If I told you that Snoopy (yes, that Snoopy), was the main reason for the success I have had in my adult life, you might cock your head to the side, flutter your eyelids in disbelief, and utter a sarcastic “riiiight.”
But it’s true.
I have run several businesses, written and published a handful of books, been on air as a television broadcaster, won awards for my work in several different fields and helped countless people accomplish their own goals by bringing their value out into the world. And it is all thanks to Snoopy.
Let me explain.
From kindergarten to the third grade, I was a Montessori kid. If you’re not familiar with the Montessori approach, the education philosophy focuses on independence and self-learning. Looking back, it was a great fit for me and served me well. Some of the things I learned during that experience not only helped to shape me into the person I am today, but continue to serve me as I run my own business and help others to find their own confidence, learn self-sufficiency, and have the ability to communicate effectively with others.
The sheets were the key.
Every Monday, when I walked into my classroom, I would head towards the bin that housed our calendar of assignments for the week. I would pull mine from the pile, sit down, and look at what I needed to accomplish that week. Every subject was a heading, and the list of individual assignments for each subject was underneath.
As a child, my main motivator to accomplish everything on my sheet each week were the Snoopy stickers I got. After completing each task, you got to pick a sticker that a teacher would add to your sheet as a way to check the assignment off. Of the stickers available, Snoopy was always the frontrunner for me. It was something so small that lit me up so big, week after week. However, I realize (looking back) that those Snoopy sticker-covered sheets taught me three invaluable lessons that, to this day, are a part of why I am successful.
1. I got to choose when to do things.
Once I had my sheet in hand, I got to decide how my workload for that week would look. I could buckle down and get everything done on Monday, I could spread things out and do a little each day, or I could wait until Friday and work under pressure.
My responsibilities, my choices, and my results were up to me.
I was tasked with figuring out how I work best. That also taught me that, as long as I got it done, there was nothing wrong with how I did it. Think about this past year and a half and how many people discovered they are really more calm and more productive when they can work remotely or at certain times of day when they are more focused, have more energy, or in an environment that is comforting, while others learned that they really like and need the structure and routine of going onsite to work. Different people, different ways. No right or wrong, just effective.
Learning how YOU work best is key to success.
“Keep looking up, that’s the secret of life.” – Snoopy
2. I could ask for help when I needed it.
There were times throughout the day when my time was my own and other times when I met with teachers or classmates for a specific assignment, group project, or test. But I had access to a teacher if I needed or wanted one. This taught me that asking for help is not only acceptable, but encouraged. When you ask and learn from the answers you get, it moves you forward more quickly.
Asking for help is key to success.
3. Teachers weren’t the only ones to go to for help.
With multiple grades in the same space (another Montessori thing), I could go to peers, older kids, or even be a teacher for someone else who needed help. The “hierarchy” that shows up in a more traditional classroom wasn’t there.
What that taught me was that things like age and “seniority” didn’t automatically make you smarter or better at anything. What made you smarter or better at things was information gathering, trying things, learning from the outcomes and identifying what works and what needs to be adjusted in order to work. You don’t have to know it all; what you need to know is how to leverage the collective intelligence in the room.
Understanding that everyone knows something you don’t, and that you know things others do not, is key to success.
The experience I had during those early years of my education taught me how to embody the qualities of a leader. While I didn’t realize it at the time (we never do), looking back, I am not sure I would be the person I am today had I not been exposed to those few years of thinking differently.
I am forever grateful for that.