Don’t be fooled by the title; nothing in the world is truly free. Energetically, there’s always an exchange. In the case of these resources, the trade will be your attention, focus, your intelligence and commitment to utilize what’s provided.

The current pandemic is slowing the economy down and keeping people at home. Activities we were used to having are halted. There’s a stationary energy present where most of us are in one place for multiple days at a time.

Observing some of the social media content, this is becoming increasingly unpleasant for some. Mental health impacted. The desire to be among people: stifled. It’s a shift that is challenging how we view lifestyle and culture.

Changes & Transformations

There is alchemy to make in every experience.

The Chinese character weiji or “crisis” has the double meaning “opportunity” and “danger.” The difference between the fear and the fearlessness about an experience is an individual’s mindset.

The alchemist recognizes there are two sides to a coin, and multiple perspectives to adopt in a given situation. Going deeper…how we speak about something influences how we feel about it, with all of the corresponding biochemical reactions related to it. Where we place our attention determines the perspective we gain. The same hand held in front of us can show its front or back depending on where are our eyes look.

Being in solitude, or at least being in one place for several weeks at a time can feel like torture, or it can be an opportunity to grow.

It can feel like social starvation, or it can be a vehicle for contemplation.

A nagging hunger for external stimulation, or aspiration for personal evolution.

I propose of the many experiences we can have during this time, one is to take advantage of the time and increase education.

Jobs Shifting & Education

This really is not news, but the impact is more visible because the pandemic (and economic foolishness) is more pronounced now. Job markets are changing, and with this current U.S. unemployment count somewhere in the 16 millions in about 3 weeks, it should ring a bell in those with ears to hear: many of these jobs are not returning, and those who refuse to upgrade skills will be left behind. This isn’t the time to waste time.

The motivation to expand education ought not to be just reflexive, just to go work in someone’s company, but as a spiritual aspiration to become better, more valuable and a greater version of self. The side effects of investing time to increase education tend to be better job prospects, increased compensation and all of the usual features that come with developing as a professional.

As we know here at The Crown, education just doesn’t mean school knowledge. It means skills, professional competence and internal cultivation (self-knowledge) that make us a more valuable being within the environments we live.

Education from a Distance

Remote learning is one resource. Institutions across the country shifted into virtual learning a few weeks ago and I anticipate this is going to become normalcy. College students were booted out of dorms so they could learn online. Some young children now struggle with keeping up in learning because of tech resource scarcity.

Child, teenager or adult, learning will likely include some digital component given the amount of resources being tossed at schools and universities to make this “temporary” transition.

Bowen recently launched their virtual platform that appears to “house” their entire university curriculum. Imagine the institution investing all of the resources to make this happen just to have students return to a physical campus in a few weeks, totally setting this model (and the currency) aside. I doubt it.

Electronic Libraries for Education

I personally prefer the physical books, but E-books can also be useful if moving about or you may want swift access to a few texts at a time. Z Library considers itself the world’s largest E-book storehouse. You can find millions of texts and download for “free.” Your attention and learning ability will be needed.

450 Ivy League Courses

Hundreds of courses are available through Class Central, ranging from business to history to programming. Take your pick. I recommend picking one or a hundred, but take your time and not learn them by the hundreds. Perhaps one or two at a time so you maintain focus and learning depth.

75 Coursera Certificates

While full degrees can be beneficial in professional pursuits, these are not the only paths to cultivate knowledge and skills. Professionals already established in industries may not have the time to invest 2-4 additional years in a university; it would require work sacrifice, family interruption or other reasons.

Certificates are shorter, more targeted experiences that hone in on specific skill sets. Complete the program and you receive a certification or certificate of completion.  Distance learning certificate programs also tend to be asynchronous: you can work on your time and at your own pace.

If you are not an established professional, short-term certificates can build your portfolio by demonstrating specific skill acquisition. Like designing your own map or fashion aesthetic, you have more agility with choosing which topics to learn and molding those skills in a way that transform you into a unique contributor in your field.

I acquired an etiquette certificate for example, because my business and work in education is essentially a people business, and delivering elite-level communication at all times is a personal standard. I’m not focusing on opening doors or setting dinner tables for people, but eloquence and elegance serve my standard for standing out.

Coursera is an established organization offering courses, certificates and full-fledged degrees using this distance-learning model.

The educators and qualifications are also from established institutions, so if you never had the chance to attend Yale in the flesh, you can probably obtain a Yale certificate by enrolling through Coursera.

Right now there are 75 certificate courses being offered free of charge. Visit here.

As with all free experiences, you know what the trade truly is.

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