Whenever I give my kids a math test, I will tell them, "Try to get a 100." I don't say, "Do the best you can." They may think that a D minus is their best. So I set the standard for them: get an A plus.
Sometimes, they may not get a perfect score. Sometimes they may fall short and only score in the low to high 90s. While they see that those grades are good, they get disappointed that they didn't get 100s. And no, I'm not a perfectionist who's going to make my kids feel bad for not getting 100s. However, if I don't set the standard for them, they would never know what they are capable of doing.
One time, years ago, I boasted to a woman how I got a B in a class. For me, getting Bs was great, because my school grades before my junior year in high school were nothing but Cs and Ds, with a couple of Bs, and on occasions an F. Getting a report card with lots of Bs made me proud!
But this woman looked disappointed and said, "Now, Aiyo, you know that you could do better than that!"
While I didn't understand her logic then, I later understood it. Why get a B when I could get an A? Why get a 90 when I could get a 95? Why get a 95 when I could get a 100? Why stop short of what I was fully capable of doing?
All my life, no one has set a standard for me. All I heard was "Do the best you can," and "Winning isn't everything," and "Well, at least you passed, now you could graduate."
While my daughter was going to private school, she always had As in all her grades, except for one time when she got a B in history. She told me that her teacher said that a B was a good grade. I told my daughter that a B is NOT a good grade. I didn't want her being happy with settling for less than what she could achieve. While I didn't give her any grief about getting a B, I also made her know that I didn't approve of getting a B. I don't want her being like me when I was a kid: a kid who settled for poor grades.
While talking to my former physical education students, I asked them if any of them were happy with their school grades. I looked at their report cards on the computer and saw what they made in each class. Some had all As, some had a mixture of As and Bs, and some had a mixture of As, Bs, Cs, Ds, and Fs.
One student in particular told me that he was happy with his grade. This student had a report card with Cs, Ds, and Fs. Why was he happy with his report card? Well, because nobody set the standard for him. He didn't know what to strive for. If he was like your typical student, then he would have thought that getting all As were for "special people." Heck, I know that was what I thought! Only the super smart kids or the foreign kids got all As.
Then I asked the kids, on a separate occasion, whose fault is it if you get a bad grade. Of course, the kids would blame the teachers. But then I ask something like, "If you don't understand something, what should you do?" Then the kids started coming up with solutions: read the textbook for yourself, research the problem, ask the teacher, etc. The teacher can't take the blame. If you really want a good grade, you'd make sure to do what you can to get it.
But, of course, kids don't usually think like that...and that's because nobody teaches them. Nobody sets those standards for them. It's all about "doing the best that you can."
So, it's time to stop "doing the best you can" and start striving to reach higher than you could ever imagine. Don't just do your best: do better than anyone who is around you!
Now hold on, I'm not saying to live your life competing with other people. But let's go back to school. If your friend scored an 86 on her test, why can't you do better than that? If your buddy got an A- in his chemistry class, why can't you get an A+ in chemistry? You see, when you see what other people could achieve, you would see a standard that you could reach for and even surpass it.
You have 100 lbs to lose. Your sister also has 100 lbs to lose. She lost only 30. Why can't you lose 40? She lost 50. Why can't you lose 60? She has set the standard for you to not only achieve, but to also surpass. You know that your ultimate goal is to lose 100 lbs, but maybe you think you can't do it...until someone else is getting closer and closer to that goal. When someone else set their own standards, you ought to be prepared to go beyond that standard.
So, if I told my kids to try to get an 80 on an exam, they should want to get an 85. If I said to try to get a 90, they should want to get a 95 or more. But if I set the standard HIGH and tell them to get a 100, they should want to settle for nothing less.
How high are your standards in life? What is your REAL best? When you said that you've done your best, did you REALLY do your best? When you said that you've tried hard, did you REALLY try hard? When you said that you've done all that you could, how true is that?
I won't just try to do my best. I'm going to try to do better than the other guy. See, I might have set my standards too low. If I see what the other guy could achieve, then I'm going to do better than him. He had set the standard for me. Again, I'm not suggesting you live a life of competition. But you ought to see what others have achieved and see if you could top that. Your standards might be too low for you. Sometimes you don't know what you ought to achieve until you see what others have achieved.
If you have kids at home struggling with getting good grades, ask them what grades their friends are getting...then tell them to do better than that.
And by the way, just in case you don't think it's possible to get higher than a 100, I wrote a history research paper in college that has gotten me an A+++. I went well above the standards my professor gave me. So even if your kids' friends are getting As, tell your kid to do better. If they ask how that's possible, send them to me!
