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By Dr. David Lawson
Faculty Member, School of Business at American Public University
Recently, I was enjoying breakfast and glancing through popular articles posted on Flipboard, an aggregator website that collects articles in different topic areas. I noticed an extraordinary amount of articles with “hack” as part of the headline and took time to read a few.
Later that same day, when I visited my local bookstore, I took a look at the magazines and was surprised. The word “hack” was everywhere.
The publications I saw offered “hacks” on starting a business, life, raising kids, education …. whatever one would want. Since I am an inquisitive person, I read some of the “hack” articles and couldn’t believe that there was this many “hacks” that I had missed. Knowing those “hacks” would have made my life so much easier and more enjoyable.
What Is a “Hack”?
After reading so much about “hacks,” they turned out to be simply a list of quick fixes for any situation that a person or corporation experience.
For example: Are your kids cranky when you get them up for school? Here’s the “hack”: Try an adjustable light that gently brightens each morning.
There was also my favorite “hack” for cleaning a computer keyboard: Before tossing a Post-It note into the trash, run it through the keyboard to remove food crumbs!
‘Hacking’ Plays No Part in Educational Success
All jesting aside, many topics of the “hacks” can’t be “hacked.” Education, for instance, seemed to be one of the major topics of the “hacks.” But in education, there are no real shortcuts.
I earned a Ph.D. from a Tier 1 university, a MBA from a mid-major and dual bachelor degrees. With all honesty, I can say that my classmates and I never discovered any “hacks” to help us along in our pursuit of academic degrees.
Our success – and our continued success – came from hours and hours of reading books, articles, research and writing. As the 1979 Smith Barney financial services commercial once proclaimed, we acquired our success “the old-fashioned way.” We EARNED it.
What Does It Take to Acquire Success Now?
Canadian journalist Malcolm Gladwell wrote about the 10,000 Hour Rule. His premise was that it takes 10,000 hours (about five years) of deliberate practice to become world-class in any field.
However, the meaning of “world-class” is constantly changing. “Proficient” might be a better word to describe the outcome of our efforts. It takes practice, repetition and effort to master anything; there are no shortcuts to becoming proficient.
Whether or not 10,000 hours is an accurate or realistic measure is open for debate. But my point is that any success takes time, effort and persistence to achieve an advanced state.
Your Education is Equal to the Time and Effort You Give
Education is interesting in that different people find different subjects difficult. Depending on our environment, background and interests, learning some subjects is easy and interesting.
Other topics require more effort. We may have to put in those 10,000 hours. We need to dedicate and focus our time, resources and effort to first understand and then to master the topic.
In the end, there is no shortcut or “hack” in education, just persistence, practice and effort. The sooner we understand that shortcuts and “hacks” do not really exist in education, the quicker we make our education meaningful and enjoyable.
About the Author
Dr. David Lawson is a futurist, strategist, economist, management consultant and organizational coach with more than 25 years of experience in business and academia. He holds a Ph.D. from Webster University in Strategy and Organizational Studies, an M.B.A. from Fontbonne University in Business Administration and a B.S. from Maryville University’s School of Business and Information Technology. He has worked with the Department of Defense, Fortune 50 organizations and many public, private and non-profit organizations.