Sunday, December 30, 2007

Book Review - The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Back in October I recommended this book and now here's a review I did of it. I hope you enjoy!

One of the things that stuck with me from this book was the example of thinking ahead to your own funeral many years from now and wondering what people would say of you. What would your family say. How would co-workers and friends remember you. To me it likened back the story of Scrooge getting a a visit from the third and final ghost. After seeing what would happen if he stayed on the same path what would happen he had what Stephen Covey calls a paradigm shift. A Paradigm is a term to describe a theory, perception or way of thinking. A paradigm shift then is a shift in that thinking or belief. Stephen Covey discusses this in great length in the beginning of the book. I found out about this book through a college course whose textbook* borrows and quotes Stephen Covey's ideas heavily. Though it wasn't required for my course I decided to check out the book because I liked the ideas it presented. I read through it once already and I'm now going through it a bit more slowly the second time. Granted even though Stephen Covey even says it's not a book just to read once and tossed aside and expect miracles. It's a book to learn from and be reference guide in the future.

For those who don't know Stephen Covey is. Besides The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People he has also written follow up books like First things First, The eighth habit and so on. At last count I believe the seven habits book has sold over fifteen million. He also has a M.B.A from Harvard and a Doctorate from Brigham Young University. He is well respected speaker with engagements around the world.
In the book he covers the now famous seven habits of highly effective people. The seven are:

1. Be Proactive - He talks of being proactive rather than reactive to situations and tasks. In his own Proactive model we have stimulus->response vs. Stimulus->Freedom to choose->Response. Stephen describes it from the book as " It means that as human beings , we are resonsible for our own lives. Our behavior is a function of our decisions, not our conditions."** In other words we should not be effected by outside stimuli but rather be guided by our values and beliefs. Reactive people are affected by outside forces. An example would be a reactive person having a lousy day because it's raining where as the proactive person would not be affected or would find a solution around it rather than let it effect him. The chapter does go much deeper into such things as taking responsibility for our decisions and that where we are today is due to decisions we made in the past. You are not forced to do anything and that you always have a choice. He also talks about what he calls is the circle of concern/circle of influence. He contends that many of us spend way too much time with stuff that is the outside circle of concern. Much of this is stuff which is out our circle of influence which is in the middle. We should work on what we can influence and change not what is only a concern. I've seen this many times at my current employment with many people worried or concerned what others are doing rather than being just concerned with what they can do. To me this is just a trememndous waste of time and energy.

2. Begin with the end in mind - I kind of covered this in the introduction. His basic idea is the have an idea or or picture in mind of where you want to go and how to get there. This is where you make your goals and then figure out how to get there. Much like planning a trip on a map. You begin with point A which is where you are today and then point B where you want to go. You then map out your best route. You also make your own mission statement in each of your life roles.
A particular quote from this chapter that struck me was "Through imagination, we can visualize the uncreated worlds of potential that lie within us".** To me that tells that we can create our own potential and that the only limit to our potential is ourselves.

3. Put first things first - This one is about setting priorities in our lives. This is where come to find out about the four quadrants of time (or self Management)>. In quadrant one we have Important/Urgent. Quadrant two we have Important/Not urgent. Quadrant three we have Not Important/Urgent. In the Fourth Quadrant we have Not Urgent/Not Important. In the first quadrant we have Urgent and Important which are items that need our immediate attention. These are things we can't ignore. In quadrant two we have which are Important but not urgent. These are items that though are important but they can be put off. These are preventative actions, planning ahead and maintenance type of items. In Quadrant three we have items that though are not important to us personally they are made urgent. These can be urgent meetings that have nothing to do with us and our goals. Doing urgent favors to cover for a friend or coworker may fall into this category. In the fourth quadrant we have the unimportant and not urgent. These are what I call time wasters. These can be trivial items such as playing too many video games , watching endless ours of TV or surfing for hours on the internet (I stand guilty as charged).
Of course Stephen urges us to concentrate our activities in quadrant two activities. Though Quadrant one activities will still have to be dealt with. As time goes by these urgent activities(or crisis) will be fewer and when they do arise you'll be better prepared.

4. Think Win/Win - This is the philosophy and frame of mind that seeks mutually beneficial outcomes to all our interactions. This is opposed to the idea of Win/Lose, lose/lose, Win,Lose/Win and so on. It means means both parties walk away satisfied and feel good about the agreement or outcome.

