#grit #innovate #GradePointAverage
Creative people are good at asking new questions, but the grade-point average rewards those who can answer other people’s questions.
So writes New York Times columnist David Brooks, in a column published in the May 13, 2016, edition of The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Brooks calls the grade-point average “one of the more destructive elements in American education.”
“In life, we want independent thinking and risk-taking, but the GPA system encourages students to be deferential and risk-averse, giving their teachers what they want,” Brooks writes.
In other words, the education system highly rewards students who are good at a lot of things, rather than those who are very good at one or two things.
Even if you are not good at something, the education system wants students to use their grit, and do things they don’t like, to grind out a good GPA.
There is certainly nothing wrong with grit. It helps people overcome obstacles and gets people through difficult times.
But the education system is designed for students to learn things, and they are evaluated by how well they can spit those things back.
“Schools across America are busy teaching their students to be gritty and to have ‘character’ – by which they mean skills like self-discipline and resilience that contribute to career success,” Brooks writes.
In other words, they teach kids to be good employees, rather than innovators.
In today’s world, innovators are handsomely rewarded, providing they solve a problem that needs solving.
In one adage, the “A” students end up working for the “C” students.
How does one deal with this?
There are a couple of ways. First, be a rebel.
Take the grit that you learned to develop in school, and use it to innovate.
Thomas Edison tried many times before he successfully invented the light bulb, so he had enough grit to know to stay with his idea.
If you are not an innovator, or if you have resigned yourself that you will work for someone else forever, there are many alternative ways to make money outside of a traditional job. For one of the best, visit Sometimes duplication, rather than innovation, can create potential fortunes.
As for the education system, it’s unlikely to change anytime soon. Learning is difficult to quantify, and the GPA system is, up to now, the best way educators have found to quantify learning.
In recent times, an array of competency tests has come into vogue. These tests have been used to evaluate teachers, much to the chagrin of the educators.
A good teacher should not be penalized, since students’ performance on competency tests can be attributed to many things.
So use the education system to cultivate grit, but use that grit to go out and do great things for others.


#highereducation #college #tenure
You’ve heard many times that nothing is more constant than change.
Yet, higher education is either slow to recognize the need to change, or just refuses to.
Greg Charleston, a CPA, certified turnaround professional and senior managing director at Conway Mackenzie Inc., discussed this in a column in the Oct. 20, 2014, edition of The Atlanta Journal-
Charleston likens higher education’s story to that of Willy Loman, the lead character in Arthur Miller’s play, “Death of a Salesman,” a reading staple in college literature classes. Willy was slow to adapt to change, as is the current higher education model.
As Charleston points out, the availability of student loans made demand for higher education constant, despite changes in the economy. Also, parents never wavered from the belief that a good education was the key to their child’s future, and did whatever they had to do to make sure their kids went to college.
Now, as Charleston says, government funding is shrinking. Students don’t want to be saddled with debt, especially if they see that their older colleagues are graduating into a shrinking job market. What good is a great education if a student can’t parlay it into a good job, so that they can pay off that massive debt?
Also, Charleston says, more students are opting for non-traditional study – online courses – eschewing the traditional campus life many thought would be so much fun. Yet, many colleges are relying on their reputations to stay alive. One learns quickly that he cannot eat prestige for breakfast.
Charleston suggests alternatives to keep up with the times. He suggests some colleges and universities merge, or offer online alternatives. They need to find ways to scale back costs to keep it affordable to most students.
Perhaps, the really good teachers and professors will need to record their lectures and classes, to make them available universally in the academic world. Academic tenure, as is happening in the corporate and professional world, may soon be a thing of the past.
Parents also need to know their children. They need to ask, is college really right for my son or daughter? It’s OK to answer NO to that question. It won’t mean they will not have a future. In fact, there are many ways to ensure a great future for children without a college education. For one of the best, visit You may find a great way to ensure a marvelous future without the debt and other headaches of getting a child through college.
Those students taking on college may also find a great Plan B, in case their careers after college get off to a slow start.
Higher education, like other facets of life, has to adapt to a changing world. It has to realize that dollars are limited, that there are other ways to get educated and that it may not be a universal path to a great future for young people.
It’s nice to have a great aura or reputation about you. But it’s better to keep one’s doors open.
It’s nice to have a faculty position that will never go away, as long as you want it. But if the whole institution disappears, that position can’t help but go away.
So, to all students, pursue your dreams as you see fit. Study what you must to get to those dreams. But keep in mind that there is more than one route to those dreams. Find the route that fits you best.


