Here are quotations and illustrations, with brief explanations where required, to motivate students for fourteen difficult situations (facing an important exam, procrastination, resisting peer pressure, addiction to social media, worry, lacking talent, and so on) they commonly face.
1. “I’ve to face an important exam.”
When you’re stuck on something, when you get frustrated, when progress is hard, then remind yourself:
Those who can find a way, despite these disappointments, will leave their peers far behind.
Few hours before the exam
Matthew Syed in his book Bounce: Mozart, Federer, Picasso, Beckham, and the Science of Success describes (in the context of choking in sports) the moments just before the opening race of 500-metre speed skating at 2002 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City:
Some of the athletes are pacing around, steely-eyed, others sitting down and shaking their hands and feet; still others are in earnest conversation with their coaches, rehearsing their tactics and strategy one last time. The roar of the crowd through the curtains is an ever-present reminder that their moment of truth is approaching.
But one competitor is not engaged in any of the familiar last-minute activities. Sarah Lindsay, a twenty-one-year-old British skater, is sitting, breathing slowly, her eyes staring forward – and all the while she is saying something audibly to herself. ‘It’s only speed skating!’ she says. ‘It’s only speed skating!’ ‘It’s only bloody speed skating!’
Sarah could keep pressure at bay this way, and performed at a level above than what her ranking would suggest.
So, taking a cue from her, minutes before taking the hot seat at the test center, say to yourself:
Neil deGrasse Tyson, the renowned American astrophysicist, emphasizes the same point in his commencement speech at University of Massachusetts Amherst:
2. “I often fall prey to procrastination.”
Things will only worsen if you wait longer. If you can’t avoid the task, then act now.
Often times, you don’t know where to start especially when it’s a complex, overwhelming task. What you can do in such cases is to divide the task into small, manageable subtasks, and start from one of them.
You’ve to make a beginning.
3. “I can’t get away from social media/ phone.”
In U.S., teens (13- to 18-year-olds) spend more than six and a half hours every day consuming media on screens (laptops, smartphones, and tablets), and tweens (8- to 12-year-olds), more than four and a half hours.
Everyone, including you, has only 24 hours in a day, and it’s entirely up to you where you spend these. Don’t complain if you habitually struggle to meet deadlines or deliver low-quality output.
4. “I can’t resist peer pressure.“
Before joining the bandwagon, you need to also weigh what’s good for you in the medium to long term.
5. “I don’t like studying, or training for my goal.“
Not just you, everyone goes through it!
But those who succeed, work on their goals despite the discomfort. That’s the big difference, and in most cases, the only.
6. “I can never be like my classmates because they’re more talented than me.“
Michael Jordan was a creature of unimaginable work ethic.
Will Smith worked on his craft harder than any of his peers.
So did Mozart and Charles Darwin.
And world considers them to be exceptionally talented!
Studies have shown that grit and deep practice (form of practice in which you push yourself just beyond your current skill level and seek feedback on mistakes made) are far more important than talent to become expert in any field.
So, it doesn’t matter if your illustrious peers are more talented than you. You can surpass them …
Here are few quotes from the experts themselves.
(Chuck Yeager became the first pilot to travel faster than sound in 1947. Here is quoted from The Right Stuff by Tom Wolfe.)
(Angela Duckworth is professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania and an eminent researcher on grit.)
Your peer may seem more natural than you in, say, math, but you can be better than her/ him if you work hard and seek improvements consistently over a period of time.
7. “I’m caught in a rut. I can’t change my life.“
Only thing is you need to want it bad enough.
Both Denis Waitley and Tony Robbins say the same thing. Your past is water under the bridge; it’s gone. Whereas tomorrow is like a new wave building in the ocean. You can change things starting the very next moment.
One opportunity goes, another comes. But, we rue the lost opportunity for so long that we fail to notice the new. You need to quickly get over the one that is gone, and brace yourself up for the new waves building up in the ocean.
Your belief, your mindset is critical in making the change happen, and it can be flipped in a moment.
