Four Things I Never Learned in School

by Andy Wood on April 6, 2011

in Insight, Life Currency

I spent 26 years in school.  At each level I learned many things.  I learned how to read, how to write, how to spell.  I learned that Columbus really didn’t discover America, that the South was doomed from the beginning of the Civil War, and that we really don’t know who wrote the book of Hebrews.  I learned to parse a verb, to multiply polynomials, and to define “fallacious” and “facetious.”  I learned more theories related to leadership than I care to count.

But in spite of all the things I learned, those 26 years failed to teach me four very important things – lessons that can determine my success or failure out in the real world, where bells don’t ring and (true story) traffic lights don’t control the noise in the lunchroom.  Let me share them with you – with the understanding, of course, that I’m still learning.  Next year’s list could be completely different.

Lesson #1:  Relationships are more important than rules.

In school, there were rules.  Don’t run in the halls.  Don’t chew gum.  Don’t bring guns and knives to the campus (that is still a rule, isn’t it?).

Rules are great, and are necessary to maintain an orderly society.  But it’s possible to keep all the rules and be a complete failure in life.

In life, there are relationships.  And if, in your pursuit of what is good and correct, you fail to develop healthy relationships with yourself and others, you will fail miserably.  Your life is the sum total of all your relationships.  As your relationships go, so goes your life.  Those relationships require hard work, communication, patience, and a lot of love.  Keeping the rules is in there somewhere, too, but it’s only a small part of what really counts.

Lesson #2:  Attitude is more important than aptitude.

In school you learn skills and matters of intelligence.  You learn the importance of a good education.  Why is it, then, that some of history’s greatest leaders had only average intelligence?  Why is it that some of our most significant developments were driven by people who were written off as “too stupid to learn” (Thomas Edison comes to mind)?  Why is it that some of the most notorious criminals in history have also been some of the most brilliant minds of their day?

Okay, I’ll tell you why:  because intelligence and ability are only part of the story.  Without an attitude of commitment, perseverance, determination and confidence, your skills will mean very little.  Aptitude is important – learn all you can.  But spend as much time developing life-changing attitudes.

Lesson #3:  The man or woman who rules the world is the one who can communicate with women.

I say that reverently.  And I’ll probably get in trouble for it.  But I mean what I say.

In a real sense, it’s a woman’s world.  Consider this:  75-85% of all shoppers are women, depending on who you ask.  51% of the world’s population are, too; over 60% of those who are active in church are female, and 55% of all college students are women.  If you intend to make it in this world, unless it’s in the “He-man Woman Haters Club,” you’d better learn to talk – and listen – to women.  And gentlemen, that starts at home.  And it doesn’t begin with the words, “Hey!” or “What’s for supper?”.

Lesson #4:  If you don’t know God, it really doesn’t matter what you know.

In school you learn to love knowledge, and that’s good.  But in the real world of time and eternity, the road to failure and the road to hell are crowded with highly-educated people.

“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom,” Solomon said, “and the knowledge of the Holy One is understanding.”  In all your learning, get to know God.  He may not award degrees, but boy, will you get an education!

How about you?  What lessons have you learned outside the schoolhouse walls?

{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Karen Smith-Will April 6, 2011 at 5:31 am

“Listen” could have been the first item, interspersed between each item, and punched again for the last item. ‘Specially the part about women. 😉

One other thing I have learned away from school is that he first shall be last and the last shall be first. Schools are typically not the best teachers of humility, yet a heart of a servant leader will make you memorable for all the right reasons long after that last semester grade.
Karen Smith-Will´s last blog post ..Karen Presents at VSCPA Nonprofit Conference

Eric Chaffin April 6, 2011 at 10:25 am

We should add these to that list of things they don’t teach you in seminary, too. (Although, considering you’re 26 years of schooling includes seminary, that may have been implied.)

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