Watch Yo Mouth

Don’t tell my Mom this but one rapper that enjoyed listening to in the late 90’s was a guy named Redman. I have no idea why I like him because our persona’s were like night and day. The only thing that we had in common was that we were the same shade of brown.Redman-by-Jason-Goodrich_thejasongoodrich.com_

However, I was always amazed at the things that he would say in his raps–especially the things that could/should never be said in public. I quickly found myself narrowing my music lists in college because I loved music so much that I wanted to share it with whomever was close by. But its hard to let people listen to your music when what the musician is saying is quite offensive.

The same things could be said about the things that come out of your mouth when talking about your instructor. No matter how emotional you may feel, make sure that what you decide to say to your instructor will not be “Rated M for Mature”. Also, make sure that whatever you say to them will be well received by the Dean, Provost, Vice President or even the college President. The process for handling a student complaint is actually in favor of the student from the start, but your bad character and tainted words can derail the entire process.

Plan For The Drama…Part Two

In the last post we talked about planning for the drama that seems to arrive when you are on your way to becoming a successful student. But how do you handle drama that comes without any warning? How do you deal with the drama that arrives when you do not have a plan? Here is what you want to do:

#1. Identify The Type of Drama: What kind of drama is it? Is it marital, car trouble, in-laws, grades in a class, health related, boyfriend/girlfriend, job related–what kind of drama is it? If you don’t identify it, then it will take on an identity of its own. It can become something bigger or smaller than what it needs to be because you have not named it for what it really is.

#2. Categorize It’s Solution Level: There are only two categories for every problem in your life. Your problem is either one that can be solved by you or one that can be solved by someone else. A flat tire is not someone else’s problem–it is MY problem and I can fix it so that moves it immediately to the next step. World hunger is not a problem that I can solve on my own right now–it is a problem that will require me and everyone else to work together towards a solution. That will have to wait. What do I look like running off to solve world hunger while my car sits in the middle lane of the interstate? So if it is a problem that only others can help you solve then find those people and submit your problem. If it is something that YOU must solve, then go to step three.

#3. Identify Your Resources and Ask Questions: This is usually where people fail. They expect to speak with one person and resolve the issue. Sometimes, the issue requires multiple phone calls, office visits, paperwork, documentation, emails, misinformation, etc. People don’t want to go through any of that these days so they simply quit. Please realize that when you get to stage three, this is when you become Sherlock Holmes and Batman. You become a detective and you piece together the clues to determine who you need to talk to. This will require you to ask questions. Questions are your greatest weapon because every question can lead you to an answer. the only way that you do not gain the most effective answer is to stop asking effective questions. Write down your questions before you ask them and keep track of the answers. Ask the same questions in different ways and watch how much new information you will receive. Most people do not ask questions out of fear of rejection. They feel that when they ask questions that they are no longer in control–but you ARE in control when it is the other persons responsibility to answer questions 🙂

#4. Realize That You Are Not The First: This is the one step that is the most difficult to fulfill. When you take this step out must release some of your bragging rights and rights to cry and complain in order to pull this step off. You are not the first to go to school during a divorce, you are not the first to lose a child, you are not the first to fail a class, and you are not the first to be taken advantage of. There is a process for fixing your problem and there are people who are willing to help. And if they are not willing, it’s at least their job to try and help.

I had some issues with my car one day. It required a new seal for an oil gasket and the guys wanted to charge $500 for the job. I simply did not have that and I needed a way to get to work. So, I asked 2 or 3 mechanics (step 1) to help me identify the problem. Sure enough, it was the seal. Then I asked them if this was something that I could fix (step 2) alone and they said yes. That is when I took to the internet to find online mechanics who labelled the process for putting one on step by step (step 3) because I knew that I was not the first one to ever have to do this alone (step 4). If you go into your school year with these four steps in your pocket, it can truly turn the tide of life issues by turning your drama into moments of growth.

Plan For The Drama

I realized this week that there is one item on my office supply list that I am running very low on: tissue. I have seen a lot of tears this semester, and it has not been pretty. The faucets have not been running over trivial things either–people are going through some serious and tough times. If you don’t believe me, just look at St. Louis, Philadelphia and Chicago. There is a major story of epic proportion that is happening in the home and hearts of people in each one of those places right now. The most difficult thing to deal with is that life must go on in the midst of the drama, and this usually includes school. Here are a few things to keep in mind when dealing with the drama of life while in school:

1. Expect The Drama: I’m sorry, but I think that there is some mandate In the universe that says “If you are trying to become something better then the forces of the universe must work against you in sort of way”. I have NEVER obtained great things without opposition, so I have come to expect it. I do not dwell on the arrival of drama, I simply plan for its arrival.

