Why free (learning) sucks

The answer is simple: because everything is energy, and your results are a direct result of your investment.

Spending money is simply one form of investing energy – it says “I have skin in the game.” It’s also an excellent example of the transfer of energy, because typically you’ve exerted a different form of energy (say, time spent at your day job) to acquire the funds you use to do other things…it’s like potential energy becoming kinetic energy.

But let’s put a pin in that thought, and come back to it in a moment.

What was the last thing you received for “free?” Think about the context in which it was given to you, and how you perceived its value. A birthday card in the mail is thoughtful; a marketing card in the post goes directly to the recycling. Both items may have been sent with the intention of offering something to me…the difference is that one touches my heart and adds value to my life, while the other was wasted effort that only contributes to global warming.

The same is true about learning these days. With great thanks to the world wide web, there is enormous opportunity to get in your inbox and convince you that free/online learning is the answer to all of life’s problems. The question is whether that content is actually adding value to your life, or if it’s merely a drain on your resources.

There is more accessibility to free content now than there ever has been before. While this could easily be perceived as (read: marketed as) abundance, it is unfortunately also noisy and crowded. There is a lack of trust in knowing just which “free” course to take — which will actually provide value, and which is the first slippery step into a sales funnel.

As a result, you will probably start many courses or ebooks, and if you’re lucky, you’re one of the 7% who will actually finish what you’ve begun. And the reality is that none of it is actually free because time is money — you’ve wasted your time skimming the surface without getting any real value or results. That loss of energy is where the real cost of “free” exists.

Beyond free learning, there are no shortage of courses that fall in the bucket of “5 coffee content” — meaning for the price of only 5 lattes you can purchase an online course with the promise to learn something new.

The problem is that the completion rate when someone has paid $25-$50 for an online training program isn’t much better than a free course, meaning the vast majority of online learning is incomplete. If you have yet to see a finish line, you haven’t actually gotten a great deal…your time and money have been wasted.

A gift can be a beautiful gesture. It is meant to be an exchange of energy that says I’m thinking about you, I care, I love you or perhaps I want to celebrate you! It should be given without expectation, and with the sole purpose of adding value to someone’s life.

Yet learning is a choice. Investing in yourself or your leaders is worth putting skin in the game. Developing the ability to lead winning teams deserves higher odds than a 2-7% completion rate, and the only way to get there is to commit to training!

From education to Ironmans, I’ve never met a free finish line — they’ve all come at the cost of sweat equity and financial commitment — and every single one has been worth it.

Meet Steph. She is a force. She is a firecracker. She is a lover of love.

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Manager Training
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