Is investing In Education Really The Best Investment?
It’s been said that the greatest investment you can make is in your education. Sounds good, right? It even sounds true. But is it?
For most of us, our school education is not what sets us up for the best success in life. Despite many wonderful teachers, the general education system in most countries is not fit for purpose. Kids are not taught entrepreneurialism, money management, personal development, coaching skills and a load of other stuff that would leave them far better prepared for modern life than what usually amounts to preparation to enter the general workforce and do your 9 to 5 for 40–50 years until you retire, should you be able to afford to do so or fortunate enough to live so long.
For most successful business owners, it’s the education we get after school that makes the biggest difference, which is why I thought I would spend a little time talking about it now. I was about 30 years old when I was introduced to coaching and I knew that it was what I wanted to do professionally. I was a flight attendant at the time and whilst I loved that job, I didn’t want to do it forever. It wasn’t giving me the level of fulfilment I was really searching for.
I knew I would have to learn to become a coach and figure out how to make the transition from full-time airline crew to self-employed coach. It was terrifying to me that I had no idea how to do that. Like most who go through the state education system, I was completely unprepared and ill-equipped to be a business owner. I had done business studies GCSE but really, that had only taught me how to do P&L statements. I don’t recall much else.
I joined a coach training program that a friend recommended. This was somewhat in advance of modern online-only programs and I ended up with several heavy ring binders of content, DVDs and multiple workbooks to help me not only learn how to coach professionally but also to structure and market my coaching practice. I think I still have all the info, although the company I learned from is long gone.
The coaching course I took did help me to get started as a coach and then I did NLP certifications and various other courses and programs. During that time I realised I want to teach and train people and be a speaker, thanks to inspiration from the incredible Joanna Martin. I started to focus my learning on becoming a trainer and speaker and it has paid dividends.
I ended up working at a lot of personal development events as a way to get into the environment and spend more time around the people who deliver such things. Whilst I had a lot of fun doing that and had some wonderful experiences, I also noticed something a little disturbing. There would be many people who would turn up again and again to the free events but their lives would never really change. They are often referred to as personal development junkies, which is a very unflattering term for people who mainly turn up for the feel-good factor and may actually be deluding themselves that their life will change.
I’ve been much more involved in online education since then and I see similar trends there. Many people are investing significant amounts of money into their education but do not have much to show for it later on. Why is it that some people will take a program and 10x their business and others will take it and still struggle afterwards? It suggests something that has been known for centuries and seemingly originated from the wise sage Lao Tzu, which has become one of my personal favourites and most quoted sayings, “ To know and not to do is to not truly know.”
I regularly encounter people buying multiple courses, books and programs which they often never even start or complete and if they do, they rarely apply them. Investing in your education only works if you understand that learning is not the solution in and of itself. Learning and doing is the solution.
I made a commitment to myself some years ago that I would only allow myself to buy a new course or program if I had already achieved a return on my investment in the previous program I had taken. I can’t put my hand on my heart and say I have stuck to it rigidly but it does always remind me that learning is not in itself the outcome. Being able to apply the learning, to grow, develop, increase income etc… Those are outcomes.
Investments are things we put into with the hope and intention of receiving a return benefit, financial or otherwise. If all your education is doing is filling your head and emptying your bank balance, it’s not an investment it’s a cost and it ends up becoming a sunk cost when you keep going just for the sake or education. Unless you plan on becoming an academic, your investment in education will do nothing for you. Even then, there is always a big difference between theory and practice.
Your investment in education should be the best investment you can make but only will be if you commit to doing what you’ve learned. I could read 100 books on martial arts but I’m not going to become an amazing martial artist unless I practice what I learn in those books. Learn and do, learn and do, learn and do. To quote another bit of ancient Chinese wisdom from a student of Confucious, ”What I hear, I forget. What I see, I remember. What I do, I understand.” Xunzi
- What are your thoughts on investing in your education?
- Do you have programs you’ve bought and never started or finished?
- Do you always get a return on your education investments?
- What has been the best investment you ever made in your education?
Respond in the comments, I’d love to hear from you.
If you have a bit of time this weekend and you’d like to get some great insights into writing your own book, self-publishing and growing your network, you’ll probably love my chat with Lily Patrascu who went from full-time nanny to full-time entrepreneur helping people write and successfully launch their books, making money and building a great network along the way.
Lily Patrascu | How to self-publish your own book and build your network while you do it
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