17 Important Lessons
You Can Borrow
1. Recognize the Importance, Cost, and
Benefits of Making a Commitment.
• The single most powerful predictor of success in the
long run is commitment, the willingness and desire to
work hard toward achieving clearly defined goals.
• Top achievers are more than just willing to work hard:
they want to work hard.
What are the benefits
of making a commitment
to strengthen your reading skills?
• You will feel better about yourself as a person and as
• Your grades will improve.
• You will have more confidence.
• You will become more and more motivated.
• You will have better career opportunities.
• You will have an improved personal life, be happier,
more sure of yourself, and be more successful.
What is the cost of achieving
these wonderful benefits?
• A few hours a week; it depends on what “shape” you
are in when you start.
• Regardless of your shape, it is a small price to pay
for very important gains.
• Everyone wants a “quick fix,” but that’s
as unrealistic for improving your reading
skills as it is for achieving physical fitness.
2. “Work Out” (Study) at the Right Time
and in the Right Place.
• Identify the time of day when you are most alert and
• Then study at that same time every day. After three
weeks, it will become a habit.
3. Avoid Negative Self-Talk and
• Many students have the habit of negative self-talk:
“This is too hard,” “I’m not smart enough,” “I’ll never
get this,” or “This is hopeless.” When ever you have a
thought like this, STOP IT.
• Don’t accept negative comments
about yourself, and don’t make them.
4. Decide What Kind of Person You
Want to Be.
• If you want to change the kind of student you are,
change the kind of person you are.
• You are what you say and do.
5. Train the Way You Want to Play.
• In practicing your reading skills, you need to do the
same things in the same way as you will when you
use them in actual situations.
• This means practicing with the real thing, college-
level material. It means thinking, focusing, and
preparing yourself ultimately to use these same skills
to help master your college textbooks.
• You get out of it what you put into it.
Train carefully. Train regularly. Train hard.
6. Expect to Hit Plateaus and Be
Prepared to Deal with Them.
• Learning doesn’t occur as a smooth, seamless,
• Learning involves integrating new information with
existing information. The brain needs time for
restructuring and consolidation. It takes time
for the brain to accommodate new input.
• If you hit a rough spot, keep going.
• Even when you feel discouraged,
do the assignments anyway.
• Champions keep playing until they get it right.
7. Breathe .
• To function, your brain needs glucose and oxygen.
• Drink plenty of water to hydrate and oxygenate your
• For your brain to function well, you need to feel
relaxed, yet alert.
Use this simple breathing procedure to calm and refresh you:
1. Take several slow, deep breaths when you sit down to study.
Sit up straight. Put you feet flat on the floor. Rest your hands in
your lap and close your eyes. Exhale completely through your
2. Now inhale through your nose and fill your lungs from the
3. Hold your breath for several seconds and then exhale slowly
and completely through your mouth.
Practice this slowly. You may feel a bit dizzy at first.
8. Use Visualization.
• This means imagining yourself doing something
successful before you actually begin it. It’s like a
move you run in your head.
• “If I can conceive it, I can believe it. If I can believe it,
I can achieve it.” --Jessie Jackson
• Imitate a champion. Pattern yourself after someone
who is outstanding.
9. Focus on Your Own Game.
• If you are watching what someone else is doing, then
you are not focusing on what you need to do.
• Learn from others, but improve yourself.
• Just because someone wins the race, don’t assume it
was easy for them.
10. Develop Mental Toughness
and Maintain Focus.
• Stress and setbacks are part of everyone’s life.
• You have to be tough.
• Everything depends on your mental outlook towards life.
• 98% of success is in your head.
11. Learn to Distinguish between
Problems and Facts.
• A problem can be fixed.
• If you are dealing with a circumstance that cannot be changed or
fixed, then it’s no longer a problem: it’s a fact.
• Because it’s a fact, there’s no reason to waste emotional energy
feeling frustrated. Let it go.
• Save time and energy for problems you can
do something about.
12. Have High Expectations
• You have to expect things of yourself before you
can do them.
• Keep in mind that it is what you expect of yourself
that matters, not what others expect.
• Set your academic goals, and know what you are
wiling to do to achieve academic success.
13. Show Up for Practice--
Even When You Don’t Feel Like It.
• Nearly all “good students” work very hard for their success.
• Success is not a matter of luck.
• Discipline is “remembering what you really want.”
• “The only discipline that lasts is self-discipline.”
14. Monitor Your Workouts and
Evaluate Your Progress.
• Monitor your “workouts” in this book.
• If you don’t find out why you missed an item,
then you’ve lost the opportunity to learn—
and you’ve wasted the time you spent doing
• Assess your own performance; know why you
missed an item.
15. Always Give Your Best Effort.
• “There are three types of baseball players—those
who make it happen, those who watch it happen, and
those who wonder what happened.” --Tommy Lasorda
• “Shoot for the moon—even if you fall short you will
land among the stars.” --Gil Steinke
• Go for the gold. Make it habit to
try to hit the ball out of the park.
16. Follow Instructions.
• Read, mark, and follow every set of directions carefully.
• Follow the philosophy of “Do it now. Do it right.”
• Following directions is a relatively simple, but very
Follow Directions (continued)
• Read the entire set of directions carefully, even if you
think you know what you’re supposed to do.
• Circle or box any clues that signal steps in the
• Underline key words that tell what you’re supposed to
do (especially in test directions)
• Carry out the steps in order.
17. Get Help from a “Coach.”
• Ask for guidance in class and outside of class, too.
• Good coaches--and good teachers--will not let you get
by with sloppy work, missed “workouts” (missed class
sessions or missing assignments), or a bad attitude.
Because they care whether or not you learn, they’ll push
prod, and nag. They won’t accept excuses.
• Good coaches and teachers see what
you can be rather than what you are.
• Understand and make a commitment.
• “Work out “ (study) at the right time and place.
• Avoid negative self-talk and verbalizations.
• Decide what kind of person you want to be.
• Train the way you want to play.
• Be prepared to deal with plateaus.
• Use visualization.
• Focus on your own game.
“Secrets” Summary (con’t)
• Develop mental toughness and stay focused.
• Distinguish between problems and facts.
• Set high expectations and commit them to
• Show up for practice even if you don’t feel like
• Monitor your “workouts” and your progress.
• Always give your best effort.
• Follow instructions.
• Get help from a “coach.”
Time to get moving!