It doesn’t matter if you’re 15 or 55 – your age is just a number.
It just indicates the number of years you have been on this planet.
It does not indicate how many years you have lived.
A few weeks back my accountability partner who’s many years older than me asked: “How I’ve learned so much at such a young age?” I started to ponder his question.
I remembered back to my days of formal education. I had a learning disability and was put in special help classes for six years. I was definitely not the definition of a smart kid and most of my teachers would be baffled that I now write for a living.
After thinking about it for a bit I realized how I’ve come so far.
It wasn’t because I studied really hard and was an amazing student. It was because I had done so many things already. I had already learned lessons that it takes other people twenty more years to figure out.
So far I have…
- Performed magic professionally at age 13.
- Competed with top level grapplers and future MMA fighters when I was 15.
- Played poker professional when I was 17.
- Hung out with the top dating coaches in the world at 19.
I don’t say these things to brag. I say them because each and every one of these experiences taught me a life lesson.
- I learned how to avoid burnout from magic.
- I learned how to be cool under pressure from MMA.
- I learned patience from poker.
- I learned social skills from dating coaches.
These were all taught outside the classroom.
Full Transparency: I will admit that I did claw my way out of those special help classes and when I went to college became a straight A student. But by that time countless life lessons had already been learned.
My education took place outside the classroom. That’s why I am where I am.
How School Has Failed Us
In school we are not taught obvious skills like how to find a job or communicate effectively with others.
Instead we are taught how to measure the area of a triangle and the civics of France.
You could make the argument that school teaches life skills indirectly but I’d have to call BS.
School is a controlled environment. You don’t have to get out of your comfort zone if you don’t want to. You can just stay in your bubble away from any real-life knowledge. All you have to do is show up for your classes, take some tests and you’ll be fine.
School doesn’t force you to learn social skills. They don’t force you to understand the subtle nuances of communication that can make or break you when you’re on a job interview. All they force you to do is show up on time and get passing grades.
Schools expect these skills to be a side effect of your education – but if it’s not forced the majority of kids will opt for the safe route and never learn vital life skills.
Life Experience Prepares You for Life
Kind of simple I know, but it doesn’t have to be complex.
If you go out and get a job – any job at all – you’ll learn countless lessons in your first week alone.
Let’s use an example.
John takes a job bagging groceries at the grocery store. He’s 16 years old and this is his first job. He’s nervous as hell. He can’t remember the last time he felt this scared to do something.
On his first day he meets the supervisor and is introduced to the rest of the staff. They teach him the proper way to bag groceries and a few days later he is officially ready to bag groceries for customers.
As each customer passes he says “Have a great day.”
He says this line over and over and starts to realize that if he smiles, the customer smiles. “Hmm I never noticed that before.” He thinks.
When they’re not busy John talks to the cute cashier girl. He’s clearly nervous but he’s able to hold a conversation.
As the weeks pass John has leaped out of his original comfort zone and into a whole new world. Now he’s talking to his fellow co-workers with confidence and putting smiles on the faces of customers.
These were all life skills learned from bagging groceries, a very simple and easy job that any young kid could have.
I’m sure there are people yelling at their computer screen right now that school isn’t the only culprit and that their crappy corporate job has taught them nothing. I wouldn’t disagree with you.
You probably learned more in that cubicle than you did in school but that’s not the point.
EXPERIENCE brings growth.
If you work your nine to five every day and never do anything new then you will not grow. And if you are not growing – you are dying.
So whether you’re an old man or a young girl it’s your new experiences that will bring you true knowledge.
The more you do – the more you will know.
The more know – the smaller your problems will seem.
The smaller your problems seem – the more you can help others.
This world is vast. Your comfort zone should be constantly tested and expanded upon.
It is the only way to learn more. It is the only way to truly grow old.
Age is just a number; experience is the real indicator of life.
How many years have you lived?
Kevin Cole is a writer & entrepreneur at The Mental Playground delivering practical advice on how to navigate the most complex organism known to man: Your Own Mind.