Just Don’t Quit
Recognizing that you can not fail unless you stop trying.
In our classroom, one of the most dreaded phrases I can hear is, “I can’t do this!” Or, “I give up!” In an effort to remove any mention of quitting or failure I gathered this collection for a lesson designed to inspire students to overcome the desire to quit.
A great place to begin is with a few hard earned success stories like these twelve! From Henry Ford to Colonel Sanders, some of the greatest success stories had a bumpy start.
There are always plenty of excuses for those looking for a way out. Sometimes, these excuses are even logical and fact based, and they make really good sense while they appeal to our desire to quit.
We may discover we could toss all responsibility aside and find someone else to blame for our trouble. Maybe our teacher is just not good at teaching. Maybe our sister kept us up all night and we are too tired to think. Maybe our coach made us stay late and there just wasn’t time enough to complete our project. Or we can decide we are the victim of a gene pool, a circumstance, an environment that can’t be controlled, so…
These justifications are perfectly capable of luring us toward an easy exit. After all, how many times can we fail before we throw in the towel? The answer is, as many times as it takes to overcome. The good news is that as long as we have left the door open to try again, we have not yet really failed. We may have lost a battle here and there but the war awaits our victory. Unless we quit.
The cold, hard truth is that when we quit, we choose to fail. And when we quit we close doors of opportunity that may have lead to our greatest achievements or desires. Instead of saying we can’t and exiting stage right, let’s say instead, we can and we will because this life is our stage and we are creating our stories one choice at a time! We must refuse to play the victim because we are after all heroes and victors. We have the lead!
What if George Washington had said, “We can’t win this?”
What if Galileo had said, “I can’t be right. Everyone says I am wrong!”
What if Helen Keller had said, “There’s too much against me. I can’t make a difference.”
What if J.K. Rowling had said, “I can’t finish the Harry Potter Series!” (Gasp!)
What opportunities for success could you be letting pass you by? Are you believing that you can’t when you actually can? The truth is that while it may be very hard, you can do anything you set your mind to.
Our children are growing up in a world of instant gratification. Almost everything they want is available in a hurry. This is not always so with learning. Learning demands your time and your attention but offers a lasting reward. If you have a student who gets frustrated with the process, here is something worth learning.
First, lose the negative talk. There will be no self-hatred here. When T first started homeschooling he used to call himself stupid a lot. I explained that here at home we do not use such words. I also reminded him again and again that he is brilliant and was happy to remind him of specific examples of his outstanding intelligence. When that didn’t completely stop him I continued to remind him we don’t use such ugly descriptive terms and asked him to tell me three reasons why he is awesome. That helped.
Second, look at what you have already achieved. It’s important and helpful to remind T that he once thought reading was impossible. He truly believed he would never be able to read. Today, the kid reads like crazy! His vocabulary is extraordinary. He writes the greatest stories. He has overcome. He will overcome again.
Thirdly, set small goals. If you are taking on something big, like learning multiplication, take it easy. Work on learning and mastering your two’s before moving onto the three’s etc. If you have a seriously struggling reader, instead of taking it by the chapter set them a goal based on a certain number of paragraphs. Help them find success at their own pace and watch them succeed. It’s beautiful.
Fourth, get organized. To achieve something difficult we need as clear a path as possible. Organizing and setting small goals down on paper with a plan can make all the difference. Here is an article with some great tips on getting organized goals together for your students.
Finally, commit to it! Agreeing to commit is the first step but best results happen when you have someone to hold you accountable. The teacher takes the reins as the accountability partner. The student now has a goal and a partner. Often, this is all they needed in the first place. The teacher is not solely the accountability partner but the coach, the guide, the cheerleader, the gentle yet firm voice behind them.
- Have a discussion about the people in the first article who failed many times before they found success. Ask them if they suspected these people had been through these hard times. Talk it over. What did they expect?
- Talk about excuses and ask your student if they can share a time when they allowed an excuse to be the reason they quit. What may they have lost by quitting? Where might they be if they had continued to try? Have them write a few paragraphs about their experiences and how they feel about it looking back.
- Discuss the questions in Think About This. How would the world be different if George Washington had decided we couldn’t win the war? Would the United States even exist if he had quit? Explain in details how great the forces against him were. He was outnumbered, outgunned and most of his soldiers had little to no experience. He had lost many. What did he gain by not quitting? How does that impact each of us? Have them answer at least one question on paper.
- Go over 23 Incredibly Successful People Who Failed at First
- “The expert in everything was once a beginner.” Have your student chose an expert and research to find out what that person may have had to overcome in order to reach his or her goals? Find out why it was important they didn’t quit. Have a verbal discussion with the results.
- Have students make a list of a few things they sometimes feel like quitting. Discuss how they may change their perspective and list the rewards of sticking with it. Make a plan to overcome.
- Make a list of difficult things they have already overcome and build that self-esteem.
- Finally, review The Ten Tips for Setting Successful Goals