Now, it's your turn. Don't do your best anymore. Go above and beyond the standards that are set before you.
If you want to see how strong you really are, then try mastering the art of self-control.
Many of you have heard of the Biblical story of Cain and Abel, Adam and Eve's boys. Abel offered a good sacrifice to God, but Cain's sacrifice was unacceptable. Cain got ticked off, but God told him something I find interesting: "Sin is crouching at your door and it desires to rule you. But you must master it!" Cain probably had thoughts of killing his brother right then and there, but God tried to tell him to control himself and not to give in to that temptation.
As the story goes, Cain invites his brother to take a walk with him. Then Cain murdered his brother. He lost his self control. He had to pay a penalty because of it.
What would have happened had Cain controlled his murderous urges? Maybe great things would have happened for him. He could have been the father of great leaders and great nations. But we would never know because Cain lost his self control.
When you lose that self control, you would never know what the alternative outcome would look like for your life. Whenever you lose control of yourself, you lose the opportunity to receive better things for yourself.
Having an addiction is perhaps the ultimate test of self control. Your fleshly urges are so strong that they mentally wear you down. The stronger your urges, the weaker your will power, and often times, your fleshly urges win. But it's not so much that your urges are powerful: it's because you severely lack self control.
Every time you lose control of your body and give in to addiction, you would never know the blessings that you could have been rewarded for resisting temptation. You would spend your life giving in to your urges and missing out on great opportunities for yourself.
Have you ever known the blissful feeling of not giving in to temptation? No? Well, you never will if you keep losing control over your body.
On rare occasions, I would have new people come to my fitness classes, stay for a few tracks, and then leave. The intensity was more than what they were used to. Self control, in this case, would have been to stay for the entire class and modify the intensity. But instead of doing that, they just quit. How good would they have felt had they stood for the entire class? Well, they'll never know because they quit too early. Their fleshly desire to quit was stronger than their self control.
What things could you have accomplished had you not given in to your fleshly desire? Again, you won't know because you have lost self control.
Self control could be defined as the ability to FORCE yourself to do something that you don't want to do, or to FORCE yourself to NOT do something that you want to do. Self control is navigating your thoughts, emotions, and actions for your own good. Instead of thinking, feeling, and doing things that will ultimately ruin you, you will think, feel, and do things that will ultimately improve you.
If it doesn't improve you, then you don't need to do it. And if you don't need to do it, then you need to have self control. Having self control takes practice!
Think back on the Cain and Abel story. God told Cain to master the sin that is crouching at his door. Tigers, lions, cheetahs, and all those "big cats" crouch before attacking their prey. Your physical desires are crouching at your door ready to pounce on you. However, even if you get attacked, you could tame the fleshly beast of desire so that you could conquer it! But in order to master something, you need to TRAIN. Self control isn't a natural instinct. It's something you need to learn and master.
Doing what you feel like doing isn't practicing self control. Doing what you don't feel like doing is practicing self control. In the same way, practicing self control is...
There is freedom and opportunities when you have control over your actions. Self control could prevent you from making a mistake. Self control could allow you to experience certain things in life that lacking self control wouldn't allow. You could feel better about yourself when you know how to take control of your life.
There is no joy when you lose control. When life seems to be getting out of control, just remember that it all stems from your ability to control yourself. If you can't control yourself, then life will get out of control. When life get's crazy, focus on sharpening your will power.
Want a more joyful life? Then work on yourself, and the first thing you could work on is self control.
One of my least favorite phrases is "That's just the way I am" or "That's just who I am." To me, that is just a way to excuse poor behavior. It tells me that I need to accept somebody's bad actions because that person just couldn't help it. It's just the way he or she is.
This phrase also tells me that somebody knows his or her actions were bad, but that this person has no plans or desires to change. So, I would just have to accept how things are.
Let me tell you that who you are is what you have chosen to be. What you do comes from pure free will choice. What you say comes from your heart. Everything you say and do boils down to one thing: your own design of your life.
Whether you want to believe it or not, you have designed yourself to be who you are. Nobody was born being positive, or being negative, or being very loving, or being very hateful. From the time you were born to today, you have made a series of choices that have designed you to be the way you are now. So whenever you say, "That's just how I am," you are really saying, "This is who I CHOOSE to be and I am not changing it for anybody."
Another phrase I can't stand is, "I just can't help it," and it really doesn't help that modern society promotes this idea. Really, what you are saying to me is, "I really don't care to change my poor actions."
Imagine that you are writing a story. How would it end? What characters would there be? Who's the hero? Who's the villain? What actions would they take? Well, it's all up to you. Just as a story doesn't write itself, YOU don't become who you are by random. And when you finish a story, you have the power to change anything that you've written. In the same way, YOU have the power to change whatever you have made yourself to be.
