“Positive Practice” is an adverb that means, I have to apply myself consistently with the intent to improve; I have to put in the work daily with patience, because it takes time for my skill set to grow.
In the summer of 2008, the concept of Practice U originated from writing a poem in the 20th year of my 26 years of teaching at “RADIANT” John Ritter Elementary school inside the up and coming community of Watts, the undiscovered treasure of the greater Los Angeles area. The poem was simply titled, “The More I Practice, Practice, Practice.” What started out as a daily affirmation weaved into our morning ritual gradually became an inspirational sensation that changed the culture and confidence of my 5th grade students. I wrote it with the goal of it becoming “uplifting brain food” to motivate my students to focus on their “academics and a positive attitude” One year later I added a music track to the poem and the affirmation became a theme song that bolstered the teaching staff and students from Pre-K to the 5th grade to work even harder continuously on our teaching strategies and teaching detailed critical thinking skills, meaning they learned the “when, why and how to use a taught skill.” Our students would in return practice the strategies and critical thinking skills from class work to homework. Working together as a team, the school overall did fantastic. However the collective data from our 5th grade student’s test scores were to our surprise in the process of making history. Year after year, for 5 years in a row in English Language Arts, Math and Science, their test scores steadily increased exponentially in each subject from 2008-2013. It was from that experience that I grew and wanted to spread the message of self-improvement sharing how positive practice builds three things: progressive success, self-preservation, and confidence. In addition to, the historical success at Ritter Elementary, the success also brought new meaning to the phrase, “We as a people can do better.”
Progressive Success Practice U believes the first step in self-improvement is one must be willing to be taught or retaught the critical thinking tools and rules of life to place in their tool box (their mental and emotional brain), then guided or mentored along the way so that he or she can grow into becoming a goal oriented person with a purpose, staying away from the distractions of life and not copying the bad habits of other people. We call the critical thinking tools, “knowledge that equips a person to know when, why and how to address their shortcomings.” The longer a person remains on their journey of self improvement using the tools taught, the wiser he or she will become and the more likely they’ll become a life learner who reads, listens, observes life and make changes within themselves based upon the critical thinking tools practiced. This is what it means to become a progressively successful person. It starts with a desire of wanting to do better and having a willingness to be taught or retaught. Once mastered, it is expected of the graduate to teach or reteach others the same critical thinking tools that helped him or her, which in return reinforces the teaching within the graduate. Nothing is more rewarding and exciting than when we invest into other people and witness their growth and maturity.
Secondly, the term “positive practice” is an adverb that means, I have to apply myself consistently with the intent to improve; I have to put in the work daily with patience, because it takes time for my skill set to grow” Having said that, Practice U recognizes not all of us can be progressively successful in the same area(s) of life such as an elite sports figure, top of the line entertainer, high achieving doctor, lawyer or business person making big money. However we can be progressively successful in our work ethic and self-respect or credibility by “Building Up an A-Game Set of Skills”. The letter “A” stands for A positive Attitude, A clean mouth, Appetite for clean eating, clean drinking, Allocating time for mental and emotional counseling or therapeutic tools, A healthy rehab and fitness routine, A clean environment, A clean conscious and Activism. Activism can start with something as small as speaking up for what is right in any situation, helping out in community service or protesting for human rights and environmental issues. In short, the A-Game helps develop one’s character and identity.
Self-Preservation Practice U also believes in every individual maintaining a high MVP character, meaning Morals, Values and Principles of humanity. That would include having a strong respect and understanding of the Bible to guide one’s emotions and spirit to do what’s right when nobody’s looking. In short, high MVP character is an umbrella that covers a lot of the codes of conduct. For example, morals are a standard of behavior that we define as what is right versus wrong, acceptable versus unacceptable, or fair versus unfair. It is morally wrong to backtalk or insult your parent, teacher, coach or the referee and vice versa. Values are a standard of behavior that emphasizes importance. For example: He values a woman who wears clothes that covers her body. She values a man who wears his pants and a belt on his waistline. We value family. I value my life, respect, privacy, peace and being debt free. Principles are like rules or a basic belief that dictates one’s behavior. For example; I don’t try to hurt people, because I don’t want to get hurt myself. I don’t lie to people because I don’t like being lied too. When we add all 3 of these characteristics to our behavior it is like having a force field that keeps us civilized and working harmoniously. When we add self-preservation to our high MVP character, we add a deeper understanding in knowing the “why and how” to govern ourselves.
