A memorable occurrence...

It was a picture perfect day for families and their children. It was a crystal clear sunny day, and it happens to befall on the year end school vacation which falls in November and December every year. A perfect combination. The smile of teenagers on the faces of teenagers were evident as they chill out with their friends.

Occasionally, the demographics within the public transport are interspersed by parents taking their children out for lunch, or to a nearby place of attraction. The dominant population were however, the older teenagers who seem to be more keen to hang out with their peers rather than with their own family. I was part of this latter group. I was about to meet up with some of my classmates.

The journey in the public bus seemed almost perfect. Seats were aplenty, the passengers were in a jovial and light-hearted mood, and the weather was perfect. Everything was perfect. Except for one thing. I have left my book at home. The book that I've just borrowed from the library the day before. I am an avid reader and I love and enjoy reading. The reading materials that captivates my interest varies from time to time. It can range from self improvement books to books about the oceans.

Despite the long journey, I could only entertain myself by looking out of the window. To make me feel even worse, there was a young man, slightly older than me who is seated across the aisle who is enjoying his book. His concentration on the book was intense. You could tell from the way the pages were flipped, he was eager to find out what he will learn next in the book. He seemed to be enjoying every moment of his reading experience. I managed to catch a glimpse of the source of his enjoyment:  it looked like a book on 'self-improvement'. What the title was, I could not remember.


Being an avid reader myself, I could understand the joy that another derives when he is 'lost' in a book. He was so engrossed in the book that the other passengers seemed invisible to him until a lady who seem to be in her mid 40s signalled to him that she would like to share the double seater with him. That was not all, she also made a snide remark against him which went something like this : "Wow, studying in a bus. You won't lose your life without studying". I was amazed and shocked at the same time by the attitude of the other commuter. This basically epitomises the attitude towards reading, learning and a relationship with books amongst many adults.

Learning and reading becomes less frequent as we complete our formal education. Our attitude towards growing in terms of knowledge takes a marked decline as we step into the professional working world. This could be easily understood by amount of fatigue that we face at work caused by tight deadlines, angry customers, the various projects that we have to undertake.

Apart from work, settling our bills, managing our own personal life and for those with children, managing their younger ones are both time and energy consuming. However, we seem to forget that, one of the biggest assets that we could ever invest in, is in ourselves, our own growth, our self development. Very often, we equate this as part of the paper chase, as upgrading our paper qualifications. For specific industries, it might be true, however developing ourselves and investing in our own capabilities may also come in the form of active learning through investing in personal development by reading books, listening to podcasts and even watching self improvement programs.

Schools do not teach certain things

As an educator, I humbly admit that despite the many merits that formal education has, it also somewhat built a sense of conformity amongst the students. Students conform to a set syllabus for each level, therefore the outcomes that every student produce has a some form of commonality. Only at the tertiary levels, will learning take on a more exploratory route, in general.

Many of us simply reach a plateau where learning is concerned upon completion of school as we always associate learning learning with school.

Simply put, amongst one of the many aims of education, apart from socialising the young and creating a safe haven for them to develop, of the goals of the formal education system is to prepare our next generation for the future for the future, based on the current and the past.


The snide remark made by the lady that I mentioned earlier, bears a very stark resemblance on our attitude and perception towards learning.  Though most of our real challenges only comes after leaving school, we leave a large part of our intentional and purposeful learning once we leave our educational institutions. We seem to forget that the challenges in real life are far greater than the challenges that we have faced in school.

What we should do instead...

We need to realise that apart from investing in terms of putting in our dollars and cents  where it would yield tangible benefits, we also need to continuously invest in our own personal growth. Learning does not stop at school, it carries on for the rest of our lives.

One does have to wait for a life changing event to occur to be able to grow, one does not automatically grow and become more capable when getting a promotion or when assuming a higher position or when starting an enterprise. One grows in capability and maturity on a daily basis. Our lenses have to be continuosly readjusted,  our processor has to be upgraded and our internal software or operating system has to be set to the latest version.

Learners are leaders.

There are tonnes of self development books, podcasts, self improvement videos, documentaries and various educational TV programmes aspect to it. We all learn through mistakes but we won't live long enough to make all the mistakes that we need to. It is wiser to learn from the mistakes of others and what they have built for us. Isaac Newton once said : If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.

Continue to develop and grow in wisdom, knowledge and skill. Continue to invest in yourself, developing your knowledge bank by reading books; there are plenty of hardcopy books, Ebooks and audio books written by the great people. There are many podcasts on self development. Wanna learn and pick up a thing or two from the great people? Go read what they have written! You will learn precious advice from them. There are tonnes of literature and wisdom written by the great people, both past and present that you can easily get hold of from the bookstore or the library.

The best asset you've ever had.

You are the greatest asset that you have ever had. Continue to develop and invest in yourself. Continue to evolve.  Evolution, education, learning and growth does not stop after school. It is a lifelong process. If you are aiming to achieve a big success in life, go get hold of books, podcasts and training videos from the great people. There are many people who have walked the path of greatness that you desire. Learning from their successes or challenges through the literature they have published will accelerate your learning process. By learning from them you learn to overcome pitfalls that they have faced, you also get to learn from how they have achieved.

If you desire to be great, you have to evolve into greatness by continuously investing in yourself, making yourself grow. You don't just choose to be great, you evolve into one and greatness is just the by product.

There are plenty of materials out there that will make you grow as a person, including the articles on .  Continue to invest in yourself on a daily basis. Things might not start out great in the beginning but eventually you will start to enjoy when you continuously develop yourself. You derive joy from the process of growth. 1 year down the road, you will realise the difference you have made when you have invested in yourself on a daily basis. You will be glad that you have started to invest in the most valuable asset that you have... YOU!

Written by Abraham A.L on 9th Feb 2016

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