The 8 Keys of Excellence

Growing up, school was a struggle and not just for me, but for my entire family. My mother worried constantly about my grades and me getting into a good college, which made her hover over me every day when I came home from school. Her worrying made my dad stressed which led to lecturing, and all this just made me less interested in school because I thought school was to blame and not me. As a teen my only concern was sports and hanging out with my friends, until I learned something that really helped me to bring aspects of my life into perspective, and it’s called the 8 keys of excellence. If you have been by my office you will have seen  the 8 keys on the wall, as a constant reminder of the lessons they’ve taught me over a lifetime.


As educators and families, we work every day to make sure our students are living with integrity, and being the best forms of themselves. Living with integrity means making sure that your actions are in line with your values, and this can be hard. To have true integrity we have to constantly ask ourselves are we being true to us, or being what we think other people want to see.

Failure Leads to Success

I can honestly say at least one teacher probably explains this to a student once a week, but it can be a hard message to truly understand. To fail at something can be a massive blow to our ego and self-esteem, but it’s only a failure if we aren’t able to learn from it. Mistakes should make you humble, and drive you to do better with knowledge about what you need to do better.

Speak With Good Purpose

Thinking before speaking is pretty simple as an adult, but as a teen it’s not so easy. The teenage brain is driven by so much emotion that words often come out without a second thought. Remember that words are powerful, and everyone thinks differently so everyone will react differently. If people focus on speaking positively and with the best intentions, the number of miscommunications and undue hurt feelings can be avoided.

This Is It

This is similar to a more sophisticated version of YOLO (You Only Live Once) as the kids say. This is it means focusing your attention on the moment, not worrying about the future. This is not saying go do something reckless because it seems cool, but focus on the positives of your life as it currently is. Life is far too short to spend timel looking forward for something better.


This key is about putting your full heart and soul into everything you do 24-7. When we live committed, we can boost our confidence, and avoid indecisiveness. Commitment sets us on a positive path, that allows us to overcome any problem.


Taking ownership in our lives can be a hard lesson while going, but it’s important to take ownership and responsibility for our words and actions. We can’t always control everything that happens around us, but we can take ownership for our responses. When we own our life and choices, we can be a positive example for those around us.


Life throws problems at us all the time, being flexible means we are able to handle those problems with strength and grace. Flexibility is about the willingness to try something new and not getting locked into one way of thinking or doing things. When we are flexible, we can work well with others and be open to new ways of thinking.


When we are in balance, we are focusing on what’s meaningful and important in our lives. Sometime in life, we can get so bogged down with the things we believe are important, that we lose sight of what truly matters such as our families, friends, and our health.