Education for me ran ostensibly from 1969 to 2014, primary school to teaching, and the O levels and A levels, degree, various Inset training had their value, but arguably the last few years of self-education have been the loveliest learning curve.
Self-education is indeed the best.
You should know if you have just a modicum of self-awareness where the gaps in your knowledge and skills are. Self-awareness should lead to self-education if the intrinsic motivation is there and the external rewards are worthwhile.
Years ago, self-education meant listening to the radio, reading texts, visiting libraries, watching television and films, but from about 2000, when that 30 foot dial up cable was plugged into your home phone terminal, self-education could be found online.
Overnight, the internet made us all experts in what we searched for (until fake news surfaced last year).
They say if you have a business idea, you’ve got to make sure there’s demand for it at the price you’re offering the product or service you’re offering. If not, that plan can become the Trojan horse, full of content and ideas, but roundly ignored.
You’ve got to educate yourself to eat a slice of humble pie and ask others for their opinions on what you’re about to embark on.
Learning is about listening to others and consulting with others and then educating yourself.
So what have I learned since going self-employed? What have I been self-educated in?
- Choose your partner carefully, if you’re going to have one. Like many relationships, a business partnership starts with romantic intentions, but can quickly lead to rows, separation and a messy divorce. I’d go into partnership but retain an element of self-control. The one I’m in now is a happy one and has been for 7 months. Experience tells me this won’t end up in a split.
- Network. You don’t have to get up at 5.30 am to listen to some formal networking breakfast or feel slightly embarrassed with going to a meeting where you’re partnered with a self-employed butcher, a fellow writer or web designer. Network online – no not Tinder or Friends Reunited but on Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook. Get your name out there and, this is what I’ve learned, through self-education; be real, be authentic and don’t launch into sales tactics. Let people choose your business, your service, because they like and trust you. Don’t connect on LinkedIn and send a potted CV telling that person what you can do for them. Same on Twitter. Build rapport and a relationship and an opportunity may come or it may not. But like a partnership, a relationship, you have to work on it constantly. Don’t bore them or you’ll end up like that one who everyone avoids at parties, ignored and unloved. Network with the intention of creating a connection, not a sale.
- Read. Reading anything that interests you stimulates you. I read Dickens, Sarah Beeny’s “Property Ladder”, Ian McEwan, “The Great Gatsby”, “What Car” and The Guardian some days. I fill myself with Seth Godin’s “Tribes” and intersperse with revisits to Rebus and Rankin. I read LinkedIn statuses and articles avidly. All feed my brain, all inspire, all educate me. They add value to my life and my writing.
- Be humble. This is easier said than done when you were born and raised in Yorkshire where pride, even arrogance, is genetically engineered in you. “You can always tell a Yorkshireman – not a lot” as the old joke goes. Humility though, accepting you have loads to learn from others, is a positive trait and should be a big part of your self-education. There’s only 3 things I’m certain about in life: atheism, socialism, immediate family.
- Do what you love. I’ve done what I love most of my life: teaching English and writing. Education and my treatment by Norfolk made me very ill though but I’ve closed that door, with a firm kick. I ascribe to the Tony Robbins’ philosophy, roughly paraphrased as “Think back what you wanted to do at 16, as that is what you should do.” I wanted to write from the age of 5 to 22, including that period in 1981, with mullet, DMs and Harrington jacket. I do it now, I write every day, I love it. Mainly for estate agents about property. Writing is my release, my vocation, I’m no longer stressed, depressed or anxious. I’ve found my Nirvana. It was only through self-education though that I found this. Stopping drinking has also been a big part of that journey too.
I hope this has been quite useful (humble). Always fly solo or pick a great mate (partnerships can sink ships), connect with others but don’t sell (network), absorb this and share it (read and CTA), and do what you love.
You get one go on this planet and 80 years is a long time to spend being miserable.
If you have something that fires your passion, as longs as it’s legal, pursue it.
No better way of living.
Thanks to you Chris Arnold too.