Blueroselady's Weblog

I wish you abundant happiness, health & wealth

Posts Tagged ‘school

How to discover our strengths?

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It is better to focus on developing our strengths than repairing our weakness. I have heard this piece of advice many times, from mentors TF to SL, who gave me his first book in winter 2012.

To find out about your strength, you can visit
1. http://www.authentichappiness.sas.upenn.edu
Then, choose "Brief Strengths Test".
It has 24 questions.
I found that the questions somehow drove me to my self-perceived answers, perhaps real life example-kind of questions will be better.

Here are my strengths:
Love of Learning
Humility/Modesty
Prudence
Appreciation of beauty and excellence [awe, wonder, elevation]
Gratitude
Hope [optimism, future-mindedness, future orientation]
Curiosity [interest, novelty-seeking, openness to experience]
Open-mindedness [judgment, critical thinking]
Bravery [valor]
Persistence [perseverance, industriousness]
Love
Kindness [generosity, nurturance, care, compassion, altruistic love, "niceness"]
Self-regulation [self-control]
Creativity [originality, ingenuity]
Perspective [wisdom]
Integrity [authenticity, honesty]
Vitality [zest, enthusiasm, vigor, energy]
Social Intelligence [emotional intelligence, personal intelligence]
Citizenship [social responsibility, loyalty, teamwork]
Forgiveness and mercy
Spirituality [religiousness, faith, purpose]
Fairness
Leadership
Humor [playfulness]

2. Another test "VIA Survey of Character Strengths"
The test has 240 questions.
Some questions are repetitive.
I had a break halfway taking this test, to make delicious papaya milkshake.

For parents, "VIA Strength Survey for Children" is available.

Here are my results:

Your Top Strength
Hope, optimism, and future-mindedness
You expect the best in the future, and you work to achieve it. You believe that the future is something that you can control.

Your Second Strength
Love of learning
You love learning new things, whether in a class or on your own. You have always loved school, reading, and museums – anywhere and everywhere there is an opportunity to learn.

Your Third Strength
Spirituality, sense of purpose, and faith
You have strong and coherent beliefs about the higher purpose and meaning of the universe. You know where you fit in the larger scheme. Your beliefs shape your actions and are a source of comfort to you.

Your Fourth Strength
Appreciation of beauty and excellence
You notice and appreciate beauty, excellence, and/or skilled performance in all domains of life, from nature to art to mathematics to science to everyday experience.

Your Fifth Strength
Gratitude
You are aware of the good things that happen to you, and you never take them for granted. Your friends and family members know that you are a grateful person because you always take the time to express your thanks.

Your Sixth Strength
Industry, diligence, and perseverance
You work hard to finish what you start. No matter the project, you "get it out the door" in timely fashion. You do not get distracted when you work, and you take satisfaction in completing tasks.

Your Seventh Strength
Curiosity and interest in the world
You are curious about everything. You are always asking questions, and you find all subjects and topics fascinating. You like exploration and discovery.

3. A combination of strengths.
Though we may share some strengths, but we are likely to have different combinations of strengths, that make each of us unique. Let us strive to maximize our combination of strengths through synergy.

After thought:
Since we are growing / changing over time, our results may be different from time to time. It will be interesting to re-take the tests in n years down the road.

Related:
Focus on strengths more, fix weaknesses less

Thiel Fellowship allows you to bypass top schools to pursue big dreams

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Dreams are extremely important. You can’t do it unless you can imag(in)e it. — George Lucas

If you are so smart, why are you not rich?
If you are so smart, why are you not changing / saving the world?

About Thiel Fellowship
$50,000 / year for 2 years ($4,167 / month)
gives you easy and quick access to the most successful business people in America
aim: to skip college and focus on work, research, and self-education (LEARN BY DOING)
mentors: network of visionary thinkers, investors, scientists, and entrepreneurs, who provide guidance and business connections that can’t be replicated in any classroom.
founded by a VC Peter Thiel (PayPal, Facebook)

Examples of descriptions of the Thiel Fellows:
On experience
"leave Harvard after a single semester and extend his horizons, first by traveling around the world and climbing Kilimanjaro, and now through his start-up"
"has lived and been educated in England, Singapore, France, and the USA."
"began taking college courses at Worcester State in Massachusetts in 3rd grade, and received a certificate in computer science by the time he was 12."
"taught himself programming at the age of 9"
"a home-schooled prodigy who learned calculus at 11, started working in a biogerontology lab when she was 12, matriculated at MIT when she was 14, and now at 17 plans on disrupting the current research paradigm by changing the incentives embedded in today’s traditional funding structures."
"started doing research in a pathology lab when he was 10. By the time he was 12, he had matriculated at the University of Washington. Soon after, he graduated with honors degrees in neurobiology, biochemistry, and chemistry. He was a 19-year-old 4th-year neuroscience Ph.D. candidate at Stanford University when he left early this year to pursue his start-up"
"has worked for Microsoft, Stanford, and Mozilla"
"Has previously worked at iRobot’s Research Group and as a Program Manager at Microsoft."
"In his teens, he built products for companies such as Coca-Cola and Universal Music"
"has designed web interfaces used by millions of people around the world"
"has previously worked for D.E. Shaw & Co., several social enterprises, and a few start-ups"
"founded a vacation rental portal as a high school freshman"
"starting his first business when nine years old"
"co-founded the Electric Vehicle Club at Purdue and was president of Purdue Innovations, the university’s entrepreneurship club."
"began developing her social enterprise when she was 15"
"first worked in a lab when he was 11, interned at Dupont as a teenager, and won the grand prize at the 2009 International Sustainable World Energy Olympiad in Houston."
"run non-profit dedicated to helping the vision-impaired around the world"

