think differently

  • Anyone Can Succeed

    Part 2 of 3 of a series showing how the successful think differently than the average

    Success Starts Here Freeway Style Desert Landscape

    We have all heard of someone that is a rags to riches story. In fact, many personally know someone that grew up relatively poor and later created a comfortable life and income. Conversely, we also commonly hear “it takes money to make money”. This saying implies that unless you are born into or given money there is no honest way to succeed in the world today. Which one of these ways of thinking is right? Should we think like the optimists or should we think like the pessimists that are discouraged? Which one is going to end up content and which one is building for a letdown? As described in the first article, it isn’t as simple as declaring one to be right and the other wrong. We must consider the opinions from both groups.

  • Parenting versus Mentoring Part 2

    Parenting versus Mentoring

    Why encouraging a child to find a mentor is actually a gesture of love and sacrifice

    Part 2 of 2

    By Dr. Hans Watson D.O. President University Excel and 

    Tafta Watson, MA Education/Behavioral Disorders


    Click here to read part 1 of 2


    Many parents indicate that they hope their children enjoy “a little better standard of living” than they did.  As parents, we hope our children will take the good things we demonstrate and improve upon our weaknesses.  We want our children to have the insight necessary to recognize our strengths, avoid our weaknesses, and be able to internalize those lessons.  This insight is something that must be taught. However, it is often only taught by example.  In part 1 of 2 we discussed how parents sometimes unconsciously miss the opportunity to evaluate and overcome these weaknesses.

    To address our own shortcomings and then to teach our children to do the same is an important lesson.  Willingness to self-evaluate and change is necessary to succeed in family life, professional life, social life and everywhere else.  This often means recognizing unconscious forces and analyzing whether they need to be changed or embraced.  So how do we do this?


    The first step in educating our unconscious mind is to recognize that we have unconscious thoughts and desires.  Then you can evaluate these thoughts one at a time by asking the following questions.  Is it a realistic thought or idea? Is it likely to happen?  Should we keep this thought or change it?  Let’s do this exercise with our example from the last article of getting a mentor for your child.

    We can recognize the unconscious thoughts that having a mentor seems to transfer all credit to the mentor.  We can also acknolwledge that getting a mentor unconciously feels like a form of pushing the child out of the home early.  In most cases this is not realistic.  Though our unconscious thoughts indicate such, getting a mentor won’t have the effects we believe.  Our children aren’t going anywhere yet and we as parents aren’t detaching ourselves from the process.  Instead, we will work closely with the mentor and be informed of all activities performed by the mentor.  We are still child's only parents and the mentor is someone who is supporting us.  These negative, unconscious thoughts are not realistic.  Moreover, the worst case scenario of the menor taking the parents place is not likely to happen.   This example shows thoughts that needs to be altered.  In other words, we need to educate our unconscious mind.

    After acknowledging and analyzing our unconscious thoughts, we can replace them with more accurate and realistic thoughts.  We can recognize that getting a mentor will be a support to us as parents, not replace us.  We can also understand that getting a mentor will not force our child to leave home prematurely; it will start the process of preparing them to succeed when they do choose to leave.  By replacing our inaccurate thoughts with realistic thoughts, we educate our unconscious mind and empower our children. 

    Evaluating unconscious thoughts is an extremely important skill to becoming an elite parent and child.  Equally important is our responsibility as parents to include our children (where appropriate) in the process of analyzing our thoughts and changing them.  Let them see that one of their parent’s strengths is the ability to learn and change.  While failure to learn this lesson will stop anyone from becoming elite; application of this lesson creates more elite individuals, closer families and enables more success than any other lesson learned. 

    So challenge your negative unconscious thoughts, start with Step #1.  Help your child get a mentor. 