Do not doom yourself with the attitude of "That's just the way I am." No, it is who you have chosen to be. If you could choose to be it, then you could choose to NOT be it.
Whenever you feel that "I can't help it" or "It's just who I am," then you have already set your own death sentence. If your poor actions or poor attitude is getting you in trouble (or will get you in trouble), then you disabled your ability to make things right. Unless you decide to change "who you are," then life for you could go downhill very fast.
One time at church, I asked the kids, "Is it hard to do the right thing?" Everybody said "No." So, why is it that I would occasionally have kids who would talk over me or misbehave in class? Because while it isn't hard to do the right thing, it is not always PLEASANT to do the right thing. Maybe at their school, there were things they could get away with and they tried to do it with me, and then they learn really fast that I have my limits. I will yell at you, make you feel bad, and kick you out of class if you disrespect me. For me, you are the child and I am the adult. You need to obey me or go to your parents.
Doing what the teacher says isn't pleasant, but it is easy to do what the teacher says. (Notice that I didn't say "Asks." I said "Says." As a teacher, I don't "ask" you to do anything. I "tell" you what to do.) Simply not talking over the teacher, treating your classmates with respect, and doing the class activity are all easy to do. If a kid decides to do otherwise, then it's not that he or she couldn't help it. It's because the kid DECIDED to go against the teacher's orders.
In the same way, YOU DECIDE how you're going to live, how you're going to act, what you're going to say, how you're going to treat others, and what goals in life you will pursue. You DECIDE the path of your life.
You DECIDE what kind of person you will be.
Most things we do in life are by choice. Where you are today or where you are NOT today was determined by a series of choices that you made. How you feel about things was determined by what you have fed your mind throughout the years. How you treat others was determined by what you think of others and what you think of yourself. What you THINK is determined by what you feed your mind.
Whether you're going down the right path or the wrong path in life, it's all because of the choices we have made. It feels better to believe that we had nothing to do with who we are or where we're going in life. Unfortunately (yet fortunately), we have the power to make ourselves into different people. All we have to do is to DECIDE to change.
If you don't like who you are, then change it. Don't let doctors, psychologists, teachers, or talk show hosts tell you that you're powerless to change yourself. Prove them wrong! Don't let society tell you that "you're just born that way." Prove it wrong! Don't let the media tell you that you just can't help it. Prove it wrong.
In fact, prove YOURSELF wrong if you believe that you don't have the power to change yourself. Get away from the attitude of "It's just the way I am." Start saying, "This is who I choose to be" and if you don't like who are you, then you could say, "I will choose to be something different." Then go out there and make the right choices so you could be somebody that you're well pleased with.
I am a very, very patient person. But don't get me wrong: I could still get frustrated while I'm waiting. Being patient doesn't mean an absence of frustration: it means that you won't act out in your frustration. Patience essentially means that you won't act out in your frustration while you're waiting for the desired results. In order to not act out in your frustration, this means that you need lots of understanding.
Homeschooling my kids could be a joyful AND a frustrating experience. It's joyful when the kids finally get it, but it's frustrating when they are trying to get it. For example, teaching my son to read was very painful for me! I barely taught my daughter how to read, and but looking at a bunch of YouTube videos with sub captions helped her excel in reading. Being in third grade, she could read close to a fifth grade level. She's also interested in learning different languages, so it's probably no surprise that words are her strengths.
Now with my son, he just wasn't interested in learning to read. Reading with him has been very frustrating. Hearing him read is like being in stop-and-go traffic! He would cry as he struggled to read, and I wanted to cry because I was so angry with him. However, I never once shouted at him, never once threw a fit, and I never did anything that showed how mad I was.
But now look at what happens. My seven-year-old son eventually wanted me to teach him how to read. His reasoning? "I don't want to be an adult and not know how to read," he said. Eventually, his reading has gotten better and better. Is listening to him read still like stop-and-go traffic? Yes it is! However, he is recognizing many words, especially the sight words (many of which you cannot sound out). I have given him B+ and A- grades on his reading. His confidence in reading is building up and reading isn't painful for him anymore.
My patience with him ultimately led to his improvement. I had patience because I knew what I wanted the outcome to be like. I want him to be an excellent reader and to love learning. Throwing a fit and shouting to God wasn't going to deliver the desired outcome. Having understanding that he's a child and that reading is not his strength, as well as knowing what the good outcome could be, helped with my patience.
