Character Chats

How to be intellectually excellent

Every month, we have a word-of-the-month as part of our social emotional learning program called True Character. This month’s word-of-the-month: excellence.

Excellence means consistently striving towards our personal best in order to reach our own potential.

Today, we’re asking the question about how can we be excellent intellectually? How can we work hard to be as smart as we can be?

We’re going to go over a few things about this.

Excellence is not perfection

Remember whenever we’re talking about excellence it has nothing to do with perfection.

Sometimes we get a little too much into trying to be perfect at something when none of us can ever be perfect at anything.

Being excellent at something is never settling for okay and always trying to be better.

That’s how we get excellent at anything.

Ask good questions

When we try to be excellent in our brains, we have to do a couple of things.

For one, ask good questions. In order to be excellent intellectually — in order to be smart and excellent at school — we really want to ask good questions all the time.

Can you get excellent at math if you never ask how to do a math problem? Can you be excellent at spelling if you never ask if you spelled something right? Can you be excellent at English if you don’t ask questions about what a noun is or a verb is?

It’s important to ask good questions in order to be excellent intellectually towards things.

Learn new things

Learning something new is another way we can help drive our intelligence. We always want to be working to learn something new.

This is one of the great advantages of martial arts. We see it with our adult students. Our kids are pretty used to learning something new. It’s part of their life. Sometimes, adults get stuck into the “I’m done” side of things. Like no, I’m done learning. I’m where I need to be. I don’t need to do it anymore.

Well, as long as we’re learning, we’re growing. We want to constantly be pushing to learn something new, to keep our minds sharp. Remember, our minds are just like any other muscle in our body. The more we use it, the more it grows. The less we will use it, the more it shrinks.

All of us have seen that with seniors. Seniors that keep themselves busy, keep themselves sharp, or seniors that wind up just sitting on the couch and watching TV. We can see how some of them stay super sharp, and we’ve all watched relatives that slowly fade away because they refuse to use their minds.

So, keep using your mind, keep strengthening it up — always learning something new.

Read more

Reading is a great way to grow our brains.

When we read, we’re always using our mind. It’s a much better input than a television. It’s much better than any video.

Reading will help grow your mind, thinking about new things, really driving it into it. It expands your vocabulary, and it helps with your understanding.

The more you read — the more words you read — the more you understand and the greater number of things you understand in life.

You can really start to become excellent, grow that brain.

Ask for help

Asking for help when needed is another great way to grow our brains. Sometimes, when we are in trouble with things, we can be a little nervous to ask questions because we’re afraid to admit that we can’t do it.

We see it here in class sometimes. We’ll see a student struggling through skills, and we’ll say, “Do you need some help with that?” And they might say, “No.”

Well, they’re never going to get better at the skill if they don’t raise their hand and ask. It’s hard to get better at the form if you don’t ask. Our people that win first place in our tournaments — our black belts and higher gup ranks that win first place — are the ones that ask for help.

And it’s no coincidence that the people who win first place are the ones who stay after class and say, “How can I make this better? What part of this can I do? What am I supposed to do here in this place? Where can I do that?”

They are the ones who wind up becoming excellent at it. And it shows by winning these trophies and medals in the ring.

The more questions you ask, the better you grow your brain, and the more excellent you become at whatever activity it is you’re trying to work on.

So, let’s keep working and striving towards excellence. Remember, excellence never means perfection. Excellence just means that we are working to be better every single day.

Thanks, and we’ll see you out on the mat.
– Master Helsdon