As a kid growing up I am sure I was told by much smarter people, grown ups, of things that I should do or shouldn’t do. And I didn’t listen. Because I was young and dumb. But the older I get the more I realize that those grown-ups knew more because of their experiences. And nothing can replace experience to teach us lessons.
With all of those lessons that I may have missed along the way, I did pick up a few lessons that I did listen to that were completely wrong. And these people didn’t intentionally lie to me. It wasn’t their fault. But I learned them, and as I have gotten older I now realize they didn’t know what the heck they were talking about.
Money isn’t as important as you think.
If I had a dollar for every time someone said this to me, I wouldn’t have to worry about money. I am sure it was told to me as a child at times as well. But more importantly, and more critical, was the fact that money wasn’t discussed. Look, I know my parents did all they can. I didn’t go without food, water, shelter, and clothing. And I know for a fact that my parents did whatever they could to provide us with everything they could. I had a great childhood.
I also know that there were people around me that were better off. Their parents had better paying jobs. Which meant that they got the newer and nicer things. Kids are smart enough to look around and see the reality of situations, but instead of them only seeing the realities of the situation, I think parents can use that as a motivator to encourage their kids to understand the realities of the situation better by explaining to them the realities of the situation.
My parents didn’t talk about money which meant we didn’t think about money. At an early age, I knew that money was important, because when I had it, I felt better, and I could go and buy all the damn candy I wanted. And for me to be able to do that I had to have money.
I can remember poor person after poor person telling me that money wasn’t everything. There are more important things in life. But just as I learned as a kid and I know it to be more true as an adult, money is necessary for everything. I need money just to leave my house. Gas is expensive, food is expensive, dry cleaning is expensive. Everything requires money. Not only do you need it to live, but if you have any desire to help other people, you will need money as well. Never tell anybody that money isn’t that important, because it is.
Formal education is the most important education:
Do good in school, pick a great high school, and be sure to go to college. I don’t want to discount any of these things. We all need to understand the basics of which education teaches and provides. I think most people get this. Where it goes wrong though, is to only focus on this.
I never had a teacher, parent, counselor, etc. tell me that skills are more important than education. Skills that I can use in the marketplace that can help me get what I want from the marketplace.
Here are just a few skills, that should be overtly taught, instead of hoping students get them through the process of pursuing a formal education.
Skills such as influencing other people, selling their ideas, being a leader, communicating with tact and candor, taking initiative, problem solving, critical thinking, how to get attention for the things you want, marketing, etc.
Yes, you get some of these skills through the process of a regular classroom, but there wasn’t any course on how to get attention (marketing) in the marketplace. And if there was, the people teaching the course, my teachers, didn’t know how to exactly do it themselves. They were reading it to you out of a textbook, which meant their examples were weak and not very compelling.
Yes, a level of formal education is important, but skill development is what is even more important. Children should learn how to make money, manage money, talk to people, take initiative, take risks, problem solve, etc. These are the skills that are more important.
Everything I learned by watching everyone in my life was all about security. Find a good paying job with benefits. Go to college and get a good education so you can have opportunities. Save your money. Don’t get noticed, stay under the radar. Do what you have to do.
Not once did I learn that everything in life that is worthwhile will be just out of reach of my comfort zone and my willingness to expand that zone is what will allow me to get whatever it is that I wanted.
Nobody taught me to seek discomfort. To seek challenges. To challenge myself to learn new skills and to be entrepreneurial.
Again, it wasn’t anybody’s fault that I learned these things. This is what the people I was around the most were taught, and this is what was taught by everyone they knew. We really are a product of our environment.
As the great Charlie “Tremendous” Jones says: “You will be the same person you are today, five years from now, except for the books your read and the people you meet.”
As a child growing up, I didn’t read very many books outside the ones I had to read. And I only met people who were in my circle of friends and family.
My suggestion to parents is to look for unique ways to challenge your children and get them experiences with what they will eventually be exposed to in the marketplace. Teach them the skills that will help them get ahead and stay ahead.
To your success and your future.