A wise sage once told me, "Education is what you have left over after you have forgotten everything you've learned."
My good friend Nido Qubein, a fellow member of the National Speakers Association and president of High Point University, explained the difference in education vs. training, as he views it: "Training is imitative; education is creative. The difference between a trained person and an educated person is the difference between a parrot and an orator."
His point was that once you learn a training procedure, you keep repeating it for as long as the task is useful. Training has a beginning and an end.
Education, on the other hand, teaches you to develop your own procedures, solve your own problems and move on to other challenges. Education is a process that has a beginning, but no end.
"In today's business world, a well-educated person is far more valuable than a well-trained person," Nido said. "Employees who are well-trained but not well-educated may perform their tasks with skill, but they aren't motivated to look beyond the specific task."
Researchers at the Pew Charitable Trust found that a four-year college degree helped protect young people from low-skilled jobs with lesser wages and unemployment. The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that a college graduate earns nearly $1 million more over a career than a high-school graduate.
Nido insists that education is more than a paycheck, though.
"When you get educated, you can become your best self in every possible way. Educated employees become partners," he said. "They see themselves as part of the organization. They share its goals, buy into its vision and exult in its success."
I will go one further than Nido Qubein: School ends, but education doesn't. You are not educated once for a lifetime. You should be educated all your life.
There is a famous story about Oliver Wendell Holmes Jr., one of America's most distinguished Supreme Court justices. Holmes was in the hospital when he was over 90 years old, and President Theodore Roosevelt came to visit him. As the president was ushered into the hospital room, there was Holmes reading a book of Greek grammar.
President Roosevelt asked, "Why are you reading about Greek grammar, Mr. Holmes?"
Holmes replied, "To improve my mind, Mr. President." Ninety ... and still trying to learn something new!
Why not make continuing education a new priority?
Education is an investment. Consider it a capital improvement.
Please don't misinterpret these words as pertaining only to a college education. Any education — in the trades, self-guided or purely for a change of pace — is a critical part of our ongoing development. Studies have shown that we use a very small part of our brains, so there is plenty of room for more learning.
Take courses, either in a classroom or online. Go to seminars. Listen to educational and self-improvement podcasts. Network at trade group meetings. Upgrade your skills.
You cannot ever afford to rest on what you learned in high school or college. Enhance what you already know and pick up new material. Computers. Language. Public speaking. Writing. Continue your education.
Think about it: Once you have learned something, it's yours to keep forever — and use however you wish. You have the capacity to adapt knowledge to various situations, to apply what you have learned and improve an outcome. Your education can pay for itself over and over.
Mackay's moral: Education is the gift that just keeps on giving.
Harvey Mackay is a Minneapolis businessman. Contact him at 612-378-6202 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.