The Importance of Growing Intellectually
When we’re learning to drive, our instructors teach us how to pass the test, not how to drive well. There are many things that are like that in our world. In school, we’re taught to pass the test, not master the materials. So when we finish our education, we’ve learned a set of facts, not how to pursue lifelong learning.
I’m as guilty as anyone of not reading assigned course materials. When you’re in school, everything else seems so much more fun. It's usually fun for the moment, but I now regret not taking the time to immerse myself in the joy of studying. For the first year or two after graduating from college, I didn’t crack a book. Then, one day, I just started reading. I found myself much more satisfied after an hour of reading than after an hour of watching TV or surfing the internet. There’s a sense of joy in learning something new and it underscores how we can let life pass us by if we’re not lifelong learners.
Once you finish your formal education, how you grow as a person is based totally on your choices. If you don’t learn a new skill or read books that bring value and new ideas to you life, you will not progress further in your intellectual maturity. Essentially, you could find yourself a decade later no better of a person than when you graduated. Ouch.
School is the beginning of learning. You gain basic facts and ideas, and then you are supposed to take them and branch out. You figure out which subjects interest you and then you can pull that thread and see what you find out. Your intellectual growth isn’t just about you. It’s also about your wife. I want to be the best possible man I can be for Alison, and that involves finding ways to continue to grow.
There are plenty of ways to grow your mind, but if you’re not sure where to start, here are a few primers.
- Read. We are so incredibly lucky to live in a world where you can find a book on almost any subject. Even better, you don’t have to pay for them. The library is an amazing place if you take the time to stop by from time-to-time. I’d even encourage you to spend time reading daily. You get to choose the book or subject! There is no “required reading” list. Try not to spend too much time in reading that doesn’t bring value to your life. For example, reading nothing but fantasy books isn’t necessarily going to help you grow. Reading a book on gardening, cooking, productivity, business, or history will.
- Learn a new skill. Hopefully you have a list somewhere of things you want to learn to do. It could be learning to write mobile apps (one of mine!), how to play the piano, or a new language. The great thing about learning new skills is that they make you more valuable. You can take that skill and potentially increase your income. Even better, learning new skills are fairly inexpensive these days. You can always find a tutor or some other resource that will help you get where you need to be. Not bad!
- Pursue your interests. Experiencing new cultures or traveling is a great way to grow intellectually. Don’t travel to a beach and just park there for a week. Get out into the community and find out what makes that particular destination special. What is it’s history? Do they have museums or theaters? Every city has something to offer… find it!
Growing intellectually doesn’t have to be a drag. In fact, it can be incredibly fulfilling! Time is always ticking away… how will you invest yours?