Blog Post #434 Becoming Remarkable

Coaching for Life Success: Becoming Remarkable.

Seth Godin talked about becoming ‘remarkable’ in his book Purple Cow.  As Godin presented the concept, he and his family were in France and as they drove they noticed all the cows in the fields.  So colorful, idyllic so they thought. But as their drive continued, they didn’t even notice the cows – the cows were now ‘commonplace’.  He makes the point that the only cows that would have appeared on their radar at that point would have to be really different – like Purple Cows.  

The idea of a purple cow is really to be REMARKABLE – to stand out among the others.  

Do you need to be a purple cow?  How are you going to stand out with the over 7.2 BILLION people on this planet?

So, how do you become remarkable?

It isn’t really from the appearance – a purple cow would still out; a college graduate in a job interview in a purple suit (maybe with a bright orange tie) would stand out, and would probably not be hired (“too weird”).  

So, some thoughts on being remarkable:

  • Be great in your field (see previous discussions on ‘good to great’)
  • Have a great attitude
  • Have experiences that make you remarkable
  • Have a great personality

Be great in your field:  Okay, when you graduate, it is going to be really hard to be recognized for being great in your field.  For discussion’s sake, let’s say you are an accounting major. How can you be recognized for being great in your field?  Good Grades? Maybe. Great faculty recommendations? Maybe. Great internship experiences? Maybe. Service in the community to non-profits or to third world countries?  Maybe.

How about some out-of-the-ordinary ways to be remarkable?  Could you publish an academic paper with a professor that gets into an academic journal?  How many undergraduates are published in academic journals? (Not many).

Could you develop and implement an accounting system for non-profit organizations that wins recognition in a competition?

Could you work with a computing student to develop a new and innovative way for secure payment processing, maybe for secure payment on a smartphone using your finger login component?

Could you work with a government agency (like the Internal Revenue Service or FBI) to fully analyze fraudulent accounting reports?  Or work with the Small Business Administration to set accounting systems for new businesses – especially for those who have no accounting background.

Have a Great Attitude:

Having a great attitude is almost always remarkable.  We go through life with the ‘average’ folks, so seeing somebody smile, somebody says “have a nice day” and really, really mean it, to stop and listen to the person you are talking with.  

Have remarkable experiences:  

Some of the remarkable experiences can go with your major field, but you can have others.   Work in a soup kitchen, climb Mount Everest, do marathons and triathlons, take a Boy Scout troop (or others) wilderness camping for three weeks, organize a community-wide event.  There are many ways to be remarkable and to demonstrate it.

Have a Great Personality:

Having a great attitude is part of having a great personality.  Think of people who are very personable. People you’d like to just sit and talk to.  How can you be that ‘instant’ friend and person that people will recognize quickly and say “Definitely a team player and definitely one that we’d love to have on our team”.

Things to think about

  • Think about what you can do to be remarkable – to be a ‘purple cow’ in a black-and-white cow world.  Write an essay about how you are going to make yourself remarkable this year.
  • Develop goals to become remarkable

Quote for today – being remarkable sometimes can get you in trouble: “If you are too afraid to offend anyone, then I’m afraid you may not be able to do anything remarkable” ― Bernard Kelvin Clive


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Good to Great

Coaching for Life Success – Good to Great

Today’s lesson overlaps attitude and goals.  

Jim Collins is the author of one of my favorite business books “Good to Great”.  The concept is really seen even in the title. Good is okay (maybe), but we should strive for GREAT.  There is a world of difference between: it was a good dinner and it was a GREAT dinner. Likewise: that was a good paper and that was a GREAT paper.  And again: I got good service at the restaurant and I got GREAT service at the restaurant.

Great is ‘nailing it’.  Great is going the extra mile, doing the extra things that really make the activity memorable.  

If you want to get to your BHAG, you need to be GREAT.  

So, how do you get to be great?

