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We give students a special gift when we teach them a “hustle” approach to learning and life. Hustle creates an advantage in almost every life situation. In the words of Abraham Lincoln, “Things may come to those who wait, but only the things left by those who hustle.” Hustle is the key advantage people who are successful over a lifetime know—and tap. 

In fact, hustle is a better predictor of success in school and life than intelligence and innate talent. Hustle is making small increments of additional effort proactively and consistently. Over time, hustle becomes a huge differentiator in learning and life. People who emerge as exceptionally successful in life rarely do so by a single effort or action; often, hustle is their secret.  

We have taken the important step of building strong, positive, influential relationships with our students; sharing learning and life success secrets with them is a natural next step. The secrets of hustle may seem simple, but they can transform the way students work in our class and even change the trajectory of their lives. Here are eight behaviors we can teach our students and coach them on so that they know how to tap the power of hustle: 

  • Decide what is important. Stay focused on what matters. Refuse to allow distractions to pull you off of the path you have chosen. We can choose to change direction, but we need to be sure to take our hustle approach with us. It is fully transferable. 
  • Show up. This advice may seem obvious, but people who are present are more likely to be aware of and influence what is happening around them. Further, people who can be depended on disproportionately determine what is going to happen and play a key role in making it reality. 
  • Stay curious. Curiosity keeps us connected and informed. Curiosity is often the door to discovering opportunities. Asking questions, seeking to understand, and exploring possibilities accelerate learning and build insight.  
  • When we see an opportunity, take it. Hustle uncovers more opportunities in life. Opportunities are gifts life presents to us, but we must act in order for them to benefit us. Being able to recognize an opportunity is important, but doing something with it is what matters.  
  • Do one thing more. Choose to always take one additional action or step than required or planned. Over time, the gap between what others do and accomplish and what we achieve will widen in our favor. The long-term difference will be amazing. 
  • Get better every day. Even very small improvements accumulate over time and can make a huge difference. The Japanese call this approach to life kaizen, meaning continuous improvement, and use it as a way to stay fresh and always be learning and growing.   
  • Choose to work hard and smart. Working hard has its advantages, but working smart increases the likelihood of desired results. But when we work hard and work smart, we create a near unstoppable winning combination. 
  • Treat mistakes and setbacks as natural, even expected. People who hustle also experience errors and missteps. In fact, hustle makes some mistakes more likely. However, for these people, mistakes and setbacks are almost always temporary. They also often reveal new insights and signal what to do next. Mistakes are a natural part of the learning process for people who hustle.  

We teach students many things during their time with us. Some things students learn may have limited impact and be quickly forgotten. However, when we teach students how to be successful in life, we give them a gift that can transform their achievement with us and set them on a course of lifelong success.  

Thought for the Week

Are we being honest with our students if we claim neutrality on important, difficult, and complex issues?

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