Look, I am a small, petty person prone to grudges and outbursts against the follies of people who I believe are negatively affecting the quality of life for others — especially when I believe they could be doing better (if only their intention was to do so).
Therefore, as a teacher, it’s hard to like the job Arnold Schwarzenegger is doing as the governor of California in terms of the way he is captaining our educational agenda. It just doesn’t seem to me as if he values our schools as much as I would like. To wit, click here.
However, as a man, a person, a real human being, he’s not all black and white. There are a few things I do admire about him. (Did I mention “How I Dislike Agreeing with Someone With Whom I Usually Do Not Agree”? See, I like putting people/things in a mental box… and then when they don’t fit, I am forced to change my own way of thinking. And if you know me, you know how I hate thinking… especially re-thinking. Arrggh!)
A few months ago Ah-nold gave the commencement speech at my alma mater, the University of Southern California (GO TROJANS!) and he laid out Schwarzenegger’s Six Rules for Success.
And while my initial inclination would be to mock them, after thinking about them, I have to say, it’s some good stuff.
And I would love it if my students took more of these things to heart.
Rule 1: Trust yourself.
Schwarzenegger advocates listening to your own heart to follow your own passions… passionately. On this we see eye-to eye.
Rule 2: Break the rules.
Again, this vibes with my own thinking a great deal. After all, if you want to make an omelet, ya gotta break some eggs and when I took out on the horizon, I see the status quo as something that perpetually needs to have its feet held to the fire… for if there is a better way to do something, go do it. And nothing ever really gets “invented” unless someone, as the Governator points out, “breaks some rules.”
Rule 3: Don’t be afraid to fail.
Fear of failure paralyzes people and often prevents them from giving their best effort. It wasn’t until I totally tried my hardest and BOMBED as a professional writer that I was able to re-group, re-evaluate and become a published author. Having just inked a deal for my 7th novel — after a series of rejections, mind you, from other very prestigious book publishers — I signed a new deal with Penguin. (Pretty spiffy, huh?) Getting rejected hurts, failing stings but not giving up and learning from our mistakes is critical. And often in life, one “Yes” will outweigh 20 “No’s” We have to be more willing to fail for it is the only real road I’ve personally ever known to successs.
Rule 4: Don’t listen to the naysayers
See rule 3 for more of my thoughts on this.
Rule 5: Work your butt off
There is no substitute for hard work in this world and while people may think I am a freak for saying so, I relish the feeling of giving a great effort. It feels good for my soul. And when I see students really lay it on the line and develop this muscle of “really trying when it comes to their pursuits” I feel confident in their abilities to become a success after they leave my classroom. There is no substitute for hard work. Ah-nold and I, once again, agree.
Rule 6: Give back
Teachers make a career out of giving. Matter of fact, that’s often how we measure ourselves. “Did I give enough to this student? Did I impart enough to that one?” …and so on. Seems to me that my own life functions better when I am trying to serve the needs of others — and when I get bogged down in getting what I want — especially when it comes to pursuing material goals — that’s when my life feels clogged and sputter-y. But when I am working to “give to others” I just feel good. It feeds me.
And so, there it is, Schwarzenegger and I agree… and who said pigs wouldn’t one day fly.