  1. Set your attitude to ‘great’
  2. Don’t waste time
  3. Keep the end in mind
  4. Dig deeper, analyze more
  5. Don’t settle for good when you can be great

Let’s look at these concepts:

  1. Set your attitude to ‘great’.

Yes, attitude is the main part of GREAT.  You have to believe you can be great, you have to put that deep in your brain to be great.  In most jobs and activities, there will be barriers to breakthrough. If you get stopped too easily, you won’t get to great.  Push through and keep your brain focused on GREAT.

  1. Don’t waste time.

I’m not a big TV watcher.  While recreation and fun have to be part of life, to get to great you have to put the time and effort into it.  For me TV is a waste of time. While it can be fun and even educational to watch some television, in many cases, that hour (or two hours or four hours) in front of the television keeps you from achieving some other tasks towards your goal.  When I taught high school, I only went into the faculty lounge to get coffee and then back to my classroom to work on lessons. I know farmers who in the off season are fixing fences, doing analyses of crops and new techniques. Yes, there should be a vacation in that off season, but even then – the off season is a time to gear up for the new season.  My high school teaching was in a rural area. Some farmers spent their time at the café or the tavern during the off season, while others (and generally the more successful ones) spent their off season time being productive.

  1. Keep the end in mind

If you haven’t done it, read Steven Covey’s 7 Habits of Highly Effective People.  One of Covey’s habits is keep the end in mind. There is an adage “If you don’t know where you are going, any road will take you there”.  Be focused. Read your goals daily. Know what you want and work towards it.

  1. Dig deeper, analyze  more

Sometimes on the surface, we can comprehend things fairly well, but to really understand you have to really dig deeper.  For example, the stock market has swings, and analysts go deeper to understand trends and the reasons behind them. Asking “why” is a good tool to find the root cause of events.

  1. Don’t settle for good when you can get to great.

There are times to settle for okay.  For example, you like music and you have played in a band or orchestra.  But, music is not going to be your career. Being a good trumpet player in the band may put you on the second or third trumpet part.  You can enjoy being part of the ensemble without all the practice of being the first trumpet player. But, when you are passionate about something, you need to press to great.  Are you happy being an ‘average’ jogger, or are you aiming for track records? Are you happy with being a good accountant, but you are passionate about accounting and want to be great?  Settling for ‘good’ when you can get to great is like getting a “B” or a “C” grade when you know you could have an “A” – and not just an “A”, but the top grade in the class if you really worked at it.

Review your goals from previous blog posts:  Take your primary BHAG and do an in-depth analysis of what you will have to do to reach that goal. What would it take to be GREAT – one of the tops in the field you choose?

Reflective – are you committed to being great?  

What is your passion towards your goals – just ‘good’ or ‘exceptional’ (that is ‘great’)?

And a quote from Mark Twain: ““Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” 


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Goals #4 – SMART Goals part 2

Coaching for Life Success – Goals #4 SMART Goals


I have been blogging about goals.  Yesterday we looked at SMART Goals, today we look at the ART in SMART Goals – attainable, relevant and time-bound

SMART is an acronym for:
Specific Goals
Measurable Goals
Attainable Goals
Relevant Goals
Time-Bound Goals

Today, let’s start with Attainable.  Basically, that means the goal can be reached.  Looking at the losing weight goal. By September 30, 2018, I will weigh no more than 200 pounds.  Specific – yes; measurable – yes. The attainable is potentially not available if you weigh 350 pounds.  Losing 150 pounds in a month is not possible.

Or by March 31, 2020, I will climb to the top of Mt. Everest and back down with a group of serious mountain climbers, in a well-planned, well-funded expedition.  Again, specific and measurable. Too bad you are a quadriplegic and can’t walk a mile, let alone climb the world’s highest mountain.

So, the question is:  Can the goal be attained?  (Or … can YOU reach the goal).  