On goals / aims
"aims to radically improve our approach to the one thing we all do – shop." / "e-commerce start-up that will revolutionize price comparison on the web" Keyword: radical
"passionate about equipping people with the information to make better decisions." Keyword: information, decision
"interested in helping people protect the wealth they create from the harmful effects of inflation" Keyword: protect
"to help emancipate information around the world" Keyword: information
"to decentralize banking in the developing world with a mobile payment system"
"to create and share online lessons designed to be viewed at home by their own students, leaving class time free for more engaging activities"
"to revolutionize how we develop and demonstrate talent in the twenty-first century."
"to leverage web-based videos and mobile apps to bring the classroom into the twenty-first century"
"to build efficient motor for electric vehicles." Keyword: energy
"to commercialize an invention that enables low cost dual-axis photovoltaic module tracking" Keyword: energy
"to invent a walker-wheelchair hybrid that can provide power to assist its user according to how strong she feels at any moment" Keyword: aging, physically-disabled
"to extract valuable minerals from asteroids, comets, and other planetary bodies" Keyword: resource

Blueroselady thinks that they are very impressive and inspiring. How many people, before reaching 20 years old, have done so much and dreamed do big like them?
The people whom you have worked for also matter.

Reflections by Blueroselady:
Those on Thiel Fellowship seem to have a head start in their childhood (e.g. well educated parents, attendance of high schools that teach akin to college / attendance of college – so why would they still want to attend college again), but many children from less privileged backgrounds will find a college education still essential and enlightening.
Personally, I have met people of the possibly equal calibre to the Thiel Fellows, they started businesses / attended university / led beyond school organizations at early teen, while most teens are worried about growing up, peers, relationships, and juggling schools. The formers are ambitious, lucky, talented, hardworking ((they have built their CVs while other kids probably do not know what CVs are for), and most importantly have the right nurturing environment.
To illustrate this point, I shared my own example. When I was 12 years old, I found that the school was boring. My teacher suffered from diabetes and she was often absent. I could read the textbooks on my own. I told my mother that I did not want to go to school. I was happier reading newspapers and books.
When I was 13 years old, I found that some my school (male) teachers are irresponsible. They taught students bad words, touched female students’ hands / arms (and please do not ask me what else). If my parents had to pay for the school fee, I would probably quit schooling. To make matters worse, some of my school mates went astray. Girls were so cruel with words, I was helpless seeing them bullying a not-pretty girl sitting in front of me. My school mates were more interested in gossips (about seniors, juniors, peers, celebrities), hanging out wasting their lives, than in learning. Few years later after I left the school, I heard about a school mate who died from drug overdose, a school mate who got pregnant in early teen and turned into less beautiful (premature aging) than she was, a school mate who died in motorbike accident.
Then, a macro event happened that changed my life forever. I went overseas for the first time and attended much better schools (in term of quality). I learned about things that were forbidden / not taught before and revolutionized my thinking. I changed for the better, I unleashed my inner characters of hardworking, perseverance, and humility. Like entrepreneurs who focus on generating profits, I had clear focus: I was determined to earn the money required for college education through excellent results because my parents would not be able to support me after high school. My hard work and perseverance paid off, I received my college education (in 3 continents, East and West) with full scholarships. Every stage is like climbing to a higher ladder, I meet people who are more talented, creative, diverse than ever (many of them have better a head start childhood than me), and college education allowed me to learn from them. It is true that the higher you move to, the more you can see, understand, and do. As a result, I evolve into what I am today. At the end of my formal college education, I read analytically, write convincingly, think from multiple perspectives, converse fluently in multiple languages (I can mimic American, British, French, Indian, mainland Chinese accents), had traveled to more countries than the years of my lives, understand myself better, and most importantly have germinated the strongest urge (that I have ever had) to better our world.

From another point of view, colleges worldwide are getting very expensive. Students take loans, enjoy their college experience (sadly some focus on hanging out with friends, buying the latest gadgets), and postpone their sufferings of having to pay their loans while working and struggling to meet an end meet after the honeymoon period of college days. This sounds to me like an upcoming education bubble, which is akin to the housing bubble. To make it worse, colleges seem to mass produce workers (who are happy with the good enough), and to produce (in much less proportion) thinkers, innovators, agents of change. The latter are those that refuse to be entirely submissive and driven to the system. Colleagues and acquaintances are complaining to me about the drop in the standard of recent college graduates.

Nothing remains the same because lives are dynamics. My future generations will do things differently from what I did. If they are academically inclined, they can start learning the college materials (through online courses or immersion in labs) at early teen. If they are artistically inclined / entrepreneurial in nature, they can start interning at early teen. I still view traveling as essential, I learned a lot about independence, responsibilities, management, self-control, and survival while traveling and living in foreign countries far from my family. I made strangers my friends and family. I appreciate the values of every place and person. Get more exposure, discover more, and you will discover what your destiny is.

What’s next?
I will be reviewing my plan on progeny.
To research on things kids need (to learn) to be successful in their lives.
To research on homeschooling curriculum (what are not taught in school).

More about the Thiel Fellowship:
http://dealbook.nytimes.com/2011/05/25/finding-the-next-mark-zuckerberg/
http://www.creators.com/opinion/john-stossel/the-college-scam-11-07-06.html
http://www.forbes.com/sites/jmaureenhenderson/2011/06/20/meet-the-teen-who-got-paid-100-000-to-drop-out-of-school/
http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052970203960804577239253121093694.html?mod=googlenews_wsj
http://www.businessweek.com/interactive_reports/bs_collegeROI_0621.html