3 Things Snoopy and the Third Grade Taught Me About Success

If I told you that Snoopy (yes, that Snoopy), was the main reason for the success I have had in my adult life, you might cock your head to the side, flutter your eyelids in disbelief, and utter a sarcastic “riiiight.”

But it’s true.

As a TV broadcaster and entrepreneur, I’ve managed several businesses and written a number of books. In addition to helping people achieve their dreams by sharing their values with the world, awards have been given for my work. Snoopy is the reason.

Let me explain.

My Montessori education began in kindergarten and continued through the third grade. If you’re not familiar with the Montessori approach, the education philosophy focuses on independence and self-learning. Looking back, it was a great fit for me and served me well. The lessons I gained from this experience have helped shape me into who I am today.

These sheets are the keys.

When I entered my classroom on Mondays, I would walk towards the bin with our weekly assignments. Each Monday I pulled my own from the pile and sat down to review the assignments for that week. Each subject had a heading and each subject had a list with individual assignments.

My motivation to complete my weekly sheet was the Snoopy stickers that I received as a kid. You could pick one of the stickers that teachers would put on your sheet to mark each assignment as you completed it. Snoopy, out of all the available stickers was my favorite. That small thing was what lit up my life week after week. Looking back I can see how those Snoopy-sticker-covered sheets helped me learn three important lessons. They are still a big part of the reason I’m successful.

1. It was up to me to decide when I wanted to work.

After I had the sheet, I was able to determine how I would handle my week’s workload. It was possible to be focused and finish everything Monday. I also had the option of spreading out my work and doing a bit each day. I could put pressure on Friday.

It was up to me what I did, how much, and the results.

It was my job to figure out the best way for me to work. That also taught me that, as long as I got it done, there was nothing wrong with how I did it. You can think back to the last year and half. Many people found they were more peaceful and productive working remotely, at specific times and with more energy. Other people learned they need the structure and routines of being onsite. There are many ways to work. Effective is not a right or wrong thing.

The key to success is understanding your strengths and weaknesses.

“Keep looking up, that’s the secret of life.” – Snoopy

2. When I was in need of help, I knew I could turn to someone for assistance.

I could have my time all day, but there were also times that I needed to be with my classmates, teachers, or colleagues for specific assignments, group projects, or tests. If I ever needed one, I could always reach out to my teacher. I learned that it was acceptable to ask for help and encouraged me to do so. Asking for help and learning from your answers will make you move faster.

To be successful, you must ask for assistance.

3. Teachers weren’t the only ones to go to for help.

Multigrades in the same area (another Montessori idea) meant that I could reach peers, older students, and even teach someone who was struggling. The “hierarchy” that shows up in a more traditional classroom wasn’t there.

What that taught me was that things like age and “seniority” didn’t automatically make you smarter or better at anything. Information gathering, experimentation, and learning from your results are what made you more or less smarter. You don’t have to know it all; what you need to know is how to leverage the collective intelligence in the room.

Understanding that everyone knows something you don’t, and that you know things others do not, is key to success.

I learned leadership skills from the experiences that I gained in my early education years. While I didn’t realize it at the time (we never do), looking back, I am not sure I would be the person I am today had I not been exposed to those few years of thinking differently.

That is something I will never forget.

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