#lifeisgood #UnchainTheElephant #findyourpassion

“I had been seduced into a life of little conviction – a logical, systematic existence. My best talents had been buried beneath well-intentioned, but ultimately lifeless rules, meant to hem me into the corporate fabric.”
Erik Wahl
Life is good.
It is. Really. But for some, a “good life” is not enough. They have been taught what a “good life” is, and they live by what they are taught. Yet, they long to do something else — something their parents, teachers, preachers and bosses would never advise them to do.
Erik Wahl, in his book “Unchain the Elephant: Reframe Your Thinking to Unleash Your Potential,” compares an elephant’s behavior in the wild, vs. an elephant’s behavior in captivity. He points out that elephants that are born in captivity are chained to trees and posts. When they test the chain, and realize they can’t go anywhere, they eventually learn that they are not supposed to go anywhere. As a result, the tether becomes unnecessary and the captors need not fear the elephant will take off.
Wahl was told at a young age by a teacher that art was not his strength. He quickly became conditioned to believe that he would never be an artist. Yet, eventually he became a well-known graphic artist – but only after he got good grades, played by the rules and had a great corporate career.
“I gave away my freedom at a young age,” Wahl says.
Many of us want to please our elders. They purport to know what is best for us. So, as children, we listen, obey and are guided to a “good life,” whether we like it or not. Our elders truly believe they are only after our best interest.
But what if adulthood comes, and we find that though life is “good,” something is missing. How many people can, like Wahl, reflect on that, THEN take the steps to unleash a passion. Without passion, we go through the motions of life. Those motions may lead us to good things, but it is like pedaling a stationary bike. You might be making progress toward good health, but you are not going anywhere. Life is so good where you are, you believe, there is no need to go anywhere?
We all learn to take pleasure in little things. We are told to stop and smell the roses, as the song goes, but not if it’s going to delay your next work project. Completing work projects gives you the money to make life “good.”
What if you could make money without completing such projects? What if money came to you while you were stopping to smell the roses?
What if you could pursue your passion without worrying about making a living? Believe it or not, there are many ways out there to do that. For one of the best, visit If you can be financially successful pursuing your passion, as Wahl and others have done, that’s a gift. But many need a financial cushion to give them the time to pursue a passion.
Are you a chained elephant? Are you an elephant without the chain, who has been taught never to escape? Is what you have learned about creating a good life enough for you? If so, your stamina is to be admired. If not, and have a passion you might not dare pursue, think about the chained – and tame, unchained – elephant. With instincts marginalized, it has everything it needs for a “good” life.
Go wild, if you dare. You just might find a great escape.


We’ve all had friends who have, usually as they are leaving us, wishing us well and telling us not to work too hard.
Our parents, teachers, coaches and other mentors all tell us that hard work is required to get almost anything.
So why would our friends tell us not to work too hard?
Let’s forget for a minute work-life balance, and overwork-induced stress. Our friends don’t want us to work too hard because we might give our employers more than the employers are paying for.
Most good, conscientious people don’t want to be deliberately unproductive, or give less than they know they should. Most of them want to be as productive as they can be. Some will risk their physical and mental well-being to be so.
There’s nothing wrong with wanting to do things right, and pleasing your boss. But there should come a point at which one asks himself, who’s working for me? If I’m working for him or her, is he or she also working for me? If I am helping him or her get what HE or SHE wants, is he or she returning the favor?
Many people believe that they work for a paycheck. They get so busy doing that, they don’t even think about their own big picture. Sure, your boss might ask you in a performance review where you want to be in five years, 10 years etc. You give some pat answer, even if you KNOW you may not want to be in that place, doing what you are doing now, all those years later.
Even people who want to be doing something different in the future are so consumed by their circumstances that they not only can see no way out, but also they won’t even consider great alternatives that may be presented to them.
Those that do consider alternatives sometimes find great things that they never knew existed. To do that, one has to be willing to look. Serendipity is great when it happens, but, generally, one has to be willing to look for alternatives to find them.
If you believe your current situation needs to change, AND you are willing to see what might be out there to help you change it, visit Some may not find what they are looking for there, but others may find just the thing. You may also find not only that you can work hard for you, but others will work hard for YOU!
Polls show people dismayed, pessimistic and downright hostile to the future. But, when one looks at facts, rather than conjecture, he will likely find many good things out there to be had. He will also see that he can HAVE them by doing something a little different.
In short, don’t work too hard for someone else. Work hard for you! Very few others will work for you. Do what you need to do to make your situation better. Complaining requires energy that you need to do what you need to do.
You don’t have to abandon what you have, but you may need to have a different attitude about it. Good, hard workers in bad situations know that the situation is only temporary. They know that one day, what they want will be theirs.
Have a good mind-set about any task you perform. Always believe that the future not only can be bright, but you will make it so.
So, work hard, but have a reason, besides a paycheck, to do what you are doing. Take steps to get control of your future – control that no one but you can take away.


