5 Crucial Life Skills You’re Not Taught in School (and How to Learn Them)

5 Crucial Life Skills You’re Not Taught in School (and How to Learn Them)

The American education system is broken.

We are not learning life skills necessary to succeed in today’s world.

College costs continue to skyrocket (private schools now average $67,000 per year), yet the education we receive there is lackluster at best.

Courses and curriculum are completely devoid of necessary life skills, and instead encourage herd mentality; get a job and sit at a desk (for decades), accumulate debt, and marry the first or second person we date. Social and traditional media help reinforce this poisonous lifestyle.

The Failures of Modern Education

Teaching crucial life skills come secondary throughout our education. The lack of focus is so alarming that one has to question college entirely given the dearth of actionable knowledge we accumulate. When factoring in student loan debt, the situation becomes much worse.

Average student loan debt

Source: WSJ

“But college graduates make so more than non-graduates, right?!”

Wrong.

Wages are stagnate. According to the Economic Policy Institute:

The widespread problem of stagnant hourly wages is not a problem of insufficiently skilled or educated workers. As this figure shows, a four-year college degree has been no guarantee of decent wage growth. In 2013, inflation-adjusted hourly wages of young college graduates were lower than they were in the late 1990s, a trend that held for both young male and female college graduates. Thus, wage stagnation and erosion afflict even the one-third of workers who have earned a four-year college degree.

Wage Stagnation

Source: Economic Policy Institute

When you look at the numbers and the results, it hardly makes any sense.

Flawed curriculum is being taught to students who pay astronomical sums of money (and incur staggering debt) to enter a job market with no promise of meaningful wage growth.

Why isn’t this discussed more among the national media?

What They Don’t Tell You When You Graduate

Life won’t be what you expect.

We aren’t guaranteed a high paying job upon graduation. I remember visiting my college career center, seeing the propaganda on the walls.

First year graduates make an average of $65,000 a year!”

It didn’t take long for me to realize I wasn’t told the real story.

I was lied to.

I got a job right out of school with a company I had zero emotional connection to. The moral was pitiful, the day-to-day mundane, and the money terrible. There were scarce options.

I felt cheated.

17 years in school and I had more questions than answers.

What Every Kid Deserves to Know

Graduates are angry. They are adults in name only, lacking the necessary life skills needed for happiness and success. Add underemployment and student loans, and the problem becomes even worse. It’s a travesty.

What follows is my life skills curriculum, the topics I wish I was taught in school. For each life skill, you’ll also find valuable resources to fill the gap – articles, books, websites and people I have studied to teach myself the crucial knowledge I was lacking.

If we want to live a successful, happy life, on our own terms, we must seek knowledge on our own. 

Let’s get into it.

1. Communication Skills

Most young adults lack adequate communication skills. The social media era is to blame as it is easier than ever to avoid human contact. This has led to erosion of traditional face-to-face communication skills.

Interactions among strangers are a rarity. Everyone is always rushing around, headphones on, with their eyes on the ground or glued to their phone. I see this daily on public transit; complete silence, aside from the occasional ding of a phone.

Networking: In the past, business networking was the norm. Something as simple as grabbing drinks and mingling with like-minded, successful individuals. Gatherings still occur, but we are overwhelmed with other options. Networking events are more common in larger cities (where I live), yet I hardly know anyone who attends.

Why?

Nowadays, due to technology and social ineptitude, networking has become less of a priority. We are uncomfortable with face-to-face interactions. We hide behind computers and smart phones. It has become the norm.

Mentors: Every man needs a mentor, someone who is successful but also helpful and willing to teach. It is unlikely our social circle alone will offer such individuals. But without networking, it’s impossible to find a mentor. Mentorship was once a common happening, but is all but extinct except for the higher rungs of the corporate ladder. Young people are desperate for guidance but lack the social skills to seek out mentors. Books allow for “virtual mentors,” but nothing equates face-to-face interaction and the development of human relationships.