8. “I just failed on a big occasion, I let everybody down.“
Key is to learn from those mistakes, and not repeat them.
9. “I get nervous on the big stage.“
However, first perform the challenge at a smaller scale and gradually increase your confidence before you move to the biggest stage. For example, if you’ve to make a speech to an audience of 500, start with a speech to five of your friends, then twenty-odd strangers, and so on.
10. “I worry a lot.“
It’s only your imagination or expectation that certain things may go wrong in future, right.
Imagination or expectation, and no rationale!
And if it’s only your imagination, then why can’t you kill it?
In reality, you suffer much more from your worries than when they actually come true. They drain your limited energy and will power that you’ve for the day, and reduce your productivity.
To quote Robin Sharma, the author of the best seller The Monk Who Sold His Ferrari: A Fable About Fulfilling Your Dreams & Reaching Your Destiny, on worry-fact-finding exercise of a business executive who participated in his leadership coaching program:
… 54 percent of his worries related to things that would likely never happen; 26 percent were about past actions that could not be changed; 8 percent related to the opinions of people whose opinions really did not matter to him; 4 percent concerned personal health issues that he had since resolved; and only 6 percent concerned real issues worthy of his attention.
I agree with the lopsided proportion of worries that are worth worrying about. I’ve noted down my worries over more than a year and found that very few of them actually came true. Run this exercise yourself, and you’ll realize how much mental energy you’re wasting.
11. “I fear pursuing big goals because I can’t possibly achieve them.“
If you feel embarrassed when asking for something, if you think you’ll look stupid if you pursue a difficult goal, and if you think you’ll reach your goals somehow, then you’re making sure that your goals will remain unfulfilled.
You need to pursue them. You need to hustle. You need to take proactive steps. You need to forget what others think. You need to have hide, not skin.
Too many lead small lives, because they think their abilities don’t match up to big goals. These limiting beliefs are precisely the reason why you would never pursue, let alone achieve them. And if you don’t pursue your significant goals, then you die much before your biological death.
And here is the logical reason why you should pursue big goals.
But, we often underestimate what we are capable of.
Also, a big goal will motivate you much more than the ordinary.
How many of you would be motivated to raise money for a weekend trip to a holiday resort 200 miles from your town? And how many to see the awe-inspiring Icelandic landscape (assuming you don’t live in Iceland)?
Won’t you work harder for the second goal? It’s bigger. It’s much more motivating.
12. “I plan a lot, but I don’t act.“
If the plan is big, start small. Google, Apple, Microsoft, Amazon, and Disney they all started in a garage. Facebook started with only bunch of students at Harvard University as its users.
Identify one step that you can take today, and do it.
13. “I’m rarely happy.“
14. “Luck doesn’t seem to favor me.“
Working hard, taking chances do make you lucky as Richard Wiseman, Professor of Psychology at University of Hertfordshire, UK, has shown though his research on the subject. In his book, The Luck Factor: The Scientific Study of the Lucky Mind, he mentions four basic principles lucky people follow to get lucky:
If I’ve to conclude the entire post by a quote, then it’ll be this:
Question: What’s your favorite quote?
Image credit: Nikita Kozin, Ale Estrada, Adam Zubin, Sergey Demushkin, Simon, Acid Beast, Anna Ho, Julien Deveaux, Prasad, Gilad Sotil, Michal Beno, Alexander Gruzdev, Jakub Čaja, parkjisun, Jakub Čaja, Renato Forster, Blake Thompson, artworkbean, Claire Jones, Stephanie Wauters, Nikita Kozin, Cards Against Humanity, Blaise Sewell, Milky – Digital innovation, lastspark, Theysaurus, Ariel Kotzer, Sergey Demushkin, parkjisun, Alexandre Dos Santos, Creative Stall, Kelsey Chisamore, James Keuning, Aurélien Lemesre, Mike Wirth, Alexandra Elle I am thankful for my struggle because without it, I wouldn’t have stumbled upon my strength