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Lesson Thirty-Two — Habits

I saved this chapter for late in the book because you have to be fairly bright to understand and absorb and assimilate (look it up) these ideas, and I figured only the smart readers would get this far.(Pat, pat)

There are three parts to this section, each with its own message:

1.Intelligence does not lead to success.

2.Hard work always leads to success.

3.Idleness and productivity are equally habit forming.

The fact is you are better off being dumb and hard working rather than being smart and lazy.  My father-in-law always says, “Some of the dumbest farmers have the biggest potatoes.”  I don’t really know what that means for certain, but I think it means that just because your dumb doesn’t mean you can’t succeed, so long as you are willing to put in the effort.

Big potatoes

If you are both smart and hardworking, you are in excellent shape.Since we have already established that you are smart, we need to make sure you are not lazy.

Staying up late is habit forming.Sleeping late is habit forming.I’m sure you have figured that out by now.Laziness is habit forming.Procrastination is habit forming.You have probably also already figured that out.You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to figure that out, but that’s not why I saved this chapter for the “Smart Folks”.
What I saved for the smart ones, and only the smart ones is this: Hard work and perseverance are just as habit forming as laziness and procrastination.My little pocket, Webster’s dictionary that I keep in the glove compartment in my car, defines a habit as “something done often and, hence, done easily.”I like that definition.If you do it often enough, it becomes easy to do.And, the more often you do it, the easier it becomes.Again, this applies to good habits as well as bad habits.The great part is that you get to choose!Do you want to make a habit of sleeping late then lying around the house in your pajamas all day, playing Madden Football, watching television!Or, do you want to make a habit of getting all your work done before dinner and getting good grades?The choice is yours.If you are really, really, smart, you will realize or soon learn that it takes no more effort to develop good habits than it does to develop bad habits.The not-so-smart readers will learn this a little later, hopefully before they turn 25 years of age.But, you will be way ahead of them by then.The really dumb ones will never figure it out.

This is an incredibly important concept, and if you want to stop reading now so you can incorporate this concept into your daily life, please stop reading.Get a bookmark and put it right here.Come back later and read on, when you are ready for more.

I heard once that everyone has 24 hours in a day.Albert Einstein had 24 hours.Thomas Edison had 24 hours.Ben Franklin, Henry Ford, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., President John F. Kennedy.All of them had 24 hours in a day.Just like you and me, and your parents, and your teachers, and your doctor, and your school principal the janitor and the guy driving the trash truck, too.They all have 24 hours in a day, every day.From the day they were born until now.What we become in life depends solely on how we choose to spend those 24 hours.Think about it.You have the choice, and the choice is yours.

These concepts apply to school, as well.If you believe you can coast through high school with poor study/work habits, getting by on pure intelligence and good looks, and still get A’s and B’s, you are probably right.If you think this will get you into a good college, you are also probably right.If you think you are going to be able to continue to get away with it in college, you are mistaken. *

High school rewards smart kids.College admits smart kids but only keeps the ones that work hard.Frankly, smart kids are a dime a dozen.Ones that work hard are much less common than smart ones.If you do not have good study habits, or do not apply them when you are in college, you will not be there long.It is pretty embarrassing to have to explain to your family and friends at home why you are no longer in college.They will think you are not smart enough for college, but actually, the problem is that you never developed good study habits while you were in high school.If you think you can instantly transform from having poor study habits when in high school, to having good study habits in college, you are wrong, dead wrong.Again, a habit is “something done often, and hence, done easily”.That means, as if you did not know already, that it is just as easy to develop a good study routine as it is to spend your afternoons and evenings dancing around your books trying to find excuses to avoid homework and studying.Personally, I believe it is less trouble to bite the bullet and get into a good study routine, than it is to try and fake it.But I am old.You are young.If you are young and smart, you will adopt these principles in your every day life.If you are young and not so smart, you will adopt good habits some day, hopefully, but probably not before it is too late to do you much good.

*So why do high schools reward intelligence rather than hard work?Because high school is structured so the lowest common denominator can get through in four years.If it were any other way the dumb ones would never graduate, and the taxpayers would have to pay for twice as many teachers and double the classroom space.They cannot kick the dumb ones out because we would have to find jobs for them or pay them unemployment compensation.As a result, everybody that is smart enough and energetic enough to get on the bus every day, or almost every day, gets a diploma, no matter how dumb or lazy they are.It’s a fact of life.Unfortunately, the ones that get on the bus every day, and also happen to be reasonably intelligent, can get decent grades without having to do any schoolwork.This is very unfortunate because it does not encourage smart people like you, to work hard and develop good study routines.

On the other hand, colleges can be selective in who they admit.The admissions department only takes the smart ones, not the dumb ones.They figure this out by looking at your GPA in high school, your class rank, and your SAT scores.This makes it easier on the professors because they don’t have to figure out whether or not you are smart.You must be smart; otherwise you would not be in their class.College professors cannot give out grades based on intelligence, because although not everyone is equally intelligent, they are all pretty close.So, the only way the professors can differentiate between the students is to base their grades on effort and perseverance rather than intelligence.The more disciplined you are, the better your study skills and study habits will be, and the better you will do.The better your study skills and habits, the higher your GPA, the higher your class rank, and the better your choice of jobs upon graduation.Isn’t that what it is all about anyway?I mean, isn’t that how the business world works?The fact is, employers pay for performance and productivity, not intelligence.Smart people are easy to find.A very good indicator of your ability to work hard and to produce results for your employer is how well you do in college.Doesn’t that make sense?

If you have the discipline and develop good study skills in high school, you will certainly do well in college.If you are just smart, and do not have good study skills, it is going to be very difficult.You will be able to change, but not overnight. Your poor study skills and time budgeting skills are a habit, not readily changed.In the meantime, you will fall behind.You will become frustrated and quit, or trudge along, and possibly flunk out.You will be humiliated.Your parents will be furious.

Some day you will go back to school.  When you are finally ready to put in the effort and are committed to success, you will go back to school.  Perhaps you will go at night.  Perhaps you will go full time during the day, but you will be older than everybody else.  Your friends will be upperclassmen or have already graduated. That is good because there will be less distractions for you, like parties, etc. You won’t want the distractions then, and you will do just fine.

party poppa

The point of all this is simply that you have to develop good study skills and habits now.  You should not wait until you get to college.  It may be too late.  Be smart.  Start now.  That way at you will do well and can also have one heck of a good time at college.  No parents, lots of kids, new faces, freedom, independence, parties.  You will love it.