Can you be named as “Mother of the Year” by your local PTA group by June 2025?  Assuming you are a mother and can volunteer with your local PTA, and also are a great person, yes, that seems to be attainable.

Can you be named “Teacher of the Year” by your school district by June 2025?  Again, putting some assumptions in place – you are a teacher, dedicated to your job, willing to try different educational processes and again, be a great teacher, YES, that seems to be attainable.


The R is for relevant.  Is this goal relevant to you?  Is it important to you? Maybe you are an experienced mountain climber, who has climbed every other highest peak in the World (as my friend has done) but has lost the desire to give up his summer vacation (he is a single professor) to climb Mount Everest.  Yes, it is a specific goal, it is measurable, it is attainable, but to this friend, it is no longer relevant to him.

Just because your spouse wants you to lose weight doesn’t mean it is relevant to YOU.  It has to be your goal!


The T is for time-bound.  This ties very nicely to the specific part of SMART goals.  If your goal is to weigh no more than 200 pounds – but with no end date, it is vague, although measurable, it is attainable, it is relevant, but no time factor might mean that at age 98 with your body riddled with cancer, you might get to 199 pounds.  Put the time factor into your specific goals.

So, how about these goals?

Many of us have dreams or wishes – like winning the lottery; becoming the CEO of Apple; becoming the starting quarterback of the Green Bay Packers – but they are just dreams – they are not goals.  There are some things you can do to help those dreams, but the reality is that you will not win the lottery by wishing about it – or even setting as a goal. Setting a goal like:  “I will win the PowerBall lottery by December 31, 2019; to reach this goal, I will research all the winning numbers and the highest probability of five choices and the PowerBall. This research will be completed by August 31, 2019.  To win the PowerBall, I will select 10 plays using the top seven choices in a variety of combinations. I will purchase my PowerBall tickets at the XYZ convenience in Janesville Wisconsin who has sold three winning PowerBall tickets over the years.”  That is still a wish – even with a huge amount of research, you most likely will not pick the right numbers.

You will need to commit to your goals – and work every day to reach those goals.

Things to work on:

So, refine your goals (again).  Make them totally into SMART goals.  

I am 71 years old as I write this.  I have reached all of my major goals – professor, outstanding educator, reaching financial goals, spiritual goals, fitness and weight goals, professional goals.  I have set them with SMART phrasing and written them on an index card that is in my billfold that I review at least once daily so they become part of my mindset.

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SMART Goals #3

Coaching for Life Success – Goals #3 SMART Goals

I have been blogging about goals.  Today a look at a specific goal setting technique – SMART Goals.

SMART is an acronym for:
Specific Goals
Measurable Goals
Attainable Goals
Relevant Goals
Time-Bound Goals

Let’s look at the first two concepts today – SPECIFIC and MEASURABLE

Specific goal:  If you are in college maybe you have a ‘goal’ of ‘getting good grades this semester’; maybe you have a goal of ‘losing weight’.  Unless you are working on these ‘goals’, they are only wishes. I have a goal to have a comfortable income in a job I enjoy sounds good, but if I am not working on it, again, it is only a wish.

Let’s look at this goal:  By December 31st, I will weigh no more than 200 pounds.  Isn’t that more specific than ‘I want to lose weight? (That is assuming that you are over 200 pounds).

By December 31st, 2020 (two years in the future as I write this), I will have a permanent job with a company I like and respect, making at least $60,000 a year before taxes, in Dallas Texas.  Sure it isn’t quite as specific as “By December 31st, 2020, I will be working for Ernst and Young in Dallas Texas making $64,259 before taxes; living in a great apartment, with a short commute”.  (The second would be more specific)

The more specific your goals are, the better it is.  Specific goals give us a definite purpose. President John Kennedy gave us a specific goal “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the earth”   (see:  Kennedy continued with specific funding considerations, weather satellites and more.  

If you are playing basketball there is a specific goal – put the ball into the basket.  Let’s say you are learning archery – you can shoot your arrows at a lot of things, the specific goal is to get a bull’s eye on the target.  

