Useful Advice Helps Students Ignite Potential
Reviewed by Susan Shaver
As teachers of middle school students, we have a responsibility to do what we can to assist adolescents in developing into responsible and successful adults, even though it is not always easy.
Our role as teachers is not only to teach, but to encourage students, to make them aware of their role now in creating their future, and to guide them toward taking charge in achieving their goals.
As my school’s mission statement reads,
Our mission …. (is to) promote opportunities for high academic achievement, capitalizing on student career interests and aptitudes, with a purpose to encourage student involvement and accomplishments in order to prepare accountable, responsible, self-disciplined, successful citizens in an ever-changing global society.
Our vision statement:
“Providing opportunities for high academic achievement; preparing students of today to become accountable, responsible, and successful citizens of tomorrow.”
Middle school students are still “in the middle” of their transition from childhood into adulthood, learning who they are and what they want to be, examining their strengths, exploring how to accomplish this vision. Their brains, bodies, and emotions are in the process of developing. One day I may be teaching young adults, the next – little children.
The prospect of a big game on a school day triggers a contagious frenzy of emotional excitement and energy, while the day after an event brings sleepy, slow, sluggish students into the classroom. So, just how do we go about developing students’ potential with the unpredictability of this age group?
The author Brian Richards hopes to do just that in his book, Igniting Your Potential. He has held a variety of jobs over the years including magician, firefighter, marketer, writer. He has overcome his own set of unfortunate circumstances in life, as well as experienced the positive amidst the negative to become who he is today. From this life experience has come wisdom he wants to impart to young teens so that they may have the life, be the person they aspire to become, and find success.
The Law of Combustion
Based upon his personal experience as a firefighter, Brian explains the concept of the firefighters’ Law of Combustion, built around the visual idea of the three sides of the triangle – fuel, heat source, and oxygen. A balance of all three sides result in combustion. He uses this figure to create his own “Triangle of Potentiality” – the Power of Who, the Power of Invincibility, the Power of Massive Action – and the basis of his book.
Each section represents and explains one side of the triangle. By keeping all parts of the triangle balanced, the premise is the balance of the three together ignite success. By developing the Power of Who, we can better know ourselves.
The author recommends as points of ignition, a self-inventory listing those things we are good at, those things we like, and those things we would like to do. By knowing these, we can build a better understanding about who we are and what we want, set personal goals, and focus on the direction we want to follow. Taking these measures prepares us for harnessing the Power of Massive Action.
The Power of Massive Action
The Power of Massive Action ignition points emphasize setting goals, meeting deadlines, dealing with procrastination, accepting failure, constructing strategies, planning, mind mapping, setting priorities and creating strategies. The third side, the Power of Invincibility ignition points, address the importance of gathering testimonials and statements of character, the value of facing criticism and one’s critics, examining and determining the purpose of the criticism, and most important – learning from the criticism.
Young teens face many tough issues today, so reinforcing this sage advice through the positive and upbeat presentation of this book proves invaluable for overcoming them. The uniqueness of the triangle and the visual representation of its three key secrets of success are memorable. The conversational writing and organization make the book good for sharing between parents and teens or in class discussion guided by teachers or counselors, or for reading alone. Even adults may reflect on the value of many ignition points presented in the book.
To learn more about Brian Richards and his message about Igniting Your Potential, stream this YouTube video.
Susan Shaver is the K-12 Library Media Specialist in Hemingford Public Schools in Hemingford, Nebraska.