Hi, this is Darla and welcome to today’s conversation about why I almost got another degree. I talk with clients all the time who are debating between, “do I start a business?”, “do I get a certification of some sort?”, or “do I go back to school for my PhD?”

So, many of you may have never heard my story about how I spent nearly ten years in that state of wonder and confusion. What is it that I’m meant to do with my life? See, growing up, I grew up in a town of 502 people and I wasn’t really exposed to a lot of different careers. So when my math teacher suggested that I become an engineer, because I was good at math and science so that’s what I should do, I said, “Sure, why not?” And that’s what I did. I got a great job. I had a great career going.

At a certain point in my career, I learned about this thing called coaching. I was actually trained as a coach within my corporate job and I absolutely loved it. I also learned about this thing called consulting. I learned about that when my management actually decided to take one of my favorite projects away and give it to a consultant. I thought, “I want to be one of those. How do you get to do just the fun part of the job?”

So, I kind of had these ideas stirring around when I started to get the nudge. You probably know what I mean by the nudge. That nudge that says, “There’s something more. I’m meant for something different. I’m meant to do something more on this planet. Something that makes a bigger difference. Something that’s a little bit more fulfilling.” But I didn’t know what to do. Raise your hand if you’ve been there. Okay, I can’t really see you, but thanks for playing along.

I didn’t know what to do next. But what I knew is I wanted to use more of the skills that I enjoyed using, like the soft skills. My management had informed me I had great soft skills but be careful because they wouldn’t get me very far in my corporate gig. So I knew I had these soft skills, I wanted to make a difference and I enjoyed connecting with people and talking with people. I could see things that other people couldn’t and I had this level of insight that was with me all the time. I felt somewhere along the lines that could be valuable. So I started researching and talking with people in different careers and trying to figure out what the hell I was going to do with my life. That’s what I call my 10 years in the self help aisle and during that time I did what seemed perfectly logical right. Because the 1st time around I went to college, I got a degree, I got recruited off campus and I got a great job. That’s kinda how it went so the logical things was to look at colleges, get a degree, get a job and the rest right. So I started to research masters degrees in psychology, positive psychology, schematic counseling, any type of counseling. I actually researched outdoor recreation, hospitality, things in the realm of hosting retreats and that type of thing. I just would find all the information, where do you start, how to register, how much does it cost, where would I have to move and all of that. Somehow deep inside it just didn’t feel right. THANK GOD.

Now, I’m grateful that I went to college and got my degree. I am so grateful for that experience. I’m grateful that certain professionals are required to have certain degrees. That doesn’t necessarily make them excellent at their job. I could tell you a story about a business that should not have been in business. That said, education is not all created equal and having that degree does not necessarily make you ready to get a job, and it doesn’t necessarily help you to learn kind of the most practical or cutting edge skills. In fact, most innovation is happening outside of the university.

I’ve seen it countless times now where I’ve worked with clients, they’ve gone to school, they’ve gotten their Master’s, they’ve gotten their PhD, they’re carrying around $60k in debt, and they’re no better off in terms of being able to own and market their skills. It really breaks my heart. I’ve invested that much, and more, more than a PhD, in college education and into my business, but I’ve invested into myself, into understanding my value, and knowing how to communicate my value and market myself, and to really make money being me. That’s what I really want for you.
Here’s my request. If you’re considering going back to school, I want you just to first consider, starting with investing in your own ability to market yourself, and market your business, and from there decide whether getting that advanced degree makes a difference. I wouldn’t put it past me to go back to school again some day just because I’m interested, just because I’m curious. Don’t make that come first. Don’t make that be the hurdle for starting your business, especially if you already know you’re an entrepreneurial type.

I want to share something with you. It’s from a great book called The Win Without Pitching Manifesto. It’s by Blair Enns. It’s really a great read about how to position yourself and how to sell yourself in a way that’s really authentic. Here’s what he has to say about positioning. Positioning is basically the way that you are able to communicate your value in the world. He says, “Positioning is strategy articulated and then proven. These components of strategy, language, and proof are laid out here as three steps we must take to build deep expertise and meaningfully differentiate our self from others.”

There’s three steps. One, “We must choose a focus.” Before you go get a degree and see how you like it and see if you find a job, first be conscious and intentionally choose a focus. This is not necessarily easy. This is totally what we spend our Pulse Retreat on is getting you really clear about your focus. Two, “Then articulate that focus with a consistent claim of expertise.” That’s the second step. First, choose a focus. Two, articulate a claim of expertise in that focus right away. That sounds strange, right? Three, he says, “And finally, we must work to add the missing skills, capabilities, and processes necessary to support our new claim.” Get the education third. You need the education on how to market your business and how to position your business and that clear degree of focus first. Get your education third.

For a lot of you who maybe are perfectionists, like to do it right, all of that, that can feel a little scary. It really makes a lot of sense if you think about it. Once you know who you are and what you’re about and you’ve got that level of focus, then everything falls into place from there. You know whether you need a degree or certification to do that work, or maybe you already have the skills. Most likely, you do. You know if you need to hire people with certain skills to help support that expertise. Last, but not least, you know if it’s worth investing in, going back to get that higher education degree. My bet is that whatever it is that you’re here to focus on, it’s within you. It’s your purpose. It’s your mission on this planet. It, most likely, is already in you. You don’t actually need that degree. In fact, it won’t help you to get where you want to go.

This is Darla LeDoux of Aligned Entrepreneurs and I hope you enjoyed this lesson. Please share below. Let me know. Did you get the degree? Are you thinking about getting the degree? How does this video help you or influence your decision? I’d love to hear and I’d love to help. This is Darla LeDoux signing off. Bye everyone.

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