You Can Learn From Anyone

Rav Fleischmann’s post You Talkin To Me reminded me of a very valuable lesson that I learned a number of years ago.

The majority of my friends have advanced degrees, they are doctors/lawyers and there are even a couple of rocket scientists in the mix. I graduated from college with a BA in Journalism a minor in political science and am two classes short of a second BA in Speech Communication.

So within my group I am among those with less education although I can guarantee that I read more than most of them. But the one thing that I really learned early on is that I am an education snob. It was hard for me not to look down at people who could have gotten a college education but chose not to.

Relatively early in my professional career I learned that a college education was not truly indicative of a person’s ability to make money nor was it always indicative of their intelligence or willingness to learn.

I also learned that within the working world the best way to get better and advance was to find the person/people who were the best at whatever my job was and to emulate them. Some of those people were not college educated yet they were very successful and I learned a lot from them.

So if there is one general comment that I can make it is to emphasize the need to be open to learning from everyone around you. Beyond that I would add that I try to surround myself with people who are either smarter or more effective and efficient. It is an easy way to learn and there is no reason not to try and sponge up as much education as possible.

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  1. Jack's Shack August 2, 2005 at 5:26 pm

    Hi Bill,

    Too many people stop thinking, assuming that they ever started.

    That PHD to BA stat is somewhat shocking and almost refreshing. It is nice to know that we are on the same plane, why go to all that extra work if there is no return. 😉

  2. Bill August 2, 2005 at 5:22 pm

    Don’t knock your BA, it has earning potential if nothing else.

    I concur with most of the claims that education does not make you smart.

    That said education forces you to think and this keeps you smart.

    It’s to some degree a crutch that keeps your brain from gradually turning to jello, however if you keep reading thinking writing (even Blogging)you have nothing to worry about.

    There are some depressing stats on education though. Less and less people are getting post secondary education (globally) and there is still a lack of equity in the relationship of education to work.

    Jack did you know that most women with Phd’s are making the same income as men with BA’s.

  3. Jack's Shack August 1, 2005 at 5:37 pm

    Hi Jenny,

    You are right, book smart does not make you life smart.

  4. Jenny August 1, 2005 at 5:17 pm

    I never finished college. I’m intelligent, well read, driven and successful. Sometimes I am frustrated that I feel like I have to justify this to colleagues when they ask about where I went to school. I do wonder what my life would be like today if I had finished, but I don’t regret anything. I’ve met some college educated idiots. Book smart doesn’t make you life smart. Thanks for your post, it gives me hope.

  5. Jack's Shack July 31, 2005 at 9:34 pm

    Hi Michelle,

    Sounds like you have things figured out, that is a good thing.


    I would agree that we seem to be in agreement on this. I love learning for the sake of learning, but I also have to admit that some things just never grab my attention.

  6. rabbi neil fleischmann July 31, 2005 at 6:27 pm

    Correction – intellectual (2 Ls)
    Did I ever mention that I don’t know how to spellcheck comments. Also, when I say I mostly learned in college, I mean Torah.

  7. rabbi neil fleischmann July 31, 2005 at 6:25 pm

    I’m glad I prompted your thought. When I went to college I didn’t want to be there. I chose a major that I found interesting and bearable, but mostly I would learn or just sit and wish I was in Israel. As time has moved on I’ve come to appreciate knowledge and thinking and reading and being educated, but I needed to come to it on my own – post college. My dad recently gave me a great compliment, telling me that via my blog he’s come to realize that I’m an intelectual. I think a true intelectual is just a person who likes to think and learn new things big time. Intelectuals are often assumed to be people with impressive degrees who use big words and quote lots of fancy sources. I once heard Adin Steinzahltz define an intelectual as someone who stays up all night discussing ideas he’s curious about that are not related to his proffession. Anyway, I think you and I agree about this.

  8. michelle July 31, 2005 at 4:44 pm

    I never finished College because I thought I was in love and couldn’t handle being away from the jerk. Needless to say I should have stayed away. I ended up working in the financial industry for 20 years, being able to do any job that was within the company and doing it well. I took many correspondance courses for my job but never had the desire to go back to school fulltime. I am now off on disability which will probably stay with me for the rest of my life. But my point to my rambling is, that there are many ways to make the world a better place and having a phd isn’t necessarily it. It takes compassionate people to feed the hungry,fight poverty, save the environment and want to save the world. We might be disallusioned but I am glad I would rather try to bring a smile to someone’s face that I just helped. I am glad you are opening up your eyes to the different ways of making the world a more productive and happy place.

    I really enjoy reading your blog…..thanks

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