You’re listening to the Parents of Hardworking Teens Podcast, episode 29.
And I want to share with you two words I used to say loads to students, and you’ve likely said to your teen too, that I’ve very intentionally stopped saying
(or at least tried to - they do slip out every once in a while) and - more importantly I’m going to tell you why.
Hi VIP’s, how is your week going? Mine is going GREAT. School has finished and although I only do relief teaching now, to give me time and head space for all things Rock Solid Study, my head has even MORE space now to be totally buzzing with tons of ideas and plans for next year. Which is exactly what it’s doing and I love it.
I’m planning a Term 1 online parent event - so look out for that in the new year,
AND an awesome live training for our Next Level students mid Semester 1.
Because we just sold out our brand new version of Next Level Coaching, which is my Coaching Program for students who’ve completed the 10WGT, seen success and want to keep that success going and take it further.
It now includes- as well as other awesome additions, like Ask Katie 24-7, it now includes a FANTASTIC live online advanced event each semester AND - it also includes 1-1 Private coaching every week.
Up til now, we’ve done everything through group coaching, which is still, in my eyes, the very best type of coaching because it means students get to see and work on EVERYTHING: they get specific feedback and support on their own tasks and skills, AND they get to use other students assessments, drafts, teacher feedback as unseen resources and as practise in building their skills by seeing things as a marker - viewing things afresh, as an outsider, with no emotional or personal attachment. Just like an examiner or moderator does.
BUT I also know that when it comes to student’s schedules and what they’ve got on at any given moment they also need to be able to match the timing and type of support to them specifically. And So, we’re keeping all of the things that allow that in group coaching, like pre-submitting, getting the full recordings AND we’re adding 1-1 Private Coaching sessions. Because I also know that some students are a little shy or nervous and so getting their own 1-1 coaching, at a time that works best for them that week and where they can decide to use me or Gemma, our English-Focus Coach, to best serve their needs that week is something I’m really excited to include and I know all of our students and their parents are excited for it too.
And I know I don’t really talk about Next Level very much, because it’s only for students who’ve completed the 10 Week Grade Transformation Program, and honestly, for most students the 10WGT is everything they want and need to get to where they want to be. But for those that want more, want to go to their Next Level, perhaps have specific big goals and results they want to hit and want that extra guidance and expert personal trainer on side to keep moving forwards and upwards, then that is what Next Level is for.
And talking of performance and results, that is a perfect segue into what I want to talk about today: the two words I always used to say to students, but now I never do. Or at least I try consciously not to. Habits can be tough to break, right. Especially when they are well-meaning.
Because those two words are ‘Good Luck’.
I never wish students good luck for their presentation or speech.
I never say good luck as they walk into the exam hall.
And I do this intentionally. NOT because I don’t want them to do well. But because, over the years, I’ve decided that I don’t really believe in luck. And I want students to know that they don’t need to rely on it.
I believe that we create our own luck. I believe that the outcomes and results we get in life, almost always come down to a collection of small actions or decisions that add up, or sometimes are the result of just one or two big ones. Though I think when it comes to study, it’s usually the former.
Now, yes, there are things that happen to us outside of our control, BUT I still think we have control in how we react or in how we prepare for those things.
I mean, we could say that our numbers coming up on the lotto is luck, BUT we’ve still got to buy a ticket. No ticket means it’s not bad luck that we didn’t win. We guaranteed no win.
Or we could say the weather on a special day - for a wedding, or a sporting event maybe is out of our control. And yes, we can’t control that, but backup plans can be made, and how we deal with it if or when it doesn’t go to plan can be controlled.
I just believe that we can do a LOT to set ourselves up for success.
And not so that everything goes perfectly. If I had the key to THAT, then this would be a very different podcast. But so that we can deal with things effectively when they don’t go as we hoped or take preventative action by foreseeing some of the potential hurdles or obstacles.
In fact, I ran a goal-setting exercise with my current Next Level students last week and we talked about how identifying the things that could go wrong or scupper the ideal plan are actually the ‘how-to’ guide for achieving the goal. Because things don’t go smoothly or to plan all of the time. That’s not real life. Did you notice?! But being ready for them or having the ability to make smart decisions is huge.
And here’s the mistake I see so often in students and their study.
Thinking that it’s down to luck as to what comes up on the exam paper. What questions are asked. How they’re worded.
That this is all just out of their hands.
Now, are the questions on the paper out of students’ control? Yes.
But do they have control over their ability to respond to and answer those questions? Yes.
