Learn How to Be Really Good at Something

“[L]earn how to be really good at something.  We believe that then translates into everything else,” explains Franklin Headley, principal and founder of Voice Charter School in Queens.  Voice combines rigorous academics with daily singing and music instruction.

This approach encourages student creativity as well as critical thinking.  The results are impressive.  For example, last year 70% of the Voice students passed the New York State math exams.  The city-wide pass rate was 39%.

Wow, I wish I’d attended that school!

There’s still time!  Anyone at any age can apply this lesson to their lives.  Developing your creativity will provide benefits to other areas of your life.

Hey, that’s great, but I’m not an artist.

Creative thinking will improve your abilities and results, including in fields that are not traditionally considered creative.

All work is creative.

Take your work, for example:  every job will benefit from creative thinking.  Whether you wait tables, drive a truck, answer phones at a call center, tutor adults, manage databases, care for your family, run a bakery or direct global widget operations — creativity will enhance your performance.  New ways of looking at issues and conflicts will help you devise more responsive solutions.

Why the fuss about being good at one thing?

This lesson is true for any skill:  if you’re really good at one thing, you’ll know how to be really good at other things.

As Kate Athens, a fourth-grade teacher at Voice, explains, “[The students] learn to stick with something hard and [break] things down into steps.”

This is how we become good at anything:  sticking with it and breaking it down into steps.

Hey, I wish someone had taught me that at school.

It’s never too late!  We can learn anything we want.  Now we know that the way to get really good at it is to stick with it and break it down into steps.

What can I learn to be really good at?

Anything that captures your interest or stirs your passion is a good place to start.  What do you love?  Cappuccino!  Okay, learn how to make really good cappuccino.  Don’t stop there!  How to read Latin.  How to rebuild an engine.  How to play the mandolin.  How to identify the constellations.  How to tango.  How to make an indoor garden for your tiny loft apartment.  How to fly fish.  How to write calligraphy.  How to boogie board.  How to re-wire a lamp.  How to make a mid-court shot (okay, this one may also require some innate ability).  Keep going:  we are limited only by our imaginations.

Carpe diem.

Today is the day.  Start with one thing you’ve always wanted to do.  Find out what you need to learn to do this one thing.  Break it down into steps.  Start with step one.  Stick with it.  Enjoy the process and the results.

Help!  I can’t find step one!

If you’re stuck, start at the very beginning.  You’re not sure what you’ve always wanted to do?  Think back to when you were a kid.  What sorts of things interested you?  Think about your life today; what do you daydream about?  What would you do if you could do anything?  Identify your interests and look at what you can start doing today.

Step by step beauty.

Step by step, you’ll see results in your knowledge and then in your abilities.  Developing our interests and passions expands the beauty in our lives.  We should never stop adding beauty to our lives.

Learn as if you were to live forever. -Mahatma Gandhi


For further information on Voice Charter School, see NYT article by Elizabeth A. Harris:  School Finds Music Is the Food of Learning
At Voice Charter School in Queens, Students Have Outperformed Their Peers Academically.


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