The epidemic is far from over, and although we see the light at the end of the tunnel, it seems that the last part of the tunnel will be the darkest and scariest part of this whole process. Commercially, there are many lessons to be learned, and from the human side, we are trying to see more and more positives about COVID-19. And it seems like the more we think about good things, the more positive factors come to mind.
The School of Life
It may sound trite, but you can indeed learn the most from life. Direct events and experiences and surpass all encyclopaedic learning opportunities. If this is generally true, then we can say it is especially so amid the current epidemic. Increasing numbers of businesspeople are beginning to discover the tremendous business significance of the current situation. After all, where, in which course, in which school could more extreme business conditions be created? How could a book be written in advance about what happens in the economy if people are “locked up for months”? If tourism ceases from one week to the next? If deserted airports and shopping centres make us feel like we are part of some disaster film? By no means can this be pre-modelled. This is also because a significant proportion of businesspeople simply cannot cope with these challenges. There are those businesspeople who learned mostly in lecture halls, and then there are those who have learned on the job while building and running real businesses; the latter group has a considerable advantage over the former. By this, I am by no means saying that education is superfluous from now on, but the younger generations will appreciate textbook learning and life experience on two entirely different levels. Obviously, many professionals put a lot of energy into proving how useful encyclopaedic knowledge is and what conclusions can be drawn from “similar” events 20, 30, or 80 years ago. But smart managers increasingly see that these similarities are forced. The events we are experiencing now are most similar to what happened in wartime, but one does not deal with business values and lessons during a war, that is, the notes and findings are somewhat incomplete. This situation is an excellent indication of what big-name educational institutions have been flying their banner for decades: practical education is indispensable. It’s just that very few could put real content behind this sentence. And the former students must now face the very real consequences of this trend. After all, they couldn’t teach basic things in schools like adapting to circumstances, reacting swiftly, and we could list many more. So, is education now responsible for ensuring that a significant proportion of managers “sit at home and lick their wounds”? By no means would I think so! This is somewhat like when a thirty-year-old man still justifies his actions with “my father did not …”. Of course, these kinds of things have effects that accompany you for a lifetime, but it up to you whether you can reach success as an adult. So, it is the same way with schools. We’ve learned what we’ve learned, but if one still expects a miracle from that, they have been in bad shape for a long time.
Many people choose to go back to school after obtaining their first degree. Life-educated managers find this completely unnecessary, but I have to say, if a manager becomes more successful by doing so, why not? There are countries where degrees still matter. True, they assume adequate knowledge behind a given degree, and in some cases, they are not wrong to do so. But few people in degree-centric cultures are starting to question whether a degree matters if it was obtained 10-15 years ago? It means that at some point, that person was able to get into and complete their coursework at a certain school. Nothing more. But what exactly this means is no longer known. Many believe that getting a greet just requires patience and the ability to sit for long periods. And let’s face it: in many cases, it’s 100% true. There are still very few educational institutions that can create real, practical value for their students. They give the name, the brand, and the networking: that’s not an issue. And that’s fair if it’s the main thing they advertise about themselves! On the other hand, a new trend around the world is that behind the biggest business successes, there are more and more businesspeople who, although they may have been able to get into very reputable schools, left them for some reason. There are also a growing number of people who started businesses at a very young age and thus do not have a “higher education” at all, or they chose a very easy-to-complete “alibi” degree for themselves. They learned from life, becoming successful managers based on their own experiences. And well, it’s not hard to guess that it’s these kinds of people for whom COVID is another opportunity to move forward. They are the ones who are very proactive now and whose business already shows that they will emerge victorious from this whole mess. Is that to say that an educated person cannot win? This is certainly not the case! On the other hand, it is safe to say that the ones who will lose are those who, even at the age of 30, introduce themselves as having attended this or that school or having this or that degree. Because after the first job, it should no longer have much significance. It shows that their greatest success is a diploma. And that’s not a good sign in an adult’s life!
Timing is Everything
You can learn right now! Now is the perfect time for acquiring knowledge that no one else has. However, a crisis that reaches such depths does not occur many times in a person’s life, and I hope we will not see one for many decades to come. Thus, the experience gained here can give proactive managers a competitive advantage that will provide them with a long-term and successful career. Of course, for this, we have to start to experience life! We need to be vigilant about what is happening. In addition to the data hurled at us, we have to form our own opinions and solutions. If we feel sorry for ourselves or our businesses now for the damage we have suffered, we will be losers for a long, long time. In that case, we do not even deserve to be winners. It’s not too late to switch! This is the exact time when we need to gain strength and information, not from books but life! The COVID-tested manager — with their real, practical, and unique experience — will be worth more than any MBA grad.