If you’ve followed any of my content in the past or are familiar with any of my general philosophies, it should come as no surprise that I dislike our current education system. It’s broken. To be honest, it’s beyond broken. It no longer serves the valuable purpose of generating a great income or developing adept minds.
I don’t want to make this solely about how lacking the modern education system is, but I need to bring it up as it’s relevant and affects society as a whole.
Many people will go from High School to College, expecting the keys to a successful life. After all, this is what’s been promised their entire lives. This is how the education system is marketed and sold to society. But once they graduate, they often can’t find a great job or one that pays a livable wage. So, many continue down the path of traditional education. They go from undergraduate to graduate.
And sometimes, a graduate isn’t even enough. So they get a doctorate. Meanwhile, debt accumulates. More debt… More debt… More debt…
Until it becomes extraordinarily unmanageable. My solution… I believe most people should abandon college and all of the schooling after high school and get a Master’s in Life instead. This degree will pay dividends. Keep in mind that this idea applies on a general level. If you have your heart set on being a doctor, I don’t think you should abandon your dreams. This is for the majority of people out there that may have a general degree (in liberal arts, for example) that might be struggling with money and still trying to find their way in life.
Use your 20s as Graduate School
Time is your most valuable asset and it’s an asset that most of us drastically take for granted. I discuss the idea of time and give my strategies for effective time management in my course (Time Management Mastery), but I wholeheartedly believe in the idea of making the most of your time.
By the way, if you’re interested in taking the Time Management Mastery course, use the code LEVI101 for an exclusive 65% off as a thank you for reading this article.
Personally, I think your 20s are a bridge to developing the habits and skills of a good life. Many habits and skills picked up in college could be considered detrimental, lacking in value, or relatively useless. Also, considering the price of a degree, I don’t particularly think the juice is worth the squeeze.
Colleges suffer currently from Double Inflation, in which the price increases while the number of majors and admitted students also increase. This is excellent for the college as they can charge more at scale. However, for a student, the value of your degree decreases. If everyone can easily get an undergraduate in Communications or Psychology, the value of that degree vanishes. Value is almost always intrinsically linked to Scarcity.
My belief is that only a handful of degrees will lead to a high income. Personally, besides becoming a doctor or engineer, I’d argue that most degrees are relatively useless in modern society.
(Note: By “useless” I refer to the value to the individual. I’m not necessarily saying that an individual with a Psychology degree is useless. I’m suggesting that the Psychology degree in itself might not provide a great return on the investment as the pool of Psychology degree holders is high and competitive).
Many jobs seem to be pulling away from the requirement of students having a degree, which means that knowing how to market yourself and having great skills is what will differentiate you from your peers.
Beyond only a few degrees leading to a relatively good income, I typically argue that much is lost in the process of obtaining even these degrees when you consider the value of certain life experiences at certain points of a human’s life. Sure, you’ve graduated as a doctor, but do you have great social skills? Outside of your practice, can you gain respect if no one knows your profession? Do you know how to properly invest or spend your money? Do you know how to vet and pick a great spouse? Arguably, those skills are far more important and valuable than your degree. Even if you were to make $400k as a doctor, you’ll ruin yourself financially if you have poor spending habits. Ultimately, this invalidates having such a high income.
Even if you were to choose a “good degree” there are skills you’ll likely miss out on initially since the typical college and university doesn’t prioritize enhancing these skills.
