I never wanted to go to college, never thought I was smart enough. My father had different plans for me. He told me I was going. I wanted to take over the family business which was a bar. I mean after all in my senior year in high school I was taking classes like Chinese Literature and wood shop. I don’t think I took one college level class in high school so how would any college accept me. I made a deal with my father I would apply to three colleges and if any one of them accepted me, I would go. I applied to a junior college, a state school, and to some school in the back woods of Virginia. They all accepted me. I went to the state school.
I think I mentioned this but I’ll say it again my first semester in college I had a 1.0 cumulative average. That’s a D. I got a letter from the college telling me to shape up or I was going to be asked to leave. I showed the letter to my father and said to him “See I told you I couldn’t do it.” He looked at me and said “You better do it because I am selling the bar.”
I ended up graduating from college with much help from professors. My cumulative average: 2.9. If you do the math you will find out that is just about all straight A’s.
What motivated me you might ask? FEAR with a capital F. I had to do it. There was no safety net. Yes, I was afraid, scared, and a lot of other things but you know what… I did it.
I once worked with a great psychiatrist and he made the most unbelievable statement to me you could ever imagine. He said to me “Jim, before a kid can be really disciplined, you have to have fear.”
Not a fear of physical punishment but a fear of disappointing someone, or even a fear of a strong reaction. I think the word that has gotten lost today is respect. I will usually respect what I fear. Do kids today have a healthy fear of adults? Do they respect adults or better yet one another? Kids today
believe they can say and do what they want, when they want. It is time to begin to instill a healthy fear again into our kids and make them shutter at the idea that they might disappoint someone. I am really sick of the “I don’t care attitude.” If it wasn’t for fear, I wouldn’t be writing this essay right now.
Jim Burns is one of America’s most inspirational educational speakers. His humorous and insightful presentations touch and influence his audiences in an unforgettable way. Best known for his presentations on Bullying, Motivating Disaffected Students, Diffusing Power Struggles, Character Education, and Leadership, Jim has worked as a teacher and administrator since 1977.