When I was forty-six years old, I wasn’t happy with my career. I had just spent the last dozen or so years building my documentary production company and we were experiencing tough times. I was getting older, budgets were getting tighter, and the work wasn’t getting any easier. Life was stressful. Around that time, I kept thinking that I made a huge mistake when I was younger. Instead of getting my Master of Fine Arts degree at film school I kept thinking I would have been much more successful had I opted for an MBA. I had learned a lot about managing a business by running my own company, but I still thought an MBA may lead me down the road to a better, more fruitful future. With that as my motivation, I said to myself, “Self, quit bitching about it and go get an MBA”. So that’s what I did. I began the process. I applied to Pepperdine and low and behold, I was accepted. And I began taking night classes after work.
Long story short, it didn’t take long for me to figure out an MBA and that path wasn’t for me, so I dropped out after a couple of classes. The upside was it was an interesting experience while it lasted, I was able to put that nagging idea to bed and, I realized I was in fact on my best personal path forward. Nothing ventured, nothing gained, I always say.
Traditional thinking is education happens when we’re young and go to school. Then we get a job and work. Then we retire and live happily ever after. That approach to life was summed up for me recently in four words: Learn. Earn. Retire. Expire. I don’t know about you but that sounds like a script I don’t want to follow.
Here’s the thing, learning isn’t about formal education – it’s about freedom in education. It’s about making part of our daily lives. There are many benefits to being a lifelong learner. Beyond the fact that learning makes us more informed and even smarter, the very best thing about lifelong learning is it makes life more interesting, exercises our brain and keeps us young.
One last thing about lifelong learning - it sometimes works in mysterious ways. My Pepperdine experience is a good example as I learned several things I never imagined I’d learn. I learned that I was twice as old as everyone else in an MBA program. I learned that I knew more about business management than I gave myself credit for and didn’t really need an MBA because I learned from the school of hard-knocks by running my own business. And I learned that if there’s something I don’t know and need that kind of expertise, just hire an MBA professor. To prove my point about mysterious ways, after dropping out after just two classes, I co-founded a new and far more successful company and did in fact reach out to the professor a few years later. The school ended up inviting me and my new business partner as guest speakers and my new company was the focus of not one, but two entrepreneurship classes at the school. I guess a Master of Fine Arts degree isn’t so bad after all.
This post is based on a chapter from my book entitled, “Embracing Change: Your Go-To Guide To Your Desired Future”. If you enjoyed this and are interested in seeing more “for better” content please visit my website rudypoe.com.