5. Seek first to understand, then to be understood. - What this boils down to is to listen with empathy. To fully understand the other person totally before making yourself understood. I know I catch myself trying to but get across my idea or thought before the other person has finished what he or she has said. Therefore I wasn't totally listening or trying to understand them first. How can you fully make someone understand you if you don't understand what they want first? That I believe is what Stephen tries to get across.

6. Synergize - To me this comes down to is teamwork. Stephen's definition is that the "the whole is greater than the sum of it's parts".** An example of this can be the New England Patriots football team. As of this writing they had just completed a perfect sixteen wins in the regular season and are heavily favored to win the Superbowl. They weren't always like this for many years in there infancy they went through being a laughing stock, poorly managed, cheesy stadium and so on. In the mid 1990's new ownership took over with a commitment to win and build a dynasty. Through a series of coaching and player changes they started winning Superbowl wins didn't come at first. Then it seemed with coach Belichek and quarterback Brady things seem to come together. Now they have a state of the art stadium complex, three Superbowl Wins and looking for a fourth and now have management that's committed to win.

7. Sharpen the Saw- This one is about self renewal. This is about taking a break once and awhile to maintain your balance. It talks of renewing yourself not only mentally but physically, spiritually, socially and emotionally. Physically you should take time to take care of yourself. To eat well, get checkups and of course exercise. Mentally we should be reading,visualizing, planning and writing. Spiritually would should be studying, meditating renew or strengthen values. Socially and emotionally we should be emphatic to others. Taking time to develop relationships and such.

A basic them through the book is to work from being dependent on others. To independent then finally interdependent. I have thoroughly enjoyed this book and recommend it it to others. There are many more inspirational and deep thoughts that Stephen comes up with throughout the book. I carry the book wherever I go now. I've got ton's of stuff outlined underlined and so on through out the book. I don't look at it like some kind of bible but more as a reference book. I read through the book and had countless "aha" moments when ideas or thoughts I agreed with or had discovered something new. This book won't be on my bookshelf long enough to collect dust as it generally goes where I do.


* - "On Course" 5th Edition by Skip Downing

** - "The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People" by Stephen Covey

Saturday, December 29, 2007

Voices in my Head

You lock the door

And throw away the key

There's someone in my head but it's not me

-Pink Floyd “Brain Damage”

We all have an inner conversation going on within in ourselves. It’s probably going on right now as you read this deciding whether to read on or not. Just right now mine told me to go take the chicken out of the freezer, like my wife asked before she comes home and kills me for not doing it. Some of you may hear voices that give a constant running commentary, criticism or guidance. What I hope to explain here is the different types of voices and perhaps some guidance on which to listen to. I recently learned about these through a book called “On Course” by Skip Downing. Which I read for recent college course I took called Student Success. Although it was geared for college success it also has good advice for other aspects of your life. Why is it important to learn these? These are the voices we tend to listen to the most and base most of our decisions on them.

The first one we’ll cover is called the Inner Critic. This is the voice that deems us weak or inadequate. This one tells us I’m no good at math, I’m ugly and, my nose is too big. It blames you for whatever is going wrong in your life. It's not to say that the inner critic is always wrong, but it does tend to go overboard with self criticism. Self awareness is a good thing if done with care. The idea is to learn from your mistakes and not to do the same thing again.

What creates the inner critic? You may say it sounds like an adult criticism from your younger years. Perhaps you can even recall the specific incident when it happened. I know a lot of my life I've been called shy and quiet. Many times I found myself using this as an excuse to not perform my best or at least speak up when I should have.

On the other end of the spectrum we have the Inner Defender. This guy is the poster child of passing the buck. Instead of looking to ourselves for responsibility it plants the blame squarely on others. Like say blaming a teacher for a lousy grade. Another is blaming your boss or coworker because his job stinks. Basically not taking responsibility for ones own situation.

I see this one as the most prevalent at my current job unfortunately. One fellow I worked with for awhile would groan and complain about a job and constantly ask why another shift hadn't (in his opinion) done the job. In fact he seemed more concerned about what they were doing (or not) than what he himself was doing. Which to me is worrying about something that is out of your control and one should be focused( in my opinion) on your job at hand. He would spend quite amount of energy asking why or complaining to anyone who would listen about what someone else had or hadn't done right. To me it was silly and a waste of time and energy.

