6 Important Life Lessons that You Were Never Taught at School

Stay in school, work hard, be the top student, go to University and get a good job. Do these things, and someday you will be successful.

It is really a big discouragement when you do all these things and still end up scrubbing soup containers at your local Mandazi kiosk or picking tea in your village farm for a minimum wage.

Thankfully, we are talented in different ways. Today, there are many entrepreneurs and business leaders who have proved that there is more to life than what the education system has always taught us.

1) Failure is good

In school, we were taught to avoid failure and that is why some of us stooped to nearly unspeakable levels just to “pass exams”.

We sneaked our phones to the exam room so that we could google the correct answers. Some of us invested in mwakenya; while a few others decided to spend the whole night before the exam cramming (otherwise known as trans-nighting).

The “creative ones” hacked into the school system and tried to change their results.

We did all these things just because we feared FAILURE…and that is why to-date we still continue to play hide and seek with failure at our workplaces, with our health and with our families.

One thing you will learn in entrepreneurship however, is that FAILURE is good. Failure is not an exit strategy but rather a learning opportunity. In fact a popular quote goes that “If you have never failed in life, then you have never tried something new.”

So forget about being a “Google-Perfect” person and immerse yourselves into the murky waters of life so that you can fail and learn a lesson or two from that.

2) It is Good to Be in Many Relationships

Yes, it is good to have many relationships because that’s exactly how networks are built.

Probably back in school they told you that “you did not come here to build friends, you came here to learn”. But in life you can’t sustain without networking and building social connections.

You need to start a business (and you need customers and suppliers), you need someone to refer you to a client or deal, you need to start your social activists group (and you need followers). This all means that you need to be in many relationships.

Perhaps the only point I need to emphasize here is that these need to be “good relationships” not retrogressive ones.

3) It’s not about how many (A) grades you have in your transcript; it’s about what skills you have to offer

“So Juma, if we give you this opportunity what will you bring to the table?”

That is the most frequent question you are going to get in real life – whether you are convincing an investor to fund your business or you are looking for a job.

Yes, getting good grades in school is quite important – but those A’s cannot take you so far if you don’t have the skill base to back them up.

Entrepreneurship teaches us that only those who are able to convert their knowledge into actionable ideas and concepts are recognized in the 21st century.

Irrespective of what grade you got in school, life gives you an opportunity to re-affirm your dominance in your niche. Keep loading up on new skills and keep moving forward.

4) Perfectionism has no place in real life

There was always that one student in class who seemed to do everything right. He understood mathematics, was always in time for his lessons, had a good handwriting and never dozed off even when a boring teacher came in.

Because he was the perfect example of what a good student should be, he was constantly rewarded with free school trips, gifts, luncheons…and was even made the school captain.

Then the rest of us were urged to emulate his ways and strive for perfectionism.

Life however, teaches us that “perfectionism” is a potential detractor. In other words, if you keep waiting for the perfect business idea or the perfect time to launch your dreams, you might as well wait forever.

We live in a world that changes very fast – and as you sit down there waiting to perfect, you’ll be surprised to learn that someone else has already implemented the idea you thought was “not-so-perfect” and has taken your place in the market.

In other words, if you strive for perfectionism in real-life you’ll keep going back to the drawing board and you’ll never accomplish anything in life.

5) Life is a journey not a destination

Your parents told you “Get a good job so that you can raise a family”. Your teachers told you “Work hard so that you can join the best university.”

All these statements misrepresent life as being a destination rather than a journey.

The destination in this case is “the dream job” which as they suggest will help you fulfill all your basic needs in life.

However, as you will come to learn later in life, there is something more about life than just fulfilling your basic needs.

Life is a journey to be traveled, explored and experienced…so get moving, follow your weirdest dream and live it!

6) Hire those who are better than you

Class-work taught us to be competitive and to some extent the spirit of competitiveness ended up dividing us into cohorts that never mingled.

A-grade students formed their own study groups so that they could continue dominating the top positions. C-grade students on the other hand focused on extra-curricular activities and sidelined the A-grade students because they were book-warms.

Entrepreneurship however teaches us something quite different. Instead of fighting to prove who between A-grade and C-grade students are better in life, as an entrepreneur you should now start mending broken links with the other cohort.

If you were an A student and there was a C student who was better in arts than you, then it is high time you think of hiring him so that you can utilize his/her talent in your growing company.

On the other hand, if you were a C student and there was that A student who seemed to understand anything to do with IT, then it’s high time you bring him on board to your company so that his IT brain can propel you to a new level.

Final Word

Those are some of the important life lessons that life has taught me contrary to what I learned in school.

Learn from them and I will see you at the top of the entrepreneurship game.

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