What is education? Education as the process of facilitating learning, or the acquisition of knowledge, skills, values, beliefs, and habits. Educational methods include storytelling, discussion, teaching, training, and directed research.
Ok, so to be quite honest, a few years ago I was completely fed up with education…now I completely understand why there has been this popular African saying since at least 2006 in countries such as Nigeria, Kenya and Sierra Leone that says, “If you want to hide something, put it in writing.”
I’d spent five years between 2008–2012 trying on attaining two degrees. 2008 I started pursuing my degree in Bachelor’s of Arts in Humanities with History as my major and Divinity as minor. Then 2009 I started on a complete different programme and was a Bachelor of Social Science Degree in Human Resources Management with Great Zimbabwe University. When I finished my Human Resources Management Degree I had no decent job apart from doing part time work for Below The line Marketing Zimbabwe (BTL) and CARE International in Zimbabwe. There were no funds to finish off my other Arts degree at Africa University, and neither did a scholarship came to my rescue.
Still struggling to get a decent job…there was a white Missionary from my church, (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints). This Missionary comes from Idaho in America. Sometimes we would invite him and his companion for dinner at my place where we would prepare him our traditional meals and enjoy watch him eat sadza. My church employs professional companies to do the cleaning and landscaping on our chapels. In Mutare, Dangamvura, where I attended, there was an external company and with many of our members unemployed, with my name also included. I prayed to have something (idea, project, etc) that was going to benefit everyone.
The missionary saw that bright side of me, that he asked me to come up with a business proposal on cleaning and landscaping, so that he could have a look at it. His family are wealthy in America, they are into large scale farming in Idaho, they own a company and he too owns a Tyre company, so he needed to see my business proposal. This time around education came to my rescue. I did my market research, my degree also included marketing and psychology, prepared the proposal. He was really thrilled, that he gave me capital to start my own small cleaning and landscaping business. I had no hands-on experience on cleaning or landscaping but I had the brains to get us going. I had to be wise so among the church members, I chose one man who had the professional experience in cleaning and landscaping to partner with. Our first contract was taking off the carpet in the entire chapel, so to make room for tiles and for those who have seen my church, the buildings are big with plenty of rooms. I gave the task to the male church members to which they did well. During that time as an entrepreneur, I also learned a lot.
But after a while, being too occupied to find a solid ground for myself and the rest of the members, I stopped reading books, going to expos, conferences and getting any other education that was going to help me become a better entrepreneur, marketer, etc.
That wasn’t a smart move. 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, though without having to divulge much into the current state of affairs in my beloved country, Zimbabwe.
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 some of the 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 never afraid to say I was wrong when I hated going to school and wanted to stay at home playing games or watching cartoons.
At one time at Econet, whilst still in Telesales Department I made a cold call to a Mr Alfred Musarurwa, by then I didn’t know who he really was, all I had was his phone number, till we started talking and now friends. He is now pursing his PhD in Information Systems at Fort Hare University (SA). He is the Head of ICT at MBCA Bank Ltd. Guess how old he is? I won’t say, but trust me, you were going to be as much dumbstruck as I was when I saw his ID too. He inspires me. There I was sitting in his office to close a sale, wondering, he is heading a department at such a big organization at that age? He has got all that big office to himself at that age? Now sitting in his luxurious car at that age? Already pursuing a PhD at that age? Am I missing on something here? No. He has a great vision and he is one great example who came to my mind of one individual who has invested/or still is investing in his education. He inspires me and will live to inspire many.
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.
“How do you get ideas?” I get the ideas when I learn new things. You don’t have to force it out of you. It just comes naturally.
“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 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 will 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?
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