This has it's root probably in childhood when we were scared or defensive. We all know many children will blame siblings for things they have done. My grandmother would say “Did Gigi do it?” when asking who did something wrong. Assigning blame to an invisible person. Sure we went along with it when we could.

The last one we'll look at is the Inner Guide. Like Luke Skywalker had the ghost of Obi Wan Kenobi as his inner guide in Star Wars. It's usually the voice of reason and wisdom. It seeks to make the the best of a situation. Think of it as the “No Spin Zone” inside your head. Often giving you the impartial truth. Do I always listen to him? Not always. I've made just as many mistakes as anyone else.

The Inner Guide often finds the middle ground between the Inner Critic and Inner Defender and usually asks how you can find a sane solution to your problem. Instead of spending a lot of time blaming others or criticizing themselves, the Inner Guide almost takes a step back and analyzes the situation to find a solution.

So who should we listen to? Most often enough the Inner Guide is the one we should listen to most often. Many times in haste we turn to the inner critic or defender for advice. Not all of us are perfect but it does help to be aware of these inner voices inside our head that guide us in our daily lives. Remember that the inner critic tends beat ourselves up over issues. The inner defender will be blaming everyone else, including President Bush for there situation. The Inner Guide is your best bet in my opinion. He tends to be the voice of reason. It usually makes the most sense in many cases if we are listening. How many times have you realized you did something wrong and said I should have listened to myself beforehand? I know I have.

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

All the presidents men

I've never read this one but it should be interesting. It's a Christmas gift I got today. I love reading in general and I'm on vacation this week so I could catch up on my personal reading. Hope your all having a great holiday. Talk to you later.

Monday, December 24, 2007

Final Grade - Student Success

I just checked online and I found out my final grade in my Student Success class. I got an "A" !!! Boy that made my day! I'm still waiting on my Oral Communications class final grade. Hopefully I'll find out by the end of the week. What a Christmas present.

Three rules of success

Ever wish you had a simple plan for success? I recently read about in a book about three simple rules for success. They do make sense and maybe they could help you out. This was done by polling college professors and they identified three rules of success. These can not only be applied to school but in the rest of your life at work, play, family etc. Here's the list:

Rule #1 Show up. - Kind of makes sense doesn't it. If you skip classes miss work you miss out or have to play catch up when you come back. This past semester I missed the the first class of exch class because I didn't read the schedule correctly. I had to play catch up for a couple of weeks after. After that I made it a goal to attend every class after that. The only class I missed was canceled because of snowstorm. I also did well in both classes to boot.

Rule #2 I do my best work. Another no brainer perhaps. Granted your best work isn't always possible but you should make it a goal. In doing some assignments this semester it was acceptable to hand some papers hand written but many times I went the extra mile to type and print them out to make a better appearance. I felt more pride handing those in then handing in a sheet of notebook paper for an assignment.

Rule #3 I participate actively. Be committed to participate actively in your tasks and roles in life. If you don't your just being reactive and have no control over the outcome. Be prepared in class or work, Listen attentively and plan ahead. Like Stephen Covey would advise to be proactive. Don't be a bump on a log.

Even though I haven't perfected these three I've at least got some guidelines to go by. To me they make sense and can be applied to all facets of life. Remember to show up,do your best and participate! Thank you and have a Merry Christmas!

*Sources: On Course (5th Edition) by Skip Downing, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People by Stephen Covey

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Lessons learned

Well this past week I had my final Oral Communications class this week. I took the final and I believe I did ok. Probably will know within the next week what my final grade is. I haven't heard anymore on my Student Success class yet. It's the holidays so I probably won't find out the final grades until after Christmas. I liked both of my teachers and felt I came a long way since September. Even the Oral Communications teacher was very positive and felt I had come a long way. The whole experience itself was personally uplifting. I feel energized by feeding my brain is one way to describe it. I'm hoping in the next couple of weeks I hope to share some of the things I learned before my next classes start in mid January. I actually going to miss school in a way but a break isn't bad to recharge my batteries. I'll be able to catch up on some personal things and enjoy a week off from work and spend time with my family as they are the most important things to me. Being on the opposite shift that my 5 year old son goes to school is tough. I miss him a lot and many times go all week with seeing him. He's growing so fast and he's doing well in Kindergarten. I got to see him at school sing for a Christmas program. I was so proud of him as he sang with his class. You definitely can't pass up those moments. Not to forget my wife I miss her too. I see her a bit more during the week so we try and catch up on things then. She's very understanding about me going to school and gives me a lot of slack even when I don't deserve it. Well I hope you all are able to enjoy this Christmas season. I'll be a away for Christmas for a couple of days but I'll be around online just not as much as usual. Take care and Merry Christmas!

