Harvey Mackay Academy's Blog

About this time every year, millions of people graduate from all levels of education, excited to begin the next chapter of their lives. Most are relieved to be finished with formal classroom learning and ready to put their newly minted knowledge to work.

News flash: Their education in the real world is just beginning. 

We can’t put enough of a premium on the importance of education. Education can help avoid the high price we pay for experience – the great teacher that helps us gain knowledge and avoid making the same mistake twice or three times.

The only thing more expensive than education is ignorance.

I have always told my children and grandchildren, “Before you get to the three R’s, you’ve got to master the three L’s – look, listen and learn.”

I believe education is a cornerstone for success, both personally and professionally. It’s not just about formal schooling, but also about the continuous pursuit of knowledge and skills throughout one’s life. Education equips us with the tools to think critically, solve problems and adapt to change.

As Nelson Mandela said, “Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world.”

Education is an investment and never an expense. Consider education a capital improvement. Don’t be ashamed to borrow wisely, particularly to replenish your professional inventory. In fact, self-improvement is the one area in which you should really increase your spending, not decrease it.

Self-education and lifelong learning are vital in personal and professional development. In today’s fast-paced world, where industries and technologies are constantly evolving, the pursuit of knowledge cannot stop at graduation. Continuous learning is the key to staying relevant and competitive.

Self-education demonstrates a strong personal initiative and a commitment to personal excellence. It helps to stay adaptable and able to pivot in response to changes in your industry or career.

Lifelong learning is crucial for enhancing existing skills and acquiring new ones. It fosters innovation by exposing you to new ideas and perspectives.

In my experience, the most successful individuals are those who are curious and never stop learning. They read books, attend workshops, listen to podcasts, ask substantive in-depth questions and engage in networking to exchange knowledge. This not only enriches their lives but also provides them with a competitive edge in their careers.

Benjamin Franklin was once asked to describe the most pitiful sight he had ever seen. Franklin said, “The sorriest sight is the lonely man on a rainy day who cannot read.”

One little known benefit of education is that statistics indicate that educated people live longer. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, the mortality rate of Americans aged 25-64 who had not completed their high school education was twice as high as those who had. Also, the mortality rate of those who continued their education after high school was 79 percent less than those who earned only a high school diploma.

In today’s job market, it’s important to have several skill sets. As companies evolve to keep current, managers look for people who can roll with the times. Be prepared to respond to changing job requirements as needs demand.

Education comes in so many forms beyond the classroom. Opportunities are unlimited if you just pay attention. I’ve hired people whose A-plus skills included being able to talk about fishing or art or cars with customers, even though that had nothing to with the envelopes they were buying. We aren’t just in the envelope business, we’re in the people business.

Nothing impresses me more as a potential employer than someone who is out of work but still actively attending school. What excuse is there for not pursuing education of some kind when you’re not employed? It’s the true test of your determination to get into the workplace, to present an up-to-the-minute, trainable, quality package to a potential employer.

If you are fired or downsized, it’s a great way to prove to yourself and others that you’re capable of bouncing back after a setback. It’s a real confidence builder.

It’s also the best single thing you can do for yourself.

A mother once asked Albert Einstein how to raise a child to become a genius. Einstein’s advice was to read fairy tales to the child.

“And after that?” the mother asked.

“Read the child more fairy tales,” Einstein replied, adding that what a scientist most needs is a curious imagination.

Mackay’s Moral: Invest in your education, and it will pay dividends for the rest of your life.

About the Author

Seven-time, New York Times best-selling author of "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive," with two books among the top 15 inspirational business books of all time, according to the New York Times. He is one of America’s most popular and entertaining business speakers, and currently serves as Chairman at the MackayMitchell Envelope Company, one of the nation’s major envelope manufacturers, producing 25 million envelopes a day.