“Experience has been a stern but excellent teacher.”
A formal education is a wonderful tool for helping one prepare for a successful life, but it’s only one piece of the puzzle that must be put together in order to achieve success.
And truth be told, it isn’t even the most important piece.
While classroom study is important for learning the skills we need in order to apply the things we learn elsewhere to our lives, it’s the things we learn outside of the classroom that ultimately lead us to success.
I’ve often heard it said that experience is the best teacher, and that’s so very true.
Some of the most intelligent and most highly educated people in history ended up living lives that history has judged to be abject failures. I won’t mention any names here, but if you think about it you can probably come up with several of them.
On the other hand, some of the most successful people ever either dropped out of college or never even enrolled in the first place.
Folks like Steve Jobs, Frank Lloyd Wright, Michael Dell, Thomas Edison, Oprah Winfrey and so many others found great success in business and in life because they dreamed big and learned from their mistakes and failures.
And yes, they all made mistakes and endured failures as they trod their varied paths to success. And some of those mistakes and failures were major.
The thing is, they didn’t let those huge, but temporary setbacks become a permanent roadblock. Instead, they learned from them, adjusted course as necessary and kept trudging right on down their chosen paths.
Now I didn’t say the above in order to entice you to drop out of school and hope for the best. Far from it.
Like I said in the first paragraph above, a formal education is a wonderful tool for helping one prepare for a successful life. It just isn’t the most important tool. That title belongs to experience.
If you’re lucky enough to end up with great teachers, by all means pay attention, apply yourself and put the things you learn from them to work in your life. A truly great teacher is a blessing.
Just be prepared to learn and grow from the lessons you’ll be given outside the classroom as well. They will be far more important than anything you will ever learn in a classroom.
To finish up, here’s a short video in which the man who is likely the most successful college drop-out of all time explains why he dropped out of college. He also explains how that decision changed his life for the better.
Note: You can watch this video at full screen by clicking the little “square” icon in the lower-right corner of the video after it begins playing.