Progress and Success

Bird Droppings September 2, 2010
Progress and Success
“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 worth while happened a few days back. I was going over grades that students were getting on progress reports. I have a graphic organizer for Learning Focus School folks that essentially explains the students 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 was my question? As I read 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 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 more true. Success is relative it is going that bit further than what is expected and what may be even more than you thought possible when 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 in comparison we see success and in competition we see success. 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 weeks I mentioned my philosophy of filling a liter bottle. The strategy is teaching the way to more so than details teaching where to find and how to in stead of a thousand answers. When we only have a liter and we have three gallons of information what goes in has to be special. Learning strategies that style of thinking, that process and implementation system as Johnson says. Several years back I would study for tests on the way to Athens a 45 minutes 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 when we give out progress reports in a few weeks it will be a point of reference not a destination for students and parents and we can build on that rather than tear down. So for this day ahead please keep al in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.

Trying to Succeed!

Bird Droppings August 16, 2010
Trying to succeed!

“Succeeding is not really a life experience that does that much good. Failing is a much more sobering and enlightening experience.” Michael Eisner

I wonder when a multibillionaire makes a statement like that how much meaning is in it. However as I read over the statement there is exceedingly a great amount of truth to it. It is not the succeeding that teaches it is the failures where we learn how to succeed in life. This is almost a paradox yet as we go about doing whatever it is we are doing we keeping going till we succeed. When we fail we simply try another way and or correct the failure. It is difficult to instill this in teenagers who feel they must either immediately succeed without effort or they just quit.

“When a man has done his best, has given his all, and in the process supplied the needs of his family and his society, that man has made a habit of succeeding.” Mack R. Douglas

“Perseverance is failing nineteen times and succeeding the twentieth.” Julie Andrews

Success is linked to failure; it requires failure to show that you have succeeded. This seems to be the prevalent thought. I do think it also requires us to be seeking success. This could be having a goal an object in mind and striving for that goal.

“One secret of success in life is for a man to be ready for his opportunity when it comes.” Benjamin Disraeli

What is deemed as success is also important for each of us that in its self could be significantly different. I have a student who if you would ask what is success he would answer always with “money”. For him money is everything, you buy happiness and success. If you have money you are successful. Perhaps in his family he has been told this or lived this way all his life that money is the most important thing in life.

“Success is going from failure to failure without a loss of enthusiasm.” Winston Churchill

As I read and find further quotes it seems great thinkers have equated success with finally achieving whatever goal it was they were attempting and always they define and address success with failure. But Sir Winston Churchill adds enthusiasm. “without a loss of enthusiasm”. Success is not just achieving but continuing and not stopping.

“Try not to become a man of success, but rather try to become a man of value.” Albert Einstein

I so often wonder what great thinkers think at times. I have always liked this statement from Einstein which seems to be in contrast to so many others, yet it may only be a use of the word. It is about not stopping. It is about failure but getting up and trying again. It is not just money or about money. You must be ready for it and far more greater than just succeeding in life is leading a life of value. As I look back on our recent holiday when we celebrate and honor our veterans, and our current armed forces.
So often in war it is about winning, success is defeating the foe. I tend to think as I look at Einstein’s words; it really is not success to simply win. Success is about our values about who we are. So perhaps we should rethink what it is we do as we do battle. Is there an alternative, a different way to succeed without war without armies and strife? Maybe one day we can honor our veterans and sing songs about their service to our country and to us and not have to be thinking about those in harms way. For through value we have succeeded in ending war as a means of solving human issues. Maybe one day we will be always looking back at history as we celebrate and not be concerned about the now. Perhaps our failures will show us the way. But for today a first day of a new school year and if you will please keep all in harms way on your mind and in your hearts.