Negotiating: The biggest decisions in life include negotiating. Negotiating is an art.

To become better negotiators, we must practice. Most of us don’t realize how many situations require strong negotiating skills.

ons you don't learn in school - negotiating

What else should we negotiate?

  • Time off
  • Utility bills (cable, electricity)
  • Vehicle purchases/leases
  • Real estate purchases
  • Street vendors
  • Flea market items

Resources to Help:

2. Financial Literacy

Most of us lack the basics when it comes to personal finance.

The stats are grim:

  • Americans have $11 trillion in consumer debt.
  • 43% of Americans spend more than they earn.
  • Only 59% of Americans have more than $500 put away in case of emergencies.
  • 75% of Americans live paycheck to paycheck.
  • 27% of Americans have no savings at all.

Pretty alarming right? Yet I remember one course I took, in high school, that touched upon personal finance.

5 Crucial Life Skills - Personal Finance

Americans are deficient in the following areas:

  • How to save for retirement
    • The basics of retirement vehicles such as IRA’s, Roth IRA’s and 401k’s
  • The process of buying a house
    • The basics
    • Documents you may need
    • Requirements (work status, income, credit score)
  • The basics on how to save money
    • What to spend to what you earn (not to indulge on material possessions)
    • The dangers of credit cards
  • Basic tax knowledge
    • Why tax is necessary in the first place
    • The different taxes, exemptions, and credits.
    • The difference tax filing codes (Google “Should I claim 0 or 1.” It’s a shit show).

Most of us could comfortably discuss half of these items. Maybe. 

My courses barely touched upon the above topics, and I majored in finance. I took plenty of high level courses on investing, and some basic tax courses. But learning the basics of personal finance? Nope, didn’t happen.

Resources to Help:

  • Financial Samurai (website) – Amazing personal finance blog giving away specialized knowledge for free.
  • MONEY Master the Game: 7 Simple Steps to Financial Freedom (book) – Tony Robbins latest gem where he interviews many of the most successful money managers in history. Must read.
  • Mike Cernovich: Personal Finance for Men – Part 1 and Part 2 (podcasts) – Mike and his buddy Jay discuss money issues, questions and observations. Both podcasts are a must listen.
  • Get Rich Slowly (blog) – A go-to resource for me; articles on every money topic imaginable.

3. How the America Government Works

The majority of Americans are woefully unprepared to vote. That’s if they even vote at all. In the 2012 Presidential elections, only 57.5% of eligible Americans voted (Source). The 2014 mid-term elections saw the worst turnout in 70 years according to this Yahoo news article.

What does this mean?

It seems most Americans aren’t interested in politics. Many may believe that it’s a losing game and a waste of time; that elected officials are the smoothest talkers who are best able to manipulate the masses with their beliefs and calls to action.

However, studies show that the majority of Americans are lost when it comes to understanding government and how it actually works.

ons you don't learn in school - how the government works

The Annenberg Public Policy Center conducted a study which showed 36% of Americans could name the three branches of American government.

From the source: 

Other groups, like the Civics Education Initiative, are pushing to include more civics education in high schools by requiring students to pass the same citizenship test that immigrants do when they come to the U.S. That group will introduce legislation in seven states that would require passage of the citizenship test before graduating.

And then there is this alarming quote by Josiah Bunting III once chairman of the National Civic Literacy Board of the Intercollegiate Studies Institute. He states,

“There is an epidemic of economic, political, and historical ignorance in our country. It is disturbing enough that the general public failed ISI’s civic literacy test, but when you consider the even more dismal scores of elected officials, you have to be concerned. How can political leaders make informed decisions if they don’t understand the American experience? Colleges can, and should, play an important role in curing this national epidemic of ignorance (Source).”

The workings of the government are not taught effectively during our schooling.

Shouldn’t our government be a higher priority than chemistry or algebra?