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Plan ahead

Here's some simple advice from motivational author Jack Canfield. Sounds like good advise . I'm working on it my self . I usually email myself a to-do list and I've found it helps. I haven't gotten to the point of planning each hour out.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Final Week

I had my final Student Success class yesterday which I turned my final essay in (70% of total grade). Before we left while we were doing some class work apparently our teacher read our essays. He was very impressed by it and even thought it worthy of being published in the textbook(On Course by Skip Downing)which has similar stories. Needless to say I was very flattered and somewhat speechless. He was going to share it with his department head and see what he or she thought. Not bad for a guy that hasn't written an essay in probably twenty years. That pretty much made my day. Even if nothing else happens with it, it was the highlight of my semester.
I've got one more class on Thursday for my Oral Communications final, and I'll find out my grade from my last speech(i almost don't want to know). So I'll be concentrating on that until then.
I'm actually kind of sad and glad the semesters ending soon. I thought I've learned a lot and actually can't wait to find out what I'm taking next semester. I also know it'll be good to take a break and recharge my batteries. I have another Stephen Covey Book on the way from Amazon called First Things First. That should give me some reading material over the holidays. That's it for now and see you later.

Thursday, December 13, 2007

Healthy Stress reduction

Here are some healthy stress reduction tips. These are adapted from my Student Success textbook "On Course" by Skip Downing. I can see the heavy influence of Stephen Covey's 4 quadrants theory. Here we go.

  • Sail Away - Separate your self from your external stress. Seek some solitude to reduce stress.
  • Make a list of priorities you have.
  • Assign priorities to each task : A= important & important, B = important & not urgent, C = All unimportant items.
  • Cross the C's off the list as they are pretty much a waste of time.
  • Delegation- Wherever possible delegate(A's and B's) to someone else to a task. Ask a favor from a friend relative. Have someone help you with some of your items.
  • Complete remaining A's and B's yourself.
  • Look for time savers. Consolidate errands or tasks whenever possible.
  • Just say No - Say no to any unnecessary commitments. Do it in a polite way whenever possible.
  • Keep Finances organized. Finances can be a big stress do best to keep in order.
  • Exercise - Oops I really slack on this one. Helps reduce stress and is good for you to boot.
I hope these can help you out among these stressful holiday season. Thanks for coming by.

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Victims and Creators

My Student Success book teaches us about people who are Victims and Creators. This is similar to Stephen Covey's Proactive and Reactive people. Victims tend to keep doing what they are doing whether it works or not. They blame outside forces and or are heavily influenced by them. Creators change beliefs and behaviors to create solutions. They also take responsibility for there actions and such.
The reason for my intro was to bring about this incident at my work place. At my work we have crews of people who work for different supervisors in different trades. Trading of workers does happen from time to time if someone switches a job(sometimes against there will). Our crew short on people many months ago took on some new members several months ago. One such member came from another crew who was interested in our trade and seemed like a good worker. Also it was well known he didn't get along with his last boss. Over the past several months there have been several incidents involving him and other crew members. Not always his fault but he was in the thick of it. Well just this night while leaving for work he shouts over to me and my friend who were headed for out cars "You guys got me switched back to so and so's (back to his old boss) department next week." Blaming us for his departure from our crew. We had ourselves little if any decision or impact on his leaving. I just thought this illustrated the Victim persona so well.
How often do we our selves blame others for our misfortune, rather than looking into ourselves for our own responsibility? This class and book has made me see the difference in my own thinking and seeing it others.

Monday, December 10, 2007

Been awhile

Since I've been around here. Been busy with other things I guess. I've been working a lot at my PC repair blog. As far as school news has been I've been doing pretty good. I gave my last speech last week for Oral Communications. Mine was a speech of persuasion to read Stephen Covey's book The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. It went ok. My time was a little short and there were a few things like actually using the blackboard for visuals. Not sure what I was thinking not using visuals it may have helped my time issues. It also didn't help that I had changed the subject at the last minute. Oh well. Got my final test next week. My other class Student Success I've got to finish up my final essay this week and that will be last of that one. I wonder what next semesters classes will be?