The concept of a specific goal is that you can reach it or not – that is – is it measurable.

So, the second aspect of SMART goals is whether the goal can be reached.  

Kennedy’s goal was measurable – we did it – or we didn’t make it.  When you set a SMART goal for losing weight – like by December 31st, I will weigh no more than 200 pounds – you know on December 31st if you met your goal or not.  A vague ‘wish’ might be “By December 31st I will have lost weight”. So, if you lost an ounce it would be measurable, but probably not the goal you wanted.

Tomorrow – the ART or SMART goals.

Start thinking about specific and measurable goals.  I will share some of my goals tomorrow.

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Coaching for Life Success – Goals #2

Coaching for Life Success – Goals #2

I have been blogging about goals.  Let’s think more about goals.

First – you don’t have to pursue money and a high position as goals.  Being a great father or a great mother, a great little league coach, a great teacher, a great public servant are all very good goals.  If you run a restaurant, a very appropriate goal might be to have the best customer service in town. Leaving a legacy of love and great service to mankind is an excellent goal. In my lifetime, one of the most celebrated people was one who was a Catholic nun serving the poorest of the poor in Calcutta India – Mother Teresa.  She delivered compassion, hope, healing and love. That is a worthwhile goal as well.

Second – you may have a fantastic goal. Maybe your goal is to be the CEO of Apple by 2045.  But, how many others also have that goal? If there are 130 million college students currently, the odds are very high that more than one will be highly qualified to be the Apple CEO.  If you don’t get to be the CEO of Apple, but become a senior vice president in that organization or another organization, that might be as valuable. I had a goal – to be an educator, to touch student lives, to help students reach their own goals.

Third – you will need to reevaluate your goals based on where you are and changes in your life.  Maybe as you were working your way up the corporate ladder, you volunteered for Habitat for Humanity and that really changed your viewpoint and you are considering becoming a coordinator for that organization.  (Always give back and thank those that helped you get to where you are!!!)

Fourth – don’t abandon your goals too easily.  Again taking the example of having a goal to be CEO of Apple and in your senior year of college you interview with Apple and don’t get hired.  There have been many cases of where an individual gets hired by a company for a leadership position after working up to leadership positions in another company.  And, because you ‘want’ something, doesn’t mean you are qualified and ready for it. Keep taking the steps, keep working on your goals.

Fifth – make your goals large, a challenge, but don’t make them so challenging that you can’t ever achieve them.  If you are a male 5 foot 8, it would most likely be impossible for you to be the starting center on the Boston Celtics Professional Basketball team.

Sixth – are you willing to pay the price?  Let’s say your BHAG is to be contra master (contra mistress) of the New York Philharmonic Orchestra.  To achieve that goal, you will have to practice 5 to 8 hours every day. Do you want to do that? To be the CEO of Apple, you will have to know a lot about technology, about business, about futurism and trends.  You will have to really know some many things quite well. Are you willing to take the time to REALLY learn and know the business, organization and position you are aiming for? To achieve some significant goals may mean that you have to leave your family alone for a while, work very long hours and in many cases go through divorces and family problems.

Put your thoughts into action:

Review your goals:  Take your primary BHAG and do an in-depth analysis of what you will have to do to reach that goal.  

What time commitment is needed?

What knowledge / degrees must you have?

Are you really willing to “pay the price” to reach your goal?  Will it compromise your values and ethics to get to your goal?

And … what will be your legacy?  One of ruthless ambition, one of greed, one of helping humanity, one of being ‘bigger than life’?


And a quote from Harry Browne: “Everything you want in life has a price connected to it. There’s a price to pay if you want to make things better, a price to pay just for leaving things as they are, a price for everything.” –Harry Browne


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Coaching for Life Success: Goals – Part 1

Coaching for Life Success:  Goals – Part 1
Last time, we talked about BHAG –– Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  This lesson is for setting goals.

