“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning to sail my ship”
— Louisa May Alcott
“To thine own self be true”
— William Shakespeare
Summer is upon us and as a speech therapist/ed-tech consultant turned professional speaker it means some time off; long overdue 🙂 But as an entrepreneur it seems that the party is now starting. I’ve juggled balls in both arenas for a long time now, and I find myself torn between wanting to take a step back and digitally unplug and be outdoors more, and wanting to keep up the pace and remain tethered to my digital avatar. Do I slow down a little or do I continue my dance? The steps of which many entreprenuers know well. Steps which include a steady staccato, a pirouette on auto-pilot, on a continuous loop; pitches, marketing, content creation, content curation, and social media consumption.
I guess the question I’ve been asking myself this week is….
Does the education of self hinge on learning from others?
At which point does the learning truly “kick in’? When should a person take time to hear one’s inner voice, which is a manifestation of that learning? When should a person raise its volume? Inner voices can be dampened and even completely drowned out in today’s Digital Age. It can happen gradually and even unknowingly, as we get exposed to and even influenced by all the other voices clamoring for our attention. While I support harnessing the power of the Internet to learn, grow, network, and expand entrepreneurial horizons, I also support “digital detox” and being true to oneself.
I believe that everyone’s Theory of Mind is unique, and that a person was put on this earth to hone it, and use it to contribute and make a difference in the life of a child and beyond. I believe in the power of learning, and that every person I meet online or offline has something special to teach me about some aspect of my life. These are interwoven into my conduct and blogging process, which is one of the reasons I read and share blogposts from others. It’s not just about content curation for the sake of digital marketing or contributing to the digital culture of one’s ecosystem. It’s not just about providing thought leadership and virtual mentorship for the sake of collaboration and being network literate.
It’s about processing what is learned and applying it to your own life and personal credos.
So to answer my question, I do believe that the education of self hinges on learning from others. This is true of everyone, especially entrepreneurs; something I wrote of in my book, The NICE Reboot, and in my latest Tumblr post, “A Woman Entrepreneur Gets Schooled”, which you can read here.
Self education results from being schooled by others. However, the execution of that education happens only after one has synthesized those lessons with what one learns about himself/herself through experiences, taking risks, and making mistakes. That means taking time to internalize those lessons, and taking time to rethink “balance” overall, especially re: one’s inner voice and the cacophony of outer voices. That means taking the time to live “in the moment” and relish every step of the journey and all its detours.
That’s why I write about the need to commit to the entrepreneurial journey itself, not just its outcome. That’s why I write about the need to methodically problem solve (cognitively and humorously) and discount entrepreneurial myths, both of which you can read about in my book review by Diane Bertolin here, and in my recent interview with Liesha Petrovich here. Committing to the entrepreneurial journey and discounting myths about it requires reframing success and failure, self education, and reading; books, blogs, magazines, social media posts, and white papers. I’m a huge fan of TED Talks, especially this one, and the ones on this list. In trying to be helpful, I’ve created this Amazon reading list, and reviewed books there when I can. I recently reviewed the deceptively simple and quite entertaining book Show and Tell by Dan Roam. I also reviewed the trailblazing, spot-on and succinct eBook treatise on female entrepreneurship, Forget the Glass Ceiling by Geri Stengel.
Self education takes on new meaning in the iEra where an influx of sound bytes, takeaways, virtual mentorship, professional and personal development, and escapist media is yours for the taking, 24/7. The “glorification” of busy is not a new concept, but one that is on my radar again, and probably yours, since Arianna Huffington wrote her thought provoking book Thrive (which I also reviewed, I think I’m reviewer 15 on Amazon:) It’s time to thrive, not just survive, and to do away with living on “cruise control“. It’s time to reclaim learning, and perhaps reclaim the innocence and simplicity of our own inner voice, which has so much to teach us. If we would only listen.
It’s time to reconnect with our inner voice, and with our inner child, especially during the summer. Especially if we are on a self education “kick”, which everyone is; or should be; to become authentic, useful, self-actualized human beings, not just better entrepreneurs and professionals. We can learn much from a child about purpose, about harnessing time, experiencing joy, and retaining our sense of humor. It’s something I wrote of in my book and in this article for The Huffington Post. It’s something that was hit home again when I read this funny post about letters from an 8 year old boy in camp.
We may all be products of our upbringing, our environment, and our education. The nature vs. nurture debate may continue for decades. But it is clear that we can be instrumental in defining and refining our nature, our ecosystem, our Theory of Mind, and our actions through learning; first from others, but then from ourselves- past and present.
Experience is a pretty good teacher for our future selves, don’t you think?