And, of course, there’s the massive debt. To my knowledge, America is in over $1 trillion of debt from student loans. It seems clear that many students are burdened with far more debt than they can pay off. I find the idea of promoting debt to young, graduating students absurd. My simple overview of a functioning society requires people to take risks. Risk-takers become entrepreneurs that create new projects, ideas, jobs, etc. These new jobs allow a country to make more money collectively. More money collectively strengthens the economy and allows everyone to flourish. This is a massive simplification but my core thesis is that students in debt lead to the destruction of a society. Young people that are poor will become old people that are unhappy and poor and this creates a cycle that’s difficult to escape from. It creates instability when too many people in society aren’t willing to take an educated risk with the potential for a massive reward. I’ve always considered your 20s to be a personal era of experimentation. You should make mistakes quickly and learn from them. In your 20s, you have the opportunity to recover from a big loss with little stake. Destroy your credit and you can rebuild it by your 30s. Eat unhealthy foods and you won’t suffer as easily. Work yourself to the bone and you’ll recover faster. Lose all of your relationships and you can relatively easily start over in a new city or state. Realistically, as you age, your body and your desires will force you to take fewer risks and a single risk will be more costly. If you have a family in your 30s with a wife and kids, taking a financial risk could lead to your family hating you and a potential divorce that results in the loss of any assets you might have. One risk could have a negative snowball effect. Taking the same financial risk in your 20s while you’re single might be a slight deterrent or inconvenience.
But in the long run, you’ll be able to recover.
Your 20s should be a time where you figure out what works (for you) and what doesn’t work.
Experience vs. Information
We live in the era of information. It’s abundant. It’s everywhere. Some might argue that we’re drowning in it. Too much information actually makes it difficult to make qualitative decisions. If I have endless options, how can I know which option is the best? In reality, you can’t.
Truly knowing only a handful of things is far more valuable than vaguely knowing 1 million things. And experience will teach you what’s worth knowing and what’s worth discarding. You may have thought this too, but have you ever found any practical use for everything taught to you in High School? I recall reading Of Mice and Men, The Great Gatsby, and Great Expectations and, to this day, I wouldn’t be able to tell you why we read these books or what applicable lessons they provided us. In math, we learned about the Pythagorean Theorem, Geometry, and Trigonometry. I can’t recall a single time outside of math class that the mathematical logic or any particular formula/ theorem applied and improved my life. In history, we learn about so many wars and events throughout history. To this day, despite personally enjoying the history of some events, wars, and powerful political figures, I can’t recall the practicality of what school taught. School simply provided information but it didn’t distill the information into a manner that could be applicable in life.
It would provide the what but not the why.
With experience, the information suddenly becomes more useful. You can figure out what should stay and what should go. When I was in college, I was sent a letter by Penn State to leave the university. They forbade me from taking classes because I couldn’t afford the tuition at the time. Despite having a general idea of what it was like to work after college and a general idea of what it was like to pay bills, budget, etc., it wasn’t until experiencing the flow of making your own money, paying your own bills, and being self-sufficient that I saw the nuance in everything. Even if someone outlined exactly what it’d be like to have a job, budget, and pay bills from start to finish, it wouldn’t equate to trying it on my own. I tend to think that another downside of modern college is that it hinders one's ability to gain true experience.
Experience tends to be made from uncomfortable scenarios. These are where the true lessons are learned. If you have a pattern that’s never broken, while you are experiencing something by being alive, the experience is fairly useless. You’re not growing because you’re not being challenged. There needs to be a stimulus that promotes a new response and sensation.
Colleges, from my perspective, often try to hide away negativity from their students. The university will make an effort to protect feelings. Even people that deviate from a typical narrative are shunned or put in a position where thinking independently is unfavorable.
