about being a good conversationalist on The Art of Manliness. I started with this one. If this is a skill you seek, be sure to follow the “related posts” links at the bottom.
To converse well, you must ask engaging questions. NPR’s StoryCorps has an excellent page of questions that could work in lots of situations. Highly recommended for aspiring smooth talkers.
It might seem silly to you how giddy I am to realize that persistent study can yield these results. Maybe it’s not a true miracle cure if you still have to put in the diligent work of research.
But, in my mind, this type of education is absolutely a silver bullet. Before I understood how accessible these lessons were, I really thought there was an entire spectrum of abilities I would never have. Because they were the purview of gifted naturals.
So glad I got it wrong.
Photo by GuyGringon.
© 2013 Sara Martin
WANT TO USE THIS ARTICLE IN YOUR BLOG, EZINE, OR WEBSITE? Feel free, as long as you include this text with it:
“Sara Martin is an artist and writer based in Knoxville, Tennessee. Learn more ways to maximize your creative life at ModernSentiment.com/blog.”