I just finished my last cohort seminar before I enter into the final phase of the completion of my doctoral degree. This past week I had the privilege of delving into theories of leadership and management, as well as educational and learning philosophies; 50 hours of tremendous learning, sharing, and insights poured into me.
Now before you say to yourself, “Tracey, I barely finished high school, I have neither the time nor the resources for getting an advanced degree”, please remember that life is one big continuing education classroom. Whether you’re formally enrolled and paying tuition or taking free webinars; whether you’re sitting in class or doing distance learning from around the world; whether it's following a strict curriculum with due dates or formulating your own self-directed learning program with no end in sight; it’s all tremendous. (Reminds me of one of my favorite Life-Changing Classics...Books Are Tremendous!)
The key point is that you own your personal development. That is the meaning of life. Find what works for you, what drives you and then hit the gas. Whatever develops you as a person needs to be pursued. And when you see the value in self-directed personal change, you won’t be able to find the opportunities fast enough to feed your consistent need for new insights and perspectives.
Now that I’m nearing the end of my coursework, I can finally gain some perspective on what’s been truly transpiring. I had a sense of the mental metamorphosis unfolding, but I had no idea of its depth and power. Education is all about cultivating your inner landscape and what the world needs now more than ever is people willing to read, learn, listen, and argue respectfully so that the outer landscape around us benefits from the careful work we’ve done to grow intellectually.
People ask me what I think I’ll gain out of working towards this degree, after all, I don’t have to complete this additional level of education and I’m not sure if I’ll ever see this hit my “paycheck”. However, the way this experience and this work has shaped me is incalculable in terms of monetary standards. For me, the pursuit of continuing education is a pure example of intrinsic motivation at work, just as so many of the tremendous things in life are.
When I entered the program back in 2015, I wondered what I could possibly learn about leadership. After all, I’d spent 35 years in various roles and industries honing my leadership chops. With street smarts to spare and plenty of real-world experience, I was skeptical what the theorists could teach me. But I love to learn and know that leadership is lifelong learning, so I entered the program for a Doctor of Philosophy in Leadership with an open mind and yearn to learn.
At times in your professional life, you’re likely to feel the weather shift and a chill set in. This is when those extra layers of education – whether they’re through books, experience or choice you wish you could make differently – truly begin to protect, motivate, encourage and buoy you. The friends I’ve made are the first layer. Education has helped me develop dear friendships with my cohorts, truly authentic confidants with whom I can share my heart and who can hold me accountable. Add a scarf and hat for the tutelage of individuals who have been titans in their industry and have a passion for pouring their knowledge into the next generation of leaders.
But the greatest layer this process has brought me is the coat of clarity. When the cold winds of doubt or hard freeze of revenue flow hit your organizational pipeline, you’d better be prepared for the “weather” so you can manage the proverbial winter. I am becoming wiser, more discerning, richer in my outlook, more thankful for the abundance of grace, and more aware of my purpose of this earth.
So, if you get the chance to go back to complete any level or length of continuing education, I say do it!! Whether it be online curriculum, a webinar, a TED talk, reading a book, you name it, take advantage of it. You can’t successfully lead people, let alone navigate life, without constantly absorbing and applying new information. And it’s crucial for societal evolution and spiritual attachments as well. So this fall, don’t get left out in the cold. Set your mind ablaze with new information, previously unthought of constructs, and crystal clear vision!!