Living the life of a perpetual student, I’ve heard many of my students and fellow classmates say, “What do we need to learn this for? I’m never going to need this.”
How can you say you won’t need something before you fully understand it?
The undertone here is that you think you are an omniscient being. Bertrand Russell would have called you a genius:
Ignore fact and reason, live entirely in the world of your own fantastic and myth-producing passions; do this whole-heartedly and with conviction, and you will become one of the prophets of your age.
-Bertrand Russell, “How to Become a Man of Genius” (28 December 1932)
This thought process puts you in a fixed mindset, locking your ability to learn in a proverbial safe that protects you from actually growing.
Do you want to lose the most weight you can? I hope you paid attention in physics, chemistry, and biology.
Initially, the information crossover is not obvious. It’s hard to see how something pertains to your interests—sometimes it’s impossible to see—but that doesn’t mean that a relationship doesn’t exist.
Everything is related to everything else.
If you’re interested in one thing, you’re interested in absolutely everything.
I want you to know what Isaac Newton discovered. How to do “work” in the physical sense. I want you to know why caffeine wakes you up and why you get so sleepy if you go without it. How your body uses food to make energy. How to use Excel to track your progress.
You will never know when you’ve learned everything you need to. That point does not exist. Thankfully, too, because now I have something to do for the next 70 years.
View learning as focus-oriented. If I’m interested in the brain, I’m going to start reading about that, but when that gets boring, I’ll pick up the next subject I want to learn. Maybe I’ll come back to the brain in four months. Maybe I’ll move on.
Try new things. It amazes me when I do stuff these days and immediately think of a vivid memory from my childhood. Torque has always made sense to me because I used to climb the big tree in my backyard. I would go as high as I could go, but I had to make sure that, as the branches got smaller, my weight wouldn’t break them off (causing Newton’s gravitational laws to come back into play).
Even the impression teachers can leave on you is amazing. I still remember making ice cream in 8th grade, or chewing that gum with the lights out to see it spark in 5th grade. Or that same 5th grade science teacher singing Barry Manilow, teaching us about music, rhythm, and setting aside the fear of what others think. In science class.
My lesson to you: do everything you can. Learn everything you can. When you wonder about the world, you have found optimal experience.
Now here’s a new song to experience.
I used to be a genius. I knew everything because I read T-Nation. That’s all it took; I didn’t need school. The ONLY reason I was in college was to get a degree. I already knew everything I needed to know, and anything else I could learn extracurricularly.
Then I grew up.
The invincible feeling that youth brings is nice at the time, but looking back it’s borderline embarrassing. Young kids are some of the worst humans to deal with. At least I can take solace in the fact that everyone’s been young before.
I always thought I was better than the rest. I’ve learned a lot since then, and ironically now see myself as much less intelligent. But I’ve learned that it is never a conversation of better – only different.
Some use their hours to learn therapy. Some learn how to train Olympic athletes. Some fine-tune their research skills. Some can recite whole movies word for word. Some are great at make people feel good just through conversation.
Time offers experience, but everyone values different things. I like to study things, but if a client wants someone to pump in energy and motivation into their fitness lives, my experience means nothing to them. They won’t think I’m better than anyone because I don’t care about pumping in fake energy at all.
Young Lance didn’t value school, but I had a drastic change in tone towards the end of my degree program. It’s silly really: how could I possibly know that chemistry is worthless… without knowing chemistry? These days it’s easier for me to just assume everything is important and learn it all.
Instead of waiting for an experience to be over, search to uncover its value.
Have you been there? Tell me about a time you’ve been short-sighted or a subject that you think everyone should learn about in the comments below!