Goals are very important.  Our opening quote is: “Life takes on meaning when you become motivated, set goals and charge after them in an unstoppable manner.”   Yes, add meaning and direction to your life by setting goals and by charging after them.

First – set high, but possible goals.  Stretch yourself. A ‘non-stretch goal’:  This semester, my goal is to get all “C’s”.  For some people setting a goal of all “A’s” would be a real stretch – but it is possible.  

Poor goal:  By age 30, I will be the CEO of Apple and making 5 million dollars a year.  Wouldn’t that be nice – but impossible (maybe by age 40 – and even then probably very difficult, but not quite impossible)

Poor goal (at least for most of us): By age 23, I will be the starting quarterback on the Green Bay Packers.  Unless you are an experienced quarterback, playing on a nationally ranked NCAA Division I football team, that goal is pretty much unreachable.  

Second – goals should have short term goals; medium range goals and long range goals.  

Short Range goals: Goals for the semester.  The best suggestion is 5 to 7 reachable (but also stretch) goals for the semester.  They can include academic, fitness and even social.

Goals for the week:  This week, I will do these goals (list)

Even goals for the day:  Today I will work on these goals (list)

Medium range goals – could be for the academic year; for your college years; for an internship, study abroad, learning a language or other goal.

Longer range goals could be for 2 to 50 years.  Long range goals should have short range and medium range goals that build up to the final long range goal.   Having a goal of being elected President of the United States in 2060 might be a good goal, but you will need several other goals along the way:  getting involved in politics, working on other campaigns, working as an aid to a congressman or other, running for a low level office, working up to national prominence, and more.  

Third – Write your goals down and carry them.  I carry my goals on a folder Post-it note in my billfold.  On flights, taxi rides, even while waiting for appointments, I can pull out my goals and affirm them in my mind.  I say them aloud to get them into my memory. Saying goals out loud uses the brain, eyes (to read), ears (to hear the goals); mouth (to speak the goals) and by using more of the body it becomes more of your entire being.  

Print them on a sheet of paper and have them in your bathroom / bedroom so you can see them when you get up and when you go to bed.  Go over them as you fall asleep.

Things to work on:

Take time to write down specific short-term, medium-term and long-range goals

Include some BHAG (Big Hairy Audacious Goals)

Put them where you can see them frequently

Review them at least five times every day.


And a quote from Abraham Lincoln: ““Adhere to your purpose and you will soon feel as well as you ever did. On the contrary, if you falter, and give up, you will lose the power of keeping any resolution, and will regret it all your life.”

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Blog #428 Coaching for Life Success – Attitude 2

Coaching for Life Success – Attitude 2

You can adjust your attitude – yes you can!!!!

It was one of ‘those’ mornings.  I got up ‘on the wrong side of the bed’. I nicked myself shaving. By the time I was ready to go, I knew it was going to be close, so skipped breakfast. I had two red lights (that seems longer than normal) as I drove to the CapMetro bus station. and as I pulled into the station, my 987 bus was leaving.  I caught the 983 bus – which stops more frequently than the express 987 bus.

I found myself being mad at myself.  I found myself grumbling to myself “if I would have gotten to bed a little earlier last night”; “if those lights would have been green”; “if I would have been more careful while shaving”.  Then I stopped my negative thoughts.

The 983 bus would still get me to campus in plenty of time for my first class.  I could stop for a quick breakfast taco at the School of Business snack bar. I would still have time for my cup of coffee.  The world was not coming to an end. Instead of reviewing my lecture in my office, I opened my laptop and reviewed it on the bus and even had a few minutes to check my email.

Like many times before and after that morning, I learned that I could (and ‘must’) adjust my attitude.  Life was good, it was going to work out.