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  • Playing ball vs. hitting the books: It's a winning combination for your child

    Part 3 of 3 of a series showing how the successful think differently than the average


    While instructing college preparation courses, parents sometimes ask if their children should participate in high school extracurricular activities.  They wonder if high school teams and clubs are still beneficial for college readiness and life skills.  Parents ask this because they are aware of the increased competition for college admission and a good job.  Parents point to the reality that only a small percentage of those with a college degree earn the “big money” or obtain the “dream job”.  They often wonder if the time invested in extracurricular activities would be better spent studying. Parents phrase the question in multiple ways, “How do the elite think about education and how does it differ from the average person?” “Why do average people get the same degree, but land in lower paying jobs than the elite?” In reality parents are asking how to best prepare their children to be successful in college, their career and personal life.

    To answer the question, I draw from my own experiences as well as the experiences of the many successful individuals I have interviewed.  However, before we can answer this question, we must realize that education is so much more than just obtaining knowledge from books.

    Education is a term that has many facets, definitions and names. They include the school of hard knocks, street smarts, experience, degree, diploma, certification, common sense, social norms and many more. All of these types of education are important.  However, a parent who enables their child to be among the elite in college starts with a focus on one specific facet before the student ever applies to a college. That facet of education can be summed up in two words: HARD WORK.

    Hard Work is a fundamental piece of being educated. Yet, understanding how to help your child internalize this facet of hard work is often unknowingly overlooked. Concerned parents may wonder how to focus their children’s efforts and help them internalize the value of working hard? One major way is to encourage extracurricular activities in high school. 

    Every successful adult interviewed had one common experience. They participated in a competitive team or club.  Their parents saw the benefit of encouraging their child to find and dedicate themselves to a high school activity, club or team. These successful parents then used the opportunity to reinforce the many lessons that were associated with these activities.  Children were generally allowed to choose the desired activity, while concurrently the parents, with the child, defined the expectation that the child would meet to balance life with the activity.  Children were expected to balance school work, competing on the team, chores at home, all before screen time or going out with friends.  This was crucial because the child learned that success demanded hard work and some personal sacrifice.  Among the things both parents and students learned was how much effort success demanded.  They also realized how priorities needed to be set and how to be a team member while still maintaining family, job and social life.  Finally, the most important lesson the child learned was to sacrifice their immediate comforts in order to enjoy the lasting rewards of success.

    Contrast this to the parents of the average student.  Their child often joined a club, but the emphasis to balance life was not stressed. Sometimes the student was allowed to quit when it got tough.  Other times, success in the club was the only focus and the rest of the student’s life was neglected.  This sadly sent a message to their child that you can succeed without having to balance life, work hard, endure discomfort and sacrifice now to build a better future.  Unfortunately this sets the student up to learn these tough lessons when there is more at stake in their adult lives.

    Competition and the need for hard work will always be a part of life. Learning to work hard, adapt and overcome failures will be necessary for success at all levels.  Using extracurricular high school activities that encourage competition and hard work remain a viable way for the effective parent to help their child internalize these facets of education.  Moreover, this is a rare chance for someone other than the parent to reinforce the lessons of hard work, sacrifice, team work, balancing life and social skills. Teenagers often accept and internalize these lessons when they are expressed and reinforced by someone other than their parent.

    To answer the first question of how to best prepare your child to be successful in college, extracurricular high school activities continue to be an important facet of education utilized by elite families. In conclusion, anyone wanting their child to be successful in all facets of life should consider encouraging them to be part of an extracurricular high school activity.  Any team or club that demands hard work and accountability will give this training. 

    BE ELITE! Will your activity be band, sports, academic or something else?

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  • The American Dream is Alive and Well: For the Educated

    Doctor Picture

    The American Dream Is Alive And Well:

    For The Educated

    By Hans Watson D.O., President University Excel

    Part 1 of 3


    Doctor Picture

    Search the internet and you will find countless experts that declare the American dream to be dead. Meanwhile, there is another group of experts that claim the dream to be alive and well.  While both groups give examples that support their opinion, the open minded parent is left asking questions. These questions include “how are the successful doing it?”, “what are the successful doing differently?” or “is it still possible for my family and I to succeed and remain honest?” To answer these questions we must define the American dream.