Thursday, July 16, 2009

Become the Smartest person you know

Become the Valedictorian of your life…. How to become the smartest person you know and avoid life’s potential pitfalls.

Unfortunately, after high school, college, graduate school, many of us put our student status on hiatus. Did you know you have an opportunity to become the Valedictorian of your life?

I remember sitting at one of my son's T-ball games observing a 6 year old boy throw a tantrum at second base because another child had made the out at HIS base. He ripped off his hat, threw his glove at the coach, stomped his feet and started screaming..."It's not fair! It's not fair!" He did this not once, not twice, but three times during the same game.
Where were his parents you might ask? Sitting in the stands yelling, “Ryan, behave! Ryan, get up! Ryan, stop it!” They were embarrassed and frustrated. Yet, Ryan would do this at every game. And every game his parents responded with the same techniques. Obviously, it’s time to try a new approach. How about with swift and deliberate action, grabbing the kid by the arm and dragging him from the field to the car and straight home? Why shout at him from the stands this week when that didn’t work last week? If what you're doing is not effective, try another method until you’ve found the one that is. Once you find what works, be consistent. Unfortunately many parents are only consistent in trying. They try. They try and they try consistently. They try to get a better result using the same ineffective methods. I have two kids. They didn't come with manuals. They both very different. The approach that works with one, rolls off the back of the other. To top it are like elephants. Give in once (even if it's to get out of the store without an embarrassing world class meltdown) and they’ll remember it...and try it again!

It’s interesting to me that some of the most responsible of parents struggle daily with tantrum throwing, limit-pushing, disrespectful, combative kids. We all know these types of munchkins. Are they bad kids? Or have they just been taught by their parents that the more disruptive the behavior the more likely they are to get what they want? At a minimum they'll get some attention and for some they don't care if it's negative attention or positive attention, they just want to control Mom and Dad's attention by any means possible.

You have to credit the parents for trying! I feel their frustration. They use “time-outs” just like the other parent. They ground them for the appropriate length of time. They do their best to teach their kids right from wrong. They’re tough! They raise their voice when needed and caress and hug to reward them for positive behavior. But something is just not working! "Little Johnny is just very stubborn", they explain.

Why is it that some parents seem to have been blessed with the sweetest of well-behaved children. These kids must be wired differently. They inherently understand “no” really does mean “no”. These parents appear to rarely need to raise their voices. Of course no child is an angel, but these tykes really seem to be even tempered and obedient. The Moms and Dad's of these little cherubs seem somehow blessed with more manageable kids. So are the kids really that different or is it something subtle in the parenting?

What’s the secret?

How many of us know someone who jumps from one relationship to another? They seem to pick the wrong one time after time. Addicted to the drama and the rush of starting and ending relationships? They long for a lasting fulfilling relationship, but are never completely satisfied. They’re always looking for their lifelong soul mate, only to find yet another looser, someone who treats them poorly, doesn't treat them with respect or they find a great person and they dump 'em...because.."he's too nice!"

Yet, others seem to find the perfect match on the first try. They share interest, a mutual respect, happiness, partnership and a lasting romance. So were the stars aligned for these lucky souls, or does luck really have anything to do with it?

What’s the secret?

I know so many hard working people who put in 10 to 18 hours a day, six or more days a week, but never climb out from under a mountain of debt. They drive nice cars, but they’re not extravagant. They live in modest homes and take occasional vacations. Some enjoy what they have and resolve to save some money as soon as there’s a little something extra. They work tirelessly to get ahead of the cycle and plan to save as soon as things turn around. Yet month after month they find themselves upside down.

Conversely, I know millionaires who drive 10 year old cars, wear the same sweater they did in 1991, live in a modest home, free and clear. Their neighbors may have no idea the guy next door is a millionaire because he doesn’t collect the common possessions of status. This guy enjoys the privileges of wealth, but spends reasonably and invests and saves with the greater fervor than most.

What’s the secret?

Success in black and white:
Luck plays a small part in the success equation of life. In the last 15 years, I’ve made myself a student of successful people. I study other’s success in business, in marriage, in money, in parenting, in decorating, in hiring the right people, in time management, in sales, in fitness, in communication and in friendship.

The wisest of people are life long students. They realize how little they know and find joy in uncovering life’s mysteries through the research, opinions and writings of others. In this day of instant information it’s simply unnecessary to suffer needlessly with any one problem when someone has made a life’s work in solving it. Regardless the quandary, someone has written a book on the matter.

So, what’s the secret? It’s simple. Read.

Hit the books. Become the valedictorian of your life!

