A New Perspective On Education

A woman's hands typing on a laptop with a cup of coffee.

What do Bill Gates, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Jefferson, Henry Ford, Thomas Edison, Tony Robbins and Walt Disney have in common? None of them received a college degree. Not one of these inventors, investors and leaders hold a traditional college degree and yet each of them has a seat in history at the round table of success. While plenty of wealthy or notable individuals do have university qualifications, approximately one in eight of the Forbes 400, which are the 400 richest billionaires in the US, are college dropouts.

Why is this information beneficial? Well, it depends on who you are and what you believe. In a dynamic world where big tech runs the show and YouTube sensations manifest overnight, superseding the Hollywood hopeful, it is becoming apparent that new roads are being forged to the destination of achievement and success. The common thread connecting most of the big players however is still education. Mark Zuckerberg, another college dropout, didn’t just become one of the wealthiest Americans by chance. His design of Facebook took working knowledge of systems, data and code, things that require a rock-solid attention span and patience to learn. Tony Robbins talks of multiple failures throughout his early years of working under some top motivational speakers and studying their work by cassette tape during his daily custodial duties.

Education is no more of an institution than religion. Neither exist only in a designated building but rather are practices available to be sought after freely. Libraries boast thousands of titles and compilations that are literal playbooks for success and available to anyone who possesses a free library card. While I think I speak for us all when saying that nobody wants a surgeon who merely read a book and hasn’t learned hands on application, for many areas of business and skills, the knowledge to succeed in them is available freely to each one of us. Education no longer exists only within the walls of an institution or university but rather in books, online case studies, seminars, classes, individually taught courses and masterminds.

Education now, is the ability to intake information from trusted sources and apply it correctly until we succeed and to keep with this process indefinitely. What’s more is that many degree holders are required very little continuing education to continue practicing in their field and it can be harder seek additional education when in a place of comfort or monotony. Entrepreneurs are notorious for ongoing education in personal development and craft because their paycheck is constantly dependent on their consistent growth and innovation, two things that stunt when one is not moving, growing and learning.

I don’t ask my kids “What do you want to be when you grow up” because it will naturally cause them to flip through their mini, mental rolodex of “career options” at which point they may likely source an answer that they think is acceptable to an adult or society. The great inventors didn’t invent their masterpieces after scanning a limited, educational rolodex. They created from a soul place, maybe from purpose or passion or curiosity? With the multitude of educational options now available to each one of us, maybe the better question to ask is “What would you love to learn?”