2. Plan For Its Arrival: I have car insurance. I don’t necessarily like my insurance agent, the company or the logo. I have insurance company because people can be idiots and on a bad day, so could I. So I have an insurance policy that covers all types of things that could go wrong. However, I take it a step further: I actually READ my policy and ask questions. I compare the policy to others and request for things in writing. I educate myself on the details of my plan and how it will be executed.

3. Educate Yourself On Your Plan: I feel bad for some students when they choose to finally read their syllabus after the semester is over and they want to contest a grade. I once met a student who was right and the instructor was totally wrong. As I spoke with the student about the issue I asked her “What took you so long to get this settled?” She then dropped her head and replied “I never read my syllabus.” It was two semesters after the actual class when she and I were having the conversation–and she had been waiting that long to graduate all because of one incorrect grade that was actually in her favor.

These are three things that you can do when you have time to plan. They get far more detailed as things progress. Now your plan will not work to its full potential without the teacher being on your side. So try these things BEFORE you require the use of your plan:

*Learn your teacher’s schedule and know when they are in their office. Stop by on the first week of school to say hello for the sake of saying hello. It will remove the cloud of awkwardness and allow you to stop in when you really have something serious to talk to them about.

*Watch what seems to annoy your teacher. If they get annoyed with tardy students then don’t show up late. If they get annoyed with talking during class then shut up. Teachers are people and they have pet peeves like people.

*Compliment and thank your teacher if they teach about something that you liked or if you learned something that day. Say simple things like “Hello Dr. Gray” when you see them in the halls. Speaking to them BEFORE you need something builds trust, but speaking to them BECAUSE you need something builds tension.

*Ask questions that are directly related to the material covered in class. It shows that you actually care about the class and the material.

*Stay awake in class. Some students are afraid to speak to their teachers because they have this bad habit.

Now, these activities will allow your teacher to become more trusting of you so that if/when you must activate your plan that they will become advocates of your plan instead of enemies to your plan. REMEMBER: do these things BEFORE your plan is needed and not AFTER. Doing these things after you implement the plan can cause even more drama than what actually led to the activation of the plan in the first place.

But what about drama that you cannot prepare for??? Well, let’s talk about that in the next post…

Get Me In The Mood

I had the entire night planned–flowers, gifts, card, and a top-dollar restaurant. Trust me when I say this: I had thought of everything. It was our wedding anniversary and I was about to leave my wife speechless. Everything was as smooth as a Kem concert until we arrived at the restaurant. Now you’ve got to understand that this was the kind of place that required a reservation weeks in advance, or you were going to be waiting in line until next week. Also, you made sure to save a paycheck for this place because you were going to leave several dead presidents before you left. Once we were seated we started some small talk, and just as I reached out to her hand she leaned towards me to say…”Baby, I can’t see you.”

At first, I thought that it was a romantic metaphor but she repeated it again–this time frustrated. “No, baby, I really can’t see you. Why is it so dark in here?” As I began to look around I noticed that even I couldn’t see beyond the tables immediately around us. I began to hear others complain about the lighting as well. All night, we couldn’t see our menu, we couldn’t see our food, people were tripping over things to get to the bathroom. Someone even fell into a table. So much for the mood. bad date

Your environment sets the mood for everything that you do. Your locale has a direct effect on your productivity. Here are a few places that you should never study, do homework, or attempt academic success. AVOID DOING ACADEMIC WORK AT THESE PLACES AT ALL COST:

(a) Anywhere That You Pay Your Bills: Bills suck and you know it. I don’t know anyone who likes to pay bills. Anything involving the loss of money can become quite frustrating–so why study where you lose money?

(b) Anywhere That You Have Negative Conversations: Don’t study where you fight with significant others. Your strongest memories are those which are tied to memories–good and bad. So your stronger memories of breaking up with your boyfriend can also override the memories that you are attempting to establish for your math test.

(c) Anywhere That Is Fun: Just see the previous reason. It’s the exact same thing.

(d) Anywhere That You Typically Have A Physical Activity: Studying usually involves being still, or, being quite focused. Physical activity will certainly require more movement, focus and mental capacity–so it will gather more attention from you. And if your body really likes this physical activity, then it will surely desire that attention more than focusing on academic boredom.

