potential

School

As toddlers, life was pretty easy (for most of us). We cried when we wanted something, pooped our pants, and napped all day. When we got old enough to walk and talk, a large majority of us were phased in the public educational system. We were indoctrinated into pre-kindergarten, which was basically daycare; a year after, kindergarten; then onto 1st grade and beyond until you are to graduate with your cap and gown upon the completion of your 12th year; unless, of course, you flunk a grade level and are required to repeat the previous year before progressing.

The Breakdown

Each year you progress throughout grade levels, the more critical your evaluations become (or, report cards, as they're called.)

Recess and naptime is abandoned, offering restless children an uncomfortable environment to fully learn. It has been proven that napping after studying can help to absorb material better, yet we overlook that, trying to cram in several subject matters throughout the course of a day.

The public school system was developed to raise children to be fit for work in a factory environment; basically robots, producing products with no concious thought. It went for months throughout the year, excluding summer, in which case kids were to assist their family in tending to the farm.

Today, we still abide by the same obsolete model for teaching our youth. Some institutions are taking a more progressive approach toward education, but they are few and far between. It goes without saying that education differentiates among each continent, Asian countries ranking top in placing a heavy emphasis on education.

The Problem

The criteria you are required to absorb and burn into your brain is monitored by the board of education, with little to no regard of the usefulness of such content. Your ability to memorize and regurgitate the content is evaluated by a standardized test (with the occasional free-response or critical-thinking question.) While it is imperative to learn of the current state of the world and what got us here (history repeats itself), we mustn't place so much emphasis on irrelevant topics. History books are written and revised, important content discarded and misrepresented, encouraging ignorance among all.

"I have never let schooling interfere with my education." -Mark Twain

Since this is a one-size-fits-all approach, obviously some children will lose interest. Everyone learns differently, be it through auditory, visual, physical, or whatever, these individual preferences are not accounted for. So you have a small percentage of kids who actually learn and absorb the data, while a disproportionate amount are left clueless and confused. The latter half is labeled "dumb", and since they cannot learn anything, they are informed they have a learning disorder, such as ADD, and are therefore prescribed drugs to tame them. This, is turn, creates a vicious cycle that could lead to a downward spiral of addiction or more severe health complications.

In order to become fully engaged in learning, one must use all senses available. Some may get excited and want to jump up and down; this is unacceptable in most classroom environments as you are bound to the confines of your desk. If you get too rowdy, you are rewarded an infraction for your evaluation report.

Teachers Don't Get Paid Enough

The ones with arguably one of the most important jobs on the planet receive a lousy paycheck for the effort required. Raising the future generation, their salary is minute compared to what it should be. Professional athletes get paid millions to throw a ball around, whereas the amount teachers receieve is embarassing.

We've all had our fair share of good and bad teachers; those that made you absolutely despise a subject due to their instruction or lack of enthusiasm, and those that were passionate about their profession and worked overtime to provide us with valuable information, leaving us craving more. Our instructors have a large emphasis on our future, so ensuring that these individuals are payed appropriately ensures they have an incentive to thrive.

Knowledge Is Power

There is a fine line marking the difference between knowledge and education. Being educated simply means being aware of facts, while knowledge applies to using these facts to produce an accurate result. Take for instance a college student and someone who went to a trade school. While the college students were busy learning the facts, the trade students were applying practical, real-world information to produce results. When it comes time to graduate, the college students will have a nifty degree and accreditation, whereas trade students will not only posess the same, but also hands-on skills. Neither is better than the other; only the relevance to your goals is the difference.

Student of Life

A lot of people have never picked up a book since they last graduated. Forced to scan textbooks cover to cover, learning what they are told, it's no wonder why. Such environments breed disgust for a book, and reading for leisure is never considered an option. Once you get your degree, what's the point, right?

Wrong. Look at everyone who was ever worth a damn, who've done something worthwhile, and then look at their library. The "secret" to success is no secret at all- smart people know that knowledge is key, so they are continually reading and learning new material.

We challenge you to take another viewpoint toward life: always be a student. Never stop learning and feeding your mind. Focus on text that is relevant to your job or career path, information that will help you reach your goals, and don't forget to get lost in the occasional fictional book.

