• Jackie Capers-Brown

5 Self-leadership Habits for Academic Success

A common dilemma faced by middle, high school, and college students of all socioeconomic backgrounds is how to deal with the relentless change taking place in their life while navigating academic success. From the changes in their physical bodies, to dealing with a more challenging academic course load while attempting to strike a balance between extra-curricular activities, family responsibilities and a desire to maintain social relationships. Navigating a successful academic journey in middle school, high school, and college will always test a student’s ability to juggle various responsibilities and interests. Students with a greater degree of self-efficacy which helps to build their resiliency tend to increase their odds for success.

Self-Efficacy and Resiliency

According to Cal Crow, Ph.D. co-founder of the Center for Efficacy and Resilience, “The payoff from helping students become more self-efficacious and resilient can be significant. Some of the benefits include:

· Higher student achievement levels

· Lower dropout rates

· Fewer attendance problems in our schools

· More motivated students and employees

Students who are more confident in their ability to overcome obstacles while maximizing learning and growth opportunities increase their chance of starting smart and finishing strong in middle school, high school and college. A student who acquires and nurtures smart thinking and smart behavioral habits expand his or her ability to overcome obstacles and execute smart plans of action to achieve a high school diploma, a college degree and sustainable career success.

Turning Life’s Lemons Into Lemonade

What may seem to be common knowledge is not always common practice. Life doesn’t always go as we hope or plan. When it does not, it helps to have a foundation of best practices that can help us move forward in the face of change and unexpected challenges. Providing students with a framework of actions which can serve as a guide to navigate their way forward and build self-efficacy equips them with first-hand knowledge of the “can-do” power already within them. A student’s personal sense of “can-do” will more likely help him or her create success from the inside-out which helps to cultivate the academic resiliency necessary to achieve their goals.

Parents, the five effective self-leadership habits outlined in this article will increase your child’s ability to persist in the face of the inevitable challenges he or she will face during the school year and beyond. I can make this bold assertion because they were first taught to me by my father during my fourth grade school year because of the struggles I experienced attending my first desegregated school. Fortunately, my father’s wisdom became personal practices that would help me develop the self-efficacy and emotional resilience that helped me to succeed in school, in my corporate career, and today as I navigate a new chapter in my life as a business owner.

These practices helped me to hone into the intuitive knowing that I had it within me to move beyond my anger and depression after the unexpected death of my mother at the age of thirteen. At such a young age, my ability to rise strong in the face of my first major adversity helped me develop self-trust. I can’t stress enough how important it is for your child to have a core belief in his or her ability to handle mistakes, setbacks and adversity with success.

Years later, in the face of daunting odds, this strong moment in my life and my faith in God inspired me to pursue a goal which at the time was deemed impossible for me to achieve by many of the people around me. With a conviction in my soul that nothing was impossible with God, I went from earning minimum wage to become an award-winning leader of several high-performance teams and several successful million dollar businesses.

When faced with the unexpected loss of my teenage son Blease, six months after my first general management promotion with Marriott Hotels, I was eventually able to move beyond my grief after letting go of my anger toward God and asking for guidance to help me, help myself move beyond my despair. In the light of Spirit’s guidance, I reconnected to these actions with a greater depth of understanding as I navigated a new normal after the loss of my son.

A few years later, the support and encouragement of members in the Lamplighters Toastmasters Club in Wilmington, NC inspired me to start sharing my story. When I moved back home to Columbia,SC I decided to write my books Lead to Succeed and Get Unstuck Now. Today, as a personal development and leadership performance coach, I use this framework of actions in different contexts with diverse questions to help individuals connect to the truth of their enoughness in order to brave their way forward to achieve audacious goals.  

A Smart Solution for Student Success

This overview of The D.R.I.V.E. Method Advantage™ is my signature personal mastery framework will help your child develop smart thinking and smart behavioral habits that will help him or her develop the self-efficacy and emotional resilience necessary to navigate challenges and achieve academic success.

This overview includes a brief summary of each proactive step, why the action is important for the student to navigate their way forward in diverse situations, and a few questions you can use to help your child understand and implement the action to reach smart solutions.

Step 1. Disrupt Your Assumptions

When your child is faced with change or an unexpected challenge, it’s important for him or her to gain clarity of focus to decide on a smart approach that will lead to a positive outcome. To gain clarity and a sense of purpose and direction, it’s important for the student to first, achieve a private victory over any self-defeating story they may be making up in their mind about themselves or their ability to handle the situation with success.

Coach your child with the following questions:

1. Is your assumption true? Get the facts straight.

2. What part of this assumption reflects who you are when your best self is fully engaged and effective?

3. What part of this assumption reflects a fear that has been holding you back?

Why is this important?

It’s important for your child to develop the smart habit of identifying disempowering assumptions in the story he or she makes up in her mind about what they are capable of and what’s possible in their life. Your child needs to understand how fear-based thinking diminishes his or her ability to reach and execute smart solutions to any situation. Your child needs to develop the awareness that he or she always have the freedom and power to change the story they tell themselves.   

Step 2: Reframe Your Perspective

Albert Einstein once stated, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Helping your child develop the smart habit of expanding the way that he or she thinks (perspective) about themself or a situation increases their capacity to reach smart solutions and execute smart plans of action.

