Why School Doesn’t Help You Find Answers (and what does)
What is 2+2? 4. What year did World War 2 end? 1945.
There are all questions where there is a very clear, predefined answer. They are answers that are easy to find. They are based in very clear and simple facts.
This is what our school system is really good at teaching. How to work within a predefined questions. We to solve problems that we know should have an answer.
That’s a good thing for our basic academic knowledge. It’s important to to be able to perform basic math, have an understanding of history, or even be able to respond to questions about Shakespeare in a “clear and concise manner” (being analytical and forming thoughts).
The only (big) problem that I see with this is that in real life, when you aren’t studying from the textbooks, your problems aren’t going to have such simple predefined answers. They usually will fail to pass what I call the “Google Test”. You won’t be able to Google the answer.
These problems are more similar to something like “how to get a job”, “how to deal with people”, “how to invest your money”, and etc. If you try and Google the answers to some of these questions, you will see a wide range of opinions and information without any clear, predefined answer. You have to work within chaos.
I am very passionate about education. To me,education is about learning new and practical skills and constantly becoming a better version of myself. It’s about learning how to answer all the tough questions that will inevitably come up during the span of my life.
Education = Learning How To Find Answers
Yet something that I constantly struggle with is that fact about how there are often very few definite and concrete answers in the world. There is so much information, conflicting views, and “expert” advice out there, that it’s so easy to get lost, to become a lone boat in a huge ocean of information.
For example, in the span of a week I’ve had a CEO tell me that cold calling doesn’t work. I’m inclined to believe him because he has a lot of experience in my field. At the same time, Gary Vaynerchuk swear that cold calling is still effective today. On top of that Hubspot, a sales software that I use just added the ability to make it easier to run cold calls right from your computer.
This is the type of ambiguity that I am finding myself dealing with on a constant basis. It’s such a pain, why can’t someone just give me the answers?
So after a little bit of this whining, and head-banging, I figure that the reason no one can give us a clear and straight forward answer is because people are completely clueless about the solution that would work for us. The tired old cliche is that “everyone is unique”.
So all those people giving advice? They can only determine the answers that will fit their own unique experiences, and hope that it will apply to us.
Crap. That sucks. That means that no one has the answers. That means that we have to figure out the answers… on our own?
Jeez. What a cruel, cruel world. Even after advancing society to the point of driverless cars and artificial intelligence, we still have to go about finding the solutions to our own problems. Sigh.
I think the only protection we have against this information overload and helplessness is forcing ourselves to take action and run experiments. If you set up a system of practical learning and experimentation, then it makes it that much easier to cut through all the noise and the BS to figure out what the real answers are. Practical education.
For example, I was wondering how effective LinkedIn would be in terms of networking and putting myself out there. I did a little bit of research, and having found very little information, just decided to start posting on LinkedIn and seeing what would happen. The results? Not bad.
After starting to post on LinkedIn, my profile views have shot up from 60 in the past 3 months to 219 in the span of 3 weeks.
I’ve had a few posts that flamed out and only got shown to around 371 people, which is pretty disappointing. On average though, my posts are getting 800+ people looking at them.
Some of the best posts that I’ve made have gotten well over 1000 views, with the best one getting the attention of 2500+ people. These are all the CEO’s, founders, entrepreneurs, and business people lurking on LinkedIn that are looking at my posts and getting more familiar with me. Experiment? Success.
The insights and knowledge that I’ve learned from this little experiment of mine are invaluable for the future. I now understand one of the ways to effectively use LinkedIn in order to promote myself and meet new people.
Experimenting and actually taking action has taught me 100x what I could have learned just by reading something. Don’t get me wrong, reading is great and I am the biggest bookworm you will ever meet, but there’s always a point where you just have to stop reading and start doing.
For me, this has applied to this blog, LinkedIn, investing, networking, business, building websites, and many more areas. It’s the only mindset that I believe will work 100% of the time in a world full of rapidly changing unknowns and variables.
So action items?
- If you’re trying to learn how to navigate through life, school just doesn’t cut it anymore. It doesn’t teach you how to sell yourself, invest, talk to people etc. because these items all have ambiguous rather than definite answers. Get out of school and start doing things in the real world
- Do you read and absorb knowledge? Good on you, at least you are reading. But are you taking action on some of the things you are learning about? If not, then maybe it’s time to start figuring out how you can apply your knowledge.
- Experiment. Play around. Get your hands dirty. The world is a big sandbox for you to mess around with. Start learning how to build those sand castles :)
Hope you enjoyed this post! If you have any experiments that you’ve run, share them in the comments! I would love to hear more about them :)