Around here, most kids are heading back to school today. It seems so early for it to be happening.

At the end of the school year in May, I was asked to speak to the Hillsborough County Sheriff’s Office “Rising Stars Leadership Academy.” These are the best and brightest students from each of the Hillsborough County high schools.

First of all, they kept me on my toes. I was way out of my league.

One of those students kept in touch with me. Bailey asked me to write something for her school’s publication. A back-to-school message.

So, I thought I would share it here too. It’s kind of how I try to do things in my life everyday. I said, “try.” It doesn’t always work. Anyway, here it is.

You’re back at school. Back in class. Some of you approach this with much excitement. Some wish you could have another three months off.

I think I was always in the middle. Ready to take on the world again, but not quite sure how to do it.

Let me make another point here as well… before you do it. My high school experience was nothing like yours. I grew up in a small town in Texas a long time ago. Paris, Texas, in the 1970’s. I cannot begin to imagine what high school is like in 2022.

All that said, some things never change. No matter when or where you grow up, you have to have dreams. Big ones. If you don’t, get some.

As the great Stoic philosopher Marcus Aurelius said, “The happiness of your life depends on the quality of your thoughts.”

Some of you are just beginning your high school journey. Others of you are finishing it up. Wherever you are in this, I would encourage you to enjoy it all you can.

Take on something hard to do. Take on something you don’t think you can do. Who knows? You might surprise yourself and do well. Or, you might fail. That’s okay. You learned from it.

I read a lot of Stoic philosophy. Here’s a thought I just discovered.

Thomas Jefferson was talking to his granddaughter. He said that one of the rules for life is “always look for the smooth handle.” Uh?

Ryan Holiday is a present day Stoic philosopher. He tells the story like this: “Jefferson was quoting one of the original Stoics, Epictetus, when he was talking to his granddaughter. Just what does grabbing the smooth handle mean?

Epictetus said that every situation has two handles. A handle that will bear weight and a handle that won’t bear weight.

Are you gonna look for the good in something? Are you gonna look for the thing that makes you better?

Are you gonna look for the way forward? Or, are you gonna focus on what’s wrong?

Are you gonna focus on who’s to blame? Are you gonna focus on how much it sucks?

Are you gonna focus on the smooth handle that you can grip…and you can hold on to…and you can use? Or, are you going to grab on to the wrong handle? The rough handle.

That’s what Thomas Jefferson was saying. Always grab the smooth handle. Every situation has two handles. Grab the right one.”

I love that! Thank you, Ryan Holiday.

I envy you all. The world may look like a tough place these days. It is. I know, I read about it on TV every morning. You know what? There’s a lot of good out there too. I read about that too.

You have a lot of time and life ahead of you. Get out there and use it. Dare to do the big things.

I hope you have a great year. Let me end with something the great Jim Rohn said. Rohn, by the way, was an entrepreneur, author and motivational speaker.

“Let others lead small lives, but not you… Let others argue over small things, but not you… Let others cry over small hurts, but not you… Let others leave their futures in someone else’s hands… but not you.”

That’s what I wrote for some high school students headed back to school today. I think I should read this to myself every morning.

2 thoughts on “Back to school.”

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