A few years ago I was completely fed up with education.
I’d spent six years between 2004–2010 on getting two degrees. And after that, I immediately started a business. And during my first two years as an entrepreneur, I also learned a lot.
But after a while, I thought: Who needs education? Just start a business or get a job and earn some money. Education is just a waste of time and money.
I stopped reading books, going to conferences, and getting any other education that helped me to become a better entrepreneur, marketer, etc.
That wasn’t a smart move. For almost two years after that decision, I didn’t see the growth I wanted; personally, spiritually, mentally, financially.
When I was learning more, I also started earning more, doing more, and achieving more. And when I wasn’t learning anymore; the opposite happened.
You see, education, learning, knowledge — it’s all perishable. Not only do you lose it if you don’t use it. You also lose your knowledge if you don’t improve it. You simply forget.
That’s what I didn’t get for most of my life. Education is not something you accumulate and will remain in your head forever.
I look at education like food, water, air, exercise. You need a constant supply.
You also don’t breathe once a year, right? So why do you only read one book a year? It doesn’t make sense. Education is critical to your survival.
The reason is not only personal growth, as Benjamin Franklin said:
“If a man empties his purse into his head no one can take it away from him. An investment in knowledge always pays the best interest.”
Education is an investment in yourself. One that can pay you more dividends than anything you will ever invest in.
Here are 4 reasons why I think that’s the case.
1. Making Better Decisions
We live in an increasingly complicated world. And there are big consequences when things go wrong.
It doesn’t matter how smart or talented you are, what matters is how well you can focus on the things that matter.
You can easily get fired or lose your business in a moment of weakness. One mistake can trigger anarchy. Things are far from practical these days.
How can you make better decisions?
- By educating yourself.
- By looking at facts.
- By researching everything.
The quality of your decisions will shape the outcome of your life and career. Never underestimate that.
One decision can change everything. How do you know you’ve made the right decision?
2. More Opportunities
Since I’ve turned to education, I’m Switzerland. I never pick teams, I’m never afraid to say I was wrong, and I only look at the truth.
I can tell you from personal experience; that’s very liberating.
Education opens your mind and more importantly, it increases your opportunities. People who are closed-minded and stick to what they know, will never change. And change is the forward driving force of life.
By educating yourself, you might think about things you’ve never thought of before. And you will be exposed to ideas you’ve never heard about.
Combine those things together, and you have enough ideas and opportunities for a lifetime.
I’ve written down 143 ideas for articles in my note-taking app. Most of them with an outline. I also have dozens of business ideas. I bet there are 1, 2, or maybe even 3 good ideas in there.
“How do you get ideas?” I get the ideas when I learn new things. It’s not like going to the toilet or anything. You don’t have to force it out of you. It just comes naturally.
Oh yeah, you need to learn new stuff every day. “Shit, that’s tough.” Yes, I know.
“All I have learned, I learned from books.”
― Abraham Lincoln
3. Learn More, Earn More
There are typically two types of job applicants.
- One says: “You have a great company. I’ve studied it. And I want to join your great company so I can contribute.”
- The other applicant says: “Your company is doing good. But I’ve noticed this weakness. I have the skills to help you to improve that area.”
Number 1 is just an addition to your staff. Number 2 is someone you need. Which one would you hire?
There are also two types of entrepreneurs.
- One says: “Pick me! Buy my product! Please! I will do business with anyone.”
- The other says: “I only create exceptional products/services for a specific group of people. If it’s not for you; no sweat.”
Entrepreneur 1 creates commodities. The other entrepreneur creates products/services that are unmissable.
How do you become entrepreneur number 2? You guessed it. Become so good that people depend on your goods or services.
How? You guessed it again: Learn, practice, be great.
4. Education Is The Only Life-Long Investment
You can lose everything you’ve gained in life. Your money, job, clients, reputation, house, car, and even the people you love.
The only possession you will never lose? You guessed it again: Knowledge (if you keep investing in it).
- If you learn how to build a business, you will always be able to make money.
- If you have a skill that people depend on, you will never be out of a job.
That’s why I buy all books and courses that are relevant to me. That’s why I also spend most of my free time on learning new things, going to new places, and meeting interesting people.
In the end, the true reason I invest so much time and money on my education is because it’s a survival strategy.
People hate uncertainty. Me too. And education is your safety net (don’t get ‘education’ and ‘degrees’ mixed up. It’s education that matters; not degrees).
It’s not easy. In fact, learning, studying, getting degrees, mastering skills, are all one of the hardest things in life.
- Going to school is hard.
- Reading two books a week is hard.
- Following an online course in the evening after a long day is hard.
And that’s exactly why most people don’t do it.
Thanks to the information revolution of the past decades, you have all the opportunity in the world to learn more.
To me, it’s madness if you’re not investing in your self-education every single day. I prioritize learning over everything in life. I’m not just trying to make a point.
“When I have a little money, I buy books; and if I have any left, I buy food and clothes.” — Erasmus
I actually prioritize education over food, relationships, health, clothes, and the other things of life. You know why? If I don’t, the other things are not as good.
And it’s very simple. My goal is to read/learn/practice just 30 minutes a day.
That’s not a lot to ask for, right? Because if you don’t have 30 minutes to spend on your education; what kind of life do you have?
Education is important; we know that by know. We just have to do it every day. And love it.
But like with many things in life, we don’t do the things we know. Especially not in the long-term.
Everyone can get started. Very few persist.
The way I see it; there are only two options. You learn or you die.
Abraham Maslow put it best:
“You will either step forward into growth, or you will step backward into safety.”
I’ve got my mind made up. Which one do you choose?