“You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.” Maya Angelou – Success
Can you be successful in life without doing what you love?
Success, students are told, comes from doing well in school, building friendships, and finding the right career. The only problem is they aren’t told exactly how to find this success and whether actually loving what they do should even be a consideration. As a result, it’s important for students to develop a self-awareness around what success means to them and how they plan to get it.
Join Steve and Dan Fouts for an unforgettable conversation about success using the Teach Different 3-Step Method.
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Steve Fouts: 00:06
Hey, everybody Steve and Dan Fouts here. We’re talking with Maya Angelou, American poet and civil rights activist, this week with a quote about success. “You can only become truly accomplished at something you love.” Now, success is a word students are very familiar with. They’re having different degrees of success at this age, in school, on sports teams, and with new pursuits. They want to see if they’re good at something or not, and they’re not exactly sure what their true passion is. They know what success looks like. They’re familiar with grades, which are constant reminders of whether they’re succeeding or failing.
Dan Fouts: 1:02
Right. I was going to add that they’re told at all times to be successful, that they need to be successful in life, but rarely are they given a road map for how to get there.
Steve Fouts: 1:14
And what success really means. It means different things to different people.
Dan Fouts: 1:21
Students don’t have a good self-awareness of what it actually means to be successful.
Steve Fouts: 1:29
But, they have a very strong opinion about what it means to love something.
Dan Fouts: 1:35
Sure, that’s easier.
Steve Fouts: 1:36
And to be passionate. They’re ready to really consider a quote like this. What claim do you think Maya Angelou is making with this quote?
Dan Fouts: 1:46 – Claim
It seems like what she’s saying is that success and love go hand in hand. If you can do something that you love, then you’re automatically going to be successful and accomplished at it. Therefore, you should only pursue the things in life that you absolutely love. Along with that comes this sense of accomplishment.
Steve Fouts: 2:09
That’s good, and one thing I would add to that is if you want to have success you better love it. You may not be successful with everything you love, but if you want success you have to love it.
Dan Fouts: 2:27
To push this conversation along, the simplest way is to have the kids write down on a piece of paper a few things that they absolutely love to do. That they are passionate about and also feel a sense of accomplishment with. Every kid is going to have something to say. Then, you can ask why they love doing it.
Steve Fouts: 2:54
How does it make you feel when you love something? Do you feel like you’re better at it because you love it, or do you just know you love it and it makes you not really care about whether you’re good or bad at it? That’ll get into what makes them passionate about something.
Dan Fouts: 3:11
Five minutes into this conversation you can learn a lot about what students are really passionate about. We teachers can forget to do this.
Steve Fouts: 3:25
They love talking about.
Dan Fouts: 3:26
You can go through an entire year and never know what your students are really passionate about, but you can get that with this conversation.
Steve Fouts: 3:33 – Counterclaim
Once you have the kids talking, they’re sharing some stories about things that they love and are passionate about, then push back. Let’s get a counterclaim against this. The first thing that comes to mind for me are all those things in life that you have to do that aren’t really fun. You don’t really love doing them, but after a while you appreciate them. For example, when you attend school 200 days in a row and win a perfect attendance award. You didn’t love going to school every day, but you sure love these adults complimenting you on your determination and your perseverance to make sure you got to school.
Dan Fouts: 4:24
It’s almost like you did it out of obligation to others.
Steve Fouts: 4:27
Dan Fouts: 4:28
Or as an obligation to yourself. Whatever the reason you give.
Steve and Dan Fouts: 04:35
It wasn’t love
Dan Fouts: 4:36
It was something else; yet, there was accomplishment.
Steve Fouts: 4:42
You had success.
Dan Fouts: 4:43
That pushes back against what Maya Angelou said. I was thinking of another example of when you’re studying for an exam. If a student spends all of her time studying for a test and does well on the test, she gets a sense of accomplishment even though it’s not something she loves doing.
Steve Fouts: 5:06
It’s a different definition of accomplishment. It’s a different feeling when you’ve done something that you didn’t necessarily want to do but you stuck with it. It gives you a different type of satisfaction.
Dan Fouts: 5:16
It’s like you satisfied an obligation. That’s a different feeling. It’s not love, but something else that is equally meaningful.
Steve Fouts: 5:26
And, it’s equally powerful when it comes to achieving success.
Dan Fouts: 5:32
Steve Fouts: 5:33 – Essential Question
So, here’s an essential question to provide closure to the conversation. Can you be successful in life without doing what you love?
Dan Fouts: 5:44
I’m thinking about this question in terms of a curriculum connection. In an English or Language Arts class you can talk about a children’s book for the younger kids or a novel for the older kids. There are characters who have done something amazing and accomplished something through hard work and grit. Yet, they probably did it out of a sense of obligation, not because they love to do it. This conversation would be fantastic to have before reading those kinds of books. It would really get the kids to become more self-aware of their own definition of success before they get into the book.
Steve Fouts: 6:38
I think they could also build their confidence once they have a better understanding of what success means to them and, for instance, having it be okay if they ended up doing something that they didn’t love,…
Dan Fouts: 6:50
Steve Fouts: 6:51
…because there would be a reason to do that. It would give them a greater satisfaction ater. So, there is American poet and civil rights activist, Maya Angelou, this week. Make sure you visit our Conversation Library where we have many conversations like this, each with a different quote, a sample claim, counterclaim, and an essential question to get you started.
Take care, everybody.
Dan Fouts: 7:23