Better Than Good: The Early Bird Gets The Worm



In my book, #TheHappyManifesto – Three Rules for Happier Students, I talk about how the first rule – Always Be Better Than Good – is like setting the table before eating. It’s an attitude adjustment or a mindset that our students and children have to have in order to really focus on the tasks before them.

Think about it, nobody truly wants to be average, right? And that’s pretty much what the word good is. We’re not talking about AWESOME or OUTSTANDING. We’re talking about a single-syllabled word that we tend to (over)use multiple times a day to the point to where it becomes our default response:


  • How was your day? Good.

  • How’s it going? Good.

  • How was school? Good.

  • How do you feel? Good.


How would it be if we replaced the word good with average?


  • How was your day? Average.

  • How’s it going? Average.

  • How was school? Average.

  • How do you feel? Average.


Imagine your child or student responding like this? Why do we accept good as an appropriate response but not average?


This is why the First Rule is so important, why this blog is named what it’s named. We need to adopt a different mindset – and so do our children. And this is totally tying into the Social Emotional Learning movement.


At my children’s elementary school, the decision was made to start the school day 10-minutes earlier. At first this came as a shock to parents (and probably some of the school personnel). Early is working against the realities that we’re facing everyday. We’re working longer hours and going to sleep later (no thanks to you, iPhone!) as adults. What makes us think that our children aren’t following the same patterns?


Starting the school day off earlier doesn’t mean that teachers and students are immediately diving headfirst into curriculum. Instead, they’re reflecting. They’re catching up by catching their breaths. They are easing into their instructional days by utilizing effecting social emotional strategies that they can implement throughout the day, the week and ultimately the school year.


Essentially, they are implementing the First Rule For Happier Students: They are practicing the concept of being Better Than Good.


So how can we as parents implement The First Rule at home? For starters, let’s talk about the word good.


  • Ask them, “On a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best), where would you rank the word good?”

  • Have them give the word good a letter grade the way a teacher would grade a spelling test. Would it be an A (Awesome, Outstanding, etc.) or would it be something lower (Average = C).

Once we provide them this context, we can now have them think about “better than good” responses to questions like:


  • How do you feel?

  • How do you feel about yourself?

  • What makes you special?


Once our kids have this new understanding and perspective, we can start to see them naturally raising their expectation levels – within their selves and with others around them!



For more information on easy strategies that we can employ to help our kids succeed inside and out of the classroom, check out the book, #TheHappyManifesto – Three Rules For Happier Students. It’s an easier-than-easy-to-read resource designed to help us parents and teachers navigate a world in which we were given no instruction manuals.


Do you have effective strategies that you’d like to share? Comment below and share this post to keep the conversation going!


© 2019 Phillip D.Cortez

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