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Three Words to Have More Success in The Classroom and in Life

As you may know, I love reading books that help me be a better educator, husband, father, friend and colleague. A lot of what I’ve learned, I’ve put in my book, Teach Happier.

Recently, I picked up Brendon Burchard’s High Performance Habits – How Extraordinary People Become That Way, and I have been writing notes like crazy. It is quickly becoming one of my favorite resources.

In his book, Brendon offers some great advice called, Three Aspirational Words.

“If you could describe yourself in just three aspirational words—words that would sum up who you are at your best in the future—what would those words be?” Brendon Burchard

This got me thinking. What three words would I want people to someday use to describe me? This could be the teachers at my school, my administration colleagues, my wife, my kids, my friends, etc.

I thought it was pretty cool idea.

So, I spend some time writing down words that I would want to have people use to someday describe me, and I narrowed my list down to three words: Uplifting, Present and Calm.


I have a good friend named, Jackie, and she is one of those people who I would describe as uplifting. Every time I meet her, I come away encouraged, inspired and uplifted. In fact, Jackie was the first person who I gave a copy of my book to. I knew she would be encouraging and supportive. I would love to have people talk about me like people talk about her. To become this, I have to make a decision to focus less on myself and more on the person or people who I am interacting with at the time. The focus of the interaction becomes less of what I can get out of the time I spend with them and more on what I can give to them in the time we spend.


I have to be honest. This is going to be a tough one for me. Too often, my wife will get upset, because I’ll hear a ding from my phone in the middle of our conversation, and I’ll look to see who emailed or texted me. I know that’s bad. I wonder how often I do this at work. Brendon Burchard shares in his book that one of the most common traits of high performing people is respect. They are respected, because they are good at respecting others. Being present and focused on the person which whom you are speaking with is a form of showing respect. Again, like being uplifting, the focus is in meeting the needs of the person you are talking to and less on meeting our own needs.


In Scott Mautz’ book, Find the Fire, he writes, “In the middle of a crisis, be the calmest person in the room.” To me, to be calm is to be in control of my emotions. I can’t be that person who allows a negative situation to upset me or cause me to lose control of my emotions. For example, we had an evening event recently where we invited the community to our school. We had inflatable jumpers and food booths, along with some other fun activities. While I was supervising one of the jumpers, one of my students jumped in without getting in line not knowing that I was watching him. I got upset, and I yelled at him. I was mad. Then, to my embarrassment, I realized that I was surrounded by parents and kids and other visitors, and now they were all looking at me. I had let my emotions control me, and I looked the complete opposite of calm. As a leader, at school or at home, I need to portray an appearance of calm and control, even if I’m totally stressed out or upset inside.

The point of Brendon’s exercise is after you identify these three aspirational words, use them to influence how you interact with people in your life, so that someday people use these words to describe you.

He recommends that you set an alarm on your smartphone that reminds you throughout the day of your three aspirational words. I chose to do something different. Sorry Brendon. What I did was to create graphic with my three words using the Font-Candy App, and I made that graphic the one I see first every time I turn on my phone. I’ve added it here. This my beautiful family on our recent vacation in Hawaii.


So my questions to you is: What are your three aspirational words?

If you were to take a little time to consider how you would want people to describe you in the future, what three words would you want them to use?

Feel free to use my words if you would like. I believe teachers who are known as uplifting, present and calm are the most successful.

The best part of this exercise is that the effects of our efforts to live up to our aspirational words will not only lead to more success in our professional lives, but in our personal lives as well. Not only will your students benefit, but your colleagues, your spouse, your own children, your friends, etc.

I would love to know what words you chose as your three aspirational words. Please tweet or comment below.

A special thanks to Brendan Burchard for his inspirational book. I hope to meet you some day, take a selfie and thank you in person.

Until next time, here’s to your Success in the Classroom!




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Free Resources

Teach Happier – 21 stress-reducing, joy-inspiring, burnout-avoiding strategies to help teachers love their jobs and have more success in the classroom

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Gratitude Journal for Teachers