I’m not a genius and this certainly isn’t a definitive list, but it’s a few steps I’ve found to be incredibly valuable to my educational experience. Without further adieu,
How to Succeed in School…..and Life
and do them! Set them out of reach, but able to be accomplished. Make them possible to do, but impossible to do right now. After all, the whole purpose of a goal is personal growth right? Set your goals so you need external information or help from somebody else. You are guaranteed to pick up new information, grow as a person, and gain new skills. The feeling from achieving something you didn’t think you could do is worth the whole (usually painful) process.
Find a passion….
and chase it. Find something you love to do and become good at it. Whenever you feel like something is wearing you down, go do what you love, then come back to the issue at hand. It allows you to disconnect for a while, but when you come back to the issue you will have renewed vigor. I’ve found that the more unrelated to school it is, the better. I’m going to school for business, but outdoor activities and building UAV’s are my passion. Whenever I feel like I’m overloaded in school, I go ski for a while or work on a new personal project. The schoolwork doesn’t get any less painful, but my mindset changes.
Some people are born creative, but most people work at it. Creativity isn’t a talent that just appears after a crazy weekend in Tijuana; it’s a skill that takes work. The more effort you put into being creative, the more you will get out of it. Dream up something crazy, and build it. Brainstorm about a crazy system or program, and see through to its end. See what other people are doing, analyze it, and figure out how it can be done better. See how you can make something stronger, less expensive, look better, function better, sound better, or simply hype something up more than someone else. In most cases, little changes can have huge effects. Do you spend $600 every semester on books for school? Stop. Rent, trade, or barter to get the material. Need beer money? Find something people want, make it, and sell it to them. DIY is the new cool.
Here’s a challenge: think of a problem in your life, brainstorm twenty ways to solve it (yes, I said twenty), and pick the one that sounds like your crazy neighbor would do it. Now that’s creativity.
Innovation stems from being different and standing out. Find your voice and stand with it. Sometimes it will get you in trouble (learned from experience), but more often it will lead to good in life. The practice of standing out will cause you to be self-confident and able to stick out without weird social pressures weighing you down. Dressing, acting, and talking like everyone else is actually quite lame. This way of thinking is also the make-or-break factor in having a business. If you don’t stand out from competitors, you’re doomed. Whole college programs are dedicated to business innovation, but in reality, true innovation starts with the personal drive to be different.
Take risks and be flexible
Study at the last second, build something that might not be legal yet, or be the first person to try out the massive rope-swing your friends just built! Step outside of the box and do something others think is crazy. In reality, there will always be somebody that says what you’re doing is crazy anyways. Don’t take baby steps outside of your comfort zone- take a running leap. The more uncomfortable positions you place yourself in, the better you get at instantaneously reacting and adapting to similar situations. Train yourself to think logically through things, and figure out what is required to succeed in uncomfortable positions.
Make friends, or at least don’t make enemies.
Interact with people, and not just on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, etc etc etc. You don’t need to make everyone your best friend, but it’s certainly nice when everyone doesn’t hate you. Being social and engaging in positive interactions with people, however brief the interactions might be, will always pay off in the end. You don’t have to agree with everything someone thinks or does, but being respecting them is incredibly valuable. How do you become liked and respected? Show you like and respect the other party. Simple.
Use your ADD/ADHD/OCD/ETC as a tool.
You can’t concentrate on or pay attention to one thing for very long? Awesome! You can do five things at the same time. You are incredibly picky about everything? Great! Make a 110%-perfect proposal or study guide. Instead of treating your diagnosis as a huge issue and moping around the house all day, treat it as an advantage! Most people don’t have the natural drive to be perfect or natural ability to multi-task; you do! If the Hulk got all depressed that he was super strong and turned green or if Spiderman was self-conscious about the ability to spray webbing, the world wouldn’t have any super-heros.
Do more work than everyone else.
This one is the easiest-explained step in this list, but the hardest to follow through. If you want to exceed in school or in the workplace, do more work. If the teacher assigns all the odd-numbered practice problems, do both the even and the odd. If a proposal is assigned as has to be within 15-20 pages, make it 20 pages. 90% of your coworkers are going to take the easy way out. If you exert the extra effort, it is only a matter of time before you stand out and get acknowledged for it.
Admit that you don’t know everything.
The second you start thinking you’re a natural genius, the less you will actually learn. Be humble and let yourself take in new information. The smartest people in the world are the ones who can comprehend how much they don’t know. If you want to take in huge amounts of new information, admit you don’t know it already and go find out how to learn it!
As much as it’s hard to admit, your mom was right when she said you have two ears and only one mouth for a reason. Listening and processing information is the first step to learning in a classroom setting. Want to retain information better? Listen > write it down > see it . That isn’t enough? Listen > write it down > see it > speak it > hear yourself say it. The more senses you can involve in learning, the more it’s going to stick.
People take you seriously by how well you can communicate and express ideas. If your day-to-day conversations would look like the top row of my keyboard on paper, you should probably learn to !@$!@#%@$^ express your @%!$%@#$% self more @!%!@$&$ clearly. I once had a very close friend who read the dictionary for fun. He wasn’t the brightest person on the block, but he could communicate and use big words like no other. In other words, his repertoire of extensive vocabulary was impeccable. People looked as him as a genius, simply because he tossed big words into every-day conversation. Want to look smarter and get better grades on your papers? Read one word out of the dictionary every day and use it at least 5 times throughout the day. You’ll look like a genius, I promise.
Obviously this list isn’t everything you need to succeed in school and life, but it’s some of the key methods that work for me. Have something that you think should be here? Post a comment!