Back to school” has many meanings – some positive and some maybe not-so-positive

“Back to school” has many meanings – some positive and some maybe not-so-positive.

In my mind, those three words together conjure a whole swirl of thoughts emotions and memories from shopping for school clothes, to new teachers and friends, to fresh notebooks and more than a little anticipation of what is to come.

And while you are likely reading this as an adult and you aren`t preparing to put yourself back in a classroom this fall, I`m suggesting you should, though perhaps not in the traditional sense.

Rather than buying a backpack and finding your seat in the classroom, here are five ways you can take the lessons of childhood back-to-school and apply them to your personal and professional life in a relevant way today.

Pick a Subject. Upper grade students have some say in what they will learn. My son, a high school senior, has seven classes this fall, most of which he had some hand in choosing. As individuals we can always choose what we want to learn. He chose seven subjects last spring and is just now starting. You can choose and subject right now and start this afternoon. My advice, don`t pick seven – you already likely have a full schedule; however, you can pick one or two things you want to work on learning right now. It starts with choosing.

Have a Plan. Teachers provide a syllabus every semester to outline what the class will learn, how the content will be learned and the timeline for the whole process. Once you have chosen something new to learn, you too should build a plan. The difference, of course, is that typically you will be responsible for your plan, rather than having it given to you.

Learn with Others. In school you have two groups of people with who you work – your teachers and your classmates. The same is true for adult learners. Find peers you can learn with or share your learning with, and don`t forget teachers! You might not take an actual class while you`re learning – and – you can still find teachers; experts, mentors and others who can provide guidance, feedback and support for your learning.

Learn Continually. You know from experience that you won`t be successful in school if you only study or do your homework once in awhile, or if you wait until the night before the exam and then cram. Same is true for life. Once you have picked your subject or skill, you will have far better success when you learn continually and consistently. Learning is after all a process; to be successful you must treat it that way.

Put Your Learning to the Test. In school we all took exams (sorry if this reminder brings bad memories for you!). In life, we take exams too, they just aren`t the same. The skills and subjects you choose to learn might not require, or even allow for, one single right answer, but to really be learned, they must be put to the test. Apply what you are learning; see how it works. You pass the test when your skills and knowledge have improved in real life application.

All of the ideas above are valid and will help you in your personal and professional development, and it is equally important to remember that School Doesn`t Equal Learning.


That`s right. School isn`t the only way to learn. School can offer a good context to think about learning, and hopefully give some skills and vision for learning; however, school-like settings are just one way to learn.

I could write an article at least as instructive about personal and professional development that describes why school isn`t the right model for us to follow.

In short, my advice is to not let your experiences with school impact your on-going life experiences and decisions relating to learning.

As you can see, “back to school” probably isn`t a perfect analogy. Not everyone had a great experience in school; not all of the methods and structures of school are perfect for all of us (or any of us); and not every part of the school experience translates to adult learning.

And yet, there is an important message here for all of us.

We send kids back to school as a conscious decision to proactively extend their knowledge and skills. The need for, and value of, that decision does not expire at a certain age.

Remarkable Leaders know that school is never out if you want to be the most effective leader you can be. That’s the purpose of the Remarkable Leadership Learning System – we provide an ongoing way to support your ongoing learning. Take advantage of The Remarkable Leadership Learning System – a one skill at a time, one month at a time approach to becoming a more confident and successful leader. You can get two months of that unique system for free as part of our Most Remarkable Free Leadership Gift Ever today at to become the leader you were born to be.

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