Life Choices · Reference and Education

4 Success Principles I Did Not Learn In School

Emotional Intelligence (EQ)Psychologist Daniel Goleman estimates that, at best, IQ makes up only 20 percent of the factors that determine life success. In contrast, other forces, such as EQ, wealth, temperament, family education levels, and pure luck, make up the balance. Emotional intelligence refers to the ability to identify and manage one’s own emotions, as well as the emotions of others. People with a high degree of emotional intelligence are continuously growing in the following areas: (1) Self-awareness; (2) Self-regulation; (3) Motivation; (4) Empathy; and (5) Social skills.

Thinking. Schools pride themselves on teaching students what to do, how to memorize, and how to imitate. Few institutions teach students how to think. The best way to improve your ability to think is to spend time thinking. Author and literary critic William Deresiewicz posits: “It’s only by concentrating, sticking to the question, being patient, letting all the parts of my mind come into play, that one arrives at an original idea.”

Personal money management. Financial illiteracy is a $14.15 trillion problem in America. While schools are focused on teaching students to pass exams and get good grades, they fail these very students in matters of personal finance, i.e., budgeting, savings, credit cards, investing, debt management, interest rate, compound interest, IRAs, etc. According to Forbes, 78% of U.S. workers live paycheck to paycheck. It was not until I was married with children that I began cementing my understanding of personal finance.

Interpersonal communication. To be human is to exchange information, feelings, and meaning through verbal and non-verbal messages. Interpersonal communication permeates every facet of our lives. We converse with loved ones, friends, co-workers, bosses, neighbors, etc., which requires a modicum of sophistication so as not to violate social norms and boundaries. The ability to communicate effectively makes you an invaluable asset.

The Exception

Vocational training. When I entered the 8th grade (1987), it was mandatory for students to enroll in either a vocational or business curriculum taught by trained faculty. Once the student made his or her selection, the program of choice became the student’s major until s/he graduated from high school. I stuck with drafting and was offered a full ride to several universities. I opted instead to enter the workforce. 30-something years later, I am utilizing those skills as a building contractor.

Photo of me (age 16) working at the largest Drafting firm on the Island, 1991.

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