A favorite quote from Zig Ziglar is: “You are what you are and where you are because of what has gone into your mind. You can change what you are and where you are by changing what goes into your mind.”  I needed to change MY MIND – and to change what was going into my mind – my own negative thoughts. I knew I could change my attitude – and change those negative thoughts into positive thoughts.

“I can do it” is a favorite mantra; and even better is “I will do it, with expertise, grace, and knowledge that I am on top of it”. (what ‘it’ is that I am doing).  

We sneak negative thoughts into our heads all the time – and I, for one, know that I can overcome those negative thoughts by putting positive ones in place.  

In World War II (year 1944) Bing Crosby sang “You’ve got to accentuate the positive; Eliminate the negative; Latch on to the affirmative; Don’t mess with Mister In-Between”.  

There are thousands of speakers, blogs, websites that agree on this – be positive.  Norman Vincent Peale wrote “The Power of Positive Thinking” in 1952; Tony Robbins has made millions speaking on the topic.

Today, take an hour and go out and search for positive thinking, positive attitudes, positive affirmations – that hour will pay off immensely!!

What do you think?

Could you share a story about overcoming negative thoughts below?


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Blog Post #427 BHAG

Coaching for Life Success – BHAG

This lesson introduces you to the “BHAG” – Big Hairy Audacious Goal.  Technically the term BHAG comes from Jim Collins in his book “Built to Last: Successful Habits of Visionary Companies”.

But, the concept of big, hairy, audacious goals has been around for centuries.  Columbus said “We can get to the East Indies by sailing west, not east” – and while he didn’t make it to the East Indies, he did discover a new world.  John Kennedy said “We will put a man on the moon by the end of this decade” and the USA / NASA did it. Settlers from the Old World said “we can create a new life in the Americas” and did.  The United States said “We can build a canal across Panama” and did it. Of course there were others that had big, hairy, audacious goals and didn’t achieve them. But this lesson is on creating the vision – YOUR VISION.

First, if you had a magic wand or a genie in a lamp you could rub and the genie would grant you wishes; what would be your wishes in terms of your future?  What WOULD you like to be or become? Do you want to become President of the United States? CEO of Google? CEO of Apple? Do you have goals for a family?  For advanced degrees? For doing humanitarian activities? For being the best in some category? For climbing the highest peak on each continent? For going to the moon?  For flying your own airplane solo? For being in the Olympics? There are obvious a lot of things you COULD be – but for each one of us, we can have a BHAG. (One of the author’s big goals is to get this published and have it be a significant self-help document for college students and pre-college students.)

Now, big hairy audacious goals don’t just happen.  For example, it doesn’t happen that yesterday a person was an average 30 year old high school math teacher in rural Iowa with two kids, a job and a mortgage and today, that person is the President of Citigroup.  

First you need to set an ambitious goal – or … a BIG goal, a HAIRY (maybe even ‘hairy scary’) goal; an AUDACIOUS goal.  Now there is a difference between a goal and a wish. I’d like to win the PowerBall Lottery. That is a wish – there is little you can do to achieve that goal, other than buy tickets – and theoretically the more tickets you buy, the better your chances, but even with a 100 tickets your changes are still very low.  

To achieve a goal, you have to have a definable goal – what exactly are you looking to achieve?  The more specific the better (more on goals in later lessons). A goal to be rich is still more of a wish, a goal to have $1 million in investments and banks by age 45 is better defined.  A goal to be the starting quarterback on the Dallas Cowboys might be a real goal, but if you are not much of a football player that is probably only a wish.

Then you need to work on that goal.  When President Kennedy set the goal of putting a man on the moon in the next decade that was only the start. What also happened was that resources were set aside to reach that goal; sub goals of test flights sub-orbit manned flights; 1 to 3 orbit flights, multi-day flights and more.  

If your goal is to be CEO of Apple by 2055, you will have to seriously determine the path to get there.  What college degree would you need? What experience? What kind of person does Apple hire for entry level jobs?  What career path to get to the “C” suite of officers? Then start working the plan.

