In my last article, I highlighted desire and decision, concentration and, asking questions, believing, doing something and having courage as a salient part of the thought process young people need to begin with before getting stuck into the day-to-day activities involved in preparation for the exams. Although, we as parents cannot actually do it for them we can be the catalyst that stands in the background, doing our best to support and help guide and support the young person. Occasionally we may perhaps be successful in inspiring them!
The reality is that all those six points are not something that can just be done and forgotten about. They are there all the time along the journey towards success. I will start by providing a little more detail about each of those six points, I will then go on to provide just a few practical suggestions to help at exam time.
Below is a brief explanation of each of the six points that I made as a starting points of the thought process.
- Desire and decision
Wishing and wanting is never good enough. We begin the process of achieving when we actually manage to transform wishes and wants into Desire – a real desire for something that we really want ‘come what may.’ When we actually desire something it helps to inform our subconscious mind and when we reach this point everything we do hinges on that thing that we desire. We begin to do things to realise our dream until what we desire becomes reality. When a young person gets to the point where they are not just wishing, but desire a certain exam grade in particular subject, it registers in their subconscious and they begin to do things and behave in a manner that will make it happen. At this point they have decided that this is what they want, they are more focused and they go for it in a big way.
There is a saying which goes “Keep on asking, and you will receive what you ask for.” The only thing that stands in many people’s way is that they are not asking enough questions. It is astonishing how much one can get in life if only we could ask more often. It is not of much use for a young person to want something and be worried about it without asking. In my teaching career, I can think back to occasions when a young person has summoned up the courage to ask me questions. There have been times when they have requested me to spend time to explain things to them or asked me where they could find the resources they need. On many of those occasions, I have been pleasantly surprised and have managed to find the time to provide them more explanations – often far beyond what they expected. There are cases in which I have guided them to where they can find very useful resources. It is not always the case that people you have asked will provide you the exact answer you expected. Many of the times, they will either lead you to where you will find the solution or ask you where you have already searched, which may help you to think more, often finding the solutions yourself, which you would not have found yourself until you ask someone and they ask you some questions back, forcing you to think deeper.
- Concentrate and discriminate – focus on the few things that have the highest impact
The word concentration is easy to fathom, what is not so cool is talking about discrimination as it has a rather nasty aftertaste. Part of what creates success is not just the things you do, a lot of it is actually the things you leave out as you are able to concentrate on the few things that matter most. The more you look for information or opportunities, the more that comes your way. What decides if you are successful or not is your ability to decide on what to filter out and choosing to concentrate on a few things. When studying, it really does help to read deeper into the subject or topic as you get a more in-depth understanding of the subject matter. However, when it comes to the examination, it is nice to impress the examiner with your knowledge. However, the examiner who is marking your work, has a problem: there are perhaps just five marks allocated to that particular question and no matter how much you explain and impress, you will not be awarded more than five marks for that questions.
Also, given a set of subjects to choose from, you may like five subjects or more but you only need to do three or four of them and achieve high grades in them as opposed to doing all the five and obtaining mediocre grades. The notion of concentration also applies to other aspects of your day-to-day-today life, like choosing between hanging out with friends, playing computer games and revising or completing your school assignments. I recently gave away my sophisticated Samsung Note 4 and replaced it with the most basic of all basic mobile phones – the Nokia 106. The reason is that I like technology but I can’t afford to spend time indulging myself in the distractions that the Samsung leads me into. No, I do not want to check my e-mail on my mobile phone. It is not an efficient way of investing my time – thank you very much. I set out a couple or so times a day when I check and reply to e-mails and that’s it.
‘Belief’ is a huge one. It is very difficult to achieve anything in life unless you believe you will be successful in achieving it. Believing and taking concrete actions to realise what you believe you can achieve makes all the difference. I remember when I was looking for a teaching job in the early nineties; I went to seventeen job interviews – from South Yorkshire to Surrey. I did not like what I saw in most of the schools that I went for an interview at and I was determined not to teach at a school in which I cannot relate to the ethos. I pulled out of most interviews and turned down offers made to me by some of the schools. You may want to ask why I had not researched the schools before going for an interview, but I did research them. I knew full well that I may well not like the school but I went for the interview anyway as I deemed the whole process to be a learning opportunity for me.
I have had many encounters with many teenagers who suffer from a lot of self-doubt. I have looked at many of them in the eyes and told them: ‘you can do it’ and most of them have gone on to achieve beyond their wildest dreams. This applied to either improving in a particular subject or achieving a higher exam grade. We all need encouragement from time to time and it is extremely powerful to have people around you who believe in you more than you believe in yourself. Sadly, too many young people have teachers who do not believe in them so the teachers do not do what is required to be done in order to inspire the young person. In many cases, it is actually not too much hard work on the part of the teacher. It is more of having the right state of mind and encouraging the young person all along. I must say that many teachers are decent professional and they do their best with the resources they have at their disposal, but some do not even try.
e. Doing something
What I am speaking about here is taking action and doing it as opposed to just wishing. Too many people – including young people have ready-made excuses. These excuses are disguised as explanations or reasons why they can’t study or why they can’t ask the teacher, or why they can’t search for the information they need, or why they can’t go to the place they need to go to. The reality of life is that life does not give you what you want or what you need; it gives you what you desire and what you take actions on getting. People who do not achieve much money or knowledge have an abundance in terms of reasons and explanations as to why they can’t get what they want. Achievers tend to take responsibility and try to make the best of what is available, without spending their time looking for all sort of excuses and complaining about how unfair life is.
- Having Courage
According to Winston Churchill “Success is stumbling from failure to failure with no loss of enthusiasm.” Having the courage to stick to what you believe in is vital for success. Always on the lookout for the next shining object does not usually lead to success. If you want success in life, you need to work for it and the path to success is not always very smooth. I have seen so many young people of average intelligence, who have gone on to achieve high examination grades in subjects that really matter. At the same time I have seen many bright students who have ended up obtaining mediocre exam results. Success is usually realised as a result of having the courage to persevere – especially when the going gets tough.
Watch out for my next and last blog, which is at the end of this week.
Below are some of the blog articles that we have written in the past, which you may find helpful