Friday, November 16, 2007

Speech results

Well I got my grade back from last weeks (oil change) speech and I was surprised to get an A-. I couldn't believe it. This was despite being a bit short in length and failing to mention my sources. Otherwise I did pretty well. I've got some other items to work on too but it was a huge boost to my self confidence to do well on that one. Made my day.

Saturday, November 10, 2007

Veteran's Day

I'm a veteran myself(peacetime U.S. Army) and I have relatives who served in Vietnam and now have cousins who served (maybe serving) in the current conflict. I can't help be touched by the stories of sacrifice veteran's have made. If you have a chance this weekend no matter how you feel about our current situation. Thank a Veteran. It's the least you can do and that's all many ask. What sparked me to write this was this story. I hope you read it. Thank You and God Bless America!


This week I did my presentation on an oil change in my public speaking course. I think I did Ok. I was glad to get it over with. I have such anxiety about public speaking that in consumes me days ahead of time. It's such a relief when it's over. Glad there is only one more to go for this semester.

My other class (Student Success) we discussed things from our text book. We covered stuff like the scripts we tend live by. It's that little voice in your head that tells you what to do, not to do,how to behave, your values and beliefs. Well I think you may get the picture.This course really does make you think about yourself and how to become more self aware. Like actors(or actresses) scripts tell them what to say or do in a performance. We do that in our everyday lives. The script has been written by your past experiences. It's quite deep if you really think about it. The course text(On Course by Skip Downing) follows closely with Stephen Covey's The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. I'm still reading it and I still highly recommend it. Well that's all for now. Thanks for reading this boring blog. Come back again if you like.

Saturday, November 3, 2007

This weeks update

Oral Communications: This week we covered items from our textbook. Covered was presentation aids and such. We are in preparation for our demonstration speeches next week. My homework is continue to develop, practice it.
Student Success: We have the resume project that's an ongoing project due at the end of the month. Plus we got two short essays and a journal assignment due next week.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

In a funk

I'd have to admit lately I've been in a funk lately as far as school work goes. After getting some decent grades around midterm last week I've been lazy about school work. I have managed to work out my oil change outline for my speech and I've got a resume to start for my other class.

Saturday, October 27, 2007

Recommended Reading

In my "Student Success" textbook(On Course by Skip Downing) it takes a lot from Stephen Covey's book "The 7 habit's of Highly Effective People". I was so interested I picked up the book off Amazon. It's a fascinating book and has provided me with a lot of insight into my own life and my "habit's". It starts off kind of heavy in the theory but it picks up steam as it goes. I highly recommend it.

Re: Midterm

I got my midterm grade for my Student Success class and and I got an "A". So far so good. This calls for another celebratory music video....

Thursday, October 25, 2007


I got a 92 on my Oral Communications midterm. It made my day! It seems I'm off to a pretty good start. I was happy with it. Next up is a demo speech. I'm thinking of doing one on changing the oil in a car. I've already got an outline done for it. Got my Student Success class tomorrow.

In celebration here's a tune from one of my favorites groups.

Saturday, October 20, 2007

Week in Review

Oral Communications: This week was our midterm exam. I think I did pretty good. It was multiple choice and covered mainly the terms from our book on public speaking. We also got back our grades from last weeks speech. I got a "C" with some good comments from the teacher. I was happy with it. Not bad for someone who absolutely feared this class. Only 4 of us showed up. A few guys we haven't even seen the last couple of weeks. Next up will be a speech of demonstration. I'm thinking of doing one on an oil change. I actually don't fear as much getting up to speak as more nervous of the material itself.
Student Success: I'm still enjoying this class very much. It's hard to explain what exactly this course does. It's very insightful and I'm feeling I'm learning much more than can be put into words. I'm learning as much about my self and how to change my ways from a victim mentality to a creator. A lot of it is about setting goals and how to reach them. We just had a quiz and did an assignment in class this week. Grade wise It's not that hard the quizzes we get are fairly simple.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Just some thought's

Being back in school has enlightened me in some ways . My "Student Success" class has been probably the most eye opening one. The main theme seems to be personal responsibility. Dealing with "Creator" and "Victim" personality type. It's usually easy to spot someone else's fault's but to spot your own isn't alway as easy. After reading the book it made me more aware of peoples different personality types(creator or victim ) usually a blend of both leaning usually more to one or the other. Of course I was almost thinking I was above all that, but I soon realized that (usually with some help from my wife, she's good for that) my own faults. I'm usually quick to go on the defensive about things especially when confronted with something(my fault or not). On the good side I do feel that going to school now I've decided to take some direction in my life (a creator action). It's a start. Reading through my book some times I see subject's I'd love to write here about. perhaps I will some time in the near future. It would give me a chance to share some insight.

