Completion. It’s the word we use to describe finishing or finalizing an act. As adults, we often look at areas of our lives and measure their completeness. He completed a race. They completed the construction of their house. She completed her degree.

Yet, I wonder whether many areas of our lives are ever truly complete. Runners run more races. Homes, even newly constructed, need maintained and repaired. Lifelong learning is a very real and necessary phenomenon. Today, I will complete my final two classes of my MBA at Purdue University.

Is my education really done? Am I really done learning? I hope not!

You see, as a young student I took education for granted. I looked at education as simply attending class (which I usually did) and did not understand the full impact of learning. My mom and stepdad paid for me to attend a private school. We were by no means wealthy. Yet, a Catholic education was important to my family and so, until my 8th grade year, I attended Catholic school. Now having a family of my own, I understand what that sacrifice truly meant for the family. Thanks Mom!

Fast forward a couple careers, more education, loads of experience and a couple decades and I have come full circle. Today, this day, I look at education in a whole new light. Traditional education, experiences, successes, failures, faith, acquaintances, and friendships all teach if you are willing to pay attention. To explain, I need to brag about how much I have learned over the years.

Until he died of cancer when I was 18, I learned what it meant to be a man from my stepdad Bill. To this day, he is the hardest working man I have ever met. He started his day early, drove a semi all day and ended his day late. Yet, he always had time to watch “This Old House” or “Walker Texas Ranger” with my brother and me.

I learned, and occasionally still learn, that parents are often right from my mom.

In Kindergarten, I learned that nearly every 6 year-old believes their teacher is perfect in every way.

In 3rd grade, I learned about compassion and what a good hug felt like from Mrs. Rollins.

In 6th grade, I found out that good teachers, such as Mrs. Arnett, listen to EVERYTHING their students say even though they have to listen to that awkward talkative kid EVERY.SINGLE.DAY.

In 7th grade, Mr. Hassett taught me that teachers could be ‘cool’ and athletic.

In 9th grade…oh the Freshman years…Mr. Davis taught us that poetry could be sexy and that I should stay off Page 2.

In 10th grade, Danny Anderson taught me that good friends are like brothers.

In 11th grade, Brad and Beth Taylor taught me that everything can be forgiven.

Also in 11th grade, I learned how to be a craftsman at anything I do from Mr. Mikesell. The skills he taught me have allowed me to remodel several houses, make some money, and have fun while working.

In 12th grade, I learned that all that literature, spelling and writing repetition paid off in Mrs. Chilcott’s class.

I learned from Professor Kelly Wilson that employee development is ridiculously important but also misaligned in many organizations.

Professor Troy Janes taught me how to accurately and efficiently read financial statements which will hopefully pay off when I’m making millions. 🙂

Professor Cliff Fisher taught me that law courses can be fun but I will never be an attorney.

Professor Karthik Kannan taught me that design matters in everything and that when we approach problems differently we can obtain different results.

My fellow classmates taught me that teamwork and camaraderie can be accomplished regardless of location, social class, or culture.

Each of my kids continually teach me that every person is unique and that’s ok.

Each day I learn what it means to love unconditionally and be loved unconditionally by my wife Mollie. Thank you for supporting me in everything I do. I promise I will now begin working on the hundreds of half-finished construction projects.

With that, I’m walking into my last class at Krannert School of Mangement. If by chance, you are a teenager or undergraduate student, I encourage you to go about education in a traditional manner as much as possible. Get a bachelor’s degree and immediate enroll in a graduate degree. If you are an adult and considering furthering your education, gaining new skills, or taking trips, do it now and do not wait as long as I did. You will never regret moving forward.

Also published on Medium.

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