We all have something to learn from one another. Get out there, challenge your beliefs, and always question everything. For an expanding list of self-empowering literature, check out this post.

"Why have so many schools reduced the time and emphasis they place on art, music, and physical education? The answer is beyond simple: those areas aren’t measured on the all-important tests. You know where those areas are measured… in life! Art, music, and a healthy lifestyle help us develop a richer, deeper, and more balanced perspective. Never before have we needed more of an emphasis on the development of creativity, but schools have gone the exact opposite direction in an effort to make the best test-taking automatons possible. Our economy no longer rewards people for blindly following rules and becoming a cog in the machine. We need risk-takers, outside-the-box thinkers, and entrepreneurs; our school systems do the next generation a great disservice by discouraging these very skills and attitudes. Instead of helping and encouraging them to find and develop their unique strengths, they're told to shut up, put the cell phones away, memorize these facts and fill in the bubbles." -Dave Burgess

Follow Your Dreams

Growing up, most of us imagined ourselves in a bunch of different roles and careers. We fantasized of being astronauts, explorers, actors, law enforcement officials, doctors, lawyers, and everything in between. We played with toys and dolls and reinacted scenarios where we achieved great feats, got the bad guy, explored other planets, and made it onto Broadway. The options were only as limited as our imaginations.

What happened? Why did we ever stop dreaming?

We got a little older and were told to grow up. We were informed we could never rise to such lofty expectations that we had as children. Good luck with that kid, why don't you go to school and get a real job! Be like your father, and go to work at the factory. This assimilation of thoughts seems proposterous, but it is the reality of the generation before us. Perhaps, career choices were not limited to specific trades or manual labor, but it was modern day practice to secure yourself a career position, start a family, own a piece of property, and work to pay it off and then die, occasionally taking a vacation break a couple weeks a year.

As with everything in life, moderation is key; like a pendulum, imbalance will manifest when weight is distributed unevenly on either side. To daydream and imagine a fantasy world is all well and good; however, simply wishing and hoping is useless and a waste of time.

YOU CAN DO WHATEVER YOU PUT YOUR MIND TO

Yes, and no. An indomitable spirit is an essential characteristic to posess when plowing through life and conquering your goals; that much is undeniable. An intense work ethic compliments the first asset marvelously; and lastly, consistency and perseverance combine to create a trifecta of success. Or do they?

The truth is, we could be the hardest-working, smartest people in the room. Day after day, we bust our assess- remaining patient, yet eagerly awaiting results. But they don't come

We always tinker with the formula, discovering ways to improve efficiency and productivity. Sometimes we literally do everything in our power to move forward. Exhausting our resources, we become more frustrated, digging ourselves deeper and deeper into a hole.

... OR CAN YOU?

Maybe you have a passion for painting. You eat, breathe, and sleep painting and the thoughts about it consume your mind. It is your happy place. When you paint, time evaporates as you stroke the bristle against the paper, creating art with your very fingers. You dream of being a blossoming artist, with your illustrations displayed at exhibits and conferences worldwide.

The only catch is.. you suck at painting.

No matter how hard you try, your drawings look like a child scribbled with a crayon. Nobody would pay a dime to put that junk in their living room.

Some people are born with talents- others, not so much. In a previous post we explore the concept of improving the things you're already good at, and becoming great at them, versus improving your skills from bad to mediocre.

So, if you suck at painting, yet have aspirations of becoming the next Van Gogh, what are you to do?

Realistically, if you are 100% honest with yourself, you may never make a penny painting on your canvas. This isn't to say that you cannot still pursue your passions- but as for the phrase "make your passion your paycheck"- that's just not in the cards for some. It almost sounds superfluous to say that such a circumstance could potentially be your reality, but it is absolutely true for some people. What is more true than that, however, is...

LIFE ISN'T FAIR

Luck is an interesting thing. It is viewed superstitiously like black cats in alleys and walking underneath ladders. A lot of people refuse to accept luck as a thing. I don't believe in luck, mutter those individuals. I create my own destiny.

