What do we consider success to be?

Bird Droppings May 28, 2013
What do we consider success to be?

“Most of the people we call successful are not twice as smart, or twice as able, as the rest of the field. Indeed, if they are only 10 percent more proficient, this is generally more than enough to give them a consistent edge.” Sydney J. Harris, Strictly Personal

One of those moments that make teaching worthwhile was just recently as I was going over grades before school finished up and students were getting their progress reports and it hit me. I have a graphic organizer for Learning Focused School folks that essentially explains their grades, each student lists their grades and classes and why they have that grade and what can they do different to better it. One student who last year had failed nearly every class had all A’s and was on cloud nine. But what can you do to keep it up and even do better?
As I read Sydney J. Harris’s comment this morning often it is not a great deal more just a little bit and so many times people choose to not do it. I am passing that’s all that matters and sadly just a tad bit more effort would be an A.

“A young person, to achieve, must first get out of his mind any notion either of the ease or rapidity of success. Nothing ever just happens in this world.” Edward William Bok

“The road to success runs uphill.” Willie Davis

It does take more to be successful than to simply pass or be average. Some are content as I hear every day I am passing that is all that matters but really are they happy just passing. For that moment that brief second of not doing that extra bit to get an A maybe they are but in the end as they see jobs and dollars lessen, because an employer doesn’t just want average when great is available.

“The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it’s the same problem you had last year.” John Foster Dulles

“Success is relative. It is what we can make of the mess we have made of things.” T. S. Elliot

“To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

I have used Emerson’s definition of success many times in class and in Bird Droppings and each time it is so much truer. Success is relative, it is going that bit further than what is expected and what may be even more than you thought possible when you started. It is sorting out the debris cleaning up the mess we make as Elliot states.

“When I am delivering my very best, then that is when I feel successful.” Art Fettig

“It is only as we develop others that we permanently succeed.” Harvey S. Firestone

So often it is comparison, we see success in competition, and we see success in achievement. As I sat here thinking can we be successful within our own right by ourselves and I look back at Emerson’s definition which is a self-fulfilling success.

“Successful people are successful because they form the habits of doing those things that failures don’t like to do.” Albert Gray

“Strategy is a style of thinking, a conscious and deliberate process, an intensive implementation system, the science of insuring future success.” Pete Johnson

Back a few days ago I mentioned my philosophy of filling a liter bottle sort of a teaching strategy. Teaching is more than just details or content. Teaching is where to find and how to find instead the answer instead of giving a thousand answers. When we only have a liter and we have three gallons of information what goes in has to be special. Strategies are that style of thinking, a process and implementation system as Johnson says. Several years back I would study for tests on the way to Athens, a 45 minute drive using key thoughts rather than details.

“There are no secrets to success. It is the result of preparation, hard work, learning from failure.” Colin Powell

Hopefully my next progress reports will be a point of reference not a destination for students and parents and we can build on that rather than tear down. But for today as for many years now please keep all in harm’s way on your mind and in your heart and always give thanks namaste.

A de (Skee)

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