When I was having difficulties with my kids I read “How to behave so your children will too!” by Sal Severe. When I realized that I knew little about investments and wanted to make better financial decisions, I read everything I could find by Suze Orman. Curious what makes the difference between Millionaires and the average guy, I read, “The Millionaire Next Door” and “The Millionaire Mind”, "Rich Dad Poor Dad", and then everything I could find by Brian Tracy.

When it comes to personal relationships and making better decisions in life I’ve read seven of Dr. Laura Schlesinger’s books. You don't have to agree with everything she says to find some wonderful pearls of wisdom. I loved “The Proper Care and Feeding of Husbands.” My marriage is more important that my bank account or fitness or just about anything, so I devote a great deal of time to reading books to keep my relationship strong. When Bret and I have an"off" the worlds feels like it's rotating sideways. I can't imagine feeling that way for days, weeks, months and years and not taking action. My friend and family relationships are equally important in helping me feel balanced. "The Five Love Languages For Families" and all of the books in Dr. Gary Chapman's series are fantastic.

Sometimes it's not that I read something ground breaking...just a good reminder, something I needed to hear that exact moment!

I love a good challenge. I love the conquer! I recently committed to address a huge character flaw that I had suffered from all my life.... True confession.. I used to be chronically late (notice past tense). I know that you are either one of those always early or usually late kind of people. I also know that those who are always on time would like to KILL most of us who are chronically late. My husband believes if you're not 10 minutes early, you're late. Yet, for years he's just kind of dealt with my attempts to be exactly on time, which often resulted in being late! I googled he topic and found great reviews about a book entitled, "Never Be Late Again" Diana Delonzor. Wow! Eye opening and so simple to fix, once you understand what type of late person you are!

40 years later and after one great book, I now can call myself an on-time person! I can't say that I'm 100% cured, but since reading "the book" 2 months ago, there have been just a few infractions! Not bad. (Now, special request... I will write in detail about the process of learning not to be late. So save your "I hate late people. They are ruuuuuuude and should burn in hell" comments for that blog.)

The lesson...
Be a student for life. The more you learn, the more you’ll realize the how little you knew.

I seek out the experts on topics of interests or shortcomings and hear what they have to say. It will save you time, money and heartache. Learn to identify the things you could be doing better, professionally and personally. Create the life you want to lead.

Wise words can help you put problems into perspective, fix nagging trouble and help you to avoid repeating destructive or ineffective behaviors. Any answer you need can be found in black and white, if you’ll only take the time to read.

Finding the time:
You’re a pretty busy person. When are you going to find time to read? How about books on tape or CD? Why not become a student in your car? Have you ever spent more than 5 minutes in the bathroom? I love my Kindle from It holds hundreds of books, allows me to save highlights, write notes, and keeps track of what I've read and when. It's smaller than a standard book so it's always in my purse. You never know when you might show early to a lunch date and have a few minutes to kill while you wait for someone who has yet to read "Never Be Late Again".
If you're an aggressive book reader (like me) then a Kindle will save you a bundle. It has some shortcomings, but the speed and increased frequency of my reading far outweighs the little glitches. I love the Kindle.

Reading doesn't mean setting aside an hour. Read anytime you can steal away 5 minutes! How about on each commercial break during your favorite program? Forgo your favorite magazine at your next nail appointment. You don’t have to read a book cover to cover to gain valuable insight. Sometimes a single sentence can make a life changing difference.

Thanks for're obviously already a student of life!


If you've read a great self improvement book, please leave your post here! If you enjoyed reading my blog, please subscribe to be notified of more and take a peek at previous entries from previous months.

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screwdestiny said...

Very good advice. I've always loved reading and learning new things, but it seems like for so many people once they get out of school they don't bother learning anything new. It's like, "Thank goodness we're done with *that*!" But what you said was very true, and something everyone should follow.

digimom said...

I love my Kindle also, and it goes with me everywhere! I never leave home without it in my purse, because there is always a wait some where along the way and I like to be busy every second I am awake!

Now I am trying to save up money for one of those amazing BodyBuggs that are the RAGE right now!


Nicki W. said...

hey chalene!

so good to find your blog today! i am a texas TURBO KICK instructor! holla at your texas gals!!

i have been blogging for 4+ years and have never received a negative comment until yesterday!!! i recently lost all of my {2nd} baby weight and posted all about it on my blog--i am pretty darn candid about most things in my life! i am a small, petite person and the # on the scale really rubbed a few people the wrong way. it inspired many to workout and get on the right track, but man, those few negatives really hurt!!!! my intent was to encourage, inspire and cheer on others who were in the same boat. it really broke my heart to think i offended people by documenting a journey--if you are bored (wink wink) you should read all the comments. pretty crazy how it struck a nerve with some.

anywho, all that to say, i saw something about perspective on your facebook page and it was just what i needed! thanks for being such an encourager and investing in our lives!

pump, slap, xoxo

Alice said...

