Ten Life-Changing Factors We Are Not Taught at School

CaptureI am amazed at how externally focused secondary and tertiary education is. It is almost exclusively about skill and general knowledge. These are a proxy for the immeasurable factor called intelligence…but frankly a poor one.

I do a wee routine with my boys when they get home from school.

I say…

“What did you learn at school today boys?”

And they say…


And I say…

“Great. You can have too much of that book learnin’…”

I must remind them that this is a joke, and not a position…

The thing about skills and facts is that they are relatively easy to learn…if you are of a mind to learn them and have not been put off book learnin’ by your well meaning parents. Or friends.

The difference between…

…what people achieve and what they could achieve is explained not by lack of skills or knowledge but by lack of confidence, or by fear of failure, or by a conditioned mind that says you can’t do this or shouldn’t do this…

These debilitating factors are internal to us, not external.

And this should excite us, because we can get our hands on the internal levers and pull them and make the biggest difference to ourselves it is possible to make. And no one can stop us.

The battle is within. Not outwith.

Here’s what should be being taught at school but isn’t…

1. Attitude is almost always all there is that’s important.

(Now listen, a nitpicker may tell you that attitude is not going to get you a 747 license and a £175K job with an airline if you can’t tie your shoe laces. True. So let’s assume you are actually trying to do something you can do or can aspire to and what we’re talking about here is how well you approach things and therefore how great your results are…and therefore how much freedom your greatness brings to you. OK?)

I have never had a successful client who had a bad attitude. I have met plenty of potential clients who did exhibit a bad attitude (usually unnecessary combativeness, thinking life is a zero-sum, win or lose battle or rigid thinking constrained by ideology and dogma.) Now I just sieve them out.

2. Fear Management

As I have said before, fear kills action or action kills fear. It must be the latter or you are dead in the water. So, unless what you are fearful of could seriously hurt you physically or financially, ignore it and do the thing.

3. Life is for Living.

You’re a long time dead as someone once said. I think it may have been my Mother but I am sure she was quoting. People regret not what they did, but what they didn’t do.

4. Goals do matter.

And anybody who tells you differently probably views accountability like a vampire views the dawn.  

The problem with goals is that the whole topic has been overtaken by mumbo-jumbo merchants peddling pseudo science to the gullible (and the “oh that gets me off the goal-setting hook” feckless).  

Goals are great but there’s about two ways to do them well and a million ways not to.

(Hint 1 – if you cannot aim high and miss without some salaried maniac giving you a bad day goals are of limited use to you. Hint 2 – goals are outputs and you cannot do an output. The real juice you get from goals is that they should help you define what’s worth doing and what isn’t.)

5. Learning is King.

Allow yourself the luxury of really diving into something new every year.

For example:

Learn coding; drumming; cooking; build a Spitfire (you can! – a woman I know told me); learn marketing; learn marketing; learn marketing…

So…burn your TV! You don’t need it.

6. Build a great life.

Follow your own plan or be a bit part player in someone else’s.

7. Be assertive.

The alternatives are aggressive, passive aggressive and passive.

All non-assertive options will corrode your soul, and where will you be then with a corroded soul?

8. Understand that debt = slavery.

The more debt we have the fewer our life options will be, for most of us.  

Understand that the rich use money to make money and the poor use money to buy toys.

9. Conditioning is powerful.

And will keep you in your comfort zone and your results will be average average average.

And as we have discussed before, the world treats average people badly. Average is a grind.

10. IQ is a poor substitute for someone who can manage their own mind.

A poor sod with an IQ of 150 as his sole differentiator will lose almost every single time (if winning = successful AND happy) to some bonny lassie with great attitude, who is less fearful, who lives her life with a smile, and has targets, and improves her mind by learning, who has a plan, and stands up for herself, and avoids the debt handcuffs, and conditions herself instead of allowing herself to be conditioned by the externalities…

I do not blame the schools. They are doing as asked.

It’s up to us to do the rest.

It starts with awareness.

6 Responses to Ten Life-Changing Factors We Are Not Taught at School

  1. Coral Grainger November 25, 2013 at 10:55 am #

    I love this Mark. I’m currently advising a Further Education institution on employer led curriculum. My research finds that employers would rather have 30% right skills and 70% right attitude than the other way around – skills can be taught on the job, the other approach is harder. Confidence, assertiveness and ambition are all developed at an early age, often within family settings but not all children are so fortunate. I hope that we can share your advice with our students, and that these codes can be effectively embedded within all course activity, rather than being delivered across a stand alone module.
    Thanks as always for the boost you bring!

    • Mark Nugent November 25, 2013 at 6:35 pm #

      Thanks Coral. I think you’ve got it right when you say the codes need to be embedded in all course activity so that this becomes part of the environment, the culture, and not just some freaky psychology thing, as some will doubtless call it.

  2. Nigel Percy November 25, 2013 at 4:04 pm #

    Nice one Mark – Your 10 Blanket covers our mutual bases in your Trade Mark Style


    • Mark Nugent November 25, 2013 at 6:33 pm #

      Thanks Nigel. You’ll make me self-conscious about my TMS!

  3. Neil Atkinson November 27, 2013 at 10:07 pm #

    Mark, these last two blogs have been fantastic to me, right on the money. I’m so excited I think I’ve forwarded this to half of me address book.

    I like your take on fear, it is similar to a rule I have. “If it scares me; I must do it or overcome it.” living with fear is for the scared.

    Thanks again.

    • Mark Nugent November 28, 2013 at 5:36 pm #

      Hi Neil – thanks for the two comments and sorry for the delay in publishing them.

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