An Equation for Success

Author: Heather StClair  • 

I’ve never been much of a math guy. That’s not to say I didn’t like it or that I didn’t have success in school, it’s just not exactly how I am wired.

Nevertheless, I recently saw a math equation that made tremendous sense to me. It read:

Success = Talent + Tenacity + Humility + Desire (to make a dent in the universe)

On one hand, it seems pretty straightforward and logical. On the other, the complexity of the formula is both profound and exciting. What resonated with me the most was the fact that I see incredible connection and relation to our philosophy, ethos, and goals at Allen Academy.

If we acknowledge that we have talented students and faculty through admissions and recruitment processes, we quickly arrive at ¼ of the key ingredients for success.

The second variable (tenacity) is a growth mindset, grounded in the concept of resilience. Resilience is one of the key tenets of the Adaptive Expertise model, which is the operating system of our school and one that sets us apart from other schools in almost any setting.

Humility. Arguably, humility is a human quality that is exceptionally difficult to teach. In fact, most times in my experience, it is learned through making mistakes, reflecting, and acknowledging that you’ve done some sort of harm to another. Sure, most people are wired to care for their fellow person, but stepping on feelings still happens, even if it is unintended. Moreover, the adolescent mind is not fully developed, so the natural tendency is to focus on self versus that of others. This only makes teaching humility all the more difficult. Nevertheless, at Allen our focus on our 5-Rs (Rights, Responsibilities, Results, Risk, & Reflection) and our inclusivity statement lend themselves exceedingly well to help teach humility. The combinations of these curricular and philosophical components of our school serve to open doors to important conversations, reflection, and growth in the area of humility.

And then there is desire. On its face, desire itself appears to be similar to tenacity, but the parenthetical piece of the math equation is specific to the kind of desire that’s needed to be successful. The desire to make the world better involves correctly focused motivation, selfless spirit, and a big heart for others who may be very different from you.

The order of operations is not important on this particular equation, but the sum total is a measurement that we want for our students – our children. I am excited that the philosophical base we’ve built together is a foundation to help solve this equation every day, every year. And with your partnership and belief in this equation, I eagerly await the end result.


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