I guess I am an idea junkie. I love to read. At the moment, in addition to my Bible, there are four non-fiction books that I am reading through along with one fiction book. In my truck, I listen to audio books and courses on CD. Recently, I discovered the idea of taking courses through Edx.org. They are free online courses from some pretty great universities. (You can pay for a certificate if you want to keep track of the courses you have taken and passed.)
So what good is all the learning if we don’t put it to practice. Currently, I run a small marketing company that promotes swing dance scenes. This keeps my hand in the game so to speak while I keep my day job of teaching Spanish at North Greenville University.
So what are you learning and how is it helping you in life?
PS. Just in case you are curious. The books are Ctrl Alt Delete by Joel Mitch, Free Prize Inside by Seth Godin, Play at Work by Adam Pennenberg, and Living Forward by Michael Hyatt and Daniel Harkavy.
When you work for other people, it is sort of like renting. You get paid, you may get some perks, vacation etc, but for the most part, those who work for others are at the mercy of those they work for. It is also very unlikely that you will become seriously wealthy working for other people.
In order to break out of the normal renter world and own your own life, you need to do the things that the average worker isn’t doing. Create something for yourself. Do something that you own 100%. (I am not against partnerships, but it is important to have ownership in your dream.) What if you committed yourself to paint something every night after dinner? Maybe you don’t want to be an artist. What if what you are painting is rooms in a house and getting paid for it? Can you write a little each day? Eventually, you will have a book or an article that can be sold. The point is that it is YOURS, not your employers. It may not make you a ton of money, but there is some great satisfaction in getting that royalty check for something that you created yourself. When you sell that painting…or paint job, it is that same feeling. There are thousands of niche things you can do. I am sure you can come up with many I haven’t thought of, but here are a few.
- Baked goods…everyone loves them
- Mow lawns, you a mower and a weed eater can get you started on your way to a profitable landscaping business.
- House painting doesn’t take a lot of expensive tools to get started.
- House cleaning. You may even be able to use all or mostly your client’s equipment and cleaning supplies.
- Create a product that you can sell. (Start small. No reason to mortgage the house. Once you successfully sell your product a few times, you can see about expansion.)
- Get a massage therapy licence and open a mobile massage business. A table and massage cream can be had for a few hundred dollars after you finish your certification courses. You offer to meet clients at their home, which saves you rent on an office. Once you have a solid base of clients, you can either change your model slightly and also have an office or keep doing it mobile if you want.
You don’t have to quit your day job. These are all things you can do on your own time…at least until it pays more than your job. Are you ready to begin owning your own life?
Since the average person doesn’t read another non fiction book after they finish their formal education, it doesn’t take much to be above average in this category. Library cards are free or very cheap. Take advantage of your library. You don’t need riches to read up on things that interest you.
The average person doesn’t have enough in their savings to last them through one missed pay period. That takes a little more work, but with some persistence you can achieve that goal too. Start with a budget, it sounds limiting, but it is really quite freeing!
The average American eats out about 18 meals a month! I am not saying never eat out, but if you cut that in half, you could save yourself a significant amount of money.
The average worker doesn’t try to pick up any new skills after they are trained in their job unless they are forced to do so. What if you embark on a personal quest to learn a new skill set? It might be something that would help you advance where you are working currently, it might be something completely unrelated that you can use as a hobby or to jump to a new job in a new place.
The average American watches 5 hours of TV a day. That is nearly 2,000 hours of wasted time a year. Think what you could do to advance your situation in life with an extra 2,000 hours this year! At very least you could work a second job and more quickly get out of debt.
The choice is yours. you can be average, or you can be growing and learning.
Whether you lead a football team, an international corporation, a local restaurant or a dance scene, one of the issues that comes up is: How do you keep your team moving forward?
I want to propose the good old idea of a book club. In my opinion, it is well worth the cost of the right books if you give a copy to each person on your team and then use that information in the running of your group. Bring the books up in meetings. I am not mentioning what book to have them read. It will depend on your situation. I would say that YOU as the leader in your organization should pick one that promotes your values, method of leadership and goals for your organization.
When your whole team is on board with the vision of your organization, when they believe in what you corporately are doing, then your team will surpass the competition that is just going through the motions. Your lowest level employee or volunteer will move your group forward as they have a feeling of ownership in the success of what you are attempting to accomplish.
To put that in concrete terms, say you run a coffee shop. (I am typing in one now, so it shall be my example.) You are the owner or store manager, but your team seems disjointed and uncaring about things like showing up on time, high absentee rates, un-attentive to customers etc. You could threaten them, tell them to shape up or they are fired. (I am not against firing people if it is needed.) You could have them read a great book on the subject of customer service, or perhaps one that helps them see the value of coffee in American society or to the world economy. When the barista sees herself as a part of something bigger instead of just working a job that pays barely over minimum wage, she is much more likely to take that job seriously, putting in the extra effort to show up on time every time. She will greet each customer with a smile. She will make that customer’s drink with pride and serve it in such a way that it makes a positive inspiring moment that the customer will want to repeat. This makes the manager/owner’s job much easier. People with a cause are much more valuable than people with a paycheck.
In order to pull this off, you, as the leader, cannot just pull a book with a nice cover off the shelf. This means that you need to be reading like crazy in your field in order to find the right book to motivate your team.
Have fun reading!
In a few weeks, I am going to be moderating a round table discussion on the future of liberal arts education.
Webster defines Liberal Arts as: areas of study (such as history, language, and literature) that are intended to give you general knowledge rather than to develop specific skills needed for a profession.
I have to say, I don’t like that definition. I get the point, but in a world where people change careers every 7-10 years on average, shouldn’t we be preparing people for whatever profession they end up in? I know, that isn’t as catchy as an RN program where in two years, you get a job as a nurse. (What do you do with that interdisciplinary B.A. in Physical Education/Spanish?)
The struggle I see is that too many schools are treating liberal arts education as if it were vocational education. They assign a set grouping of courses and upon completion, VOILA! You are educated!
Sadly, the average american doesn’t pick up another non-fiction book after completing their formal studies…so are we succeeding in that goal of educating people liberally with general knowledge for life?
I wish I had more answers. Most of the answers I do have are so against the grain that I dare not push too hard for the reform. A few of my tamer ideas:
- Upend the general education to core study ratio. At my school, an average degree is about 130 credit hours…with about 30 of those hours being in the core area of study and the rest are general education or “supporting” courses. This isn’t odd or unique, most liberal arts colleges and universities would have a similar structure. What if we switch that around? What if we gave more emphasis to the core of the major? Would it be better? Or would the student miss out on all the general knowledge they are supposed to glean from the liberal arts education?
- Instead of just having an academic adviser, have life mentors for the student. It might mean that one degree ends up being 250 credit hours and another one is 45 credit hours. Who cares? Have a person who takes an interest in the student’s life individually and helps them achieve their goals in life. (Just a side note, the students with whom I have built real relationships with while they were in college did much better after college than those who simply took classes and didn’t connect with a professor.)
- If you would like to follow up on this, fee free to e-mail me
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