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  • Writer's pictureKyle Davis

Billy Madison Mentality

Adam Sandler has a lot of movies. Some good, some bad. But one of his classics is Billy Madison. It's the story of this guy who has a super-rich dad that is thinking of retiring, but rather than leave the company to his educated right-hand man (who ends up being evil), he wants to leave it to his son. But, unfortunately, the rich dad was also a bad dad. He paid for his teachers to pass his son throughout all of school, so the son is a moron.

So to decide who the company will belong to, the right-hand man and the moron son make a bet: if the son can pass all 12 grades in a few weeks, he gets the company. If not, then it goes to the right-hand man.

It's a pretty dumb movie in the grand scheme of things, but I wonder how many of us are willing to go back to school to get where we want to go.

In a lot of circles, they call it "student mentality." It's a mindset that says there is always something to learn, and you should want to learn it. But the reality is, once people graduate high school or college or whatever level of education is required for their career, very few people stay students.

One in four Americans didn't even read a book at all in the last year. The American median is 4 books a year. That's the MEDIAN as in the middle. It also doesn't say that they are educational or helpful books. If you read 5 of the Harry Potter books, you read more than the average person.

Very few jobs offer regular and helpful professional development. Less offer any incentives to complete certification programs.

On top of all that, who even has the time to pursue education after you graduate? Between the job, family, social life, and the necessary chores (cooking, shopping, sleeping, etc.), where would one even find the time to learn?

While it's not my aim to tell you how to use better time management to get educated, it is my aim to tell you that being a constant learner is better for your job, for your team, and for yourself.

Someone who constantly learns isn't afraid to admit when they're wrong or be vulnerable enough to say they don't have the answer immediately. As proven over and over again, being vulnerable builds relationships and teams. It builds trust.

Learning also has fantastic health benefits. It reduces overall stress, fights off Alzheimer's, and offsets other cognitive declines.

On top of all that, those that pursue education in any form out-perform their less-educated counterparts. AKA they make more money and get promotions faster.

So be a leader by being a learner. Pick a topic that has passing interest to you and dive in. Places like Coursa or edX offer free online college-level classes. Maybe take a certification program that will make you more appealing as a job candidate for the future. At the rate of the average American, read a book every month, and you'll be better for it.

Be like Billy Madison and go back to school.

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