Resources to Help:

4. Gender Relations

Men today have no clue how to communicate with women.

This is the cause for a multitude of issues, ranging from depression and severe anger to violent crimes such as rape and sexual assault.

We are never taught that men and women differ biologically. Men expect women to think the same way they do, and are surprised when a woman gets angry or upset over something. Because of this confusion, frustration and drama are the norm in most relationships.

At no point is a man ever educated on how to attract and sleep with women. The average male fails miserably at attracting quality women. Most guys fall into sex (get lucky), usually intoxicated and with an average to below average, promiscuous chick.

When sober, they have no idea how to approach or communicate with attractive women. Instead, these men cat call, send dick pics, and flaunt wealth and status to try to buy sex.

A few wise men have figured out the game and have wild success with women.

Most have not, and never will.

ons you don't learn in school - gender relations

In my estimation, based on my experiences:

  • 30% of men successfully attract and sleep with 85% of eligible women.
  • 50% of men are left to fight over the other 15% of unattractive and undesired women.
  • 20% of men go sexless, either voluntarily (MGTOW) or involuntarily (mass anger and depression).

When I went on an online dating spree, I gathered a wealth of information from the women I went out with.

Without fail, they complained about their past failed dates. I was sent text conversations and told pathetic stories of men trying to court these women in all the wrong ways. Guys acted needy, awkward, and clumsy.

At first, I struggled to understand the why.

Why were these guys so clueless?

Now it makes sense. We are not taught this stuff in school.

I was clueless with women after my breakup several years back.

What did I do?

I was pro-active on the matter. I exhausted my time reading about how women worked and how to attract them.

Self-educating is the first step, but actual trial and error is crucial. I went out in the field and learned through experience. It’s the only way to master something. If it wasn’t for my strong want to learn and improve, I would have been frustrated and angry. Men need regular sex to be happy and healthy.

We aren’t given the tools and resources by the education system as most topics sexual in nature are “taboo” and are avoided.

Self-education remains the only way.

Resources to Help: I’ve read a ton of helpful resources on this topic. I’ll choose a few of the best, but some are sure to be left out. 

  • The Manual: What Women Want and How to Give It to Them (book) – The first book I read after leaving a long-term relationship. The best book I’ve read on women, and what I recommend to every blue pill guy I know. Goes deep into the biological differences between men and women, among countless other things.
  • The Natural: How to Effortlessly Attract the Women You Want (book) – Not far behind “The Manuel,” La Ruina writes for the truly inexperienced male. A very easy and informative read.
  • The Alpha Male 2.0 (book) – This book covers women in-depth, but also provides a concrete plan to become successful in every aspect of life. Tons of originality and actionable advice; I took 15 pages of written notes upon reading it. Incredibly detailed, under the radar resource.

Below are some blogs that I highly recommend. I believe that becoming good with women first begins with developing your own self-confidence, mind, and physical image. These guys crush it with material; every one of which gives actionable advice. I would recommend everything published by these men.

  • Blackdragon Blog – Written by Caleb Jones, every article is meticulously written and a must read. Caleb is a champion of open relationships and provides the blueprints for men to do the same. Caleb also wrote the above book, “The Alpha Male 2.0.”
  • Good Looking Loser – The first blog I stumbled upon (via YouTube) after my breakup – this resource shaped the majority of my views today. Thorough articles, a forum with countless helpful member, and how-to YouTube videos, Chris from GLL kills it. Absorb everything he has.
  • Danger & Play (Mike Cernovich) – Another blog I stumbled upon in my infancy of red pill conversion; Mike crushes it. His twitter is a must follow, and his content is superb (like Mohamed Ali in his prime, Mike slashes through trolls and critics with ease). He also wrote a book (Gorilla Mindset), a great piece on the multi-faceted mindset you need for success. Everything he writes is gold.

5. Health and Nutrition

Never in human history have we used so little energy on a daily basis. Most people spend their entire day sitting down.