But that’s not real life. In real life, discomfort is a part of growth. If you have an opinion, you must face the discomfort of having your opinion challenged in order to progress to truth. This is similar to the growth of one’s body. Discomfort caused by tearing the muscle is required for growth to occur. To miss out on the experience of being offended or meeting someone with opposing viewpoints forms a weak link in one’s mental chain over time. Many of the biggest insights I’ve had in life came from someone challenging me, me listening, and then either forming an argument or shifting my original viewpoints and ultimately agreeing. To learn is to be challenged. At some point, you didn’t know something or you believed you had an answer. But only from the possibility of being wrong were you able to truly learn. Experience behaves in this same manner. It forces you to repeat mistakes or learn. As a human, one of your primary objectives is to adapt to the stimuli around you. Charles Darwin, a highly regarded Biologist, was quoted by stating that true survival of the fittest comes down to one’s ability to adapt, not necessarily physical strength. This ability to adapt can only be found through personal experiences. While some books or anecdotes from others can provide shortcuts, only through experience can you truly ingrain a lesson in your head. This is especially true as book production becomes easier and information is supplied rapidly. Any insights from a book could theoretically become outdated as soon as you read it. Any insights from a book could theoretically also be objectively false. To summarize, I’d say the reason why experience is so valuable when compared to basic information is due to experience providing the why, how, and what simultaneously. Information alone tends to focus heavily on the what. Experiment with Different Identities
Your identity is powerful. I’ve heard this and read about this before. But my experience of juggling different identities is what truly made me understand how powerful one’s personality is. I’ve learned that if you wish to accomplish an outcome, who you currently are might not be enough. You might need to become the kind of person that would achieve that outcome. When I was in college, I struggled to talk to girls. I went to a High School that didn’t have female students and so in my teenage years, 95% of my time was spent with other males. I lacked the art of female interaction.
As a college student, never having a girlfriend was a major source of unhappiness. I’d never experienced even a simple kiss or a date and I felt like I was missing out. It was like I was critically behind in life. Needless to say, I felt like an absolute loser.
I looked for different resources to help me learn how to get dates.
The Art of Charm podcast… An entrepreneur named Jason Capital… A researcher named Vanessa Van Edwards… I wanted to teach myself how to be more social and what traits created attraction and attractiveness. Over time, I challenged myself. Many of the exercises and mannerisms prescribed weren’t me.
For example, one of the techniques I learned--playful interpretation--was a foreign idea to me. Taking in information from someone else and not interpreting it literally or logically? The old me would literally claim that I would never do that. Even some of the recommendations for style were out of my comfort zone. Leonard Richardson would never say those things, behave that way, or dress in that fashion.
Leonard Richardson would never curse in front of a girl. Leonard Richardson would never leave any of his shirts unbuttoned or roll up his sleeves. Leonard Richardson would never wear boots or shoes. He’d only wear basketball sneakers everywhere.
But what if I wasn’t Leonard Richardson? And what if Lenny Richardson did do those things? Throughout college, I experimented with my identity. I cut my hair, changed my style, exercised more, used different words and tonalities, and eventually became a new person. I even stopped referring to myself as Leonard and started referring to myself as Lenny.
This shift helped me immensely and made me far happier as a result. My belief is that we should all be willing to switch up our identities. We should play with our beliefs, what we like, who we’re around, our personal style, and our objectives until we find a mix that feels most congruent with who we truly are. Your identity will drive you.
You act based on who you are. A man who sees himself as rich is destined to always be rich because his identity causes his habits to always make his reality congruent. The same applies to a poor person. The person who sees himself as poor will always be poor even if they win the lottery because his identity formed his behaviors. Personally, I’d say the simplest way to change your identity step by step is to tackle the 3 Pillars of Eudaimonia. Think about someone you’d like to be like. It can be a fictional person or a real person. It doesn’t need to be someone you’ve met. Then, take their individual habits and mannerisms. Copy them. And then, over time, those habits will merge with your natural habits. You’ll take on the new behaviors until they’re unique to you. And this will form a new identity. My recommendation: Pick someone with Health goals or the body type you idolize, someone who has the amount of money or lifestyle you desire, and someone with the relationship and personality you desire. Again, it doesn’t need to be the same person. Then mimic them. Things that don’t feel congruent should be discarded and things that do feel congruent should be practiced and retained.
I’m constantly doing this in my own life. I’ll dive into each Pillar in a separate article and how you can apply it and how I’ve applied it.
This is my core thesis on how your 20s should be used. I think they’re a crucial point in one’s life and should be used wisely. It’s a time period that allows you to build a sturdy foundation.
In the future, I’ll create articles about how to specifically develop and build these pillars of Eudaimonia.
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