It’s the end of September and now officially fall. I’m certain I’m not the only one who is wondering where the time has gone!

We’re six months into the new normal that was thrust upon us in March when the global coronavirus pandemic invaded all our lives, and yet I still feel like every day I experience a choice or decision I have never made before. More often than not, I feel like I’m slogging through the mud instead of picking up speed on solid ground. These are crazy times and it’s normal to feel like things are spiraling out of control. So with everything that feels out of our control these days, this week I want to examine three things we CAN control. With that, let’s get our hands a little bit dirty doing some good, hard work:

You can control your reason.
You can control your routine.
You can control your reaction.

I’m writing to students as my audience this week, but as always, parents, these three statements can be so helpful to use and model in our own business and professional lives as we strive to lead those we love most. (And those who drive us the most-crazy. I’m hoping I’m not the only one?)

You can control your reasonWhy you make the choices you make, even if they’re not fun choices. For the “why” question, everyone will have a different reason to support their choice. There are as many reasons as there are humans! BUT, If you don’t know your why, nothing matters. And in relation to school, If whatever teachers are doing to help you doesn’t translate to something you can use to motivate you to get your work done, it doesn’t matter. And to reference last week’s post, if you don’t know why you’re doing something, you can’t know what you need to be successful

Let’s use the coolest high school boy as our example. I’m sure you know one or two. What’s his reason? He doesn’t care about anything! But he does. Maybe he has aspirations to do something more as an entrepreneur, to spend more time hanging out with his friends, or perhaps he hates school and just wants to do whatever he has to in order to graduate so he can move on with the next phase of his life. Maybe he has a college choice in mind already. What I’m trying to exemplify here is each one of us can control our reason why. And each of us has a why. It might just take a little bit of thinking.

When you have a reason, you find motivation to do the things you don’t want to do. The why is bigger than the unpleasant event. The vision of your reason helps pull you trudge through the mud. So if our cool high school boy wants to see friends, and he can see his friends more when he gets his stuff done, then this motivates him to get his stuff done. Your why helps you own your experience – whatever you’re doing. As we cultivate grit, your reason is your shovel to dig deep.

You can control your routine – The actions you take based on the choices you make. The next step is the routine. Taking time to discover a routine will help you figure out when you work best and when you need to ask for help. How to get what you need, in reference to last week’s post. The routine becomes action steps in building success… Figuring out how do I learn the best? Which ways/methods/environments are the least conducive to me learning? When am I excitable? When am I irritable? Take a moment to answer all these questions. The answers will help you continue to be motivated. These are the actions you take to dig deep.

Referencing our coolest high school dude: he takes time with a parent or learning coach to talk through some business plans he has in the future and a plan to start a small company on the side helping neighbors with odd jobs. He’s motivated to get work done in the morning so he can do the jobs after school and go right from work to playing basketball with his friends. He may still dislike school or wonder when he’s going to use SOH CAH TOA in “real life,” but he sees the work as steps to opportunities that fill his bucket. And school’s purpose is to help him figure out what he needs to know so he can do what he wants to do. MAGIC. I’m telling you, this is the GOOD STUFF.

You can control your reaction – What you do when things don’t go as planned. Finally, the reaction. What if things don’t go your way? That’s going to happen from time to time, sometimes more often than not. We can have the best laid plans, but things fall through the cracks every once in a while. When this happens, how do we make a reaction to ourselves that is as generous as possible that will allow us to make a reaction to others that will be as generous as possible? The best companies respond to their mistakes with grace and grit, and we want our students to learn these lessons now, so they can build and work for the best companies! 

So. Students. You’re going to mess up. You may forget an assignment, you may not do well on a test, you may not be happy with a grade you received on a paper. You’re allowed to be angry and mad, but don’t give up. Instead, think about how you can change your routine to help, or communicate with a teacher, parent, or learning coach to adjust your plan. This is the how do I ask for help – to get what I need – part of last week’s post. 

Our super-cool business and friend-minded highschooler may have to postpone a job to make up a biology test. But the customer will understand and support school as his #1 priority. He may even get a bigger tip from someone who sees him focused on making his aspirations a reality. AND he may even get more referrals. All from making up a biology test he didn’t do well on at first. He got stuck in the mud, but asked for help to get to the other side, and he’s picking up speed on solid ground with some new strategies and tools as a result of the struggle. Do you see how worlds open up when we respond to adversity with grace and grit? 

This whole exercise is an example of the executive functioning and coaching work we do at Yellow Parachute Academy, in Quantum Jump, our ADHD & Life Coaching practice, and the individual power that each of us can harness when we take time to look at REASON, ROUTINE, and REACTION. It’s a personal favorite of mine to help young people and business and team leaders find the grace and grit they already have inside. 

If you’d like to learn more, please contact me!

Cara Thorpe
Founder & Visionary
Yellow Parachute Learning Partners