Uncredentialed? It's all good!

16 Apr 2017


In this highly competitive world, many worry about getting that higher education that will give us that extra edge in life.  Of course, quality education has great value (what’s “quality” is a subject for another blog!), but are institutional credentials really that essential for success?




Are credentials really all that?  A lot depends on the quality and integrity of the curriculum and the environment in which credentials are obtained, and whether what’s being taught is truly relevant and fit for purpose in our modern world of increasing uncertainty.  Just because you ace exams, doesn’t make you good employee or leadership material either: you have to be a people person and form relationships with others, if you can’t do that you really limit your ability to perform in any area that requires human interaction with others.


In addition, with increased competition, the same jobs today require higher credentials than before  - and that’s IF the jobs are out there to be had as we’re led to believe, but in truth technological redundancy is making it harder and harder for graduates even in the so-called ‘professions’ to find employment.  At the same time, education is becoming less affordable, begging the question whether the debt burden at the end is really worth it.




Just a little research will reveal countless people throughout history who’ve done very well for themselves (thank you very much!), despite having no formal qualifications: for example, playwright William Shakespeare; US President Abraham Lincoln; physicist Albert Einstein; astronaut John Glenn; actress Halle Berry; ex-media network President Susan Lyne; and internationally famous chef Barbara Lynch (weird how a search on the net for successful men seems to get more hits than for successful women - but I guess the likes of Mother Teresa would say it depends on one's definition of "success"!).  They leveraged their other ‘assets’ (natural talents, resourcefulness, inventiveness, passions, knack for seeing the world differently, strong work ethic, supportive environmental conditions…) to achieve their own unique brand of success in the world.




You might ask, “But doesn’t everyone need to be expert at something to stand out from the crowd?”  Well, here’s something to consider: there’s only one person who’s expert at being you – and that’s You!  If you think you’re lacking in some area of specific knowledge or skill, consider how you might leverage the one area you can be CERTAIN you’re an “expert” in, and that’s your unique perspective.


If that doesn’t thrill you, consider this alternative: you could be someone who’s skilled at sharing others’ expertise.  At first glance, this proposition sounds uninspiring (we’d rather be credited for originating a good idea, right?).  However, you can be acknowledged for helping to share and enliven helpful ideas no matter where they come from.  Why?  Because a good idea is only of any use if people know about it and/or its application.   Therefore, sharing good ideas has value (sharing is caring, right?), and you sharing from your particular perspective has UNIQUE value to someone somewhere.




One form of sharing ideas is the good old art of storytelling.  And everyone can tell a good yarn (if we’re not naturally gifted at it, it’s certainly a skill that can be learned)!  


Storytelling might be best known for its crucial role in preserving and transmitting institutional memory, practical knowledge and expertise (for example, from self-sustaining traditional farming communities, to modern day business).  However, a deeper value of storytelling is the way it affects the consciousness of individuals and groups.  For instance:

  • Families and communities who share inspiring, engaging stories among their members about their history, culture and values tend to be stronger and more resilient;

  • Businesses who use stories that trigger a positive emotional response from prospective customers about their product or service tend to be more successful; and

  • Powerful Story telling can compel citizens to action that keeps Governments accountable and helps protects democracy.

So, if you’re finding your lack of credentials (or lack of value in your credentials) worrying – don’t.  Instead, get out there and explore other ways to express your uniqueness that will work for you!


If you liked this blog, please share!  And thanks to those who have recently helped me open up to a whole new world of personal freedom, business independence and ‘success’ possibilities.   :)



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