Are there strategies and skills to increase that level of control and ability?
But, hope is not a strategy.
And guessing is not a skill.
I don’t want students going into an exam, or tackling any part of their study and needing or relying on LUCK.
And I think this is a good thing!
It would be pretty terrible wouldn’t it, if, after all the work your teen has done, that the exams they’ve studied and prepped so hard for, or the speech they rehearsed and practised for, that it all it comes down to, is luck.
And here’s why it doesn’t come down to that. Let’s think about a couple of examples.
When your teen is really hoping that a particular Q comes up on a test and it DOES, that’s not good luck. It’s the fact that they understood the content and then planned and prepped well for that topic.
Yes, they might’ve found that particular topic easier to grasp or perhaps more interesting, than others, but that’s to do with the way each of us is wired.
Or, when they’re really hoping that a particular topic does NOT come up and it DOES, that’s not BAD luck. It’s just that they weren’t as practised or knowledgable or confident as they wanted or perhaps needed to be.
What we do to plug those gaps, or build the skills we find more difficult is what often really makes the difference.
I’ve definitely had it myself and with students I’ve taught, where you know something is a weakness and so you work so hard on it, that you end up hoping it comes up on the exam, because it’s fresh in your head and you now totally get it.
Just hoping that that weaker topic doesn’t come up is not control.
It is not a strategy.
This is why I train students in prioritising strategically in revision planning or when time is tight and there’s a big to-do list. We take control by acknowledging problems or weaknesses, first off deciding if this is worth working on, and if it is, then planning to work on it and actually working on it.
Yes, each of us naturally find different subjects easier or harder than others.
That doesn’t mean we just get lucky if those do or don’t get set for an assignment or get asked in an exam. That just means that we have to work strategically and effectively to get good at those we find harder.
But this is not me just saying that students need to work really hard all of the time.
I also don’t totally buy into that quote. 'The harder I work, the luckier I get'
To give credit, I think - from a quick google - that it’s originally from Samuel Goldwyn, and I think the actual quote was that he said “I’m a great believer in luck. The harder I work, the more I have of it.” and it’s kind of been shortened over the years.
I like the idea of it, and a lot of what I’ve said just now does kind of tie into this idea or message. But, in terms of planning and working to CREATE success and great results, there is one issue with this quote.
And that is that hard work in and of itself - lots of time and effort - does not guarantee success for students.
That work and effort needs to be effective.
It needs to be on the most relevant things, in the most effective and efficient ways.
I see so many students spending HOURS on their study, but not getting the results they’re capable of. They’re making pages and pages of study notes, they are doing HOURS of research for an assignment, they are doing endless practise Qs and re-drafts… but HOURS does not equal MARKS.
If you have a hardworking teen, who’s spent forever on an assignment, only to get a result they were a little - or a lot - disappointed with, you know this.
Now of course, if they do no work and put in no effort, then it’s likely they won’t do well. And they’ll definitely be relying on luck then. Though I don’t think even the best luck will save them in those situations.
You see, we don’t want to rely on luck in either situation!
The quote needs to be - the harder I work *on the things that give most bang for buck, or best return on effort, and on the subject content that’s most strategic for me and on the skills of application that I most need right now* - THEN the luckier I get.
And then of course, it’s not even the luckier I get. It’s the better results and outcomes I achieve.
Basically it needs to become: The more strategically and effectively I study, the better results I get.
Doesn’t exactly have the same ring to it and it’s lost all of it’s amusingness and the actual lesson it’s trying to get across.
So I don’t think that’s going on a vision board any time soon - but it’s the reality for students. I just don’t say good luck.
‘Just look for command words’ or ‘remember the third step of analysis’ isn’t as fun or lighthearted when I say those things to students going into an exam, or ‘make lots of eye contact’ and ‘be over the top’ when they go into a presentation. Not as snappy as good luck are they? More useful I reckon, so I do say things like 'you’re awesome' or 'you can do this'. Because they are and I believe that.
Now, I know there will be some of you out there right now who are trying to rack your brains right now to find an example of luck being out of our control that’ll prove me wrong. That luck is a thing.
And that’s fine. I’m sure there are some.
I just happen to think this is a more positive and productive way to think about things. Plus, I’m a bit of a control-enthusiast shall we say.
So I’d love to know, what are you or what is your teen doing to create more ‘luck’ and brilliant things in life?
Email me - firstname.lastname@example.org, or leave it as feedback in a review in the podcast app. I’d love to hear from you.
And until next week, go create some luck and have fun enjoying the outcomes too :)