Every dispute, situation or dynamic is centered around power.
Those that have it tend to want to use it to control others.
Those that don’t have it look to find something they can use as a weapon against those in power.
When terrorists cannot implement their agenda, they use terror tactics to inflict damage against those whom they cannot conquer.
When a criminal wants what someone else has, knowing that person would not give it to him willingly, he gets a weapon to force the exchange.
Our only hope is that those who gain power use it to help others, not hurt others.
Anyone can gain power. Most of those who are successful in business, for example, didn’t get there without hard work, good fortune and some help from others. Now that they have achieved their success, are they using it to take from, or give to, others? And, in the process, are they using, or otherwise taking advantage of others to achieve their goals?
Some see power as evil, unless they have it. Power does not have to be evil. It can be very good, if used properly. Of course, it can be evil if not.
How do we use power for good? We use power to empower. We use power we have achieved to empower others. For example, we use our power as parents to empower our children. How? By acting toward others in ways you would want your children to act toward others.
You see, you can tell children anything, but what you tell them won’t matter unless they see you acting the way you are telling them to act. You can tell a child to stay away from drugs, but if you are taking them yourself, chances are your children will follow your actions.
If you are an employer, you can’t expect your employees to give you their best if they believe you are not giving your best to them. They have to see you act in the way you want them to act, and you have to reward them the best way you can if they perform well.
If you are a teacher, your students will follow what you DO, more than they will follow what you TEACH. Actions are the best teacher. Students can learn from books, but they will learn best when a teacher not only acts professionally, but shows the students respect. A good teacher empowers.
Anyone can get power. Almost no one is powerless. One just has to think right, find what they need to get power, then empower.
You are just a “working person,” you say? Your current job may not give you the power you want, but there are many ways outside of your job that you can gain power. For one of the best, visit You may find the classic tool to not only give you power, but give you the power to empower.
We all believe that if we had the power, we would use it wisely, and for the benefit of others. For some, achieving power changes them for the worse. Still others who gain power change for the better.
Some who gain power just want more of it, and will do what they must to get it. Others who gain power just want to give themselves to others and empower.
If you had power, would you distribute it or hoard it? Doing the latter could eventually come back to bury you. Doing the former could change the world for the better.
To paraphrase an adage, power can corrupt. Absolute power can corrupt absolutely. But the opposite can also be true. Power can enhance. Absolute power can enhance absolutely. It all depends who has it.


