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  • Writer's pictureKjell Fenn, M.Ed., M.A.

All Aboard! The Trains Are Chugging Along; Are You Ready to Board?



by Kjell Fenn, M.Ed., M.A.

The older I get, the more I believe that opportunities are always there. They may not be obvious or apparent, but they are a constant. Opportunities are common but rarely seen except for those who are prepared. Life favors the prepared, I have heard before, and I believe it wholeheartedly. Those who are successful, have advantages, privileges, and the things in life that others want. I have heard some rail against the rich and successful claiming ‘they were lucky’. Luck is a poor god with sacrifices made by those who believe. I am not such a one. I am an adherent to the concept of ‘be ready and doors will open.’

Opportunities are like trains that run through our lives and only those with the tickets of preparedness can board. Like a young performer who gets ‘found’ and is given a contract shooting him to stardom, buying his ticket to board that train. The price of his ticket was hours of practicing while his friends played on the monkey bars, hours of learning while his friends went to the games, and hours of frustration while his friends went to parties. So the kid who watches this young star – of the same young age – and claims that he got lucky is sorely misunderstanding the train schedule. It stops for those who are ready to board.

I hear young people say they want to be a famous sports star or singer or successful businessperson. I hear the words but see no action suggesting they are on their way. They do nothing to prepare for the train. What they really want is a "want to." They want to practice for hours. They want to spend days learning. They want to seek others who are successful. They want to want.

People generally understand that when they want something, they do what it takes to get it. So, it stands to reason that if they do not have what they think they want, then they really don’t want it, they only think that having it would be cool.

For example, a young high schooler says he wants to play pro basketball like Stephen Curry, but he does little to enhance his God-given talent. He does what every other high school boy on the team does: practice daily and play some pick-up games on the weekends. If that’s all it took to play in the NBA, I would be enjoying the fruits of that labor. But I didn’t spend extra hours practicing, perfecting shots, watching those better than me, learning from coaches and players, and honing my craft. Nope. I practiced hard and played hard, but did little more than dream. Well, dreams don’t buy tickets on the trains of opportunities. Hard work, practice, humility (learning from others), and perseverance buy the tickets.​

We are in a day and age when superheroes abound and superhuman powers are abundant in pop culture. What this has done, I believe, is create a sense of innate "superhumanness" that some people possess and others don't. Many kids want to wake up with the ability to succeed, to be suddenly super smart, to be instantly liked by all, to be effortlessly strong and confident. They want to be Harry Potter, Katniss Everdeen, or Bella Swan who didn't have to work very hard to be great people. This is fiction. It may be exciting and entertaining, but it is still fiction. We have students walking the halls wishing to have the powers of superheroes or wizards or warriors. And when they don't wake up any different than the day before, they fall into a melancholy. They wish they were someone else or at least somewhat different. And in their desire to do something "other," they miss out on the train that is rolling by them every day.

This season, the beginning of a new year, is a time for new opportunities for our students. Many want to start afresh, to begin anew, to grow, to be super. As educators, let's make sure we teach the skills necessary to buy their tickets to ride the train of opportunities which is the way to be super. You don't have to be a superhero to ride the train of opportunities. Actually, most superheroes don't ride the train - they fly, run, or jump to get to where they want to go. But as regular humans, we have to buy our tickets to board the train.

Authored by Kjell Fenn © SchoolRIGHT, LLC., unless otherwise specified. All rights reserved.

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