Saturday, November 25, 2017

Think Smart Not Hard: 52 Principles to Success and Happiness by Roy Huff

Genre: Self-help, Inspirational
Source: I received a copy to facilitate my review. The opinions expressed here are my own.

Heads up! This is probably one of the longest posts I've written in a long time.

This isn’t a book you can read through like a novel. I will even say that some parts may be difficult for you to read.  I grew up when I was younger thinking  that most everyone around me was much more talented than I was. That is unless you talked about teaching. I wanted to be a teacher from fourth grade on.  I was positive I would be a teacher, even when my family and friends told me all the reasons I didn’t want to be a teacher. The way we see and react to life shapes us.  The principles in this book were not new to me. I grew up from my teens on reading self-help and positive thinking books.  However, I never applied all the things I learned.  In Roy’s book, the first principle he mentions is forgiving those who don’t deserve it.   After reading that section I realized that I and my husband were both letting a situation hold us back. Instead of forgiving those involved we felt didn’t deserve it, we actually used it as an excuse.  That was the hardest principle to work on.

For years I let the fear of failure hold me back.  Then I learned about Thomas Edison and how many times he failed in his attempts to make a working lightbulb. His attitude was he wasn’t a failure, he just learned that many ways that it wouldn’t work.  As a teacher I am familiar with creating action plans. Since I am a National Board Certified Teacher and I teach at an IB school reflection has been a part of my life. We teach our students to reflect on their work daily, weekly, etc.  I and my fellow co-workers do the same. This is probably the most important part of my job.  However, I’ve also moved it into my personal life as well.   Principle # 13 was important to me for a multitude of reasons. Compartmentalizing teaches you to be fully present when attending a task. I have learned how to do that. But something Roy said rang so true in so many ways. He talked about how watching a TV program when someone keeps talking to you makes it harder for you to focus. I have an elderly mother who lives with me and this happens quite often when I am sitting in the same room with her trying to work or watch the news.  But it took reading this book for me to realize that I do this to my students. I give them a task, check for clarification, set them to work and the every once in a while I say something to them that pulls them right out of their work. This is something I am definitely working on correcting.

I laughed when I read that Principle #12 was “Make a Calendar”. My family and co-workers tease me about my calendars. Yes, I have one for my job, and one for my life. I even keep both together on an online calendar. But, at the beginning of my summer break I discovered something on my online calendar that changed my life. It was a simple button called “Tasks”. I had always ignored it. It combined several things into one. It  allowed me to get rid of my plethora of lists that I kept with each calendar. Now I can schedule it on my online calendar and prioritize things by creating a “Tasks” list.  Those who tease me about having two physical calendars don’t understand that if I have no access to my online calendar, I at least have the safety net of my physical ones.  We each must find what works for us.  Roy’s book is a list of great principals. What makes his book stand out from so many others are the personal stories and lessons that go along with them.  Those will resonate with you in so many ways.

 Other principles that I found of value was # 15 “Learn to Say No” and # 49 “Identify your weaknesses. These two have  always been my problem, and then I would get overwhelmed. We got a new assistant principal last year.  It was a particularly rough year for me. As department chair I took on all the tasks of my entirely new department.  It actually backfired because I was not able to do everyone else’s job and mine and do them adequately.  My AP is the one who helped me learn to say No.  He literally would step in and tell people no on my behalf until I became strong enough to do it on my own. It was him who pointed out that this was the only weakness he saw in me.  I take everything he says and truly think about it. Then I work on those areas that I know to be weaknesses.
Another principle was to choose to be happy.  I have always tried to be happy.  One of the reasons I allowed myself to feel like I was less talented than others in my family was because of something that happened in my family when I was a young teen. Some in my family belittled me because of the way I chose to handle the situation. It was a very depressing and devastating situation and I chose to move beyond it and be happy. For others in my family it became all consuming and created anger and bitterness. I learned a long time ago to choose happy. That doesn’t mean I am never sad.

Finally #’50 and 51 meant a lot to me. Number 50 says to do something small, but do it daily. For me that is writing. I don’t care if it is a poem. I couple of lines in my work in progress. I continually add to it each and every day. The other important one was # 51 which was Don’t give up when you get off track. Life will pull you off track. The trick is to work to get back on.  This has probably been the most beneficial of all of his principles. People fail in life because they get off track and give up. I choose not to give up. I have a student who was involved in a terrible accident last year. He missed most of the school year. Then had to be homeschooled for the rest of the year. He was comparing himself to other students in the classroom. I reminded him that after his accident we didn’t know if he would survive. He had to learn to walk and talk all over again. He can’t process things the way he used to. However, he has learned to break things down into little pieces and continue to move forward. I reminded him of the tortoise and the hare. He smiled and said, “the tortoise won because he kept moving forward.”  We have a right to not only read and learn from these principles but we have an obligation through our words and actions to share these principles with those around us.

I highly recommend this book.  It is a book I will refer back to often because there is so much to be learned and reminded of with this book.

No comments:

Post a Comment