With another school year now underway, it’s a great time to reflect once again on just how important education is.
I know school can be tough whether you are in college, high school or younger, but the skills you learn at any educational level are going to help you in countless ways.
For example, over the summer my brother Marty came across one of my educational diplomas and he and I were both was amazed at just how much I learned at that prestigious academic institution.
The diploma is the cleverly named “Master of Pre-School Arts and Skills” from the St. Mark’s Preschool in Denver, Colorado. I don’t know if the school still exists, but as I recall back in 1975 it had some pretty cool toys, places to paint and areas to rest.
And while I don’t remember much about the school, the actual diploma from the school shows that I learned several important skills that served me well in preschool and then turned out to be extremely useful throughout my career. I would say, in fact, that the skills listed on my diploma are key to succeeding in school and in your career, no matter where you work.
We learned to play together: This was big in preschool and it is just as big in any job. You can be the best person at musical chairs or the best writer ever, but if you are terrible at playing or working with others, no one will want to play with or work with you, which will hurt you in your career. I should put on my resume that I excel at playing with others, and that I’m very good at musical chairs, too.
We learned to do things for ourselves: I still struggle with tying my shoes well enough to keep them tied for very long, but I did learn how to nap and do several other items by myself in preschool. And throughout school and working in different jobs, I have found that every employer wants people who show initiative and do work on their own. I also love napping, and falling asleep can be a pretty important skill in life.
We learned to sit and pay attention: This was admittedly tough in preschool and throughout school, but it is incredibly important in the workplace. As a reporter, I sat through some astoundingly boring meetings, but I had to pay attention. And in other jobs, you have to listen to the bosses, take part in conferences, listen to your customers and even pay attention during webinars, which can be a challenge. Sitting still and paying attention is valuable tool that shouldn’t be discounted.
We learned to put our things away: Being organized is incredibly important at any workplace. I have to find information fast at my job, so I have to put things away. My wife and family might disagree with my organizational skills at home, but I really am pretty good at putting things away, or least putting them where I know they should be.
We learned to paint: I am a terrible painter, but I do know how to do it. Translating this to work, I will say that you need to be able to express yourself and put your own thoughts and ideas out there for others to judge. Whether it is a speech, design project, blog column or painting, you need to be able to express yourself.
We learned to get along with others: At some point everyone goes to school with and/or works with people they don’t like, but you still have to get along. If you can’t get along, no one will want to work with you and you will either have to sit in the timeout chair or you will not keep your job. I am not sure which is worse.
Now I realize that other skills do play a role in having a successful career and I can see some value in learning to read, working with excel spreadsheets, knowing how to count, welding, math, designing web pages, driving, playing the elementary school recorder and understanding astrophysics. But while all of those skills can certainly assist you in your career and life, it will be just as important for you to be able to play with others (unless you are a recorder soloist, of course).
So the point is, no matter where you are in school this year, if you are painting in preschool or working toward your PhD like my friend Chetra, you should know that you are gaining skills that are going to help you in your life and career more than you can possibly understand. You should also be proud of all you have already learned and be confident that your knowledge and skills can help you overcome any challenge, except , of course, the challenge of playing musical chairs against me. I am awesome at musical chairs.