The Best School in the World

Almost every successful person in the world attended this school. I should probably remove that “almost” qualifier and say every successful person. It is a tough school with lessons so difficult they often seem insurmountable. Some people, the less successful types, don’t even have the courage to walk through the virtual doors of this school. 

 

It’s the school known as “The School of Hard Knocks.” Some people call it the school of life.

 

For those of you unfamiliar with this school it isn’t found in a building. It’s not located in any particular place. The school never closes, not even when you want it to. When you’re trying something new or working your butt off to succeed you can find yourself in this “school” with no notice. All of the sudden it just happens!

 

The “classes” taught there can be very challenging but once learned they tend to stay with you forever. They are frequently life changing. They are most often self-taught. The “tests” associated with these classes can leave scars that last a long time. Some of the scars can be seen but many of them are only felt. But the feeling can be incredibly painful. 

 

These lessons cannot be bought, they must be earned. As difficult as they can be I’d encourage anyone to attend “The School of Hard Knocks” because some of life’s best lessons are taught there. It seems as if that Hard Knocks place is the one that shows you how to use all those fancy degrees and formal education you received from the other schools.


Don’t shy away from life’s tough lessons. The stuff you learn in a school with four walls can help you make a living but the stuff you learn outside those walls can help you make a life.


The Smartest Person in the Room

If you’re the smartest person in the room you’re likely in the wrong room. If you’re always the smartest person in the room you’ve got a big problem. 

 

Smart people work hard to make certain they invest their time with people smarter than they are. They also know that there are a whole lot of people smarter than they are. 

 

You may be the smartest person in a particular topic but that doesn’t mean you can’t still learn from other people. 

 

If you ever actually are the smartest person in the room then you had better find a different room or fill the room you have with smarter people. But it’s highly unlikely you’re really the smartest person in the room. Believing you are is a problem, it’s a problem because more than anything else that arrogance is an attitude issue. 

 

Believing you’re always the smartest person in the room is reflected in how you speak with, or more likely speak, at people. What you say will often come out with a level of snark that everyone notices … well, everyone except you. 

 

Believing you’re the smartest person in the room also affects how effectively you listen. Actually, it completely prevents you from doing anything that remotely resembles active listening. You may think you’re fooling people into thinking you’re listening but you are not.

 

If you’re a leader with the smartest person attitude you have an even bigger problem. The most effective leaders interact with their people in a way that makes their people feel as if they are the smartest people in the room. The least effective leaders interact in a way that leaves no doubt they believe their people are less intelligent than they are. That’s no way to help people grow. 

 

You can’t grow, professionally or personally, without people in your life who are smarter than you at times. Once you find those people listen to them, watch them and always be open minded about what they say and do. 


It may not make you the smartest person in the room but I’ll guarantee it will make you smarter. 

Back to School

It is that time of year again when the youngsters head back to school for another season of learning. There are advertisements  everywhere touting “back to school” specials on everything from clothing to pencils. I’m surprised by how much stuff kids need to go to school these days, it’s an incredibly expensive investment for parents. 

 

Sadly I hear it’s a very expensive investment for teachers as well because too many of them need to supplement school budgets with their own dollars. That’s terrible but that’s also not the focus of this post.

 

The focus of this post is on the learning that takes place as a result of “being in school.” School is after all the place where kids and young adults go to learn. Whether it’s kindergarten or a graduate school program as long as someone is in school the teaching, and hopefully the learning, never stops. 

 

But what about when you’re done with school? What happens when you’ve graduated and moved on? What happens when there are no more “school years” and you have years that are a full 12 months? Year after year.

 

Well, for many people the learning stops when school stops. The most successful people however know that learning must never stop. They understand that failing to continuously learn most often leads to continual failure. I’d actually say that failing to learn is the leading cause of personal failure. 

 

Years ago when I was selling Dale Carnegie Training I would see people on an almost daily basis who were unwilling to pay to take a course. They wanted to take it but would only attend if their employer would foot the bill. 

 

They were unwilling to invest in their own future but they had no problem expecting someone else to invest for them. 

 

What about you? Are you willing to invest in yourself? Willing enough to go “back to school” regardless of your age, stature in your organization or your past success? 

 

I know this next statement sounds a bit like a cliche but it is 100% true…the most successful people, in any walk of life, never stop learning. Never!

 

Those most successful people know that “school” isn’t a place, it is a mindset. They find learning experiences everywhere and from everyone. They also set aside time for more formal learning experiences. They take both traditional classes and online classes. They attend conferences to learn and many of them have mentors to help them identify their learning opportunities. They regularly invest in themselves. 

 

Look around and keep your eyes and your mind open. You’ll see “school” all around you. It has never been easier to find people and experiences that can help you expand your potential. But you have to want to learn. 

 

When you have the desire to learn no one can stop you. If you don’t have the desire to learn no one can help you. You can skip the stores and back to school supplies but if you want to achieve your full potential you cannot skip the learning. 


I think I hear a bell ringing….must be time to head to class. See you there!