June 14, 2012
School does a poor job of teaching us patience in life. In fact, one school year equals approximately 7-10 “real life years”. What does this mean?
We’re impatient. We want instant access to everything, and if it’s not instant, it’s not fast enough! We rage on the road because others slow us down, jockey for position in the airport security line in hopes of being the first to be molested by TSA, and try every get rich scheme that’s out there.
I didn’t blame our impatience on school until I talked to my friend’s father. He used to be impatient, but now he’s a millionaire… so I listened to him!
If you see him now, you would never know that he went through the same money and life fulfillment struggles as some of us. He is very successful and has recently made a couple of multi-million dollar donations. We talked about some of his struggles when he was younger and he introduced me to theory about school teaching us impatience.
His theory is that school life does a poor job of preparing us for the real world because it conditions us to believe success can happen very quickly.
Just like when I said early school does a poor job of teaching us some things, the case holds true here even though I don’t believe it’s intentional. It happens because schools are set up with a short duration between “levels” of school, both high school and college.
Life as a freshman in either high school or college can be difficult. You’re at the bottom rung, everything is new, and oftentimes it feels like you’re intentionally stepped on by the upperclassmen. I think I was literally stepped on a few times as I had three older brothers, and it was my mission to pester their friends; in return they made me pay!
Now, look what happens as you move to your sophomore year. You’re no longer at the bottom. Sure, you still have upperclassmen that keep you in check, but now you have freshman that look up to you. Life is better.
One short year later and you’re a junior. At this point, you can see the top and you probably have friends that are seniors – so you’re officially associated with the top rather than the bottom. It might have felt like a long time, but it was only two years!
You get through your junior year and suddenly you’re a senior. You rule the roost and are looked up to (sometimes forcibly) by all of the underclassmen. In a matter of three years you’ve gone from the bottom to the top.
Everyone goes through the progression but some really take advantage of it. In the case of my friend’s father, he started out not knowing anyone at his university as he came from a very small town. He got involved in different organizations on campus and was elected to some leadership roles.
By the time he was a senior, he was at the top of his game and held many leadership positions including student body President of a large university!
I related with this because I followed a similar path and was involved with campus leadership. He went on to tell me that school does a poor job of preparing us for real life because we get conditioned to expect that instant gratification. We expect that we can be at something for a few years and already move up to the very top! It was one of those ‘ah-ha!’ moments for me because I can definitely relate.
Of course, real life isn’t that easy. If you work for almost any business or corporation, there are plenty of people who have been there for 15-25 years that are vying for the leadership positions that you might have your eye on. We always hear about the Zuckerbergs of the world who were able to make it to the top very quickly, but that won’t happen with most of us.
It will be a long road of persistence in toil while knowing that it can someday happen. He is now in his mid-50s and said he feels like the “junior” level equivalent of how he felt in college. This is right according to the math (30/10 = 3 school years, which would put him somewhere between a junior and senior).
It’s amazing to think that because he is very successful and the head of multiple companies, but I heard this was straight from his mouth!
I’ll keep working on my patience and not be upset when my company doesn’t make my CEO right away… besides, I’m not sure I want to! What do you think of his theory?