The 3 Worst Things that We Learned as Children

Was school good for me?  I do believe so.

There are some very positive values that were inculcated in me through the way the teachers dealt with us, the stories we were told, the structure of the school:  compassion, gratitude, sharing, discipline, respect, charity, hope, love.

The 3 Worst Things We Learned As Children

However, there are some aspects that get deeply driven in to us as children that I don’t think are helpful to our productive adult life:

  • Conformity – Society crushes the outsiders, school is brutal on those who are outside the “norm”, grades push you to meet the pre-existing answer – not explore other options.  Most of life’s important decisions can not be calculated in an excel spreadsheet and solved with calculus.
  • Perfectionism – “Don’t make mistakes!” is reinforced day after day after day by the exam and school work feedback that we receive over years and years.
  • Validation – “how did you do on the exam?”  “I don’t know, I haven’t received the results yet.”   We learn to stop looking at how much of our potential we delivered into a course, a project, a homework – and start to only evaluate our performance based on someone else’s judgement of our finished work.  I know whether I gave 10% or 50% or 90% of myself to a piece of work – this should matter more than A, B or C.

Leadership requires breaking free from these 3 things.  Great leaders don’t seek external validation (No: “how did I do?”), understand that mistakes allow improvement (No: “who screwed this up?”) and that diverse people and diverse ideas (No: “that will never work!”) need to be brought together to see more fully the paths that are available.

Your School?

What are the important values that you took from your schooling?  What are the attitudes that do not serve you that were conditioned by school?

Further Reading: Posts on Schooling and Learning

2 responses to “The 3 Worst Things that We Learned as Children”

  1. Marciano da Silva Avatar
    Marciano da Silva

    Should say I do not need to be perfect and do not need others’ apporval.

    Many thanks,

  2. Marciano da Silva Avatar
    Marciano da Silva

    Dear Conor,

    Thank you for sharing. I was like this in the past trying to perfect, conform with what my parents said I should be and wish to approval of others about me. Now learn new things that I do need to be perfect and do need others’ approval.

    Many thanks,


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