On the recommendation of the podcast Entrepreneur on Fire, I bought the book Think and Grow Rich by Napolean Hill. This is a very fascinating book written in 1937 on the heels of the great depression. This book has continued to be a best seller. There are a few quotes I wanted to share that I believe represent the culture we are trying to create at Acton Academy Las Cruces.
“Before success comes in any man’s life, he is sure to meet with much temporary defeat, and perhaps some failure. When defeat overtakes a man, the easiest and most logical thing to do is to quit. That is exactly what the majority of men do. More than five hundred of the most successful men this country has even known, told the author their greatest success came just one step beyond the point at which defeat had overtaken them. Failure is a trickster with a keen sense of irony and cunning. It takes great delight in tripping one when success is almost within reach.”
One of the hardest parts of navigating the Acton learning approach is recognizing that failure is a powerful teaching tool. When our children struggle with a concept or personal relationship at school, how we respond to the situation showcases our own mindset. Are we willing to allow our children to walk through this process or will be coddle, blame, or demean? Will we respect failure as a powerful educator while simultaneously offering love and support? Are we mindful of our own approach to life – do we quit when something gets hard? Do we blame or complain vs. taking personal responsibility? The most powerful parenting opportunity we have is modeling good life choices. Being a part of Acton has challenged me to grow as a parent and face some of my own failures with a growth mindset. We are stronger as a family. One of my number one priorities of this school is to motivate, challenge, and encourage all of our families; ours included, to live a life of courage and purpose. If you have not already done so, I would encourage you to complete the process of developing a family mission statement. We just completed ours a week ago and it is posted on our refrigerator.
Mr. Hill outlined key skills that are critical to leading a successful life. These eleven traits, although created in 1937, ring true today. Our children have the opportunity to practice these life skills on a daily basis at Acton Academy.
- Unwavering courage.
- A keen sense of justice and fairness.
- Definiteness of decision.
- Definiteness of plans.
- The habit of doing more than paid for.
- A pleasing personality. No slovenly, careless person can become a successful leader.
- Sympathy and understanding.
- Mastery of detail.
- Willingness to assume full responsibility.
Mr. Hill’s comments on education were fascinating. “This missing link in all systems of education known to civilization today, may be found in the failure of educational institutions to teach their students how to organize and use knowledge after they acquire it.” This comment builds a great case for project based learning. If you don’t see the “why” behind what you are learning, it feels like a pointless waste of time.
Mr. Hill further goes into the concept that general knowledge is somewhat useless. He notes that a person should focus on their greatest gifts and then outsource their weaknesses to a mastermind team. This was such a profound statement! Within our school, Eagles who are good at a certain skill can sign up to mentor a student who might struggle in that area. This provides an opportunity for Eagles to exercise their greatest gifts while giving other Eagles the chance to develop a “master mind” team to help them solve their problems. Learning to collaborate and play to your strengths is a solid plan for success. Often as parents we tend to focus on our child’s weaknesses and how we can improve upon their flaws. Instead what would happen if we focused on augmenting their strengths? Mr. Hill noted that a person’s greatest asset is their ideas. “The great leaders of business, industry, finance, and the great artists, musicians, poets, and writers became great because they developed the faculty of creative imagination.” Ironically many of history’s most impacting people never went to college – Abraham Lincoln and Bill Gates immediately come to mind. It is the human imagination and ability to dream that is our most powerful asset. A goal of an Acton education is to ignite curiosity and creativity.
In summary, my vision for our school culture is very much defined in the hero’s journey. Learning, growing our strengths, and making the world a better place by using our inherent uniqueness and creativity. “The person who stops studying merely because he has finished school is forever hopelessly doomed to mediocrity, no matter what may be his calling. The way of success is the way of continuous pursuit of knowledge.” Napolean Hill