Since I began working with Escape The City two years ago to help launch The Escape School I’ve worn many hats, the most recent of which sits snuggly on a rack labeled “Education.” 2015 saw me and a small team in London speak, teach, lead, write, design, and execute workshops, learning, and community experiences that over 3,000 people have participated in. We’re essentially building a modern school for adults.
The fact that Education is what I do now is funny to me. Part of me thinks — is this where it’s all been heading? When I write, I guess I aim to teach, to help, and to guide others like me who could use the guiding. As I uncover things for myself, I can’t help but share what I myself am learning. Partly because writing and teaching stuff helps me understand the stuff myself. And in general, understand myself.
It’s also funny because I imagined this place — a modern school for adults to learn important life, career and even spiritual skills not traditionally taught—long before I started working with Escape.
It was November 2012 and I was renting a small two-bedroom basement flat in Belgrade, Serbia with fellow wanderer Zach. The two of us were spending much of our time abroad sitting in coffee shops writing, building our websites, filming short scrappy videos, and reading books. Books that no traditional school or education system we knew about were teaching. They were books we stumbled upon through the recommendations of friends or people we admired.
I distinctly remember standing in our Belgrade kitchen one evening wondering — why the hell aren’t schools teaching this stuff? A vision for a modern school for adults entered my head: a place that would teach lessons from the very books we were reading. Not the Moby Dicks or the Great Expectations or the Wurthering Heights or even the To Kill a Mockingbirds. But the books like The Little Prince, The Power of Myth, The Alchemist, Daring Greatly, The Thank You Economy, The Four-Hour Workweek, Meditations, Vagabonding, So Good They Can’t Ignore You, The Richest Man in Babylon, Man’s Search For Meaning, The Four Agreements, and so many others. The books that were expanding our minds and (hopefully) making us better, more well-rounded and informed human beings.
Even before that, in 2010 I started a book club in Chicago to help my friends and I read more books, supplement our traditional and real working world education, act as forum for mutual improvement, and quite honestly, serve as a self-help group for guys trying to find my meaning in their working life. The Chicago Business Book Club was essentially a scrappy modern school for adults.
As I reflect on my new career in adult education, I’m realizing there’s potentially something deeper here. As the late Scott Dinsmore might say, maybe education is the work I can’t not do. Or as Gary Vaynerchuk might say, education might be in my DNA. Maybe education is the reason why I could never keep up with a journal or diary for myself, but the moment I started writing for other people I suddenly became motivated to keep up with it.
I don’t claim to be incredible at this thing called education. My current task at Escape of evolving and building the Escape Tribe curriculum into something more comprehensive and robust has been a challenging. But I do feel I have the potential to be great at it. And I want to be great at it.
My point is that education matters to me. It sits snuggly under the Explore of GiveLiveExplore. I’m happy I can put this passion into practice in a number of forums — through Escape, my writing and other projects. And it’s a bit surreal what can happen when you dream a little and chug forward purposefully with that dream swirling in the ether above you.