It may have been a simple concept until you began hearing stories of school dropouts becoming billionaires. With five competencies, you can make almost anything happen just like them:
- Knowledge – “understand it”
- Enablement People Skills – “secure support and commitment”
- Realities Aptitude – “see it coming”
- Creativity – “new idea acceptance”
- Enduring Grit – “thousands of small choices to make one big thing happen”
How did the billionaire dropouts get the knowledge they needed to be successful? If we’re able to get knowledge like the self-made billionaires and complement it with a college degree, we could have the knowledge to accomplish almost anything.
It is clear that a college degree provides more opportunities and income than without one. A person with a college degree will earn over $1M more over a lifetime than someone with only a high school diploma (see study). If you removed the self-made billionaires like Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Mark Zuckerberg and Michael Dell who do not have college degrees, the statistics may be even more compelling.
We tell young students to focus on earning a college degree with the logic that most companies require them for employment. Yet does this degree focus come at the expense of other sources of knowledge that must be attained to accomplish almost anything?
If we set expectations that earning a college degree is the ticket to a great job, what do we say to unemployed graduates when the first student loan payment is due? How do we instill optimism with the mal-employed, the 2 million people with college degrees under age 30 in jobs that don’t require degrees?
Here are the six sources of knowledge to make almost anything happen:
1. Formal Education – Primary, secondary, college, trade schools, etc.
2. Experiences – Our experiences offer us wisdom and shape who we become. Job experiences like waiting on tables provide us the knowledge on how to interact with people. Our trial and error experiences help us identify what works and what doesn’t, like Thomas Edison’s 3,000 failed light bulb experiments that led to his famous invention. We may not know the moment when our experiences produce wisdom, yet our brains record them and replay them another day like they happened yesterday.
3. People –To get something done, you need people. You need to learn about people, from people and how to get their support. As much as 93% of communication is done by nonverbal means in certain situations, so this knowledge can only come from dialog with people. We learn to filter knowledge through individual bias by interpreting people. People are essential sources of knowledge just as they were when they were the primary source in 1436 when Gutenberg invented the printing press.
4. Passionate Curiosity – When we let our passionate curiosity go, hours on the clock quickly disappear and we are loaded with new knowledge. Curious passion can be ignited by reading, exploring, engaging dialog, taking things apart then reassembling or using the internet to instantly satisfy a curious thought. When we find the intersection of what we love and what we are good at, it changes everything as Sir Ken Robinson describes in “The Element”. Just ask Bill Gates and billionaire Paul Allen who would both sneak out their parent’s home late at night to tinker with one of the few early computers in Seattle.
5. Self -Education – In addition to a formal education, “lifelong learning” and “applied learning” are critical to accomplish any big idea. It is now even easier with the internet and the emergence of massive open online courses (MOOCs) now available for free from Harvard, Stanford, Princeton and MIT. You no longer have excuses because you can click here to register right now. If it is any consul, at least you don’t have as much lifelong learning ahead of you as todays kindergarteners who will be retiring in 2077 at age 70.
6. Interest Diversity – A single discipline focus is unrealistic today. Interest diversity leads to new associations and new layers of knowledge. Billy Beane, in Michael Lewis’s “Moneyball”, combined his passion for baseball with statistical analytics to make his Oakland Athletics ($41M payroll) competitive with the New York Yankees ($125M payroll). New associations in cancer research are creating great optimism for new cures within this decade. Cancer research is leveraging advances in molecular diagnostics, clinical therapies, nanotechnology, gene manipulation, genetic engineering, computational science and fast, low cost genome sequencing of 3 billion based pairs.
The genome studies did not find a knowledge gene in the pairs of 23 chromosomes you inherited from your mom and dad. That means the six sources of knowledge to make almost anything happened can be learned by each one of us.
A formal education comes with a cap, gown and a walk across the stage, the other five sources of knowledge do not nor can they be measured. Yet they can help you accomplish almost anything.