Friday, October 30, 2009

What drives you?

This question has been something I've pondered over and over again for myself and for other people. Our own personal drivers are more important to us, I believe, than any education you can receive or experience you can gain. My reasoning for this is that I believe that our personal drivers are what determine how we can be educated and how we interpret certain experiences.

As an example, I'll take my own personal drivers into account. As always, I'll start with a story:

While in high school, like most students, I was put in a boring, white-walled room, made to memorize equations and take tests. Needless to say, it wasn't terribly stimulating, but I was used to it, so I put up with it. Since I've always done really well in mathematics and science, I succeeded pretty easily (the funny thing is: I was horrible at art and anything dealing with creativity, but look at me now). As I began to notice my obvious proficiencies and deficiencies, I began to wonder why in certain classes I performed really well and why I found other classes completely aggravating. It wouldn't be until several years later that I would answer this question.

As I stepped on to my college campus for the first time I still had that high school mentality. I was used to doing work because it needed to be done and I rarely asked questions. However, as soon as my second semester came around I realized something quite profound: for the first time in my entire life, I basically had complete autonomy at school. Rarely, if ever, was I required to attend any given class and tardiness was typically a non-issue, but the most amazing revelation was that professors hardly gave two shits if you passed or failed. Whether you turned in your papers or showed up for the test, none of it mattered! Of course, we were all told this would happen before starting college, but the reality of it is an experience all to itself.

This finally leads to my point: I realized that in order to succeed in school, I would need to feel personal fulfillment in each and every task and personally motivate myself to complete work. At first this wasn't too difficult because the revelation hadn't fully set in yet. Though, it wasn't long before my GPA started slipping and my attendance began to fall. There's still a slight sting in my heart when I think back on those days. Partly, I think, it's because I felt a great sense of failure in my actions at the time. However, the sting is only slight now because it's just a memory. I realize that the sense of failure was entirely due to my interpretation of the events through a lens that I no longer look through.

My new lens looks a little like this: If I'm personally responsible to motivate myself to enjoy the work I do, then I want to do the work that I personally enjoy. I'm not going to pay somebody or exert much effort to perform menial tasks that I find utterly aggravating*. What I'm going to do is make a personal investment, whether it be time, effort, or money to learn about and perfect the things that I find personally fulfilling in a way that is efficient plus engages and inspires me. But the current collegiate system doesn't allow for that so I decided to leave it.

After leaving, as I've mentioned before, I entered a period of self discovery like I'd never experienced before. No, it's not this profound moment where you truly discover your inner self. For me, at least, that's not at all how it worked. While there were definitely moments of profound personal revelation, I actually hit the books harder than I ever had before. I reflected and wrote and reflected more. I analyzed myself in a very critical way over a period of several months and discovered my personal drivers: Aesthetics, style, beauty, art, creativity, big ideas, and, above all other things, making a difference.

Once again, probably a mishmash of ideas and points, but here's what I'm actually getting at:

  • Personal Drivers are extremely important! Find out what they are and use them to take your to new heights in your life!
  • Nobody can motivate you, only you can do that through the use of your personal drivers. What do you honestly, truly attach personal meaning to? What actually inspires you?
  • If you aren't ready to write off the current "system" like I have, at the very least find out which classes don't match up with your personal drivers, and try to find a professor that is more in tune with your needs.
  • Personal drivers are not static. They are dynamic, which means that they change. They change because you change. Are you the same person that you were ten years ago? Probably not. That doesn't mean that you need to change them. If you want to keep 'em, keep 'em.
  • For me, the current "system" hasn't met the needs of my personal drivers. I would be much more happy investing my time in a system that was built to utilize my personal drivers and help me grow in a fulfilling and exciting way. That's what I would pay for.
  • When I observe and talk to anybody I'm always wondering what their personal drivers are. So, what drives you?

*It is important that I note that my father was paying for my tuition at the time. It's important because many of you out there pay for your own, which makes you more invested than I was. As a result, my insight may have a more or less profound effect on you. If I felt this way while not paying a dime, how do you feel?

Thursday, October 29, 2009

Welcome to life...

Today is the day we start. As with most things, I like to start with a story.

In high school, we all thought about college as the big leagues. Once we got there, we would be "in it". Life would really start. That, to many of us, was when we would become "real" people. I think to most high-schoolers this sounds quite compelling and exciting. All this hype has created a kind of reality that college life is expected to live up to. Through summer, from graduation day to the first steps on campus, we twitched with energy. For some, we made it well through our first semester before we realized something was terribly wrong. It wasn't apparent at first because the college hype was still there and we were clinging on for dear life. If you're like me, and I think you probably are, you woke up one day with this terrible feeling that something was wrong... and ignored it.

I did this because I had so heavily attached the quality of my life and my relationships with other people to succeeding in the "system". Now is the part where many rebels start taking drugs and drinking heavily, and possibly starting a rock band, but none of those things ever strongly appealed to me (well, maybe the rock band). No, I didn't turn to a life of excess, but I did quit school.

Its worth taking a moment here to mention that the social ramifications from friends and family can be quite real for taking this step and I had my share of them. But from the moment I clicked the "Submit" button to drop my courses, I felt true and utter freedom.

Back to the life of a college "dropout". Not only did I not turn to a life of excess and rock, I got a second job, started catching up on bills, and did possibly the most important thing I could have done for myself: self assessment. It was during this period that I began to discover my true passions for design, art, creation, and what I truly feel will make an effective entrepreneur. It led me to discover many authors that I've come to love and areas of knowledge that they not only don't teach you in college, but that actually are counter-intuitive to their system.

Now this first blog post is probably a mishmash of ideas and strings of arguments that make little to no sense so let me paraphrase:

  • The higher education system is one system
  • The higher education system is not all-encompassing
  • There are alternative ways to learn about any given area
  • The collegiate system does not and cannot teach you who you are, nor can it teach you what's important to you.
  • If you feel lost and confused other people will blame you, but I don't, I understand that you fell into the same trap I did and I'm here to tell you that there is light at the other end of the tunnel and there are multiple paths to success
Many points contained within will require further converstation. I know that you'll follow me as I explore these ideas and where they can lead us. I know because self growth and fulfillment matters to all of us. And we all deserve it...