They say, “Knowledge is power,” but there is an infinite sea of knowledge out there to explore. Where do you begin and how? Here’s a better question: Why?
Not many people have been adrift in the open ocean, waiting for rescue. You may have seen movies about this subject, like Cast Away (2000), Life of Pi (2012), or even the 1960’s TV sitcom, Gilligan’s Island. They all share a similar tenant; some people are lost at sea and need to stay alive. Most entail the survivors finding land at some point, but the struggle to stay alive is at the forefront.
The average person probably doesn’t think about true survival in their daily lives. You may have issues that are more “pressing” on your mind, like passing an exam, getting a job, or choosing what type of latte you should order. Most people have the basic necessities of life: food, water, shelter, and clothing. Some have enough for a small town. We live “comfortable” lives, so we don’t ever focus on survival.
The same premise applies to knowledge. We begin learning when we are very young, so young we haven’t been born yet. In a University of Washington study, they found that babies begin absorbing and learning in the womb around 30 weeks. We have various opportunities for education and advancement, but many choose not to seek them out.
When faced with survival, you should consider “The Rule of Threes.”
A human can survive:
- 3 minutes without air
- 3 hours without shelter/clothing (ability to keep your body temperature regulated)
- 3 days without water
- 3 weeks without food
This provides a guideline of how you prioritize the basic survival skills: first shelter, then water, and lastly food. These are necessities for survival, but more than any other skill, your attitude determines how successful you are in a survival situation. Survival depends on your will to live. Your attitude also determines how successful you are in learning.
Learning something new, whether it is a language, a science subject, or a dance routine, always takes commitment and self-discipline. It also takes conscious practice. Your notion of what learning is and your motivation to study will determine your success. You have to want it and know why.
Perhaps your goal in life is to be a brain surgeon. Maybe you know someone that needed a good surgeon, there was a short supply of surgeons, or maybe you just love brains—and not in that zombie kind of way. You have a reason to succeed, but you know you will need a good education, so you study hard, find good teachers, and learn all you can.
If you like to tell stories and want to entertain people with your prose, you might want to be a writer. If you want to be a good writer, besides being succinct and editing your work, you need to read a lot (especially in your genre), and write a lot.
You need to find what it is you want out of life and search for the answers. You study, practice, and hone your skills. It is that strive to do your best, your attitude, which enables you to succeed.
Are you floating around in the ocean of knowledge? Do you lack drive for success? Perhaps you just don’t know what direction to point your boat. My suggestion: stop being flotsam, and choose not just to survive, but thrive.
Improving Your Learning Survival
- Stay Afloat: Find things you enjoy, and learn more about them. Take classes that interest you, or that are entertaining.
- Safety in Numbers: Find a friend and take a course together. You will have more confidence than if you go it alone, and you will have a partner to discuss what you learned.
- Set a Course: Identify your learning style. Think back to when you did well at a new skill or class, and what techniques led to that success. Was it daytime or night? Was it all reading, or did you have an instructor? Did you study in the library, or your bedroom?
- Set Sail: Really, this should be “Start Paddling.” You need to put in more effort than just go where the wind takes you. With effort and determination, it won’t be long before you shout, “Land Ho!”
When it comes to knowledge, you have to have the will to learn. To paraphrase Lance Armstrong, “Knowledge is power, but attitude is everything.” With the right attitude, your success with knowledge could turn out to be less like floating on a life raft and more like a pleasure cruise. Bon Voyage!