While you personally have an enormous role in dictating your own progress, you cannot escape the fact that luck does exist. Some people just end up at the right place at the right time. The equation that some would use is:

Preparation + opportunity = success

So many people work hundreds of hours, with little to no return on investment. They grind away, crafting their skills as their peers proceed to go to social outings and various entertainment venues. A tedious, montonous, and repetitive routine is set in stone, as they chip away at transforming their vision into reality. Maybe- just maybe- they will be graced with a brief second of opportunity.

"Opportunity is missed by most people because it is dressed in overalls and looks like work." - Thomas Edison

Again, the cold hard truth is this: some people just get lucky. They receive opportunities that others dont. Take into consideration the people born in the United States. We live in a country with limitless opportunities to further our career and build our empires. The majority of us have access to modern accommodations, job opportunities, and the ability to fail and restart an endless amount of times. Those born and raised in third-world countries, not so much. We often don't recognize this as an opportunity because we are so accustomed to it- but at the end of the day, that's exactly what it is.

YOUR CIRUMSTANCES DICTATE YOUR OUTCOME

For in-depth, real world examples of this, look no further than Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers: 

It's not what you know- but who you know.

Surrounding yourself with influential, ambitious individuals gives you a foot in the door, per-se. Your network determines your net worth. You are the sum of the 5 closest people you surround yourself with. Insert a bunch of other inspiring quotes here; they all mean the same exact thing.

Your friends, your environment, the time and date you were born, the state of current affairs- all of these circumstances dictate your ability to "make it" in the world. Like it or not, that's just the way it is.

AND THAT'S THE WAY THE COOKIE CRUMBLES

We cannot all be astronauts, celebrities, rockstars, or congressmen and women. But that's not an invitation to allow others' disbelief to permeate our consciousness. We have the right to dream; it is our responsibility to be slightly realistic, though. If we can't sing, play an instrument, or put on a performance.. we're not going to be rockstars. Plain and simple. It all recycles back to the beginning- find the couple things you're pretty good at, and master them. This allows us to express our individuality and give our unique gift to the world in an infinite abundance.

 

How To Have The Perfect Work/Life Balance

Many rival between the separation of work and their personal lives: always trying to make it work, spending so much time, and accomplishing nothing. When you break it down we realize: it's all a load of bullshit.

There is no work/life balance

The very idea is innately distracting and narrows your vision. Originating as a default  assumption within our culture, we've taken a hold of it and completely blown it out of proportion. We for whatever reason, accept less of ourselves, and seek to bounce back and forth between a non-existent duo. The reality is that it's only your life at stake here. Nothing else. You're either pursuing your life, or you're not.

But, It Gives Me All This Stuff! 

Stop pretending that following the tangents of others is somehow worthwhile in comparison to its offerings. There are no benefits when it comes down to your personal freedom, growth, and service to the world, when you're sacrificing the very heart of itself! 

I'll Make Time For Myself

Leaving work and chasing your true desires is to split ourselves. We must always strive to bridge the gap between what we separate as work, and life, if we will ever be able to abolish it's false pretense.

Where our conflict resides we may begin pushing the battlefront to an end by facing ourselves in reflection: Are you really commited to your mission? Your own prosperity, and glory? If you were, truly, then everything comes together in service of your vision. Work falls away in its unimportance, outshined by your force of life. We are unable to live life fully when submitting to work. To deny yourself is to perpetuate the lie, and spread it's filth. Don't live it.

I Can't Just Quit

You know what is right and what is wrong. To stick put and stay within your comfort zone is self-defeating. Get out there, be the person you want to be. Period. Don't give up and accept what comes to you. Take charge of your life and determine your own steps.

Having Somewhere To Be

Often work requires of us to be somewhere. We must be here, at this time, for this occasion... a never ending leash grappled around our worn down necks. Why not keep going? What happens when you commit to yourself and visions?

Step over the line, see what happens. By removing the limits we relish in the freedom of our wandering. So many options reveal themselves to us with the universe conspiring in our favor, surging us forward like never before. Everything we can do is made with all the right choices when embracing life for what it is. The only wrong one, is to deny your own potential. It's up to you.