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"Learn it Anyway!" 11 Lessons from Grade School (That Still Apply)

By: Vince Crew
Last updated 9/18/2014

  • Everybody Gets Picked for Something—Even if It's Nothing!   People are watching, whether you know it or not. They are sizing you up to be on their team, to associate with you, to take advantage of your skills. Even if you're chosen last or not at all, realize the only one who knows your true talents is you. Keep going, no matter what.
  • Mothers Beat Alarm Clocks.  Despite all the technology in the world, a concerned person's interaction, intervention, and inspiration is incredible. Never underestimate the passion of a leader, the dedication of a manager, the commitment of an employee, or the love of a parent. To succeed, everyone needs someone to believe in them, encourage them, and hold them accountable.
  • You Always Hate Your Best Teacher, Until...There is always one or more persons in our lives who are demanding, relentless, and seemingly cruel task masters. They are disciplinarians who push performance standards and us to the limit. Yet these are the very people we remember and cherish for instilling in us the drive to excel and achieve, often beyond our own imagination.
  • Learn It Anyway.  How many classes did you sit through, thinking all the while that you'd never need the knowledge? How much of that subject matter has come in handy—when you least expected? We never know what the future holds, what will be demanded of us, what skills we’ll need. So do and learn everything possible. Careers, situations, and opportunities change.
  • She May Be Cute but Is She Nice?  Her name was Anita and she was the object of every 5th grade boy's dreams. So one day I asked her if I could carry her books (yeah, it was hundreds of years ago). She was totally rude, obnoxious, and loud in making sure I was thoroughly embarrassed. From that point on, I realized that the “substance” of people has nothing to do with their looks. Even the shyest, most awkward, seemingly less-than-stellar worker can contribute to the organization’s success, IF they're put in the right position and given the proper support and supervision.
  • You Can't Get Beat-Up If He's Laughing.  There's always a bully. I was a skinny little kid with asthma who couldn't fight. I learned that humor can be an incredible tool, used properly, in diffusing a tense or difficult situation. The person with a good sense of humor often rises above downturns. With a bit of optimism, wit, and laughter, present difficulties can be lessened.
  • Being the Smartest Kid in the Class Isn't Everything.  I was never the kid with all the answers, but I bet my life has been more incredible than most. What I lacked in straight As, I made up for in other ways. Things like creativity, diversity in experience, adaptability, and the ability to work with different kinds of people trumps the “brainiac” every time. Even Bill Gates needed more than good grades to become "America's richest man" and to make Microsoft a legend.
  • Recess is the Coolest Part of the Day.  No matter how much you may or may not have enjoyed studying, learning, and tests, playing in the schoolyard was always fun. There's an old axiom, "Do we stop playing because we get old, or do we get old because we stop playing?" No matter the intensity or rewards of work, realize that you need some fun and play time.
  • Heads Down for Naptime.  Just as important as showing up on time, working hard, and getting along with others, getting a little rest is always a good thing. Get a good night's sleep, take a vacation, and take a little time each day for thought, meditation, or just closing your eyes for 20 minutes. You'll reenergize.
  • When You Fall Off, Get Back On.  Even in the midst of great times like bike racing with Clay and Nickey, sometimes I'd skid and fall. I'd skin my knee or elbow, but I ALWAYS got back up. Resilience and perseverance are great traits. Develop and nurture them; they are often what separates winners from losers.
  • Bad Boys and Girls Are Fun, but...We all remember them—the ones who defied the rules. Everybody thought they were cool, but they all ended up in trouble eventually. Taking short cuts, breaking the law, or defying wholesome values are a sure route to trouble, misery, and loneliness. So, for goodness sake, be good.

    In many cases, building relationships is more important than knowing all the answers. Learn how to cultivate business relationships with this AMA Webinar.

  • About the Author(s)

    Vince Crew is founder of Reach Development Services (www.reachdevelopment.com), a strategic growth services firm.  He is also a syndicated columnist and author.