While university learning may not be necessary for success, I do believe that education (in some form) is essential for becoming a success in life. I don’t mean just for making money and reaching your financial goals. I believe that education is essential for success in all things. Whether you’re interested in having a better marriage, wanting to start your own business, or being a better mom…we have to do our research, gain the experience and discover the means that will help us to reach our goals. Now that I’ve spoke my piece, we can discuss the qualities that bring success in life and how education can help us to develop those qualities. I firmly believe that the solution to every problem lies in education. A family who wants to grow crops must learn how to nurture plants, an individual with low confidence must discover ways to remove the psychological barriers that prevent them from believing in themself and a person who wants to build a business has to understand how to find a niche and develop a marketing scheme. We go about all these things through education. Whether you pursue a university education or self education, the same qualities of success apply. What I mean is, that no matter who you are or what you study, you can become successful by demonstrating these basic qualities:
- Set goals & make a plan. It helps to know exactly where we want to be and how we plan to get there. In order to succeed, we must do our research and learn about the area that we intend to practice in. Whether it be building houses or becoming a fluent speaker of a new language, we have to make a plan of how we will become educated and gain the experiences necessary for the task. A plan helps to keep us motivated because it provides a visual reminder that there are only so many steps until our goals are realized, making them seem more within our reach.
- Take action. If we are achieve our goals, we must realize that each action is an opportunity to build skills and form habits that will lead us down the path of success. We cannot let fear or other barriers stand in our way. Instead, we must take control of our lives by completing the steps in our plan. In this way, we let our choices be driven by ambition instead of fear.
- Prepare for the worst & be persistent. Throughout life, we can be sure that many obstacles will be thrown at us and it is up to us to remain positive in spite of the difficulty. A favorite author of mine, Victor Villaseñor, suffered through 265 rejections before he published his first book. He kept on despite a learning disability (dyslexia), racial discrimination and his extremely low self esteem. It was a trip to Mexico that finally helped him to realize his worth and see that his people could be and do anything. In the same way that he ignored his 265 rejections and pressed on, we should continue in our efforts if we want to be successful, no matter the obstacles. Failure is life’s best teacher, so be positive and choose to see it as an opportunity for learning.
- Believe in yourself. When we know our worth, it becomes impossible for anyone to tear us down and deter us with their negative criticism. It helps if we can recall all our best skills and attributes and remember them in times of self doubt. Making a list and putting it in a location where we know that we will see it everyday can help. I have personally found it helpful to read the memoirs of others who are like me or have similar goals. Seeing someone like ourselves succeed makes our goals seem much more attainable.
- Feed your curiosity. When we find that we have interest in a certain area, taking time to research, read and study it helps us to gain insight that we wouldn’t have had otherwise. We become experts in a sense and gain understanding that helps to form our values and ideas about life. Learning the details also helps us to gain knowledge in our subject so that we can express ourselves confidently when in our field of study.
- Go beyond your comfort zone. Being educated means expanding our knowledge in not just what we enjoy learning, but also in the areas that challenge us most. Being open to learning from individuals or experiences that we wouldn’t typically consider provides us with diverse ideas and knowledge that broadens our perspective. In part, every person that we come in contact with is a teacher and every experience in life is a lesson that we can learn from.
In order to accomplish all these things and become a success, we must always be building our knowledge in the areas that are important and useful to us. University education works for some and for others not, so don’t beat yourself up if it’s not for you. Instead find an alternative way to educate yourself and get prepared for success. For those interested in learning just how valuable university education can be, CollegeBoard.org has an excellent research program dedicated to showing the differences in life quality at various education levels called “Education Pays“. The study also highlights the disproportionate gaps in benefits (earnings, health, etc.) associated with gender and race. I am also a firm believer that all kinds of discrimination can be eliminated through education…in two ways. One, the victim gains power with education; two, those who discriminate can gain knowledge through education that can put stereotypes to rest. I did some research for studies that compare self education to formal education, but unfortunately, I was unable to find any articles that compared the two at the same depth as this study. It seems due to a lack of study on the subject. I will say this though, many individuals without formal education have been very successful without earning a degree, Albert Einstein and Bill Gates for example. So, no matter the means of education, don’t let others deter you from reaching your goals or push their values on you. You are who you are and your gifts were given with a purpose in mind…so use them.
© 2011, Chantilly Patiño. All rights reserved.