Self-preservation is what saves or prevents one from harming themselves or someone else. Let’s look at 3 examples that supports the principle of “why” we govern ourselves accordingly. The first example and principle is what we feed our body makes a difference. Healthy food choices keeps the body clean and free of toxins. When eating unhealthy food filled with grease. salt, sodium, sugar, yeast, artificial colors like the yellows, reds and other food dyes all the time from party to party and late at night, our bodies change for the worse. On the other hand, healthy food choices such as lots of water, some baked, grilled or boiled meats, vegetables like cabbage, broccoli, collard greens, mustard greens, green beans, spinach, cucumbers, kale, carrots, celery as well as fruits and wheat grains eaten daily are the types of foods that prevents cancer developing cells, high blood pressure, high cholesterol and sugar diabetes. These types of foods will also prevent one from having a stroke, heart attack, feeling sluggish, tired and looking older than they really are. Having said that, the principle or rule is because I’ve read and been taught how certain foods affect my body negatively, I choose to eat mostly healthy food. Healthy food choices and lots of water daily is medicine for my body and cheaper than paying for pills from the pharmacy in the future.
The 2nd of 3 examples of self-preservation is “when” we choose to preserve and protect our own “brain”. Smoking and drinking does not keep the brain clean and free of toxins. Based upon our research and other scientists covering the development of the brain at the early age of 12 or 13, the preteen brain starts pruning above the neck and travels upward and forward towards the front. This process takes about 13 years. Between ages 12 to 25, much is changing in the brain unbeknownst to the middle school, high school, college age, young adult employee, athlete and/or entertainer. Some of the signs of their behavior is they forget prior information, feel like their parents are the enemy, believe they know more than their parents, act defiant, boast, brag, challenge authority, not afraid of consequences, think most things are funny and much, much more. Add to this layer of changes, a second layer involving smoking, the behavior intensifies anxiety, irritability and learning difficulties. Smoking, inhaling or injecting chemicals into their underdeveloped brain makes matters worse because their brain is consuming a toxic poison called nicotine. The nicotine is an addictive chemical that stops new brain cells from forming which ends up causing problems with memory, language and perception. It can cause an increase in blood pressure, heart rate, flow of blood to the heart and a narrowing of the arteries which leads to a possible heart attack. Smoking is not a sign of self-preservation but rather self-destruction and the opposite of self-improvement.
Add to the nicotine a third layer with drinking beer filled with yeast and sugar or drinking hard liquor because it’s fun or the weekly weekend tradition triples the impact that plays with judgement and equilibrium. This combination of normal anxiety, mixed with smoking and drinking, the teenage and young adult brain suffers. Over time they learn that smoking and drinking chemicals does not erase anxiety, pain, stress, worry or other problems away as their brain continues to reconstruct. Many teenagers and young adults gradually realize they need to apologize to their parents from the heart without any excuses or blaming, only a commitment to doing what’s right going forward. What we feed our brain today, can and will affect us later on. This is “why” we the people, choose to preserve and protect our own “brain”. Take a moment to copy and paste the 4 minute animated video link titled “Why the Teenage Brain Has an Evolutionary Advantage” on YouTube. https://youtu.be/P629TojpvDU then read and watch the videos on the website https://www.flavorshookkids.org/. Too many consequences has happened to our community of families all because the brain was not functioning at a hundred percent. Conclusively, the principle or rule is because I’ve been educated on how nicotine and liquor affects my brain, I chose not to participate. Practicing self-preservation is important to me.
The last example of self-preservation is “how” we talk to one another in the public’s eye and in our private settings. For the most part we copy or model after what we have seen others do when they talk to people. It started from the family household, neighborhood, classroom, community organizations to the influences of the rich athletes, entertainers and politicians we see on TV, videos and movies or listen to on podcasts / radio. We all copy some model from some where. From time to time out of fear, our ego or pride, we cross the line and offend one another because this is what we have learned by listening to others talk when they feel high minded, threatened, frustrated or lack patience. Fortunately, there are better ways to communicate our thoughts and feelings. It may require getting some counseling or therapy tools to help process our feelings and exercise patience. Speaking of patience, the term means I think before I speak or act and think before I react. Patience is a slow grind that eventually leads to wisdom, class and dignity NOT greed, foolishness and profanity. Most people do agree, that it’s not necessary to use profanity or insult another human being when communicating a thought or feeling. It’s a habit that we learned as kids witnessing those who were not thinking about preserving the next generation. We all want to be at our best. So why not learn and practice how to speak intelligently and calmly? That’s where “dignity” comes into play. Dignity is defined as a person worthy of respect or honor; a thinking person with a composed reputation. It falls under the umbrella of high MVP character.
