I have two degrees, two certifications and years of practice in my fields of study...but there has been no better teacher, lesson or education than life. I went straight from Kindergarten through graduate school without any breaks other than summer vacations during grade school and then one summer off during my first year of college. After having been engaged in formal education for so many years, I thought that life without school might feel foreign. I was wrong. I have probably learned more in the last eight years that I have been out of school than I have in the eighteen years that I was in school.
Over those long school years I learned a whole lot about many different things, much of which I have forgotten. It wasn't until I had graduated from graduate school and stepped out into the real world that I came to realize that I didn't know a whole lot about me.
Higher education establishments put together degree programs that have specific classes that you must take in order to graduate in your selected major or area of study. There are certain classes that must be taken before you are allowed to take others, these are called Pre-Requisites. There are also classes that you must take that have nothing to do with your major so that you are well rounded. These are called Basic Studies. The classes that you take that dig deep into your area of study through practice or a more specific focus are called Practicums, Labs, and Methods Courses. If you want to take a course on your own without actually attending a class with your peers, it's called an Independent Study.
School was great, and it was an experience that I wouldn't trade, but I believe that we can have just as awesome an experience by putting together our own personalized degree program...A program that I like to think of as a PhD in ME. PhD, which stands for Doctor of Philosophy, and is also referred to as a Doctorate Degree, is the highest degree that one can earn.
Think about it. You can set up your own personal degree program based on your interests, passion and purpose. The world is your University. Your recommended or required readings and assignments might include books, travel, movies, relationships, conferences, seminars and networking events that you select based upon the things that you enjoy, as well as your plans and your goals. Now let's take the format that Colleges and Universities have created and break down a few of these key concepts so that you can begin to create a program that helps you to get to know yourself and improves the quality of your life.
Pre-Requisites and Basic Studies: These represent those things in your life that you may need to put in place before you are able to comfortably and successfully move to the next level. For example, as I continue to build and grow my business, I have found it necessary to get my personal finances in order first. There are certain basic things in your life that must be done before you move on to higher level things or they will keep holding you back or getting in the way. In many cases, these things teach you or prepare you so that you are equipped to move forward and upward. What do you need to do to lay the foundation for your future?
Practicums and Labs: These are symbolic of the actual hands on experiences where you get out and try things. This may be diving into writing and publishing your own book, or trying your hand at a new talent or skill such as singing or painting. I've found that sometimes the best way to learn is to just get out there and give it a try. We can only learn so much from reading books and listening to lectures. The most powerful type of learning comes when the student is fully engaged in the experience. My literary mentor, Sylvia Hubbard often says, "Just go in there and try to break it." in reference to learning the latest technology. When my brother was younger, he used to take things apart to find out how they worked. Sometimes breaking things and making mistakes is the best way to learn. In what areas do you need more hands on experience?
Independent Study: I often meet many new people and speak to and teach large crowds. I've come to learn that as much as I am surrounded by people, I need to spend as much if not more time alone. Time alone not only gives me the balance that I need, but it's also a time to rest, reflect, recharge and do research. While a huge part of your personal degree program comes from the relationships that you build with others...the relationship that you build with yourself is just as important. How much intentional "Me" time do you set aside?
Assignments: Give yourself homework. This includes listing and setting goals for books that you want to read, people that you want to meet, events that you want to attend, places that you want to travel to, fears that you want to overcome and new things that you want to learn or try. These assignments can come in the form of long term and short term goals, or daily tasks that you check off on your to-do list. What does your self-made syllabus, custom made curriculum consist of?
Professors: Everyone should have at least one mentor. I would even go as far as to recommend that you have a mentor in every area of your life. For example, a spiritual mentor, a mentor in the field that you work in, and a fitness mentor. The choice is yours, but you should always have someone that you can look to, no matter their age, to help guide you to where you want to be. Unlike college professors, these mentors aren't just there to lecture to you. They should model the skills and behaviors that you aspire to, provide opportunities for you, and answer your questions. Who are your mentors?
CLEARLY I could go on and on with the metaphors...but I'll stop here to give you a chance to let it all marinate in your mind. This week, or month, or season, or year I challenge you create your own program where you first learn YOU and then become the best YOU that you can be. Join me as I obtain my PhD in ME!