Ten Tidbits of Wisdom
Darrel L. Hammon, Ph.D.
Ten Tidbits of Wisdom illuminates ways to increase the happiness in your life and to gain a greater focus, whether you are an eighth grader or young adult, or an adult wanting to gain greater wisdom and insight into your life. Ten Tidbits of Wisdom should be shared with the teenagers in your life who are "gently maturing" or those looking to change their outlook on life.
Interestingly, in order to capture some tidbits of wisdom or suggestions, I conducted an informal survey, using Facebook, e-mail, and the good old fashioned one-on-one visit, and asked people these either one of the following questions:
§ “Knowing what you know now, what would you have done differently at the end of my 8th grade year?”
§ “Remembering back to your 8th year, what do you wish you would have known then?”
Suggestions or Tidbits of Wisdom—I suspect that you may have heard of some of these before. I would like you to share with you ten “tidbits of wisdom” that I have gleaned from my conversations from friends.
Tidbit #1: Hang on to your shorts because change is going to happen; so you’d better be prepared—I had lunch not long ago with a group of employees, those who had been at my place of business for a long time and a recent graduate who came to work for us last year. We had a long conversation about how technology has changed, from the maintenance department to the copy center to payroll to the classroom. And I suspect if you were to visit with your co-workers and parents, they would say the same thing. But you need to capture the basic fundamentals of learning in order to learn more. There is nothing more frustrating than realizing what you didn’t learn and should have learned. Fortunately, if you are smart, you will learn it now and continue learning throughout your life. To help you, “seek advice from people who have accomplished what you want to become. Believe or not, successful people love to share their experience.” By doing all of these things, you will not become obsolete.
Tidbit #2: Don’t let your yearbook dictate how your life is going to end up—This is an interesting one. I don’t know about you, but when I look back on my yearbook and see “me” (all 165 pounds and sporting cool black-frame plastic glasses), I often wonder: “What were you thinking? What were you doing? Why?” Plus, I have to admit: I do look at the popular crowd then and think of what they are doing today. What I have personally discovered is this: Sometimes at your age you get pigeoned holed and then think you can never crawl out. The bottom line is this. Don’t let people pigeon hole you. Don’t let your yearbook dictate your life. So what if you aren’t named “the most likely to succeed.” Neither was I; but I didn’t let that stop me from plowing forward and doing what I knew what I could do or should do.
Tidbit #3: See beyond the end of your nose—At times, especially when we are young, we tend to think of the world has being today only, not necessarily tomorrow. Even at your age, you can look a bit more far off or into the future. I think with some of the career pathway discussions the nation is having, your teachers and counselors will be visiting with you re: your future and how you can connect to a career pathway. Yes, you have a future, despite what some people say. You just need to be more aware of what that might be. Prepare now. Work at it. Develop great skills. Try lots of stuff. One young woman responded on Facebook: “I know it is hard to get through to kids to not live in the here and now but to look to their future. Now, for me, I wasn’t going to hear it but today that would be my biggest wish. To go back and see that some friendships and boys and other things needed to be put on the back burner. I believe that you need to do the best you can in school because it will carry on for you and college; and even though that seems like years away, it really isn’t."
Tidbit #4: Pick the best friends possible—One of the most important decisions you will ever make is to pick good friends and colleagues, the ones that will help you rise above the challenges that you face and then help you move forward along a successful life and hopefully a successful career. So-called friends who continually tear you down, tell you that you cannot ever succeed, bully you into doing things you don’t want to do, or create a contentious environment are not your friends and probably never will be your friends. On the other hand, good friends will buoy you up, strive to help you when you are in need, and will create an environment where you will feel like you can succeed. Ironically, I started first grade with people who continued to be my friends throughout junior high and high school and through today. My friends were good friends. We played basketball together. Most of us became Eagle Scouts. Most of us served missions for our Church. We double dated. We completed service projects together. We rode motorcycles together. We had each other’s back, pushing each other forward when the road seemed tougher than we expected. We attended each other’s weddings. All of us went to college, not all to the same college. But we all graduated, and today we possess multiple degrees. We all had great children—or so we think. In essence, my friends helped me to become what I am today. I see too often, however, young people as well as young adults whose friends lead them down paths from which there is no return or a very long return to normality. Then, at 40 years old, they return to school. They have been badly bruised with life experiences that have thwarted their goals and dreams when they were 14, 15, and 16 years old. Are there regrets? Definitely! Choose wisely.
