Show What You Know

dreamstimefree_2404805My husband and I went to a baseball game recently.  Listening to the National Anthem brought back a memory from grade school.  The experience turned out to be one that probably shaped my life more than I thought.

I was in 5th or 6th grade.  The teacher gave us an assignment for the next day:  learn “The Star Spangled Banner.”  I was more than a little concerned—that’s four long verses!  When I got home and told Mom, she told me I’d better start working on it.  After supper, she helped me.  By the time I went to bed, I had the entire anthem memorized.  I didn’t really understand all of it, but I had the words memorized, and in the right order.

At school the next day, the teacher called on my classmates to recite the song.  One by one they went to the front of the class and recited anywhere from a few words to a few lines.  A couple may have recited the first verse.  That was it!

I remember wondering what I should do.  I knew the entire anthem.  That was the assignment and so that’s what I did.  Part of me thought I should stand up and demonstrate what I had done and what I knew.

But part of me wanted to belong.  I didn’t want to stand out from everyone.  I didn’t want to be different.  It would be easy to recite less than what I knew—maybe one verse.  That would be a good compromise, wouldn’t it?  Demonstrate some of my knowledge while not being too different.

I still hadn’t decided what to do when the teacher called my name.  As I was walking to the front of the class, though, I decided to do it.  I had spent the entire evening learning it, Mom had spent time helping me, why shouldn’t I show what I knew?

When I finished all four verses, there was a brief silence (and I thought, “Oh no!  What did I do?!”) and then wild clapping.

My classmates didn’t care that I learned more than they did.  They weren’t going to shun me for that.  It was all good!

I think it is good to show what we know.  If we don’t, no one will know except us.  And others need to know if we are going to succeed.  I have since learned that it’s important to be respectful, to use a certain amount of courteousness and tact at times, but don’t be afraid to show what you know.

To Create 2017, Learn from 2016

dreamstime_xs_63165764Many people make New Year’s resolutions.  Many of those who make resolutions do not achieve them.

I think one reason is that many of us do not learn from the old year.  What did we do?  Why did we do it?  Did our decisions and actions achieve the results we wanted?  If not, what could we have done differently?  What worked, what didn’t?  What have we learned?

If you truly want to achieve your goals for 2017, I suggest you first think very strongly and clearly about 2016.  Use that knowledge to develop goals and plans for 2017.

May you learn from the old to create the new!

Girls’ vs. Boys’ Toys

dreamstime_xs_34860359, croppedWhen you look at traditional toys for boys and girls, the ones for boys generally relate to STEM.  Blocks, building kits, science kits, tools, cars, motors, etc. directly or indirectly relate to and encourage science, technology, engineering, and/or mathematics.  This can easily lead to interest in careers in STEM, which pay very well.

Girls’ toys general relate to and encourage “ABCD:” arts, beauty, childcare, and domestic duties.  Generally speaking, jobs in these areas do not pay well and often careers do not pay that much more.

There is nothing wrong with art and craft supplies.  Arts and crafts can make wonderful hobbies.  But how many people do you know personally who have made an excellent living out of them?  Or any income at all?

There is nothing wrong with pretty clothes, make-up, and hair accessories.  Again, though, how many people do you know who have created a successful career out of “beauty?”  Another issue is that overemphasis on looks encourages girls to think that beauty is more important than brains.  (I have always thought brains were more important.  If you are smart enough, you can earn enough money to buy pretty, but you can’t fix stupid.)

There is nothing wrong with baby-dolls.  Or all the furniture, clothes, accessories, etc. that go with these dolls.  However, if a girl gets these toys almost exclusively, it sends the message that that is all that should interest her.  How many people do you know earn a good living by taking care of children?  Yes, there are careers that revolve around children, but how well do they pay on average?

And there is nothing wrong with the miniature kitchens, household appliances, housecleaning equipment, etc. that so many girls receive as gifts.  Too much emphasis on this, though, can encourage girls to think that that is all that they can do or all that should interest them.  And how much do women in food service or housekeeping jobs generally earn?

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with “ABCD” toys so long as the girl also receives a variety of “STEM” toys.  This can encourage her to develop interests that can later lead to a high-paying career.

Whenever we buy toys for children, I think it is important to ask three questions.

  • Why are we buying this toy?
  • What will the child learn from this?
  • How will this learning benefit the child?

I understand the importance of play for the sake of play.  I agree that not everything has to be a planned learning experience.  However, children constantly learn from their environment and from what happens around them.  We need to be aware of what we might be inadvertently teaching them and the impact it can have on their futures.

2016 and Beyond

dreamstime_xs_489283562015 is completed.  It’s over.  Did you do what you wanted?  Did you accomplish what you planned?  Did you position yourself to be where you wanted for 2016?

If yes, congratulations!  That is fantastic!

If no, then take what you can learn from it and move on.  That’s all any of us can do.  It’s a waste of time to moan about it or berate ourselves for it.  Decide what you can do differently this year and do it.

What do you need to do in 2016 to position yourself to where you want to be in 2017?  2020?  2030?  Setting goals for the upcoming year is great.  But to really climb to where we want to be in life, we need to plan further out.  If you want to finish a degree in five years, what do you need to do this year to make it happen?  If you want to retire in ten years, what do you need to do this year to make it happen?

What do you need to do this year, next year, and the next, to achieve the life you want?

Lessons Learned

Lessons Learned (Video)

This blog is different from the ones I have done in the past in that it “sets the stage” for the accompanying video rather than containing similar information.

I belong to an association called The Business Building Academy.  A regular feature of the meetings is the opportunity for members to tell of a business lesson that they have learned.

The attached video is the first Lesson Learned that I did.  It tells one of the many stories that I have experienced that emphasizes the importance of being assertive.  We must stand up for ourselves.  More importantly, we must stand up for our values.

Study for A’s?

Study for A’s? (Video Link)

I still remember something a high school teacher told my class many years ago.  (I wish I could remember his name.)  He said that if we study for A’s, we may or may not get them.  However, if we study to truly learn and understand the information, the A’s will come automatically.

He was right.  When I studied to learn the concepts and details of the material, the A’s came easily.

I think this concept can apply to our professional and personal lives as well. 

If we work to get a raise or promotion, we may or may not get it.  However, if we work to truly learn and understand our company and its practices, products, customers, and suppliers, and use this to excel at our jobs, we will find success.

If we work to improve our relationships, it may or may not happen.  However, if we work to truly understand the people in our relationships and how they think and feel, how can it not improve our relationships?

What is your goal?  To get an “A” or to really learn?

Be Tolerant

Be Tolerant (Video)

It is easy to get frustrated with other people.  They do not always think the way we do or do things the way we would.

First, that does not mean that they are wrong.  Rarely is there any one best way.  What we do works for us.  We can hope that what they do is working for them without hurting anyone else.

Second, maybe they are learning and trying something that is new to them.  There is a learning curve.  Someday they may be as good as, or better than, you.

As long as the other person is not doing you any harm, be tolerant.

20/20 Hindsight

20/20 Hindsight (Video)

Our vision on what we should have done is usually 20/20.  Because we know what we did and what happened because of it, we know what we should have done.

We cannot change what has already happened.  However, how often do we use the lessons learned when similar situations occur?

If we apply what we learned from 20/20 hindsight, we can greatly improve our vision of current situations.  Better vision leads to better decisions.