I Did It For The Free T-Shirt

My freshman year of college was one of many semesters spent without many resources, so free t-shirts were always a carrot on a stick for me.

One night in Tillman Auditorium, the Def Comedy Jam Tour came through our town and the unique opportunity came to have a freestyle rap-battle against one of the comedians in order to win a free t-shirt. I was far too nervous to get on stage in front of so many people but my new friends literally forced me out of the crowd towards the stage. After a few embarrassing moments, I freestyled my way to the winner’s circle and a free t-shirt. As a matter of fact, my last two bars of the rap was:

“I didn’t come to da stage to get my feelings hurt/cuz I’m only up here rapping cuz I wanted a free t-shirt”

The crowd went nuts, the stage burst into laughter, and the judges declared me the winner. Oh, and I still have that t-shirt. My need for a resource outweighed my fear of performing in the unknown. I am gonna say this again: My need for a resource outweighed my fear of performing in the unknown. If you are trying to figure out whether or not to go to college, then you should look at what resources you need to obtain your goals and sustain you on your journey there. If an education is what you need, make your need for the resources outweigh your fear, anxiety and resistance.This isn’t a plug for college education–this is a plug for courage. It takes a lot of courage to go to college, and it takes a lot of courage to decide not to go to college. No matter which direction you might chose to take, you need to believe in where you are going. When I listen to people speak against a college education, they speak with the guilt and frustration of not having the courage or confidence to push for their own dreams. Don’t be those bitter people–instead, chose to be those who strived for what they wanted and made decisions based on the end goal and not the temporary oppositions.

No Time Like Later

I have a B.S. in Animal/Veterinary Sciences, a M.S. in Animal and Food Industries and a Ph.D in Do-It-Tomorrow. I have been procrastinating about this post for quite some time and I have no real reason for why I did it–except that I was waiting for the “best time” to do it. Too often we find ourselves failing to accomplish what we set out to do because we are waiting for the perfect conditions. We don’t set sail because the winds are not perfect. We don’t travel outside of the country because we’ve never gone farther than the county line. And we don’t post a blog because we can’t sit with our laptop in our favorite spot at the exact time that we feel like it…ouch….

You will procrastinate when your primary concern is comfort. You will “wait” before you “activate” as long as you are an advocate for temporary satisfaction. There are several ways to defeat procrastination ( as I outline in my book “Make It Plain: Vol. 1 ) but one of the quickest ways is to deal with it is to monitor your comfort zone.

A comfort zone is created in order to avoid conflict with surrounding issues. Often times we procrastinate to avoid the conflict–kind of like pausing before jumping out of a plane. The pause isn’t the problem, because we all pause at some time (some people don’t pause and they really, really should). The problem is that we pause and we never return. If you run into classes, tests, projects and course work that scares you, a sudden desire to pause will appear. These are things that you should think about:

Make sure that you apply a time limit to your pause.

Maintain due dates and keep them in front of you.

Join a learning community so that you are not going into things alone.

Make sure that you comprehend the course schedule.

Make sure that you comprehend your personal life schedule.

Get organized–both for class and studying for your class.

Remember: these things won’t do the work for you. You will still have to put in some sweat equity. However, these tips will give you the privilege of making the first strike–and I have watched several fights end just as quickly as they have began with just that type of punch.


“What’s The Phone Number For 911?” Part 2

The second reason for not asking questions at times is that we confuse the process of asking for help with admitting defeat. “Help” and “Quit” do not sound the same, are not spelled the same, and are not even located on the same page in a dictionary. Much of this is developed from childhood. I cannot think of one award that is handed out in kindergarten for a team–only awards for individuals. You are encouraged to gain awards based on your individual achievements throughout your academic career, only to find that the world revolves around leadership and teamwork.

SOLUTION: Teamwork happens when a group of people admit that they need help from one another and that they can give help to one another. You need to make your academic success a team effort. You must search for others who share your desire for success–and desire to share with you so that you can become successful. Student success centers are beginning to pop up all over the country, and students are finding that these places provide the collaborations needed in order to be a successful student. If you are having trouble with your classes. ask yourself this question: “Who is in my fellowship of the ring?” In otherwords, who do you communicate and collaborate with for your success? Just like a successful business, you need partnerships: tutors, academic success coaches, study groups, focus groups, college skills classes, peer mentors, guidance counselors, academic advisors, faculty advisors, librarians, clubs, organizations, mentors, etc.–just to name a few. Don’t do it alone, because the journey is simply far too long…