The Lesson of High School

41Everything you need to know to succeed in life you probably learned by the time you graduated high school. Do you remember your high school days? You probably couldn’t wait to graduate and begin the next chapter of your life. We were all in such a hurry. Many of us were looking forward to going to college. College, we thought, would be what real life was like. It would be a world where real talent is what counts.

Meryl Streep once told an interviewer that she thought life would be like the life she lived in college. Only it wasn’t. “Life,” Streep said, “is like high school.” Life, it turns out, is a popularity contest. The competent and likeable person will soar in life whereas the intelligent but socially inept won’t.

Real Life Doesn’t Give Written Tests

Education revolves around the test. Tests produce grades. Grades are compiled into GPAs. GPAs are part of the process to measure a person’s intelligence quotient or IQ. Not to burst your bubble, but the world’s most successful people are those that often finish in the bottom half of their class but were probably the best known and best loved.

What’s Your EI?

This begs the question, why don’t we measure what’s important? Or better yet, why don’t we teach it? Marc Brackett, a senior research scientist in psychology at Yale says “we know from doing dozens of studies, that emotions can either enhance or hinder a person’s ability to learn.” Emotions impact our memory, our attention and our ability to focus. EI is Emotional Intelligence. EI is something we talk about in my broadcast sales class. Great media sales people score high in emotional intelligence skills.

We Are Controlled By Our Emotions

Whether you are in sales, a television/radio performer or running for political office, just like in high school, you will be judged by if people like you or feel good about you. The world works not by logic and reason, but on emotions and feelings. Radio and television are a people business. It is all based on relationships. Relations are all about feelings.

Academics & Success

Our educational system is built upon the premise that if a student achieves academically they will be employed, healthy and everything else in their lives will be a bowl of cherries. The reality is something quite different. Turns out academic success predicts very little about the future outcome in these metrics.

Talent Assessments

Can emotional intelligence be taught or do we all start out emotionally intelligent and have it beaten out of us by our home life, our friends – or most likely – the educational system? In my broadcast sales class, I have my students take a talent assessment. These tests give insight into how a person is wired. Unlike most tests students take, there is no pass or fail. The results give insight into a person’s emotional intelligence and make-up. These tests were developed from the research of people like Sigmund Freud. They came into widespread use during the Second World War. The goal was to quickly place people into jobs that they would naturally excel at doing. After the war ended, many companies continued to use these tests when hiring. They are another tool in the tool box for evaluating a person.

Can An Old Dog Be Taught New Tricks?

What is not known is at what ages these emotional intelligence skills can be taught and if there comes a point when the cake is baked and can no longer be changed. Few studies in this area have been conducted. Plus the deck is stacked against this area of education by people who take the “that’s not the way we’ve always done it” approach to anything new and different. At this point, it would appear these “emotional habits” get baked into a person’s personality early in life and it is a mixture of home-social-school environments.

Life Is Like High School

So maybe Meryl Streep is right. Success in high school and life is basically a question of one’s personality. Zig Ziglar put it this way, “people don’t care how much you know, until they know how much you care.” In a world that is wired for reciprocity, going first and showing you care is always good when it comes to building relationships.


Filed under Education, Mentor, Radio, Sales, Uncategorized

10 responses to “The Lesson of High School

  1. Gene Vallee

    Can An Old Dog Be Taught New Tricks? I fall into that category for sure Dick. Interesting topic by the way. Thanks

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Interesting blog today Dick. It’s sad that in our world, many times people are not emotionally prepared for the employment directions they pick. Have often times worked with folks that were so out of whack with what they were doing that every time you had to interact with them you wondered, “why are they here?” I have to imagine that it not only creates turmoil in the work place (how come X isn’t a team player?), but in the rest of their life too.


    Liked by 1 person

  3. Bruce Torrey

    Good morning Dick. Interesting subject for sure. As you may, or may not recall, I had a blast in High School…would love to do it over. Academics weren’t even on my radar screen until a few years later, I’ve since become a perpetual student. I still can’t get enough. I often wonder where I’d be if I had taken things a little more seriously back in the high school days. Something to ponder. Thanks, Bruce

    Liked by 1 person

    • I didn’t become a serious student until college, but as the years rolled on, I became more curious about everything and learning new things and pursuing new experiences became a new way of life.

      I wonder if that’s pretty much the way it is for many of us Bruce.

      Thanks for stopping by today.


  4. Hal Widsten

    In my opinion, Emotional Intelligence is everything in how a sales person develops a relationship with a customer and determines whether or not he/she is able to create trust in that relationship. I’m not sure if it can be taught, or if one person can manage to bond with every customer. Like your blog, Dick! Keep em’ coming.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I’m not sure it can be taught either Hal. What we try to do is identify those that have that natural ability or are “wired” with this capability. When we find them, this is a critical component to becoming a great sales person.

      Thank you for reading and contributing to the blog Hal.


  5. Julia Armstrong

    Sure Emotional Intelligence can be taught. The question is can it be learned by someone who isn’t “wired” with the capability. I have worked with a lot of really smart well educated people but became quickly frustrated when they lacked this ability. Listening has a lot to do with this talent but most people are out to get their point or agenda across and they simply don’t listen. If you listen to a person they’ll tell you exactly what they want or need. Great topic as always DT I could go on for days.

    Liked by 1 person

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s