Thanks for that post Chalene!

Shantelle said...

Excellent point Chalene! I've only just recently realized that myself and starting reading...I highly recommend "The Power of Intention" by Dr. Wayne Dyer...great book! As well, just wanted to let you know how much you have influenced my life for the better thanks to your positive outlook on life...thank you!!!

Nicki W. said...

THANK YOU for commenting on my blog! i told the hubs it was the equivalent to mike krzyzewski sending him a personal email! :) it really meant a lot that you took the time to do that and read all the shananagans that arose. from now on, all negatives will be deleted and forgotten! and no more bantering back and fourth--truly exhausting and not rewarding in the least!!!

ok, gotta decide if i want to teach 37 or kick it old school with my students!


Tammy said...

Thanks so much for this Chalene! It really is true that you can change your life by reading books - how simple!

Tara said...

Chalene, thanks so much for these suggestions--I'm going to be checking my library for these titles this weekend! (I have thought about the Kindle, but I really do love the feel of a book in my hands. . .)

Good book on goal-setting: "The Magic Lamp," by Keith Ellis. He talks about how you can have anything you want, basically, if you learn how to set realistic goals and work towards them. Tony Horton highly recommended this one. :)

Anyway, again, thanks for the advice & recommendations! You are an inspiration in SO many ways to so many people, and believe me, we appreciate it.

Melissa Henning said...

not so sure if it's a "self improvement" book, but reading Babywise a month after I had my son (almost 3 years ago) changed my life, and helped me to give my new infant son the security he needed to grow into a happy toddler. It's a controversial book and I read reviews about it, so I didn't take everything to heart. I did learn about scheduling and how that can make someone who is new to the world feel secure and feel free to grow. Great book and I recommend it to all new mothers or mothers who are jumping back into the preggy game after a long time :).

The Wolfgangs said...

"I seek out the experts on topics of interests or shortcomings and hear what they have to say. It will save you time, money and heartache. Learn to identify the things you could be doing better, professionally and personally. Create the life you want to lead."

Wow, this is so true and so underutilized by the general public...This entire post was so refreshing and surprisingly similar to the principles I've learned thru a leadership team my husband and I are a part of. You might like to check out these links:)

Fellow avid reader,
TEAM MonaVie

Miss said...

I use to be a people pleaser until I watched Oprah and she had an author who wrote a book about how to stop the people pleasing. This book was very helpful and now I'm not stressed out from trying to please everybody with no time for myself.

misstsapinay said...

That's great advice. Now if only more people could follow it...I've read several self improvement books, but the two that really stick out in my mind are "Toxic People" by Dr. Lillian Glass and "Women Who Love Too Much" by Robin Norwood. "Toxic People" basically explains those people in your life that are toxic but you just learn to accept their behavior, because "that's just how they are." I've made a mistake in my past to just settle with friends and boyfriends who I knew said or did things to make me feel bad, but I just went along with it for fear of upsetting them. The book explained that no one deserves to be flaked on, talked down to, etc. As for those people in my life who I found related to the book, I had to "detox" my life and completely cut them out. They weren't positive people to be around, and I'm much happier now without them :) As for "Women Who Love Too Much," the book talks about how events in a woman's life effects the type of partner that she chooses later on in life. It explains why someone would choose someone who cheats and stay with them, why someone would choose a domestic abuser, basically...why some women would choose a bad partner, but feel obligated to stay with them. It's really interesting to read. After I read it, it definitely made me think twice about the guys who I chose to date. I'm lucky, though. I have a great fiance and we're getting married next year!

EM :) said...

Hey Chalene! LOVE your posts! Always!

Here is one of my FAVORITE books. I've read it over & over. It's such a quick read I highly recommend it!
It's very cool in the way it's written; almost like a novel. BUT, the idea & concept hit me HARD! And now I read it anytime I find myself getting "short" with others. Oh, its so good, you've gotta Kindle it!!


EM :)

Kim said...

So, i'm not sure if it is a "self-improvement" book, but one of the most inspiring books I have ever read was "The Wisdom of Forgiveness" by His Holiness The Dalai Lama and Victor Chan. It reinforced everything that I have felt over the years of not passing on my misery, and how to have a happy and healthy emotional well being. How negative emotions only make you feel bad, and make you more negative.

I am now recommending it to every one of my friends. Maybe you would like it too!