On a different note(pardon the pun). I'm not sure if there is any correlation between school and music. I've found I'm listening to a lot more music along with actually purchasing CD's again. I guess it's a harmless distraction from all the studying.

Here's one from a CD I just bought:

Friday, October 12, 2007

This weeks summary

Oral Communications:
This week we did our presentations. I think I did OK. I fumbled a little but didn't panic which was a good thing. Only three of us showed for the class (out of about 7 we have small classes). Between the three of us I think mine was about in the middle of the pack. One guy just froze right up in the middle. He needed a bit more practice, I kind of felt bad for him but I give him credit for trying. My big thing was giving it a bit more practice I think it would have been better. We've got our mid-term next week so I'll be reviewing my notes and book this coming week. I think I'm actually working through my fear of public speaking. I was more worried about my material than the speaking part.
Student Success: I'm actually enjoying this class. I'm learning a lot about motivation, attitude and self management. I'm almost finished reading the book, lol. We did a bit of catch up work this week because of last weeks lightly attended class.
After class I had a chance to do some reading from our book On Course by Skip Downing. In chapter in came across a section about Flow . It described as a state of mind when your in a zone of where your totally absorbed into whatever your doing. Be it work, play or whatever you may be doing. It's when time passes by quickly. What came to mind was that Kevin Costner baseball movie called "For love of the game". About a pitcher playing his last game before retiring and he was pitching a no hitter. When he was in the act of picture everything around except for himself, batter and catcher was zoned out. Ok the movie wasn't the greatest but I do remember that part of it. It really made me think about what I'm doing when I get in the "zone". It's been a tough question for myself. Times I remember being in sort of a zone would be doing things like working on fixing a computer, detailing or working on my car and similar stuff. How many of us spend our life not being able to find that zone?It made for interesting thinking.
Well I've got to go to bed for now. Thanks for reading. I'll leave you with a quote from the above book...

"Being able to enter flow is emotional intelligence at it's best; flow represents perhaps the ultimate in harnessing the emotions in the service of performance and learning" - Daniel Goleman

Another one I liked...

"The best career advice to give the young is "Find out what you like doing the best and get someone to pay you for doing it" - Katherine Whitehorn

Saturday, October 6, 2007


Here's a summary of what I've been working on.
Oral Communications: This week we went over basic stuff for organizing speech's covering support material for a speech. We also covered basic stuff that we'll have in our mid-term exam in about two weeks. Our next speech will be a 5-6 minute speech on a subject that has duel viewpoint. We have to present both sides of a current hot button topic unbiased. My topic I chose was whether to pull troops out of Iraq now or later. I've got the basic outline almost done and now I just have to put the supporting material in a cohesive manner.
Student Success: This week we didn't really cover too much. It was a lightly attended class to say the least. Me, myself and the teacher. Three day holiday weekend too tempting for the other two students. Class was only an hour and we didn't cover too much. I'm actually ahead in my reading and homework in this class. I'm really enjoying this one.

