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 off..kids 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 again..at 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.)
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 Amazon.com. 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 reading...you're obviously already a student of life!
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