Questions that Matter
What were the most important lessons you learned during your time in traditional education?
How many of those lessons were about the course material at hand?
Once entered the working world, and perhaps earlier than that, we may have noticed that the defined box of syllabus points and clear expectations quickly gave way to the chaotic, amorphous, subjective quality of the ‘real’ world.
How much of that syllabus was then applicable to this chaos?
My experience would suggest… not much. Of course, modern society has tried to provide some amount of structure for us to fit within, yet, ticking boxes to show we have fulfilled a requirement is a recipe for mediocrity and boredom. Success and fulfillment come from transcending the job description on paper and taking ownership of the impact you want to create. The same is true of a fulfilling and effective education.
Many of the most useful nuggets of wisdom in my life had to be read between the lines of my failures, conversations, and the unexpected. With a sceptical eye, they had to be gleamed from the biased narrative often created about the past.
Indeed, an effective way to learn is to seek to disprove one’s model of the world at every occasion. Uncomfortable as it may be, it can prevent us from growing dangerously content with our sense of certainty.
Not an easy state of mind to inhabit for most of us… it’s no wonder we can live so much of our lives without ever questioning ourselves. Yet, without some self-reflection, how could we possibly dig those nuggets of wisdom out of the chaos?
Without reflection, it may take us decades before obvious patterns hit us in the head because we didn’t think to look up more often.
How many times have you asked yourself, what have I learned from this?
What can I do differently next time?
As Socrates was claimed to have said “the unexamined life is not worth living”. That statement very much depends on your definition of ‘worthiness’ of course.
There are many ways in which you could lead a pleasant life; passing every day in a completely mindless trance.
And with such an approach, how many blind alleys would you be stuck in without noticing?
Let me offer some perspective on your lifetime. Here is a picture. This picture represents every week in the life of a 90 year old. It really isn’t that much…
Really take that in… do you feel some existential angst rising within you?
If you don’t then you haven’t engaged with the picture deeply enough.
That is not a lot of time...
What do you want to achieve in your vision of life?
What kind of person do you strive to become?
What do you not want to waste time doing?
You may not be able to answer all those questions at this point. That is OK!
And even when you will have an answer, you will likely change it in 10, 5 or just 1 year from now.
In your 20s, it’s OK not to know what you want to do, it’s not OK to stop looking.
In your 30s, it’s still OK not to know, it’s not OK to stop looking.
In your 40s, it’s still OK not to know, it’s not OK to stop looking.
You can keep going all you want.
A lot of life will be spent actually figuring out what you are looking for in the first place and that is just fine! Life is found in the process, not the goal.
What isn’t fine is to pretend like you’ve found your answers when you know deep down you have not. What isn’t fine is to stop looking because other people tell you your vision doesn’t exist. What is especially not fine is to stop looking because you stopped believing you have the abilities to achieve your dreams.
The moment you stop… life stops.
So ask yourself, really…
What do I want to achieve in my vision of life?
What kind of person do I strive to become?
What do I not want to waste time doing?
Coaching is a great place to explore these questions! :)