Today would have been Malcolm X’s 83rd birthday. He was killed 44 years ago, which means he’s been dead longer than he was alive. To many, he still lives on, but as these years fly by, his image is in danger of getting smaller and smaller in society’s rearview mirror.
If Malcolm X taught me anything, it’s that college is overrated. Don’t get me wrong, some of my best friends went to college. I was exposed to some wonderful people and experiences I never would have known if I hadn’t had the opportunity to get a formal education.
Malcolm X never got a bachelor or master degree, but he was truly great. There’s no correlation between going to college and being great. In fact, if you’re not careful, college will set you up to be mediocre.
Malcolm X didn’t have a diploma, but he had a purpose, a destiny, a difference that he could make in the world, and he went for it fearlessly. He also had superior intellect and a thirst for knowledge, two things that most college students ironically lack.
In his prime, Brother Malcolm was invited to lecture at many colleges including Columbia and Harvard. He wound up teaching the nation’s top college students without ever having gone himself.
The lesson–whether or not you earned your degree has no bearing on your ultimate prospects for success. Spend too much time staring at your diploma (or crying because you never got it), and you won’t have enough energy to fulfill your destiny.
I plan to fulfill mine. In fact, I am fulfilling it; it’s like a juggernaut gaining momentum everyday. To fulfill yours, stop thinking about how little or much school you have and let yourself be inspired by the greats who came before you. Try reading The Death and Life of Malcolm X by Peter Goldman. It really paints Malcolm as one of the larger-than-life leaders of the 20th century who was at the same time often naive and vulnerable, like you and me. I read it in grad school, not that it matters.