Dear 14 Year Old Ross,
You have two opportunities every day in your current life:
- An education
- And 24 hours in a day
I will begin with this education piece of life. Right now you are about 2/3 through this 13-year journey that is public school. You have created some habits and figured out how you learn and operate the best. As you look ahead, one principle I live by is- always begin with the end in mind. This means figuring out what it is that you want to accomplish or become by the end of a journey and then work backwards from that point to figure out the necessary steps.
So with this end in mind: what do you want to do when you are done with this educational journey? Basically, what do you want to do when you graduate high school?
Close your eyes and picture yourself in 4 or 5 years…what are you getting ready to do?
Hold on to that picture and open your eyes. Maybe this is a picture of you at your dream college (hopefully not Michigan). Maybe this is a picture of you getting a job. Or you have no idea! Which is completely fine. (When I was 14, I wanted to be a gym teacher.)
But let me pass along a secret that works no matter where you go or what you do…the little things make up the big things.
Huh?! What do I mean by this? To be really good at the big things in your life, you have to be really good at the little things in life. The best chocolate chip cookies are made up of the very best ingredients.
Let’s take your life in school as an example. The little things that make up school are showing up, listening and paying attention, studying and trying your best, asking questions, and getting along with others.
If you get great at those little things in school, you will do great at the big things in school. Those same little things that make up school also make up music, sports, and all other things in life.
The other piece of really good news is that the little things are completely under your control! You, nobody else, is in control of whether you do them or not. Get really good at the little things of life and you become really good at the big things in life.
The second thing you are guaranteed is 24 hours in a day. Our time and energy are a non-renewable resource; this means that you and I only have so much. They cannot be created. They are never lost and then found. Our time and energy can only be spent and used, never returned for more.
What we pay attention to in our life requires both of those precious resources- our time and energy. Pay Attention what you Pay Attention to. Make sure it really is worth your time and energy.
A little bit about me: Yes, I am that teacher that loves to tell Dad jokes. But I was also you, 14 years ago, a student at this same school sitting in the same desks as you. Since that time I have been fortunate to achieve some dreams- I have medaled at both the National and World Triathlon Championships, became a professional athlete, and I have given a TEDx Talk on attitude and mindset.
I attribute all those things to two things in my life: my effort and my attitude. When I was a student here, I was in no way special or extraordinary- just a normal kid who was not a star athlete or even close to being the most popular. I made myself extra-ordinary through my effort and attitude.
Effort and attitude are the small things that directly tie into the big things in life.
Now guess who has the opportunity to do great things in their lives just like I did 14 years ago…You. Make the most of your effort and attitude and we will be calling your signature an autograph.
In addition to your effort and attitude, success requires two outside ingredients:
- You need an example in your life of somebody who has accomplished their dreams
- And a support system as you pursue yours
Think about the people you can count on in your life right now (parents, siblings, family members, friends, teachers, etc.)… We are your 2 outside ingredients. So, what’s stopping you?