Canaan Foundation for Education
A practical, “real life” learning resource center.
What do you need to know and learn to be successful in life?
Before we can begin to answer that, we need to ascertain what is meant by success and why we even want to be successful.
Our working definition has three components:
- Contentment. To be comfortable, healthy and content – enjoying what you do, with enough money to cover your living (and business) expenses and without having to worry about the bills or the future. And to have time to spend with your friends and family and leisure pursuits.
- Stability & Sustainability. To be able to sustain your lifestyle (and your business), even in the face of economic disruptions, ill-health or disasters.
- To have “enough”. Or to reach the point when you have enough, without the desire to strive for more than you want or need. Or simply to be satisfied with what you have.
There are several fallacies about work and “success”.
- If you work hard and persevere then you can achieve whatever you want.
- Setting goals is the first step to achieving wealth and success.
- You can make your own luck.
- If you visualize what you want then the universe will deliver.
- Think big. Don’t be content with ‘mediocre’.
There are plenty of books written by wealthy people who explain what they did to achieve the wealth and success – despite handicaps or growing up in poverty. The fallacy is that if you adopt the same mindset and follow the same approach to work and life then you will also achieve similar success.
There’s some grain of truth to it all, but it’s mostly nonsense.
The reason is that most individuals do not have the infrastructure or connections or the finance to develop economies of scale and competitive advantages and influence government regulations to gain dominance and profitability.
We individuals are workers – whether we work for a company, or for our family, or for ourselves! We are limited to what we can achieve with our time and available energy.
Corporations and medium-to-large business entities are systems. They exist as machines that have no real limit to how big they can grow. The more resources it has (material, people, etc.), the more it can sell and generate an income.
We as individuals can’t compete with that!
We take a holistic approach to achieving lifelong “success” in life.
To do this, we need to learn our place and capabilities in the world as individual workers.
We can either choose to be workers or entrepreneurs. There are advantages and disadvantages in both cases. But whatever you choose, it’s important to know what you need to know and learn to achieve “success” as defined above (contentment, stability, satisfaction).
Most education in the world is designed to train us to be obedient workers and consumers, to have marketable skills, to trust in authority without question, to be uncritical of marketing and politics and technology. And always to be dissatisfied with what we have or what we are so that we always strive for more – by working harder, earning more money and consuming more. Our economy and government depends on this.
So what’s the alternative?
Well, the first alternative is to be “self-employed”.
Even if you are an employee, you should try to find a way to be “self-employed”.
A “self-employed” person is independent and can choose who to work for and when; and can often determine the amount to be paid [see article on pay and competitiveness and competitive advantage].
This isn’t usually possible if you are unskilled or have a common skill, like secretarial or cooking skills, or even a doctor or lawyer. The more “educated” you are, the higher your salary might be. But you have to do the work that the company tells you to do, at their premises and during their operating hours.
But if you have a less-common and sought-after skill, like engineering or design or music composition (and you are good at it) then you can more or less choose what work you want to and which company to work for – and get paid very well for it.
One important factor about these types of skills is that they are usually portable. You can work anywhere in the world, if you are prepared to go where you are needed.
So the first “alternative” you have available to you is to develop a sought-after skill, something that is difficult or requires talent so that the profession is saturated with less skilled workers who will accept much lower pay for their work.
The trouble is that nearly every profession is saturated. So you need to become a kind of superstar in your profession and/or an authority, to distinguish yourself from everyone else.
That takes a special kind of talent, and – surprisingly – connections, and marketing! So whatever talent it is that you develop, you also need to understand how to market yourself.
We believe that marketing is a vital and necessary skill to learn.
The other alternative is to become an entrepreneur.
The main difference between a self-employed worker and an entrepreneur is that an entrepreneur builds a business that can essentially run independently, even without the owner.
In practice, the owner needs to manage the business and perhaps even make the product or provide the service being sold.
But as much as possible needs to be automated, so that eventually the owner has less and less to do. Some of the business can be automated by computer systems; some products and services could be manufactured/supplied by employees, freelancers or outside suppliers.
Ideally, an entrepreneurial business is where the business runs itself and generates a “passive” income.
And this results in the unique potential of a business to be multiplied. A worker (whether employed or self-employed) can only achieve a single person’s output. But a business owner can employ or outsource or automate many copies.
The kind of automated or semi-automated businesses include books, music compositions or performances, movies, software, employment agency, factory production, drop shipping, etc.
It may take a lot of time and money and effort and trial & error to get the first product out. And to automate the business process.
But then it’s a small step to duplicate the business or add more products and services.
Getting the first book or app published and marketed and distributed is the most difficult to achieve. But, once you have the infrastructure, the connections and the system running efficiently, you can write other books or apps and sell them in the same way.
It’s not at all easy!
And the reality is that there are no guaranteed approaches.
And everybody is different and wants different things.
If it were easy or guaranteed then everybody who put the effort in would be successful.
This is clearly not the case. Many people work very hard for long hours, but they are still poor or not earning enough to enjoy a comfortable life.
So what can we do?
Our solution is to provide the courses and the resources that you need to:
- Understand the scope of what you can achieve, depending on your personal circumstances, talents and desires.
- Learn and practice the essential skills you need to develop your ability and to earn a comfortable, sustainable income.
- “Co-work” with other students and entrepreneurs to explore ideas, gain experience and learn from their failures and successes.
- Incubate your business (or profession) with the people, connections, knowledge and resources in the community.