This week, I was given the opportunity to speak to Freshman Advisory classes at Brooklyn Technical High School. As an alum of Tech, it was exciting to be able to transition from former student into an instructional position helping to guide students through their first year in high school. Brooklyn Tech is an important part of my life. To this day, 27 years after graduation many of my closest friends and business associates are still former Technites. Despite the recent issues regarding diversity and the Specialized High School Examination, the building still feels like home to this Black guy from Clinton Hill.
My lecture to the freshman was titled, “The Four Tools of Accomplishment.” In this lecture, I detail four concepts that I feel are essential to accomplishing anything in life. At some point in the process of lecturing the students, during one of the dozen or so classes that I spoke in front of, I began to think about everyone who wasn’t able to hear this lecture. Although the concepts are simple and direct, communicating these tools draw them closer to the front of the mind, bringing them closer to application. I decided to use my column this week to provide these four tools for your review. My hope is that you share this article with someone who needs to read this. Every one of us have goals and dreams, and so every one of us needs to be reminded from time to time of the tools needed to accomplish them. I hope this helps you as much as it helps me. Here are the Four Tools of Accomplishment:
- Critical Thinking. Critical Thinking is the objective analysis and evaluation of an issue to form a judgment. According to the Foundation for Critical Thinking, Critical Thinking is “self-guided, self-disciplined thinking which attempts to reason at the highest level of quality in a fair-minded way.” Critical Thinking brings the very act of thinking into a conscious space and is a necessary practice because the lack of conscious thinking leads to biased and uninformed thought. The quality of our lives, who we are, what we produce, everything that we create in our reality depends solely on the quality of our thoughts. The first tool is to cultivate your thoughts by practicing Critical Thinking.
- Respect the Process. A process is a series of actions or steps taken in order to achieve a particular end. Every accomplishment has with it a set of processes that bring you closer to the goal. No accomplishment comes without a process. Never separate the two. If you want to run a marathon, you have to train. You cannot run 26.2 miles without putting your body through the rigors of training. The marathon is the goal. The training is the process. You can respect whatever accomplishment you wish, but the only way to reach them is to respect the process necessary to achieve them. Embrace the chaos and discomfort of the work ahead. You are being strengthened through your process.
- Purpose-Driven Decisions. Purpose is your reason why. Purpose frames your goals and explains your accomplishments. Your decisions create the path of your life. You are literally walking on the path of your decisions even as you read this. The only way to ever live in your purpose is to drive all of your decisions towards that purpose. Far too often, people make emotionally driven decisions. If they are angry, they will make decisions based on their anger. If they are happy, they will make this decision based on their happiness. The problem with emotionally driven decisions is that while emotions are fleeting, decisions are not. Making certain decisions in haste can be as dangerous as jumping out of a plane without a parachute. You can’t take it back once it’s done, the only thing you can do is try to manage the impact. As much as you can, tie your decisions to your purpose.
- Community Investment. When you invest time and resources into where you live, you help to replenish the same soil from which you’ve grown. You also create social capital. Your community and the people therein learn that you are reliable and responsible. Whatever your goals, your investment in your community fortifies your path to accomplishment. It is the work required for the accomplishments you wish to receive.