1. Intelligence Isn’t Fixed, You Can Make Yourself Smarter
You’re way smarter than you think you are. In grade school if you weren’t the top of your class you generally felt inferior when those subjects were brought up. Didn’t start reading early? Can’t write very well? School is going to be difficult, does that mean you’re not as smart? Not a chance! You may just have to work harder in certain areas to develop those skills.
I loathed reading in high school, avoided reading like the plague in University, I always thought I was a slow reader and couldn’t pay attention long enough to understand what I was reading. Reading was the devil. The only way I forced myself to read in University was while riding a bike at the gym and listening the Deadmau5 (because there’s no lyrics). I finally could concentrate when my legs and ears were working.
Today I read almost every day, I fell in love with my first business book Blink by Malcolm Gladwell, I haven’t put books down ever since.
Intelligence isn’t fixed, you can improve your intelligence. In the ground breaking study in 1968 (by Rosenthal and Jacobsen) we learned that if the teacher thinks the students is talented (or the opposite) the student will perform based on that teachers expectations. That means if you assume you’re smart and have a good work ethic the world is your oyster! Similar to the Pygmalion Effect in business and in life, your expectation of other people generally comes true. This is also true for peoples’ expectations of you. We live up to (or down to) what others think of us.
Over time you change the makeup of your brain. Study something you love, apply yourself for 10,000 hours and you will have fundamentally changed your brain. Become an expert in your field and see for yourself the difference it can make.
What you’re born with doesn’t mean you’re stuck with it for life. This is probably a good time to watch “Your Body Language Shapes Who You Are”.
2. Anything Worth Memorizing is Worth Looking Up
Is this going to be on the test? Selective learning where we don’t “learn” we study enough to pass the class. Most of our education is based on this concept, if it’s going to be on the test I must listen! If it isn’t I instantly tune out. Why is that?
We need to stop putting grades as the most important outcome of going to school. Extracurricular, sports, drama, dance, volunteering, there are a lot of things to focus on in school to become a well rounded human. Focusing simply on grades teaches kids the wrong thing. Plus the text anxiety that students have contributes to the mental health problems that our society is overwhelmingly experiencing currently.
It’s time we got rid of rote memorization. All tests should be open cell phone. We should trust teachers to make un-Google-able tests that push students to think, not just memorize. In the real world you rarely have a skill testing moment without your laptop, phone or colleague to help you answer the question at hand.
3. Just Because Everyone Is Doing It Doesn’t Make It Right
Whatever they are doing, do the opposite. You can’t trust crowds and you don’t want to be a sheep. Start doing the opposite on purpose.
Yes in some situations, looking at what the crowd is doing is helpful. When you’re on the fence making a decision looking to someone similar to you and what they did when they were in your shoes is a good way to go about making up your mind. Robert Cialdini wrote about Social Proof in his now classic Influence: The Psychology of Persuasion. The infamous psychological trigger that is incredibly powerful.
Don’t trust crowds!
This is why you must fight your natural instinct to follow the crowd. To do what you’re told. To “fit in”. Nothing remarkable was ever created by listening to the rules, following the recipe, or doing what you were told. The world needs disrupters like you.
4. Don’t Settle, Find Your Dream Job
What’s your dream job? Being a chef? Teaching Karate? Consulting people and traveling? Whatever it is you probably aren’t going to get that as your first job. But your Fifth job could very well be your dream job. Plan accordingly.
School is trying to prepare you to be a Doctor, Lawyer, Teacher, or Engineer. If you want to become any of these professionals, study hard, get good grades and you most likely we achieve that. All four of these are professions that have an outcome at the end, a proven track record, a safe long-term option.
But don’t follow someone else’s dream. You don’t have to become something you don’t want to. Most kids at one point follow someone else’s dream. I wanted to be an accountant. I wanted to make lots of money. I wanted to follow in my father’s footsteps. Why wouldn’t I? He was happy, he seemed to have enough toys, and he provided very well for my family.
I hated accounting. I was a terrible accountant. My Mom was the only one who told me early on I wasn’t going to enjoy it. She was right. I quit two years into my Co-op job telling my boss that they could find a better accountant than me.
I wanted a different life. I wanted to do something I could be proud of. I realized early on after University I probably wouldn’t do well working for someone, I hate authority. But I love being part of a high functioning team.
We’ve been very lucky with how Strategy Lab has grown and been able to provide a launch pad for many creative individuals in and around Regina. There were a few of us at the start but now a lot more who weekly try not to settle. To strive to do better and better by the people we work with. It’s nice to remind ourselves of the beginning when we decided we weren’t going to settle anymore.
Dream big, you can do it, we believe in you.