Formal Education Does Not Reward For Putting Square Pegs In Round Holes
One thing that Oprah Winfrey, Mark Zuckerberg, Bill Gates and Steve Jobs do not have in common is majoring in Entrepreneurism. Perhaps if they did they all would have stuck around school a bit longer but unfortunately as hard as they tried they were not exactly known for their college GPAs.
Today this motley crew are famous billionaires but in their school days they had one other thing in common–they were all college dropouts. While all exceptionally bright individuals they each felt like it wasn’t a good fit and that they could do better. They each knew that something wasn’t quite right about school then had their “ah ha” moment and then the rest is history.
That “ah ha” moment is the creative spark that that transcends the formal education system and separates the dispassionate from the disruptors. The dispassionate are the well intentioned individuals who are promised the age-old “work hard, get good grades, and you’ll be a success.” While many follow this traditional path it’s not for everyone. The disruptors are the ones that stick out from the crowd, the ones that go against the grain.
The paradox of the situation is that while the formal education system does provide a solid foundation to increase your chances of career success it mainly teaches you how to play by the rules versus questioning the rules. The entrepreneur is the one who not only questions the rules, he breaks, reinvents and then breaks the rules again.
In fact it was Jobs who famously said at the Stanford Class of 2005 commencement:
“Here’s to the crazy ones, the misfits, the rebels, the troublemakers, the round pegs in the square holes… the ones who see things differently — they’re not fond of rules… You can quote them, disagree with them, glorify or vilify them, but the only thing you can’t do is ignore them because they change things… they push the human race forward, and while some may see them as the crazy ones, we see genius, because the ones who are crazy enough to think that they can change the world, are the ones who do.”
The Numbers Are Against You
According to the Department of Education only 6 percent more Americans with college degrees are employed than those without a degree. In its most recent survey on college pricing the College Board reports that a “moderate” college budget for an in-state public college for the most recent academic year averaged $23,410 while a “moderate” budget at a private college averaged $46,272. In other words the average American should expect to pay over $46,000 for a 6 percent more likelihood of getting a job offer.
In the Real World Failing Is Winning
The ability to be okay with failure is frowned upon in the formal education system. Failure equals bad grades equals slim job prospects. An entrepreneur mindset however is quite a different breed where failure is not only tolerated but its the norm. The secret to failing is to learn from your mistake and pivot into a better solution the next time. Entrepreneurs aren’t graded my multiple choice standardized tests or essays but the ability to come up and execute on a product or service that people actually want.
Unlike the formal education system there is no one right or wrong answer. In fact sometimes there are no correct answers forcing you to rethink your business which is known as pivoting. Pivoting is the opportunity to regroup and come up with a better way of doing things. Its the growth mindset that there is no right or wrong answer but an abundance of opportunity to try something new.
Great entrepreneurs like Thomas Edison knew this well. As an inventor, Edison made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at inventing the light bulb. When a reporter asked, “How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?” Edison replied, “I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.”
Success In School Is Not A Predictor of Future Accomplishment
Being top of your class doesn’t mean that you will be an successful entrepreneur. It only means that you learned to how to play by the rules and think inside the box better than your peers. Meanwhile drop-outs like Zuckerberg and Jobs are failing every other day but then again their goal was not a 4.0 GPA–it was a successful and profitable business.
Human imagination is not something that can be caged or bounded by the formal education system yet many students leave school with a scarcity mindset. This mindset tells them to get as big of a slice as possible from the finite pie of success. What many don’t learn in school is the concept of abundance where success not just one big pie but an ever expanding pie.
In other words instead of twenty people fighting for ten slices its twenty people collaborating together to figure out ideas to grow the market instead of trying to horde the market. Steve Jobs didn’t try to build a better PC, he decided to build a better experience. An experience that led to the iPod, iPhone and the iPad. Steve baked a new pie.
How to Bust Out of the Formal System and Become An Idea Machine
In summary the formal education system is like a primordial mix of amazing life possibilities that are trapped in a lab. The budding entrepreneur doesn’t need to learn how to cram information but rather how to combine information in new and creative ways. The best way to do this is to become an idea machine.
An idea machine is a concept where you come up with ten different ideas a day, every day of the week. If you’re a writer then write a list of ten ideas for a blog post, or if you’re in the landscaping business write a list of ten ideas that you could offer to new homeowners as a service to prepare for winter. Next to each of these list items write what the next step is going to be to execute on that idea. Not the entire solution just the very next step.
This will get your creative juices flowing to the point where you not only have creative entrepreneurial ideas but you also are forcing yourself to think outside of the box and even providing the first baby-step into action on that item.
Entrepreneurship isn’t about theory or great ideas–its about execution, failing, drying your tears, failing some more then trying it over and over again until you succeed. Go ahead, think outside of the box and become an idea machine that breaks the mold.
Featured photo credit: albumarium.com via albumarium.com