Five must-have life skills you need to succeed after school

Five must-have life skills you need to succeed after school

I recently read an article about a Philadelphia dad’s response to a school’s letter over kids’ absences.

The dad, a radio personality took his children out of school to watch him and his wife run in the Boston Marathon. He turned this opportunity into a family vacation, visiting historical hot spots in Boston.

Days later, he received a letter from his kids’ school principal warning him about the inexcusable absences by his children. What the dad did could be an eye opener for most of us.

While he appreciated the concern the school had for his children’s education, he wrote back to the school stating how much more the children learned in the five days they were in Boston than they would ever learn in the entire year at school.

It was touching to see the dad write how the children learnt about dedication, commitment, love, perseverance, overcoming adversity, civic pride, patriotism, American history culinary arts and physical education apart from the absolute delight of seeing their father overcome injury, bad weather, death of a loved one and many other obstacles to achieve his goal.

Having said this, think about all the education we received in the years we spent in high school, college, university and beyond.

Education gave us the sensibility to see the right and wrong in things, understand the world we live in, gave us the confidence to live in the society that is always ready to throw challenges at us.

But, when you look back at life, most critical learning is not what is gathered at school, but by experiences that life has thrown at us. Does that make education any less valuable? Perhaps not. But, formal education no longer teaches life skills that will help people carry with them after school.

While with a school degree, people can land plum jobs, the learning is often not enough to deal with the situations that such jobs or business throw up. Here is a list of what your school is not preparing you enough for:

1. Communication

Think of the role that communication has in your job, business, family, relationship, life in general. It can make or break your life, and yet this most important aspect of life is not taught enough at school. Drowned in the new age media, youth today have lost touch with communication, especially verbal communication. Schools could do much more by imparting communication skills on students.

2. Managing personal finance

Strangely while every school is eager to see its students graduate with flying colours and land themselves in plum positions in their careers, they never teach the students how to handle personal finance. How to earn better, how to budget your house hold expenses, when to plan for loans, how to save — are what life’s experiences teach you.

3. Critical thinking and problem solving

We cannot solve our problems with the same thinking we used to create them. World today has become a complex platform, the challenges today need critical thinking, creative solutions and problem solving capabilities. With the monotony built in the curriculum, Schools leave very little option for students to explore and use imagination that will further their creative thinking & problem solving capabilities.

4. Believing in yourself

As much as schools promote competition and co-operation, young minds are first robbed of their confidence at school, when they are often compared with one another, be it in their academic grades, sports or other activities. You may have had the most brilliant idea, but if it does not find place in the rule book, your idea is scrapped and thrown in the bin, along with your confidence. This experience could corrupt the idea of innovation in many, bruise confidence and belief in self.

5. Flexibility

If you can’t be flexible in life, you become irritable with life. It is the flexibility in the stem that makes the tree stands in the storm. It is flexibility in behaviour that makes a human win hearts. Most Organisations look for people who are ready to adapt to situations and learn or pick new skills rather than losing relevance by sticking to the job description they were hired for.

The role of school and education cannot be undermined. They for sure are the pillars of success. No matter how much we hated waking early in the morning, especially on a chilly day or how much midnight oil we burnt before exams, school will hold the best memories for us and show us the path to success. So, couple your school education with life skills that will help you climb the ladder of success.

Mr Sriram is the founder and chief mentor of Kuza Biashara Limited, a capacity building organisation coaching youth and SME owners in Kenya. Sri chairs Entrepreneurs’ Organisation for Africa and can be reached at and via Twitter: @Sbharatam.

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