Tidbit #5: Keep your nose clean—One of the respondents said that at his 8th grade graduation, the principal called the boys and their parents into the library. Once there, he told the parents that they each had to pony up $200 to replace the glass that had been broken out of the Library, and he suspected these young men. The respondent said that incident changed the way he looked at things. He learned to “stay out of trouble.” It is easy to do stupid things if you just people lead you astray. To keep your nose clean, you have to be a leader and do the right things. I know you will be a lot happier if you do.
Tidbit #6: Believe more in yourself and not let yourself be swayed by peer pressure—This came up in a variety of conversations. It seems that today—as well as when we were young—peer pressure forced some to make decisions that were not good ones. One of the largest challenges in life is finally understanding that you control your life. You make the choices; you are accountable for what you do. In my vernacular, you are the puppeteer of your own life. When you allow someone or something else to dangle your strings, you will be manipulated, and you will never be free, you will never accept total responsibility, and your life will never be yours. One of the respondents, now a junior high Spanish teacher, said: “I would say that your friends in jr. high are not everything. That you probably won't even remember most of them when you're 25. So don't base your worth on how popular you are, but how many good decisions you make and people you're kind to.” So, ultimately, your life depends on the choices and decisions you make. Make good ones.
Tidbit #7: Write in a journal and make goals—I visited with an older gentleman this past weekend after he told this amazing and delightful story when he was just a boy and how he attempted to catch some pigeons. Afterwards, I asked whether he had written that down for his children and grandchildren. “No,” he said, “I have it right here” as he pointed to his head. I suspect you have probably witnessed your colleagues and maybe even your parents as they grow older that they forget things. And I suspect you have forgotten some really cool stuff that happened when you were younger. For me, I only wish I had written some of early experiences down somewhere, like in a journal. That’s where you write your goals and your dreams and then report to yourselves at the end of the year how you are doing. If you are doing it now, then begin writing in a journal, keeping track of what you have done and where you want to go. You will treasure what you write as you grow older.
Tidbit #8: Think before you do anything—I suspect you have heard this before, maybe some of you more times than once or twice. Often, some people have a tendency to declare: “I can do anything I want.” While that is true, often we don’t think about the consequences that are attached to doing anything you want to do. Plus, when you think about things and weigh the options, chances are you probably may not make that rash decision and create more problems that you really want. Thus, you won’t stick your foot in your mouth and feel foolish for making the wrong decision.
Tidbit #9: Learn a foreign language—Why in the world would someone say this? First of all, we live in a global society, and times are a changing. For me, I learned a whole lot more about English—remember I am an English teacher—learning Spanish than I ever did in school. Why? Because other languages require you know about indirect objects and pronouns and verbs and nouns because they change, depending on the gender and the number. Since I have learned Spanish, I have used it in every single job I have ever had. People say if you learn three languages you are trilingual; two languages, bilingual; one language, you are an American. It is my opinion that we begin teaching foreign languages in first grade and continue forward.
Tidbit #10: Be a vigorous participant in everything you do—What do I mean by this? I don’t mean being passive or even passive aggressive, which has become the norm in so many lives today. Being a vigorous participant is taking hold of something and seeing it through. Being a vigorous participant means that you raise your hand in class, ask questions. Being a vigorous participant means that you go to meetings, volunteer to be a part of things, and complete the task. Being a vigorous participant means that you need to “work hard.” As one young mother wrote: “They are now going into 9th grade. There is NO slacking off! Beginning now, every grade you get will be seen on the application you submit to your the colleges you apply to. Realize that, although 9th grade may not seem like such a big deal, it actually will be a determining factor in how you succeed the rest of your high school career. Be involved in all school activities. Focus. And remember, EVERYTHING COUNTS!” You just need to do the do….
Finally, I truly believe that as you move on with your life, open your eyes, and look for the good in everyone and try to be the best you can be, your very best—not hers or his or theirs—your life will be happier, more complete, and more balance. But in the end, it’s really all up to you.