You Live, You Learn

Fred Smith, Sr. said, “Leaders are readers.” 

Consider these statistics. One third of high school graduates will never read another book for as long as they live. 42% of college graduates will give up reading books after they graduate. 57% of all books we start reading we won’t see through to the end. 

Chances are some of us think that when school is over, our education ends. But consider what the graduation ceremony is called – commencement. To commence is to begin or start. So what do we start when school ends? 

A lifetime of education. 

You might think that the statistics I’ve listed are startling. It’s true that they are. But they don’t tell the whole story, do they?

We each learn differently. I’m one who is enthralled with the written word, especially when a writer uses them as effectively as possible. I learn a lot by reading. Writing done well opens the world to me, creating pictures of things that before were hidden from view. I’d rather read than talk. 

For others reading is a chore. My son learns best by hearing. When this is your learning style, you’d rather hear someone read than do it yourself. When you’re bored, you will talk to yourself. Your clothes might not match, but you can give a reason why you want to wear them. 

For those who find reading or listening to be inadequate, getting involved works better. For this person, trial and error is the way he learns best. I have a friend who works on computers for a living. He didn’t go to school to do this. His education began at 10 when his grandfather gave him a computer to tinker with. It continues today with every project. 

If you don’t invest much time in any of these activities, you’d have to work really hard to avoid experiential learning. This naturally comes with age. It’s easy to recognize. You have an experience for the first time, like giving a presentation at work. If you enjoy it, you tell yourself, “I can’t wait to do this again!” If the experience is bad, your response is, “I’d give anything not to do that again.” Either way, you have gained information that you will use to make choices about your future. 

Remember this – your education doesn’t end when school does. Tests won’t come on paper with multiple choice answers. Life goes on. Learning will help you adjust your sails as the winds blow you to and fro. Refusing to learn is like rolling up your sails while you’re still miles from shore. 

Whatever your method, don’t stop learning. If you do, you won’t stay lost when life blows you off course.