Here is my list of specific subjects that should be studied by every entrepreneur, business owner, and business leader. The spark for this list came from a casual conversation with the father of a teenager. He was pushing his son into drama club – seeking to instill in him the skills of public speaking and public poise so critical for business today. Not many dads I know would think of the drama club as one step in making junior a “man’s man” – but I believe it is a brilliant idea. It’s the life skills of public speaking, relationships, money management, and teamwork that make us most successful in life.
Here is my whole list:
- Manners Your Grandmother Taught – Good basic manners are the basis for all human interaction; especially important between strangers and across cultures.
- Teamwork – Teamwork is one subject that does get serious attention, in and out of the classroom. Almost every sport in public schools is a team sport. But how many of us actually study what makes a winning team?
- Theater – Public speaking and public presentation can be practiced a number of ways. Theater classes may be one good approach.
- Emotional intelligence – Understanding your own and others’ emotional reactions is a key to understanding motivations. You can’t negotiate to win without this.
- The Gender Wars – As the battle of the sexes rolls on across the centuries, how many of us ever sit down to actually learn what is going on? Why do we spend more time in school studying geometry than the basic rules that govern human arithmetic?
- Personal Finance – Other than a simple math class on checkbooks, very few of us study personal finance at an age when we have time to do something about it.
- Second Language = Second Soul – Americans will not be competitive in this century without better foreign language skills.
- Living Outside your Comfort Zone – Foreign language fluency may not be for everyone, but at one time in their life each American should truly experience a different culture.
- It’s Not Just an Economy; It’s a Country – Economics is at the root of most foreign policy and military strategies, as well as most of our domestic public debate. Our level of basic economic ignorance is appalling – and especially among the media.
- Aristotle Said it Best: Know Thyself – This is the last subject to master, and the most important. You must study, and master, yourself. Knowing your own personality, strengths and weaknesses might seem like it should be the first subject studied.
Self-awareness is usually the last thing we gain, because we must experience the ups and downs of life in order to truly understand ourselves. But working from a list like this just might help move us along.