Does Education Expand or Limit Your Options?
Of course we assume that any degree expands our possibilities. Someone with an M.D. behind their name certainly has far more options than someone without a graduate degree or even a B.A. A person with any college degree has more opportunity than a person who has never invested the time, energy and money to get that valuable piece of paper.
Or do they?
Some of the most difficult clients I encounter have multiple advanced degrees. But what happens in times of change is that they see their options as very limited. The dentist sees his only option as continuing the practice of dentistry even if he hates every single day and has failed miserably in prospering financially. The attorney assumes her only choice is to continue in law even though she knows she went to law school for all the wrong reasons.
There is a principle called “beginner’s mind”, which implies that if your mind is empty, then it is always ready for anything; it is open to everything. To extend this a little – "In the beginner’s mind there are many possibilities, but in the expert’s mind there are few. ” ― Shunryu Suzuki
In times of change, those with a “beginner’s mind” see opportunities to realign their skills into new opportunities. The former web designer is now a social media consultant; the dentist starts a buying co-op for his profession, the medical doctor pursues his invention for breathable baby mattresses, and the college drop-out starts an adventure travel business.
“Experts” are often immobilized. They don’t see new possibilities. They are trapped into narrow thinking with their fancy degrees and miss the opportunities emerging all around them. In today’s environment, we are finding the critical skill is not what you know but how fast can you learn.
Make sure you keep a “beginner’s mind.” Watch a 4-yr-old for a day or two. See how she approaches a box of blocks or a walk down the lane. See the multiples uses she has for a spoon; it’s not just a tool for getting soup to your mouth – it can be a rocket ship, a lever, part of a train or a utensil for snuffing a candle.
Don’t let your “education” blind you to uncomplicated possibilities.