The Uncommon Life

Uncommon sense for an unconventional life

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How I shortchanged myself for a 3.98 GPA – and what I would have done differently

How I shortchanged myself for a 3.98 GPA – and what I would have done differently

Posted by in ALL posts, Education, Lifestyle Design, Practical Philosophy | 13 comments

Common: Asking numerous ‘how’ questions (How can I get better grades? How can I make my résumé look better? How can I earn more money?) without first answering ‘why.’

The following is a guest post from a fellow member of the TUL tribe from the beautiful country of Singapore. He’s got some intriguing ideas to share. So with no more further ado, let’s welcome Daniel Wong.

Uncommon: We all feel proud when we achieve something remarkable. Without a doubt, asking ‘how’ to get a specific result enables us to accomplish more, and to ‘climb the ladder’ more efficiently. This question of ‘how’ helps us think about ways to overcome obstacles and attain our goals – this is all fair and good.

But in order to lead an uncommon life, ‘why’ should always precede ‘how.’ Why is this goal so important? Why did you feel motivated to set this goal in the first place?

Asking ‘why’ before asking ‘how’ ensures that the ladder (the direction you’re travelling in) is leaning against the right wall before you myopically start mounting the summit. Few things are more upsetting than being dissatisfied about the view from the ‘top.’

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How to become smarter by doing less in the information age

How to become smarter by doing less in the information age

Posted by in ALL posts, Education, Entrepreneurship, Productivity | 6 comments

Common: Believing that focusing on detail is the only and best path to success.

Uncommon: Let’s be honest: Most things studied in college are quickly forgotten.  I believe this is partly due to the sheer number of concepts addressed per class, per semester. In my experience, the emphasis is often on breadth versus depth. This poses a challenge to students studying for comprehensive tests.  I know; I’ve been there many times.

But I didn’t have the “luxury” of making the library my second home to spend hours on rote memorization. My time was very limited and so I sought ways to perform better by doing less. In the process, I made a simple, yet liberating, observation.  And whether you’re a student or not, I have found this concept critical for success in life.

The eclipsing effect of detail:

Traditional college advice places an extremely high level of importance on detail, but this train of thought can be a hindrance, at times resulting in increased stress and workload. Why?

An extreme focus on detail limits one’s ability to grasp the larger picture, which is critical to knowing what details to focus on. When you’re very close to every concept, everything appears important.

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The future of the “educated” person – From “their” brand to yours

The future of the “educated” person – From “their” brand to yours

Posted by in ALL posts, Education, Entrepreneurship | 14 comments

Common: Assuming that a college degree offers the best and only path to a guaranteed job, more income, and a secure future.

Uncommon: The perception of an “educated” person will likely be very different in the future. For the past few centuries we have placed our faith in schools and universities to provide us with skills and information that will improve our lives. High schools and colleges used to offer graduates coveted badges of personal aptitude.

This model has worked for a long time. But times are changing.

As more and more people (employers and graduates) recognize that many degrees lack relevancy, they begin to question what a degree actually represents.

For this reason, the discussion surrounding conventional education is changing and intensifying. This is a good thing because as the price to value of education continues to diverge, people need to think seriously about their goals and how to best position themselves for a promising future. Conventional education may be one path, but it’s certainly not the only one.

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10 uncommon lessons I learned in college (Part 3)

10 uncommon lessons I learned in college (Part 3)

Posted by in ALL posts, Education, Productivity | 2 comments

Common: Doing everything or nothing under the label of “student” – often leading to either burnout or dropout.

Uncommon: As I mentioned in Part 1 and Part 2, “This week marks an important milestone in my life. I am no longer a full time student of conventional education.”

In this final post of the 3 part series, I explore the last 3 uncommon tips I learned while marching through my conventional college education.

8. Do not waste downtime – and there is a lot of it.

 

Only on a few rare occasions did I do school work on weekends (and this was usually because of business commitments during the week).  If time is used wisely, schoolwork need not dominate all areas of your life.

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10 uncommon lessons I learned in college (Part 2)

10 uncommon lessons I learned in college (Part 2)

Posted by in ALL posts, Education, Lifestyle Design | 3 comments

Common: Doing everything or nothing under the label of “student” – often leading to either burnout or dropout.

Uncommon: As I mentioned in Part 1, “This week marks an important milestone in my life. I am no longer a full time student of conventional education.”  Since the last post, final grades were announced, and it looks as though I will graduate magna cum laude.

This comes as quite a pleasant surprise considering the demands of my “extracurricular” commitments. Of course there are always students that make me look like an underachiever, but my approach and my goals differed from many students and valedictorians.

I never set out to get perfect grades. In fact, I clearly intended to place business and personal preferences as a priority. This was rather unusual in undergraduate school. My competitiveness kept me striving for good grades, but my lack of time kept me focused on effectiveness. Unexpectedly, this illogical amalgamation served me well.

Truthfully, I don’t believe I could have earned the grades I did following conventional college advice. In fact, I believe that doing less, studying less (see tips 1, 2, and 3 in Part 1) and applying these 10 tips, contributed most to the outcome (it certainly wasn’t a natural gift for academics). And perhaps even more satisfying is knowing that these lessons can be applied in the professional world very well.

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10 uncommon lessons I learned in college (Part 1)

10 uncommon lessons I learned in college (Part 1)

Posted by in Education, Lifestyle Design, Productivity, Uncategorized | 4 comments

Common: Doing everything or nothing under the label of “student” – often leading to either burnout or dropout.

Uncommon: This week marks an important milestone in my life. I am no longer a full time student of conventional education. Elation abounds. It’s back to business full time.

Anyone who knows me or reads my blog will know that I often wrestle with the concept and quality (return on time and money) of conventional education. Looking back, however, I did learn some key things – it just so happened that the majority of my most valuable “education” took place outside of the traditional curriculum.

Despite having a full class load (and sometimes more), I spent the majority of my time managing my businesses and engaging in extracurricular activities. This heavy load was a blessing in disguise. While overwhelming at times, it forced me to reexamine and scrutinize my approach to school – seeking maximum efficiency for time invested.

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