In the same way, if YOU want better patience, you need to:
Someone who wants to lose a lot of weight has to first understand the situation, which is that he didn't gain all that weight overnight. It took lots of time to build up all that fat and he won't lose it in one night. Then he needs to focus on what he wants to happen, which is to lose all his excess weight. If this person has neither understanding of the situation nor a focus on the desired result, he will give up in frustration quickly!
If you lack patience, then you lack understanding. You also have no desired outcome in mind. All you see is the situation as it is and you would just react to what you see.
Here's a good example:
Somebody is driving very slowly in front of you. Yes, even I get frustrated with such people, especially if we are on a one-lane road! So, an impatient person would not consider why the person in front is driving so slowly and would simply react with his or her feelings. This person would honk, shout, tailgate, flick lights off and on, and would even pull a dangerous stunt as driving pass the person as quickly as possible. Doing this, of course, could cause retaliation of the other driver or an accident on your part.
If the person is patient, the person would have the following in mind:
You see, patience is POWERFUL and it could keep you from consequences. But in order to have this patience, you need to: 1) have understanding and 2) focus on the desired outcome.
Back to the car example. Being a patient person, I try to understand why a person is going slowly. The other driver could be in the wrong. You know, texting, chatting on the phone, trying to do her make-up, etc. But the other person could be lost. That person doesn't have me on his or her mind at that moment, so this person's slowness has nothing to do with me.
Now, that was my understanding of the situation. Here's my desired outcome: I want to get to my destination safely and without any consequences from the cops. Despite how I may feel about the other driver, my desired outcome will keep me from doing something stupid.
Patience leads to success in whatever area in your life. The more patience you have, the more likely you will see your desired result. But if you lack patience, you won't see any success...and you just might find yourself in trouble.
What if I just gave up on teaching my son how to read? He would be that teenager or adult who could barely spell his name. That consequence would hurt both him and me because I would have to read everything for him. He won't be independent.
What if a person who wanted to lose weight just gave up? That person would just get bigger and bigger and would have to deal with the health consequences.
What if a person who wanted to find a job just gave up? That person would just be on welfare, or living with parents....or just homeless.
What if a person who wanted to desperately pass another driver on the road did something dangerous to pass the other driver? That person may have gotten killed by on-coming traffic.
The lack of patience is dangerous and produces no good. But the more patience you have, the better off you'd be. You could conquer anything, keep yourself out of trouble, save many relationships and even build many relationships. Patience does make a more peaceful life!
You could NEVER lose if you have patience. But with the lack of patience, you could risk losing everything.
Always ask yourself how you want something to end, not how you want something to start. How you start it is nowhere as important as how you end it.
Think about writing a story. There's the easy way and there's the hard way of writing a story. The hard way is having no idea how you want it to end. You just write, write, and write hoping that you would have a good ending. However, doing this would just make the writing process longer than it should be -- and you may never finish the book.
Then, there's the easy way, which is having a solid idea as how you want the story to end. When you have an ending in mind, then you'd create your story in such a way that would take you to that ending. Writing a story this way would make the writing process shorter, and you just might finish that book!
Or let's take teaching a lesson for example. If you have no idea what you want your students to learn, then you'd teach them anything you could think of. But this, of course, would mean that you wouldn't be able to assess whether or not your students learned anything because you had no ending in mind. As a homeschool parent, I have an end point in mind for my kids when it comes to math. By the end of the year, I want them to be able to do this, that, or the other with math. However, if I have no ending in mind, then I would just teach them random things about math -- and by the year's end, my kids would have learned nothing!
When you have an ending in mind, you would make your decisions to take you to that end point. But without an ending in mind, then all of your decisions would simply be random.
So, let's take this example...something many of us could relate to. A co-worker picks a fight with you. Maybe he or she accused you of doing something wrong and tells the boss. Now, you could handle this the easy way or the hard way.
Easy way: have an end point in mind. How would you like to see this issue resolved.
Hard way: have no end point in mind and react however way you'd like...and risk getting disciplined.
On the job, I witnessed a situation that could have turned physical. The situation started with a simple, yet tensed disagreement between two people. The argument was short-lived and both parties could have walked away with a simple let's-agree-to-disagree solution. But then a third party needlessly got involved and the first two parties jumped back into the tussle.
Now, ONE of the first two parties could have ended it well, but because he had to justify himself, he angered the third party to the point where she wanted to physically attack him. Instead of backing off, he said, "I dare you!" At that moment, a fourth party jumped in to prevent any disaster from happening.
Did any of the three parties have an ending in mind? No, they all just did what they felt, not considering any possible consequences of continuing this argument.
You see, when you ask "Where would I'd like to be," you'd make decisions that will get you there. But if you don't ask that question, then any decision you'd make would seem like a good decision.