In recent years, schoolteachers, particularly public schoolteachers, have gotten a bad rap.
There have been cheating scandals on standardized tests in Georgia. U.S. students have fallen behind students in other developed countries. Some schools are failing their students because of either funding shortfalls, unsafe conditions etc.
Some say that the methods used to evaluate teachers’ performance are inadequate or obsolete. As a result, poor teachers keep their jobs and good teachers get laid off. In fact, state and municipal funding shortfalls have made many teachers expendable.
Certainly, all of this is occurring.
But the December 2012 shootings at Sandy Hook Elementary Scholl in Newtown, Conn., and the devastating tornado that hammered schools in Moore, Okla., in May 2013 have shown that teachers are real heroes. What they do every day is heroic, but the tragedies illustrate their intrinsic motivation.
Teachers in those two schools have shown how much they love their students. They love them so much that they would risk their own lives to save them. Those teachers did what they felt they had to do to save as many students as they could.
Does this sound like the dependent, government employees some commentators have made them out to be? Are the public schools just a bastion of taxpayer-funded workers who get summers off and don’t do much for the children? Are teachers just in it for the paycheck, pension, and generous government benefits the taxpayers reluctantly dole out? Are they, and their unions, just working to keep the cushy deal they have?
A fan Tweeted to Diane Sawyer, anchor of ABC’s World News on May 21, 2013, that this might be the year of the teacher because of Sandy Hook and Moore. The teachers showed their true character in time of tragedy. They weren’t looking out for themselves in those instances.
Government workers in general get bad press because most of us hate paying taxes. Some view government spending as one of two things: waste and free stuff for the undeserving. But if you ask anyone whether the teachers at Sandy Hook and Moore were worth whatever they were getting paid, few would say no.
Government provides essential services. Many individuals who work in government are dedicated to what they do. They are not there just for the generous benefit package. In fact, many in government, including teachers, get paid very little in relative terms. Frequently, folks who make a lot more than they do are the biggest complainers about schools, and government in general, because they don’t want to pay the taxes it takes to take care of those dedicated folks.
Sure, as in anything, there are abusers. There are teachers and government employees who are in their jobs for self-serving reasons. But in most cases, those who work for the people are motivated by something other than pay and benefits. The teachers of Sandy Hook and Moore proved that.
If you are a teacher or other government employee , who sees a lack of appreciation for your hard work and dedication, visit It may be just the thing to allow you to leave with a smile on your face when you are hit with the next layoff or budget cut. You may not be motivated by money for yourself, but this could give a great ability to help others not only with your time and skill, but also with your money.
Don’t let them call spending on your salary and benefits a “waste.” Don’t let them tell you that you don’t deserve what you get from the taxpayers. If you hear such a thing, just mention the behavior of teachers at Sandy Hook and Moore. They weren’t doing what they do just for the money.


Imagine going to school, and not having to lug a lot of books home with you.
Sure, we want students to be more physical, but carrying books, backpacks laden with “stuff” for school, is probably not the best way to be active.
Cheryl Atkinson, superintendent of schools for DeKalb County, Ga., recently announced that by August 2014, every middle school and high school student in DeKalb will have HIS own device, with all his textbooks on it. Every teacher will have a laptop. Every school will be wireless.
Maureen Downey, education columnist for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, discussed this in her Dec. 10,2012, column. Atkinson spoke at a DeKalb Chamber of Commerce luncheon about this topic. “The fact is … (students) can’t wait for us to catch up to their style of learning, nor should they have to,” Downey quoted Atkinson.
Technology is eventually going to change education in more ways than one. School districts are scrounging for resources. Their governmental benefactors want to give them as few resources as possible. Many see public education as a costly burden, that wastes much of what is given to it.
Technology can solve a good bit of that problem. Technology is making books – one of education’s biggest costs – obsolete. One day, we could see many classes taught by interactive videos. Imagine having one teacher who teaches a certain subject well, simultaneously broadcast to multiple schools. How many fewer teachers might we need in the future? How many students might get the best education the school district can offer, vs. multiple teachers of various experience and abilities making learning in one school better than learning in another school in the same district?
Imagine a student carrying everything he needs to learn with in a device. As innovations progress, devices shrink. Someday, everything students need will be in their pockets. Just think: no books, no pencils, no pads of paper. All those supplies that cost money will be totally unnecessary. If you buy each student a device, it will seem like a bargain, compared to all those other supplies.
Education will be like other industries, using technology to do more, and better, with less. These advances may not go over well with teachers and other employees, who will see job opportunities decrease. On the other hand, technology can help the really good teachers get in front of more students. That can only improve education.
Because of the Internet, information is readily available to students. Teachers can spend less and less time imparting information, and more and more time teaching students the best way to use information. Teachers can be more creative with student interaction, and less structured in the classroom.
Education is slow to use technology to increase productivity and improve quality. The education systems have to overcome old barriers to innovation, so that students can learn in their own style, as Atkinson put it.
Imagine making a great income showing friends something on a gadget. How? Visit
We’ve seen many young people so immersed in their gadgets doing insignificant things for hours on end. We’ve seen gadgets keep kids stationary, when they should be moving more. We’ve seen students lugging backpacks full of books and supplies to and from school.
When the school requires them to use their gadgets for educational purposes, they’ll still spend hours with their gadgets, but doing more fruitful tasks. They won’t be lugging books and supplies to and from school, so maybe they’ll want to get out and move more.
Technology may be a curse as well as a blessing, but it is reality. Let’s hope our educational system catches up with reality sooner rather than later.