3 actions to be an A student.

“It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” — Albert Einstein

I don’t know anyone who wants to be subpar. We all want to feel like we are excellent. So, what do you need to do in order to be excellent? Well, there are a lot of things you can do. Let’s take three.

  1. Show up!
    1. It is so easy to tell ourselves stories about why we can’t show up. We’re tired. We have a head ache. The cat’s sick. The kid’s sick. My mom is sick. I’m sick. I’m ___________________ (fill in the blank). Just don’t. Either show up. Or don’t show up. If you are sick, take a rest. When you’re well, show up.
  2. Don’t depend on your head.
    1. Your head sucks as a storage device. Capture the information. Take notes. There are many systems of note taking: Cornell, Modified Cornell, Outline, Computer, Short Hand, word for word, tape recorded, mind map, and more. Find a system that you can use and use it. For instance, if you are crap at keeping up with an instructor, take a recorder, record the lesson, and transcribe it, in your own words, later. Find the key points and commit them to memory. I keep a moleskine book, small enough to fit in a jeans pocket, with me and I write everything I want to remember down it it. Some people use index cards. The thing is, find a way to capture what is important and don’t depend on your head.
  3. Persevere!
    1. This is like the first only more so. There will be weeks that totally suck. Where you don’t want to get out of bed, where your hair looks like crap, even in a hat, where you feel, both physically and mentally, like a slug. Show up anyway. There will be times when nothing makes sense. Where you just don’t. want. to play. anymore. Show up anyway. There will be teachers who you think are  flaming idiots. Maybe they are but they may still have a lesson for you. Bear with them, seek what you can learn from them, be kind to them (even when you don’t want to be) and stick with the lesson. Work on your own when can’t find someone to learn from.
    2. It takes time to master our lessons. By some reckoning, 10,000 hours. That’s a lot of hours. If you’re anything like me, you want to be the best just as fast as you can and 10,000 hours is a number that would make even Einstein want to quit if he had thought about it at all. Perseverance isn’t based on thinking about those bazillion hours, it’s based on thinking about what you can do right now. It is about finding the one, even tiny, thing you can do this instant and then doing it. Say to yourself, in this algebra problem I can subtract this little thing from that over there and do it. One thing leads to another and soon you’ll have solved that algebra problem. Then find the next little thing… and so on. One tiny action at a time. That’s perseverance!

We all want to be excellent. These are three  key behaviors that you can use to build excellence. Be Excellent.