While I haven't been a big fan of goal-setting, I have started to appreciate this concept more and more because having a goal is your END POINT. This is where you want to be, and if you know where you want to be, then you'd adjust everything in your life so you could get there.
Simply wanting to do something is not important. How you want to END is where your focus should be on.
Whatever decisions you make right now is simply random unless these decisions are taking you to a specific place. If your decisions aren't guiding you to a recognizable destination, then your decisions might take you to a place you don't want to go!
It's really easy to get started on anything. The hard part is seeing where you might end up. This is especially true if money is your main motivator. All you see is the green, but you don't see what's behind all that green.
Before you jump, ask yourself where you want to land. Closing your eyes and leaping off a cliff hoping for the best will get you killed. Jumping out of an airplane with a parachute over a pasture of grass is another story...one which would lead to success.
When I was teaching physical education to kindergartners, one lesson I would teach them is to shake off the pain. I don't need these kids crying at every bump and bruise that they get, and with my style of physical education, there was going to be plenty of bumps and bruises!
Now, these kids were good-hearted kids. If a classmate gets hurt, they would automatically want to comfort this student. But then I would nearly yell, "Uh-uh! Everybody keep playing! Shake it off!" Even if the kids were compassionate, I would bark at them to ignore the "injured" kid and get back to business.
One time, one of these students busted her lip -- and man, was I cold! I kept shouting at her, "Shake it off! Keep playing!" She saw that none of the other kids were showing her any compassion, so as best as she could, she kept playing -- but crying at the same time.
Then one of the students, the little bulldog that she was, yelled out, "Stop worrying about your lip and focus on the ball!"
Eventually, the injured student toughen up and started getting serious with the game. Afterwards, I gave the students a lecture about the whole incident.
Yes, I appeared very crude, cold, and heartless. But when teaching children, even at a young age, I find that having a "cold front" about you is sometimes the best way for you to get the message across. After awhile, these kindergartners would get hurt, but would boast to me saying, "Mr. Jones, I got hurt, but I shook it off!"
My point that I wanted them to have is that you can't let pain stop you from reaching a goal. I also didn't want the other students to encourage an injured student to quit by showing this student compassion. My thoughts were that these students get enough compassion at home (and their behavior confirmed it!). They needed someone who could show them how to toughen up.
If you have something in mind that you want to achieve, you need to go for it and not let every little pain distract you!
We've all been guilty of letting the little pains in life keep us from pursuing our goal. As a physical education teacher, I would notice that whenever kids get hurt, they would just sit down and cry. So, I would tell the students that as long as you're crying, you're not playing. All the time they've invested in sobbing could have been invested in something more productive: playing! Crying gets you nowhere. Playing takes you places!
Listen: anything worth pursuing will produce some bumps and bruises along the way. These little injuries are nothing compared to the glories that you'll receive when you accomplish something worthy!
NO ONE has ever taught me the importance of shaking off the pain while in hot pursuit of something. I would get an idea, go for it, but when I get a little scratch or a slight slap in the face, then I'll turn back. How many things could I have accomplished if I would have just kept going?
Whenever I play sports games with kids at school or at church, one thing I would stress is that it is a SPORTS game. You WILL get pushed, slapped, and perhaps spit on. These things happen by accident when you get excited about winning. Do NOT become a baby and start crying about it. Focus on winning rather than on crying.
In the same way, YOU, ME, and EVERYBODY that you know have to focus on winning. If you can't ignore the distractions, then ten years would go by and you'd wonder, "Man, why isn't my life getting any better?" Your life can improve, but you just have to stop being distracted by the pain.
I've been gifted with a high pain tolerance. As far as I could remember, I rarely ever cried because of pain, not even as a child. I would cry in embarrassment before I'd cry in pain. I've been punched in the eye, punched in the stomach, fell on my head, cut myself, got plenty of needles, busted my knee caps, and of course not too long ago broken my toe. I've never cried at any of these events, despite the pain that I've gotten. That's probably why I get so cold whenever people talk about so-called pain.
If you have a low tolerance of pain in your life, it's time to build up some tolerance.
I remember watching one of the Nightmare On Elm Street movies long ago when the young Freddy Krueger (before he got killed) was cutting himself and smiling. He told someone, "Do you know why I don't have any pain? Because you have to stop feeling it!"
In the same way, STOP feeling all the pain you get along your route to your goals. Take your mama's advice and stop thinking about the pain. Think about what you could accomplish more than the pain you're experiencing, and as long as you keep your mind on the prize, everything that you experience would simply be little scratches.
All information in this blog are for inspirational purposes only. Unless otherwise stated, all content is written and copyrighted by Aiyo A. Jones.