“I’ve got to decide that I’m smarter than I think I am,” Mr. White, “or I’m not going to get accepted to Milton Academy.”
So began a conversation with a student of mine, Debbie, who was hoping to get into Milton Academy, a prestigious middle and high school in eastern Massachusetts. This was not an easy feat—Milton is very selective. And it’s tuition, to boot, was in the stratosphere.
Debbie’s problem was that while she was certainly intelligent enough, she didn’t act it and her grades didn’t reflect it.
“Just how smart are you?” I asked.
“Oh, average,” she answered.
“How smart would you have to be to get in Milton Academy?”
“Smarter than what I think I am right now.”
Well, this fascinated me. Debbie actually understood that she had the intelligence and capacity to go to Milton Academy. She also knew that neither her grades nor her behavior demonstrated it, and she knew why – she didn’t think she was smart enough to aspire to a higher goal.
Wow—talk about understanding your problems! This kid was totally in tune with her own mental barriers. She just needed someone to help her who believed in her more than she believed in herself. I told her she had to begin by simply reminding herself every day that she’s smarter than she currently thinks she is.
“Say it to yourself when you brush your teeth, when you get on the bus to come to school, when you enter each classroom,” I advised.
I also had Debbie embark on a “Restorative Force Program” – something we invented while talking about the changes she’d have to make to prove to herself that she is smarter than she thought she was. She was going to act in “restorative” ways that would make it easy to decide that she is smart enough to get into Milton Academy, and with a scholarship.
The upshot of the “restorative program” is that she accepted tutoring and joined a study group instead of hanging out with her friends in the gym during study period. Debbie turned her attitude about her intelligence around that year, and the following year she got a full scholarship to Milton Academy.
As so often happens when I help someone, the benefits were on both sides of the teacher’s desk. Debbie was inspired to decide in favor of herself, proving the power of believing that you’re smarter than you think are. I was inspired too – ironically, to LEAVE teaching and start my own business. I’d never believed that I was smart enough to do that! I just needed to bowl over old NO’s and decide in favor of myself, like Debbie did!
Thank you, Debbie, for helping me learn a very valuable life-lesson. Convincing myself that I am smarter than I think I am is an act of self-niceness that continues to bring many rewards.
Think of the beauty of deciding that you are smarter than you think you are. Can you remember a time when you did this? Will you share it with us?
Thank you and Blessings
What are you looking at!? New on WROAR: ”The Power of a Pair of Properly Directed Eyes.”
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