Tag Archives: commitment

Happy Labor Day! This holiday deserves a special place in our hearts, and not just because it marks the point at which all New York state students return to school. On Labor Day, we honor the contributions that workers have made–and continue to make–to society. We are all, in a very real sense, workers. Where our labors take us depends entirely on our sense of purpose and the clarity of our goals. Once you’ve fixed your eyes on a worthy prize, be smart about your efforts and try to have some fun, but, more than anything else, commit to doing the work.

In February 2021, NASA landed its FIFTH rover on Mars in a mind-boggling and flawless demonstration of precision, planning, and execution. That human beings could, amidst all of the current chaos and madness of life on Earth, keep their eyes on an exceedingly distant prize to accomplish such a remarkable feat should be encouraging–even inspiring–to anyone pursuing tough goals. 1. Grades and scores are not the goals. I’ve worked with enough dedicated students to know the allure of a concrete numerical marker of ability. No sooner does a test taker break 1300 on the SAT than he or she begins targeting 1400. Academic achievement may be expressed quantitatively, but the numbers don’t tell the whole story. What matters much more is the knowledge that is behind those grades or scores, as well as how a student was transformed along the way. When I see a high ACT score, I see…

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A classic challenge all military forces must grapple with revolves around the concept of a volunteer army. Those who volunteer for service usually arrive with desired levels of motivation and aptitude. They serve with greater enthusiasm and tend to stick around longer. However, volunteers aren’t always easy to find, particularly during troubled times. When nations require service through a draft coupled with penalties for those who refuse, the size of their standing armies increase as quickly as the general competence and morale of the force goes down. Nobody likes to be forced to serve. As anyone who’s ever demanded a child to clean his or her room can attest, we can compel participation, but excellent results won’t necessarily follow. Imagine the roster of your favorite sports team was filled not by athletes who competed their entire lives for the opportunity to play, but rather by a collection of conscripts unable…

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What if I told you that you could become a virtuoso piano player in just one hour a week? Would you believe me if I promised you could play college basketball if you only work at it in the spare moments between more pressing commitments? How about fluency in a foreign language without ever having to practice? I hope, for your sake, that you find these claims dubious at best and, more likely, delusional. Clearly, nobody achieves greatness in any challenging endeavor with minimal effort or practice. Yet, every day, I encounter students, parents, and even other educators who imagine that amazing test scores can be earned with just one hour of instruction a week, whenever they can fit it in, without ever taking a practice test. For most students, this simply will not suffice. Sure, some high schoolers may ace the SAT without any prep, but these are usually…

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High stakes standardized tests like the SAT & ACT distribute scores along a massive bell curve, where most test takers fall within the big part of the bell. Anyone taking one of these tests seeks to score as far to the right on that curve as possible, knowing that only 1% of the population can score in the 99th percentile. But what if you found out about an online community–free and accessible to anyone–where more than one out of every two members score in the 99th percentile on the ACT. Would you want to join? Before I reveal this magical society of testing savants, we should talk about basketball. Bobby Knight, a legend of men’s college basketball, retired as one of the winningest coaches in NCAA history. And, as you’d expect of someone often described as “winningest,” Knight shared a few thoughts on the topic of winning, including one timeless…

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The phrase “paid the cost to be the boss” resonates with those willing to pay said costs. Just about everyone, at one time or another, aspires to bosshood. Who wouldn’t want to be the boss, enjoying all the perks and prestige that come with the title? But how many are willing to actually put in the work, to strive, suffer, and separate from everyone else? As AC/DC so evocatively explains, it’s a long way to the top (if you wanna rock ‘n’ roll). This weekend, for some inexplicable reason, I took on a brutal home improvement project. The task appeared deceptively simple: remove decades of thick paint from wrought iron rails. Research suggested plenty of ways to remove the paint, from a wire brush to a brush head for a drill to caustic chemicals. Unfortunately, as I invested in each method, I learned that the job always required scraping with…

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