You might have to alter your goals.  Maybe as you get started, you get hired at Google and then maybe you want to shoot for the CEO of Google.  

Things to do:

Take some time (suggested two hours) to determine what your BHAG is.  

Take additional time to research how to reach that goal.

Write how to get to your BHAG plan down – pick specific dates – for example: such as by July 1, 2025, I will be a team leader at Apple in User Interface Design; by July 1, 2028, I will be an assistant director of the User Interface Design department for phones.  

Print enough details to put on a Post-It note – and review it multiple times each day.


Quote for today’s lesson:  “The more I accomplish, the more I know I’m capable of accomplishing.” 
― Tawny Lara


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Blog Post #426 Does Practice Makes Perfect?

Coaching for Life Success – But, does  Practice Makes Perfect?

Continuing attitude – but attitude alone isn’t going to get there – you need to keep working!!

Lou Holtz, football coach and television football commentator said: “Virtually nothing is impossible in this world if you just put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.

So … put your mind to it and maintain a positive attitude.  This author adds – and WORK ON IT.

Sports analogy.  I coached high school basketball.  Prior to our first game, the team could have gathered in a classroom while I diagramed X’s and O’x and set up plays.  I could have lectured on the ‘give-and-go’; on playing the 1-3-1 defense; on setting screens; on passing to the open man.  The team would really understand the game of basketball – until they put on their jerseys and stepped on the court for our first game.  “Hey, coach, what is this round thing?” (It’s a basketball).

What if you were really passionate about basketball?  What if you went to the school gym for four hours every weekday and six hours on Saturday and Sunday and put up three-point shots?  What if a mentor or coach was there to help with your technique and to encourage you? You would really become a great three point shooter!

There is an old adage “Practice makes perfect”.  That isn’t necessarily true though. What if I practiced three-point shots for all of those hours by putting the ball between my legs and lobbing it in a big arc towards the hoop?  I’d probably get really good at that type of shot. Unfortunately, during a real game, I probably wouldn’t get any opportunities to put up shots from between my legs. The wrong kind of practice can make bad habits part of your style.

But, what if I – with a mentor or coach – practiced all those hours with running quickly to a spot on the floor, getting a pass and quickly turning towards the basketball and shooting?  My muscles would line up with my attitude and shooting would become natural.

Let’s say I want to be a better student.  So, tonight I’m going to study for four hours.  I’m going to turn on the TV in my room (low volume), turn on my iTunes to my favorite songs, get some candy and soda, and read my textbooks – but allowing for checking my email, my Instagram, and Facebook pages frequently.  After four hours, I could say “Wow – I really nailed that – four hours of studying – WOOO”. The reality is that I may have only half-an-hour of real studying and maybe not that much with the distractions.

Or, maybe I turn off the television, the iTunes, and the internet (with some exceptions), sit in a comfortable chair at my desk, open my textbook and read.  I have a highlighter to select topics, sentences, and paragraphs that are important. I have a notebook next to my book where I write down a synopsis of the concepts.  I close the book after sections and chapters and quiz myself – what was important? What should I be learning from this reading? How can I make this lesson and material ‘mine’?

I can use the internet and find related articles (your college library will have online access to thousands of journals, articles and more).  Use something like and find definitions, use a thesaurus to find synonyms and antonyms to important terms. Quiz yourself what is the definition of a term and what are three similar terms and what are three opposite terms?  In four hours, you will be really studying and not just going through the motions.

Yes, you need to practice, but you need to practice appropriately.

Later we’ll look more at attitude and practice together!!!


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Blog Post #425 Attitude – part 1


Attitude – part I

There is one thing that is absolutely necessary for you to succeed:  That is your attitude. We’ll talk about attitude several times in this series.

