[April 1, 2019] The path to success and the ability to get things done in any of life’s challenges are built around the proficiency of reading, writing, and speaking clearly. Formal education – the methodical teaching of these skills – is the necessary starting point but not the end to the development of us.
“The fool spoke precisely as he wrote, in convoluted paragraphs that any worthwhile editor would want to set on fire.” – Eliot Grayson, Like a Gentleman
A good education is about teaching us to think and to do so critically. In other words, it develops our ability to sort through unverified assumptions, prejudices, and intellectual laziness. While our institutions of higher education find themselves today deviating from this goal, it will always remain an individual responsibility.
In their intrinsic accountability; leaders teach, coach, and mentor others to achieve a higher degree of thinking. Superior thinking is through the prerequisite of reading, writing, and speaking clearly. There is no substitute. Those who cannot express themselves clearly and accurately are doomed to misfortune and misery.
Much like the scientific method, leadership is a way of thinking. It is also a way of acting and communicating. Only through the development and use of these skills can a leader inspire others to achieve great things. Someone once said that few people are fundamentally creative. Those who do achieve true creativity do so only by the difficult work it takes.
My maternal grandmother, Bigmama, repeatedly advised me to “Go to school and develop your brain.” I hated school, and I did poorly (if measured by my grades). But I learned a few things along the way besides dates, formulas, and poems. I learned that “thinking” would get me recognized by teachers and friends.
And I learned, usually the hard way, that if you use your brain and develop it, you can achieve just about anything.