With that, obesity rates have risen dramatically over the past 25 years. This technological driven sedentary lifestyle isn’t the only issue however.

5 Crucial Life Skills You’re Not Taught in School - obesity

Lost in the obesity crisis are two main issues; the lack of proper guidance while in school and the almost complete lack of discussion by government officials.

Due to lack of knowledge, most people have no clue how to read a nutrition label in the grocery store.

Most couldn’t answer the below questions:

  • What is a calorie?
  • What is the difference between proteins, fats, and carbohydrates?
  • How many calories should I eat a day?
  • What is the proper workout regime for my body type?

We are given no incentive to be healthy. We are not penalized for being unhealthy. People are lazy, but we aren’t being motivated either. Elected officials will harp on “Obama Care” and other “issues” facing America, but fail to acknowledge the obesity crisis in any meaningful way.

Every state has a 20% obesity rate, and weight-related diseases remain the leading cause for premature deaths, at a staggering 3.4 million people per year. 

Heart disease, diabetes, even some cancers; all relate to obesity. It’s disgusting and shameful that this issue is not taken more serious, both in schooling and among national rhetoric.

Resources to Help:

  • Bigger Leaner Stronger (book) – The best book I’ve read on nutrition and fitness. Mike Matthews runs a superb blog as well. Everything is researched back and easily laid out in a practical way. He leaves you with little excuse to get your diet and body on point.
  • Body of a Spartan (eBook) – Courtesy of Victor Pride (Bold and Determined), this book is right to the point -Heavy compound movements and a basic, wholesome diet. Great resource.
  • YouTube – There are many great channels that give great content when it comes to nutrition, workout splits, routines, etc. Search for some of the below guys.
    • Hodge Twins
    • Rob Riches
    • Brandon Carter
    • Mike Matthews (Muscle for Life)
    • Brendan Myers

The Bottom Line: Self-Education is the Only Way to Fill the Gaps

Learning life skills is not a priority of the education machine in America.

Success and happiness are hard to come by because we lack the proper tools as we enter adulthood. Many graduates take low paying jobs, with long hours and high stress. A host of potential issues arise, such as poor social relationships, anger, frustration, and even depression.

I can only imagine the overall improvement if these topics were mandatory at every level of education.

Would there be a boost in creativity?

Less poverty and obesity?

Less violence?

My opinion is yes.

But we will never know unless change is enacted.

Until then, whats the solution?

Never stop self-educating. 

5 Crucial Life Skills - Always Keep Learning

Read as much as you can. Read books. Read blogs and articles. Google things you don’t understand. Keep learning until the day you die.

We are in a new era where any question can be researched and understood in minutes. Learning life skills has never been easier. 

We can sit around and wait for a solution to these issues. Or we can become pro-active and seek out the knowledge necessary for success and happiness.

42% of college graduates never read another book.

42%!

What will you do?

Take control of your education and don’t look back.

Hopefully the resources I provided will help get you where you need to be. If you are deficient with any of these life skills, don’t be alarmed. You will easily become an expert in no time, as long as you are pro-active and diligent.

What Do You Think??

I would love to hear feedback on this topic. This is easily my longest, most researched piece. I am extremely passionate about education and the deficiencies that are glossed over at the highest levels of our country.

Share your thoughts, comments and questions with me below. Do you agree? Disagree?

My goal is to get an active discussion going. Thanks for reading.

Talk soon,

Axel

Follow me on social media for constructive insights, opinions, self-improvement, and much more!

