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When faced with a challenge, man has the ability to learn without instructors. This is how Benjamin Franklin, Abraham Lincoln, Thomas Edison, Henry Ford, the Wright Brothers, and thousands of other highly successful people that educated themselves. They used the art of self-education and self-challenges. Self-educated people are not molded by classroom environments; some like Abraham Lincoln never went to school, while others, like the Wright Brothers, almost finished high school. How did they learn? With projects that motivated them. These projects were based on the desire to learn more about the world we live in. Nature is an instructor that uses nature's learning tool, trial and error.
There are two types of projects, self-motivated and team motivated. Both produce powerful learning environments.
With team motivated projects there is a support group who make it easier to hang in there when some things goes wrong. Teams learn more when they share knowledge and there is an element of failure. If they only follow orders and there is no element of failure, they learn nothing.
Self-motivated projects are training sessions. Each small project leads to a larger one, which is turn leads to yet another larger one. Confidence and abilities grow with each completed project. No super achiever has ever achieved his goal without first succeeding at small, seemly insignificant projects.
With self-motivated projects, we are under no obligation to anyone except ourselves. This is what makes it difficult; no one cares. If no one cares, why should we continue? Some projects bring opposition. We are told it is a stupid idea. If others think it is stupid, why should we continue? Most projects have no outside support. If people don’t support us, why should we continue? We continue because this is the only way to achieve our dream. In the beginning, we have to go it alone. No one is interested in our ideas until we succeed. Then everyone wants to be a part of it.
As we develop the habit of finishing what we start, unknowingly, we rise above the crowd of quitters. Project finishers are in demand, and this demand increases as our abilities expand. This ability is recognized by people who need assistance in reaching their goal. When they discover someone who can get things done, they latch onto them and offer opportunity, qualified or not.
When sudden opportunity is offered, what do we do? Our first reaction is caused by barriers of risk, fear and failure. We ask ourselves various questions. "Do I really want to become involved?" "Not being prepared is risky. Am I willing to look like a fool?" "What will my reputation be if I fail?" "What will my reputation be if I don’t try?"
People who avoid risky adventures are in the habit of watching things happen. People who accept the challenge make things happen.
There is a catch to learning with projects, one must learn to finish what they start. No one learns anything with unfinished projects or try and quit. The learning process is in trying and failing, learning from mistakes, bouncing back, and trying again until success comes. Thomas Edison took on the ridiculous project of finding a way to burn a steel wire white hot without burning up. Everyone knows everything always burns up - what a stupid idea. He tried and failed a thousand times. But his persistence paid off - the common light bulb is the result.
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