You get to choose your attitude.  Yes – when doing a home repair job and you hit your thumb with a hammer, even then you get to choose your attitude.  You can scream (probably acceptable), you can swear (may not be acceptable), you can pick up your hammer and throw it through a window in your anger (not acceptable).  You can choose to be happy – or you can choose to be depressed, angry and upset – really – you have the choice. The American “Declaration of Independence” says “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness”.  The government can’t guarantee you happiness as you have to adjust your attitude to be happy.

A quote from Henry Ford, American industrialist, and car maker “Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t–you’re right.”

Let’s look at “I think I can”.  Now there are times when “I think I can” are impossible.  “I think I can climb Mount Everest blindfolded with my legs tied together” – not a good idea.  But, the various climbers of Mount Everest BELIEVED that they could climb Mount Everest. They planned carefully, had thought through various scenarios and achieved that goal.

As a child, I read the Little Golden book about the “Little engine who could”.  This little engine when asked to pull a train over the mountain kept saying to himself “I think I can; I think I can”.  The engine’s attitude was about doing it – not how heavy the train was, not how steep the mountain was, but that he could do it.

“I think I can” is chronicled in history.  Edison supposedly tried over 1,000 times to find a workable light bulb.  His belief in himself “I think I can” made all of the many failures acceptable.  He later just viewed them as steps on the journey to the creation of the light bulb.

Abraham Lincoln failed in many endeavors – as a businessman, as a soldier as a lawyer and as a politician until he was elected president.  He exhibited the “I think I can” attitude.

What do you want to do?  Think about it; get your attitude right.

You are driving on a four-lane road at the posted speed limit.  You see a car coming up behind you. That car zips passed you and then cuts back in front of you.  As you watch, the same car zips in-and-out ahead of you – sometimes almost causing accidents as the car cuts back in front of other cars too quickly.  What is your attitude? Do you get road rage? “That Jerk. I hope he has an accident” – or maybe a more gentle attitude “I bet he just got a call that his mother is dying and he is rushing to her deathbed to say ‘goodbye’”.  While it might not be true, it keeps your emotions and negative attitude in check.

When you took calculus before the class started did you say to yourself “I can never learn calculus, it is too hard” – or did you say “I think I can I think I can”.  You can also say “Look at student X, he passed calculus and I’m smarter than he is. If he can do it, so can I”.

A good attitude does not whine.  “It is too hot today” (and can you do anything about that – other than stay indoors?); “I hate doing this” (sounds like a bad attitude to me)

“I just got fired from my job” might actually be a great opportunity to move on to try something new.  Or, do you want to whine “I shouldn’t have gotten fired”, “Those idiots, I’m much better than most the staff that wasn’t fired”.   There is a concept that when a door closes a window opens.  

You can get out of bed, stretch and start singing “Oh what a beautiful morning”.  What is your attitude towards the new day and especially towards Monday? “Wow – this is a brand new week, I am SO EXCITED to find new adventures, new things to learn this week”.

What is your self-talk?  We do all talk to ourselves (if only mentally).  Do you say frequently “This is a great day!” “I really enjoy doing this”; “This is going to be a success”?  If so, you are reinforcing a positive attitude.

In my first year of high school teaching, during my preparation period, I went to the teacher’s lounge.  There was free coffee (and in those days, a haze of smoke) and a lot of whining. “I hate my students”, “I hate my classes”, “I don’t like the principal”.  I learned quickly to get in, get my cup of coffee and go back to my classroom to do my preparation. I learned that negative people can bring you down. Like Winnie-the-Pooh character Eeyore, nothing is right, it is always raining, it is always miserable.  

Don’t say “I think I can” just once, embedded it in your brain.  Say it again and again.

Start making a list of your attitude statements.  Write it down. Start with “I can <something>”

Look up getting a positive attitude on the internet.  What did you find?

Notice other’s attitudes that you are around frequently – are they positive or negative?  Can you learn anything from them?

Quote: “Keep your face always toward the sunshine – and shadows will fall behind you.” ― Walt Whitman

(And – today is my birthday!!!)


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