 

  • JB

    Hey Axel,
    Since I don’t live in the US, certain of these elements are of course outside of my limits to discus. However, most of the topics are not just US-related and thus they apply to the whole world.
    I believe in self-education whole heartedly as it has (and will continue to) increased my quality of life by unmeasurable quantities. My former self before embarking on the journey of improvement is but a fraction of the man I am today.
    The list of books is great. I will begin reading the Alpha Male 2.0 book as soon as I get a moment to myself.
    What the list is missing is a topic that you have previously discussed. Society (Educational system included) teaches us that making decisions can be a hard thing and lead to failure, and thus it is often safer not to make any decisions at all. What could be added to the list is one of your recommended reads that I have had the pleasure of reading many times and embracing it into my life – The Flinch. I think that everybody needs to learn that most decisions you make do not really have that big an impact on everything (I fully embrace the fact that if anything doesn’t kill me or permanently disable me, no damage was really done at all). After this read, I see people flinching all the damn time while I just jump into everything I can – and it will either lead to a hell of a good time or a lesson learned. Simple as that. The Flinch is a must read to everyone embarking on the journey of self improvement.
    Another thing that society sometimes fails to tell us (especially with regards to women) is TRUST YOUR INSTINCTS. You feel that she wants to kiss you? If the thought even occured to you, she definitely wants to. You feel she wants to take you home? Just throw in the question. Not just with women – If you get the feeling that a friend has something on his mind, ask him. Don’t ever leave elephants in the room, you are not a girl at a slumber party.
    As always, a well researched piece Axel.
    Should you ever be in Denmark, let me know.
    -JB

    • Thanks for the in-depth and reflective comment JB. I agree that society teaches people that risks are “dangerous.” Rarely are we told that it’s “okay” to leave our comfort zones, and this, in my opinion, is done with intent.

  • Good Looking Loser

    Great breakdown and statistics, really good job. I like reading about this subject but don’t have the info/patience to write on it.

    • Thanks Chris! Once I got writing I couldn’t stop – the data/stats I found were fascinating and alarming at the same time. Hopefully it improves, but I’m not holding my breath.

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  • Axel,
    Fantastic post! I have to agree that your list is dead on, especially the section about Communication. I’m always out there talking and networking with people out in the street or in the office. I find that being able to communicate helps you move forward ahead from everyone else.

    Iphones, Androids and everything else is turning us Humans who are social animals into non social animals. When this happens culture and civilization will start going off the way side. The majority of the things I know about is because I took the time to learn on my own. I learned how the “Federal Reserve” processes money and how they filter down to the banks and why Nixon removed the “Gold Standard” from the Dollar. I even knew the concept of Supply and Demand while I was a Teenager in High School. The teacher was surprised that I knew that. Thanks to PBS and the Wall Street Journal! lol

    I have learned a lot since I was the type who like to read about things that I was curious about. Its all about Self Improvement and Personal Development.

    Now I have developed an interest in Social Psychology and have ordered my first book from Amazon called the “Social Animal” why? Because people interest me, how they talk walk, how people act when they are around other people and the like.

    Learning is never ending!

    Again Axel great post!

    • Agreed Jose, thanks for the comment. My wish list for books is at 100+. As soon as I read one, I realize I’ve added 5 more. Learning should go on until the day we die.

  • Just coming across your post- but kudos to you! Great, in depth post that really gets puts it all out there.
    I got out of college as soon as I fulfilled my “obligation” to my family and it has been self-education all the way since then.
    On a side note- great blog-never heard of you till to day 🙂

  • Ankur Agrawal

    Axel,

    Though I am not from US, yet I can tell you that this is the exact case with India. Here the education system is even pathetic. I will be honest here and say that I lack all of the above skills to a great extent and I am too working on developing myself in every way possible. Through internet, Television, reading books, watching inspiration videos etc.

    My college life is Killing me and I feel so fortunate to stumble upon your website.
    Thanks for sharing such a wonderful article. You have shared something I wanted for long.

    Cheers!

    • Thanks for the comment Ankur.

      I am not surprised to hear that the education in India is similar to the U.S. in what it doesn’t teach. The quickest way to improve is to self-educate. I recommend reading as much as possible (check out the books I recommend), and just Google topics you do not understand. It’s never been easier to self-teach ourselves. I wish you the best.