Lessons as an Introverted Entrepreneur: Can you believe what you read in the textbooks?
Look, don’t get me wrong.
Education is great. When I was little, I loved school. I grew up with my nose in a book, loved getting good grades. I listened to my teachers, I followed the path I was meant to, I completed my law degree.
And then I got viciously ejected into the world of “normal work”.
What a shock.
Preparing for exams and showing my working did me very little good in the workplace.
And even with all the dreaded socialising that came alongside formal schooling — that pain only amplified in my working life. I’m not a small talker. I only really like to talk about things that I like to talk about.
Basic meteorological observations were fine, but deep chat around the water cooler was a bit of a no — no.
Worse than that though, all I could see when peering around the office (or any office that I knew of) was older white men in positions of power.
The career ladder seemed to depend on how much you fitted in or at least aligned with this mould.
And it helped if you could play golf.
It was never going to be a path that worked for me.
It is also so outdated it hurts.
Yet it is still the same narrative that we tell our kids.
Grow up, get an education, get a good job.
Have we learned nothing?
There are many benefits to a traditional job. Perceived security, certainty, structure, status. (That last one is a bit of a stretch…)
But honestly, and I hate to be the bearer of bad news, this is all a fallacy.
None of these things are guaranteed (See: Redundancy, Economic Downturn, Downsizing, Automation, Robots & AI ...etc)
This is all really shaky territory now for conventional organisations, conventional jobs and conventional dreams.
For sure, there are great jobs out there, that require a specific education, a specific training, location, or facility. But even lawyers and nurses are at risk (gasp) with AI able to do much of the work even now. And better than humans can.
More and more can be done — and done considerably more efficiently and even better — by systems, programmes, bots & technology. By Facebook, even.
Teams can be spread around the world, yet still keep connected and up to date in myriad ways.
The organisations that saw this coming and took action accordingly are being rewarded – higher staff morale, higher productivity, customer loyalty + engagement, growth.
These are what make a company successful nowadays, not outdated metrics like utilisation, or even the holy grail, profit.
The days of the timesheet are seriously numbered.
The glint of a white collar job is wearing thin.
Our education system with it – it seems largely designed to manufacture cogs for a machine that is slowly breaking down.
So what do we tell our children about why to go to school, and what they are going to grow up and do when they’re older?
Because the reality is that you don’t necessarily need an education to be successful. By some people’s stories, that education might even slow you down.
That you don’t need a full time job in an office to pay for the car and the house and the stuff, simply to keep up with the Jones’.
That the people who are successful are creative, resilient, and passionate about what they do.
Where do we teach that as a business or life skill in the classroom?
I’m not sure we do — I rather fear that we teach the opposite.
Children in schools today are numbers, arbitrary measures of success in a ranking system that is part of the problem, not the cure.
I loved school. But I strongly believe it should revolve around inspiring kids to learn. Not grooming them for the system.
Because it’s not a hella future-friendly system.
So I say go to school and college just because you love it. Not because it’s what you must do or need to do — obvious exceptions noted.
My happiness soared once I stepped away from a traditional career.
My confidence rocketed when I sought out and learnt the skills I need to run my own business (mainly confidence, it would seem).
My self acceptance was achieved when I did the personal work to overcome my own self limiting beliefs and I learnt what it means to love, trust and believe in myself.
My resilience was nurtured when I fell, and learned to get up and keep going.
They say going into business is one of the best personal development programmes available.
It’s a tough path but for me it led to freedom — it is infinitely more flexible, more financially rewarding, and more fulfilling than a conventional education of job could ever be for me.
And it’s a privilege to pave the way for others to do this do.
I can see the doors opening for my future, rather than them closing.
It’s time to embrace this wave. There a million ways to be successful and not all of them involve formal education, career ladders or playing the system.
Other paths that promote creative thinking, speaking, writing, working, and being.
We get told to believe in ourselves, to be true to ourselves, but the system will never give us the tools with which to really do this.
I do find it hard to stand by or promote an education system which actively conceals, denies or chokes these values in order to sustain itself.
So I know what I tell the next generation – you don’t have to believe what the textbooks say – the textbook your teacher is obliged to teach you from.
Believe in what is in your heart.
Follow that path instead – it will take you exactly where you are meant to go.