Sunday, September 30, 2007


In my first post I mentioned this being my shot at redemption. You might wonder what exactly I meant by that.Please let me elaborate.
When I was younger just out of the Army I enrolled at New England Institute of Technology to study Architectural Drafting. For the first couple of semesters I did ok between a part-time job and being at school full-time. I was going out with my high school sweetheart at the time who was going to University of Massachusetts in Amherst. I used to visit her on weekends or vacations whenever I could whenever I could. I believe she came up with the idea of getting an apartment close to her school. So we did. Of course the plan was that I would find a school close by and continue my studies. For one reason or another I never did get around to that plus their wasn't much that I could transfer to at that location. Paying rent and basic living expenses became the focus and so my schooling dropped from priority. After eventually falling behind in rent due to lack of work through a temporary agency we decided to both move out. Of course she went back to her parents and so did I. Unfortunately by that time my grace period for my student loans expired so I had to work to pay them in the mean time. I eventually went back to school again. For some reason it didn't work out and I dropped out again. Now student loan people were hounding me for money of course so I had to work full time to pay them.For some reason I decided to give school one more try but this time I decided to do a different major this time in Automotive/Autobody Technology(at the same school). I believe I made it through two semesters before dropping out a third time. By this time through confusion by my student loan creditors who for some reason didn't get my paperwork to defer my loan payments I was being hounded to pay back my loans of course. Shortly after my girlfriend(at the time) broke up and kicked me out our apartment. One of her complaints was that I had no goals and would end up in a dead end job. I felt like I was in between a rock and a hard place. Eventually we both moved on.
I ended up working various jobs until I'm where I'm at now. For years I partially blamed her for my past failures and for giving up on me. Can't say as I really blame her for I really didn't have a set goal in mind from the start. I lost sight I've my goal and I never found the focus again(until recently). She really wasn't wrong and she doesn't hold any of the blame. I made the decision to move and drop out originally. It was a poor decision at the time perhaps motivated by love(or lust) and not completely thinking things through.
In retrospect I can't say I total regret anything because if things had been different I would have never met my wonderful wife and have a son whom I wouldn't trade for anything. Now I'm a lot more focused on getting my degree to better my self and to perhaps set an example to my son on the importance of an education. Also to never give up your dreams. I will walk across that podium in about 4-5 years and accept my diploma and from there who knows perhaps I'll go for the next one.

Saturday, September 29, 2007


"You are young and life is long and there is time to kill today
And then one day you find ten years have got behind you
No one told you when to run, you missed the starting gun"
-Time, Pink Floyd(Mason,Waters,Wright,Gilmour)

I've been on a Pink Floyd kick lately. This song though tied into my Student Success course I'm taking. In the book "On Course" I've come to the chapter on Time Management(or lack of) which is covered in Chapter 4 of the book called"Mastering Self-Management". It's really opened my eyes as to how much time I waste. Either it be on the computer surfing too much (on unimportant things). Also speaks of spending time on things that don't help you towards your goal. It also touches on using calenders, action lists and tracking forms. I'm already started using my online calender at Yahoo. The book and course has been an eye opener to say the least. Very helpful especially since I haven't been to school in many years.

Friday, September 28, 2007


I'm sure this is a basic thing for those who've just completed high school and enterring but It's been 20 years for me. Though I had a basic idea on how to do an outline I needed some help or a refresher. My book on Public Speaking did show a way to set one up it was kind of complex. I found this one here to be a bit more basic and helpful from Purdue University.

Thursday, September 27, 2007

Essay?.. Outline..?

For the record I'm taking two classes this semester. One is Oral Communications and the other is Student Success. Oral Communications is about public speaking. It was perhaps the one course I saw on my required classes that perhaps I feared the most. Last week we had our first practice speech that I feared like the plague. After going through I thought this wasn't too bad. I do feel like I'm learning a lot so far in the course so far. Student Success is an interesting course also taught by a soft spoken 74 year old gentlemen. The course is basically to ready yourself for college life. Setting goals, being responsible, time management etc... I'm actually finding it pretty interesting.
Toughest part of all this is doing basic stuff like doing an outline for my communications class. I haven't done an outline in perhaps over 15 years so it's been a learning experience all over again. Also for the Student Success I'm suppose to do a short 3-5 paragraph essay. I can't remember the last time I've done an essay probably around last time of my last outline.

Well I've got to get back to my studies, see you later.

Sunday, September 23, 2007


My name is Bob and at the age of 40 I decided to go back to school to get an Associates Degree. Though I'm sure I'm not alone in this venture I'm hoping this may encourage others to this themselves. I did attempt to do this at a younger age but did not complete my task. No one else was responsible but myself. What makes it perhaps more of a challenge is that now(unlike before)I'm now married with a five year old son, mortgage, car payments, and a full time job. Why now? I say why not. It's perhaps a shot at personal redemption and proof to myself that I can do it. Also I perhaps see my current job position as just that a "job". Not particularly my choice I would have chosen but it's one I've ended up with. It's physically demanding and doesn't have a whole lot of job growth. My goal is that this would open up more opportunities for me in the future. I'll be adding more details in the near future.