Learning from Life and Leadership

When Graduation is Not the End

What To Do After Graduation?

The class of 2011 has now sat through hours of names read listening for their own. Students sweated bullets over finals (and sometimes standardized tests). Textbooks were closed, accounted for, and stored in the sauna of a dust-disturbed storeroom.

The moving of the tassel on the mortarboard signals the completion of school. It says, “you’re through, finished, completed. School (with its accompanying learning) is over.

Perhaps you need to rethink the tassel and just not bother because it’s a false alarm. Learning of a different kind is just beginning.

Mark Twain observed, “If you hold a cat by the tail, you learn things you cannot learn any other way.” It’s a different kind–and longer–education.

The Greeks practices “praxis,” a philosophy that called for taking what you know and putting into action. How do we find the “praxis” of our lives today?

Find mentors. We grow when we have someone bigger, faster, smarter, and wiser than we are. The tragedy of young lives is they surround themselves with friends with the same level of ignorance and disdain the sage counsel of experience. Make sure your circle includes someone who can teach you something new.

Ask questions of others. Ask them other others. Too many times, we want to appear smart, so we nod in agreement when our mind is nothing more than a fuzzball. Stop and ask, “tell me more about that. I’m not sure I completely understand.”

Reflect on experience. Ask three critical questions to  improve anything.

  • What happened?
  • Why did it happen? (What did leader, speaker, teacher do to get the result that took place?)
  • What would I have done differently?

Keep learning in the right tense. As a minister, I hear people say, “I already learned that in the Bible.” They think learning is a past-tense experience. Once you read it, know it, can feed it back, you don’t need to learn it again. Learning is really a present-tense experience. When you read the Bible, it’s not what you learned but what you are learning.

Let the schoolbooks back in storage. Take your mind out of storage and learn something. The great failure of many lives is that they live by what they learned rather than by what they are learning.

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