7 Phrases Never Heard from Successful Students

Success is never achieved overnight. You have to put in the hours (see my post) and do the work. Each successful student has taken ownership of their learning. They have decided that they want to contributing members in society, and they refuse to be held back by the disempowering scarcity (aka, fixed) mindset. They have an abundance (aka, growth) mindset.

While there are many paths that lead to success, all have common mileposts. Successful students all share some common attributes that help them thrive in the classroom. And here are 7 things never heard from a successful student.

1. I hate math class. (or any subject…)

Variants include: “This school sucks,” and “My teacher is an idiot.”

Successful students practice the lost art of humility. They are never too outspoken about their academic progress or their teachers and school. And when they do find themselves in a bind, or are around negative classmates, they avoid statements like this. Successful students understand that negative people hinder their progress. Rather than put their school and teachers down, they gather facts. Then they exercise reason, uses honorable tactics, and maintain objectivity. Is your teacher really out to get you, or are you dealing with the consequences of poor decisions?

2. That’s not fair.

Variants include: “I studied just as long as _____,” and “I deserve a better grade.”

News flash… Life’s not fair — never has been and never will be. Sometimes we fall short even when we worked hard. That’s just the brakes. But one thing for sure is that no one deserves anything not earned. If another individuals’s mediocrity seems to have been applauded, keep calm, and study on.

And if an exam wasn’t perfectly flawless, then it does not deserve a 100. A- and B+ are solid grades, too! Successful students never rant and rave over perceived slights. They suck it up, adapt, and move on. Instead of causing a scene by whining and complaining, they make a strong case for their position. If there position has any merit, people who can help will listen. If not, then (again) the student will have to move on.

3. That’s how I’ve always done it.

Variants include: “My teacher doesn’t teach it right,” and “That’s not how my other teacher explained it.”

No one every achieved anything great by without trying something different. Successful students recognize when “their way” isn’t working and are willing to try something new. When facts and reason show their beliefs to be wrong, they adapt their beliefs — not try to manipulate the truth.

When the successful student is struggling at learning complex topics, they realize that it’s not likely the content expert who doesn’t know the topic, but rather they who needs to work harder and put in the hours!

4. Are you collecting this?

Variants include: “Do we get a grade for this?” and “How much will my grade change if I turn in _______.”

Successful students are not afraid to do things for which they might not get credit. Doing what others are unwilling to do is why they are successful. The student asking #4 is essentially saying they will not go above and beyond what they are paid for. As an adult, this is the mentality that leads to minimum wage servitude. Trading work only when their is an immediate prize involved is not the path to Awesome; it’s the path to Average.

5. I can’t do this.

Variants include: “I didn’t have time to do this,” and “Mrs. So-and-so is too hard.”

Successful students will not be heard saying this, because they are not afraid of working hard to learn something challenging and falling short. This phrase is spoken by students trying to excuse academic lethargy. Successful students do not shy away from tasks that have no guaranteed outcome. Limiting beliefs are not in the mindset of these students. These statements are designed to also encourage others to hold back from their true potential as well. Misery loves company.

Regarding not having time… c’mon on! While the cream of the crop may be burning the candle at both ends, the typical high schooler gets hours of screen time. And according to a JAMA report, this screen time is associated with adolescents’ inability to form meaningful relationships adults and classmates. After controlling for gender and socioeconomic status, the results are confirmed. Screen time is not only a time suck, it may even be causing attachment issues.

6. I could have done that.

Variants include: “That’s not so great,” and “My _____ held me back.”

Excuses, excuses… When a classmate earns an honor, do you congratulate him or her? Or does the green-eyed monster rear its ugly head? Successful students don’t covet the accolades of classmates. Rather, they recognize a classmate’s hard work and laud their success. If you find yourself thinking I could have done that, but I was too ______. (fill in the blank)

7. I don’t have any homework to do.

Variants include: “I’m all caught up,” and “Mrs. So-and-so won’t enter my scores.”

If I’ve said it once, I’ve said it 1000 times. Just because there isn’t an artifact-producing assignment doesn’t mean you can’t study. If you think college professors collect (and give 100’s) for homework, guess again. They know who does assignments based on exam results. So reread that chapter in Global. Do those extra problems that weren’t assigned in Math. Study that periodic table of elements for Chem.

There is always a next level to what can be achieved. You are never “there.” Education (like life) is a journey, not a destination. Related to #4, this is usually spoken by students striving for the bare minimum. Successful students know that minimum effort eventually leads to minimum wage.

Failing students want to be failing. (Or they’d be passing, right?) Delayed gratification plays a large role in the successful student’s academic life.

Success often lies in knowing that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

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