When we internalize dignity as a standard of our behavior, it becomes a part of us. Consequently, we become committed in not crossing our MVP boundaries, because we know right from wrong. We value peace and respect and we don’t want to hurt people. The next time when I’m in the middle of a challenging situation I should be able to see and feel the consequences. At the same time when I fall short under pressure or adverse conditions, I have to acknowledge it and own it, because that’s “what I said or did to the other person or group.” My responsibility is to apologize from the heart, not from the head. I must focus on NOT REPEATING that same mistake(s) again because I’m moving towards self-improvement. I must also give the person(s) I offended time to heal and recover. Over time through consistent self improvement efforts with my attitude, behavior and healthy communication skills, my valued relationship can be repaired and more importantly “trust” can be restored. Ultimately, we learn either from taught sense or bought sense “how” to talk to one another. The principle or rule we tend to stand by is because I don’t like to be disrespected, I won’t disrespect anyone else. If and when it does happen, I rise above and speak up. If that doesn’t bring about an apology, I shake the dust off my feet and get to stepping away. After so many chances, I have to stay away, because their values are different than my values that I share with the larger community. In a nutshell, times may change, but Morals, Values, Principles and self-preservation will remain constant.
Confidence Finally, as a result of “Building Up an A-Game Set of Skills and having a high MVP character” Practice U believes “when I have to put in the work” the outcome is “my confidence grows”. When I practice, I become stronger in overcoming my fears and move forward into developing my purpose or gift, talent, craft or specialty always presenting the very best of who I am and what I do that leads me into mastering a higher degree of myself. This is something that some student-athletes, dancers, musicians, singers, those in physical therapy due to an injury or surgery and others can clearly understand that “practice” is “the behind the scenes work before SHOWTIME!” The sore muscles, the aching joints or nervousness before going on stage screams loud. To grind through the pain can be discouraging and cause one to give up. But “I can’t” give up. I have to keep trying and stay motivated. Gradually, my skill set improves, my pain is gone, my confidence grows, my nervousness is gone and the complaining stops. This is all apart of the process of success.
When I succeed, I should never forget where I started from. Too much confidence coupled with success can lead one down the slippery slope of failure. It would be wise to always remain humble. Let the body of work speak for itself, not the emotions, because emotions are unpredictable due to fatigue, ignorance or excessive pride which turns into stubbornness, arrogance and frustration causing one to feel they can talk to a person any kind of way. To deny or avoid acknowledging your offensive statement(s) only makes matters worse. We highly recommend to first STOP!… slow down…and…get some rest. Afterwards take time to focus…reflect…talk it through with people who have made the same mistake(s) you’ve made, so that you can gain some wisdom, then move from self-examination to self improvement. It may help to read biography books or short articles, pull YouTube clips and talk to someone to help you process your thoughts. This process over time will help you to be more aware of how you talk to people, treat people and recognize the need to become a better practi-co-logist whose specialty is a positive presentations of one’s character as stated before in the public’s eye and in your private settings.
In closing, this is what Practice U is about. It’s more than just being the old regular you. It’s about the “New” you, that’s been educated, equipped with new tools and empowered through consistent practice of the new learning. It’s more than achieving high test scores, experiencing success beyond one’s peers or excelling in sports, winning championships, being the best in the visual and performing arts category gaining notoriety, one’s physical appearance or financial achievements. It’s about your character in the spotlight and under pressure. Since everybody has something they need to improve on and because we are from time to time a little too busy, we tend to forget or don’t have time to dial in on our weaknesses. When wearing our brand, you’re adding to your wardrobe an essential apparel that reminds you to focus on your “weaknesses and inner self.” Take care of your body and brain with healthy green nutrition, lots of water, fitness and rest. In addition to, it’s equally important to put in the work in the spiritual domain as well with the intent to move towards self-improvement. If you agree with our message, then take the time to inspire someone today by sharing our content including our Practice U video on our Practice U YouTube channel featuring our theme song, “The More I Practice, Practice, Practice.” Until then, my friend…continue to move forward and upward with your quality of thinking without blame or excuses, upgrade your standard of behavior and read our past/present monthly blogs because we as a people can do better.
Mr. T. E. Smith, CEO and Founder