When your child is open to changing their view on any topic, he or she will begin to feel, think and relate to himself or herself, other people and the situation differently.  Helping your child develop a growth mindset and identity-based beliefs increase the likelihood that he or she will develop the powerful habit of re-framing their perspective. Disruption is the new normal. This habit is extremely valuable to maintaining an agile mindset and demonstrating the adaptive performance necessary to succeed in the 21st Century.

Coach your child with the following questions:

1. What is the meaning you have associated with this experience?

2. How is this interpretation influencing your reaction?

3. If you changed this meaning about the situation to one that empowers you, how would your response change toward this situation?

Why is this important?

During this period in your child’s life, his or her thinking is primarily driven by their emotional brain. Science has proven that the human brains are not fully developed until we are in our mid to late 20’s. Too often, our youth are making decisions believing they have the full function of all their brains when they do not. It’s important that your child understand this reality and how the brain works.

Step 3: Initiate Purpose Driven Actions

Once your child is willing to change the meaning they have associated with an experience to one that empowers him or her, they are able to gain clarity about a desired outcome and initiate actions aligned with this outcome.

Regardless of your child’s IQ, if he or she does not possess a strong enough WHY that compels him or her to keep taking positive and purposeful action toward their desired outcome, they won’t maintain the internal staying power necessary to achieve the goal. This is why helping your child develop a compelling vision of the benefits that will be gained from their efforts to achieve academic success is important from elementary school until they graduate from college. The more your child can see and feel the reality of their vision within themselves, the more intrinsic motivation he or she will display in their commitment to achieve their academic goals.

Coach your child with the following questions:

1. Why is this goal important to you?

2. What daily routines and habits will you need to implement in order to achieve this goal?

3. How will you hold yourself accountable for taking action and getting the results you want ?

Why is this important?

Action is a prerequisite for achievement. The more aligned and strategic the action  is toward a specific aim, the more likely your child will achieve the success he or she seeks to accomplish. Discussions with your child about their goals and what it takes on your end as a parent to support their success helps your child develop appreciation for all the effort you are making to help them realize their potential.

Step 4: Value Enriching Experiences

Highly successful people accept the fact that discomfort is a part of the price that has to be paid in the pursuit of achieving audacious goals. Your child will have to tap into the courage already in his or her heart to step out of their comfort zone. This is a part of the path to your child realizing his or her full potential.

Your child’s willingness to embrace and value new experiences that support his or her growth and success is an important habit that will pay dividends now, and in the future. Expanding their comfort zone will help develop their self-trust and courage. Enriching experiences add significant value to your student’s progress and accomplishment of goals. As your child expands his or her capacity to learn more, be more and do more, he or she will feel excited about their future possibilities.

Coach your child with the following questions:

1. How can you be proactive toward embracing new people and places that will enrich your happiness, growth and success?

2. What additional skills will you need to master to achieve your desired level of academic success?

3. How can adopting a curious mindset toward new experience help to lessen your apprehension about taking part in something that isn’t familiar to you?

Why is this important?

Learning how to be comfortable with temporary feelings of discomfort will help your child reduce the influence of fear, uncertainty and doubt about a decision to step beyond their comfort zone. Curiosity and self-acceptance will lessen the apprehension they feel when they begin to engage enriching experiences beyond their comfort zone.

Step 5: Enlist the Help of Others

Wise people realize they do not know everything. This truth will encourage your child to maintain the humility to ask for help when necessary to accomplish a goal. Contrary to popular opinion, it is not healthy for your child to believe that it’s a sign of weakness if he or she asks for help. I believe its important that our youth develop self-reliance, AND I believe that when their dream matters to them, they shouldn’t feel guilty or less than because they ask for help to achieve them.

When your child feels deserving of support to reach a goal, he or she will feel more comfortable asking for help. When a child does not feel deserving of support from others, the child is least likely to ask for help. Regardless of their zip code, all children deserve to receive the support necessary to achieve their dreams and goals.

Coach your child with the following questions:

1. What is the specific support you need to accomplish this goal?

2. What can I do to support your success?

3. Who else can you ask for help that has demonstrated they support your success? Or, who do you know that can introduce you to someone that can help you?

Why is this important?

Leveraging the wisdom, insights, knowledge and skills of other people is how most highly effective and successful people maintain their leading edge. Encouraging your child to come to you for support and asking those they feel support their success  will help him or her reduce their learning curve while increasing their sense of self-worth.

In Conclusion

Your child beliefs about himself or herself shapes his or her identity. Their identity shapes their behavior. Their behavior shapes their experiences. Their experiences will shape the quality of their life. Helping your child manage the meaning that he or she associate with diverse experiences is very important to their well-being and academic success.

The D.R.I.V.E. Method Advantage™ outlined in this article will help your child develop a positive self-image, self-trust, courage and a growth mindset. As your child develops perseverance, learn from mistakes, embrace challenges with confidence while putting forth the effort required to achieve goals, he or she will begin to tell themselves the story, “I am smart.” “I am capable of doing this.” “I will do this and succeed!” These perspectives will fuel your son’s or daughter’s commitment toward the achievement of their desired academic success.

In my Level Up Your Success Master Class weekend virtual experience in October, I'm delving into specific habits of mind, and emotional resilience skills and that help to fuel the impact of self leadership habits when implemented consistently over time. Find out more about the master class here.

About the Author

Jackie Capers-Brown is the founder and CEO of Slay Your Greatness Academy and author of Find Your Brave. If your organization is interested in Jackie conducting her  Be Your Best Self or Bounce Back Better Teen and Young Adult Workshops contact her at www.jackiecapersbrown.com.

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