GREATEST FOUR-LETTER WORD

Jim Fannin has a favorite four-letter word.
No, there’s nothing vulgar about it, but he uses it with everyone he advises or coaches.
He discusses it at length in his book “Pebble In The Shoe.”
No matter what you have done – good thing or bad – you should always think of this word.
The word forces you not to rest on your laurels when you’ve done something good. It brightens your future when you do something bad. It allows you to correct mistakes, or proceed to add successes.
It doesn’t allow you to wallow, or over-celebrate. As certain as tomorrow follows today, the word ensures your future.
Love is a marvelous four-letter word, but that’s not what Fannin was thinking. Hate is an awful four-letter word, but that didn’t cross his mind either.
His four-letter word, which he uses to encourage after a failure, or curb enthusiasm after a success, is NEXT.
Think of the Disney World ads after the Super Bowl. Whoever the star of the game was gets asked what he’ll do next, now that he’s won the Super Bowl: “I am going to Disney World,” he says.
But the real “next” for that athlete is next year. You see, very few teams have gone to the Super Bowl in consecutive years. But that is always the goal. What will he have to do to get there? Certainly, after his trip to Disney World, he will begin thinking about it, and taking the necessary action to return to the Super Bowl.
In the National Football League, it’s tough to sustain that kind of success year after year. You might have the same people on the team, but injuries, age and other factors enter into play. The team might still be good the next year, but the other teams are even more motivated to beat them.
In sports, there is always “next” season.
Sometimes, life throws us curve balls. Even though they are hard to hit, we keep swinging. Success is not about taking what comes, it’s about dealing with what comes in the best way you know now. If you swing and miss, it’s OK. The “next” pitch might be a fastball down the middle, or another curve. Eventually, you’ll get a hit, even though it may not happen as often as you’d like.
Perhaps you’ll get a couple of consecutive hits. Great. Now, you look forward to that next pitch. You don’t sit on the bench and say, I’m done, or I’m out. You keep swinging.
A few types of mistakes can cost dearly. Most, however, are easily forgotten the “next” day.
The “next” day is a whole new turn at bat. Relish it, whether you struck out or hit a home run the day before.
If you are looking for new and different pitches to hit, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. You will learn the value of “next.” You’ll know that you can’t mess up so badly for so long that you won’t ever succeed. You’ll learn not to quit.
If you have something good, stay with it. Your “next” may be awhile in coming, or it may come tomorrow. If you need something good, keep looking. Your “next” is out there. You may not recognize it immediately, but eventually it will come to light if you keep looking for it.
N-E-X-T is a great four-letter word. Use it as a guide. It guarantees a future for you.
Peter

COLLEGE PREP: LESS RIGOR, MORE FREEDOM

Many look back fondly to their high school days.
Perhaps their college days were even better.
But Stan Beiner, head of the Epstein School in Sandy Springs, Ga., just outside Atlanta, believes we are turning our middle school students over to high schools who will prepare them for colleges that don’t exist.
They’ll get lots and lots of homework. They’ll take lots of Advanced Placement and honors classes. They will have multiple extracurricular activities.
In other words, to paraphrase Beiner, we are preparing our kids for the “rigors” and “challenges” of a tough four years of college.
If you have gone to college, how did it compare with high school? Were you faced with tough task-master professors beating you up, and bogging you down with the drudgery of academia?
Beiner does not de-emphasize school work. Contrarily, school work should be an integral part of both high school and college. But neither high school nor college should be a mere endurance test. Both should teach students the balance of school work, a part-time job, extracurricular activities and, yes, fun!
“The high school years should be about friends, sports, clubs, youth groups, summers off and, of course, school work,” Beiner says. He uses the story of how he and his wife were informed by his child’s private school that 10th-graders could be invited to college orientations. The parents politely declined. The only expectations they had for their 15-year-old was that she focus on her classes, play sports if she wanted, engage and debate youth group politics, hang out with her friends and worry about boys, he said.
Before anyone expresses outrage at what may seem to him as a lackadaisical attitude of parenting, think about this: when you left high school for college, you were on your own. You had a looser schedule. In some cases, you could set your own schedule. You could, say, arrange your classes to have every Friday or Monday off. In most cases, as long as you did the work, the teachers didn’t care how you did it, as long as you didn’t cheat.
In an old school of thought, piling homework on high school kids was a way to keep them “out of trouble.” There was little worse, in some minds, than a teenager with too much time on his hands.
The fallacy of that argument is that no amount of homework would put the kids most at risk of getting in trouble on the straight and narrow. They simply would blow it off. Meanwhile, bogging down good kids with homework, particularly the kind that is deliberately designed to be tedious and time-consuming, keeps them from getting into activities that would enhance their education and experience – sports, arts or a part-time job, for instance.
They may also miss out on the fun that is an integral part of growing up. They may soon grow resentful of the “prison” they are in. They may “act out” in response.
Beiner’s ideas may be over the top for some. But his point is that college is NOTHING like high school. Anyone who has gone to college knows this. Also, just as important as school work, a student needs to have freedom to learn to manage and use time wisely. This will also help students manage money better – watching what they spend and how they spend it – on their own. The good students will mature more quickly. Those at risk for trouble may find it sooner.
Speaking of managing time, is anyone out there working full time at a job, and looking to build a fortune that could retire them early? If so, visit www.bign.com/pbilodeau. A few hours a week, without affecting what you are already doing, may change your life.
Beiner says it’s no wonder that cheating, eating disorders and depression are too common among students. He advises parents to make sure kids have time to do what they want, and find out who they are. With today’s gadgets, you need to encourage them to get up from the computer and go out and “play.” Do what they need to do, but also do what they LOVE to do.
In Beiner’s mind, they’ll be much more prepared for college.
Peter