How To Go From Bad To Brilliant – Lessons From A Master Teacher

Master teacher reveals how to break out of your comfort zone

How Do You Break Out of Your Comfort Zone?

After you’ve worked hard and climbed up to the edge of your comfort zone, how do you prevent falling back into procrastination?

How do you perform brilliantly even when you have a history of performing brutally?

Does your history matter?

No. Not when you use a system like the one master teacher Marva Collins created.

In part 1, Master Teacher Identifies Source of Self-Sabotage And How To Overcome It, there’s a quick exercise that pinpoints your sources of sabotage. And we cover ways to overcome self-sabotage so if you haven’t read “Sources of Self-Sabotage and How to Overcome Them, then click the link to read it now.

If you have read it, then let’s return to Marva Collins’s classroom.

Her system turned so-called ‘Unteachable’ kids into scholarly students. Those kids, some as young as 6 years old, learned Shakespeare, Emerson and Chaucer.

Most importantly, they did what their ‘history’ said they could NOT do. They did what other teachers, counselors and even their own parents said they could not do. They did what even they, themselves, did NOT believe they could do.

The most important question is…

What do you WANT to do that your history says you cannot do?

After teaching in Chicago public schools in the middle of the Chicago ghetto, Marva Collins started her own private school. She ran it out of her home. But unlike other private schools who had hefty application processes that weeded out the ‘bad’ apples, she didn’t care if a kid had been labeled a failure. Unfortunately, even at their young ages, many of her students had been labeled failures.

Most people have had failures. Memories of those failures can form a firing squad that regularly shoots down your self-esteem. They can shoot holes in your motivation, effort and eventually your dreams.

Fortunately, with this system, with Marva Collins’s system, your history does NOT matter.

Have you had any failures? If so, it does NOT matter!

Why? Because the truth is that with the right system, it doesn’t matter!

As you’ll see, this lesson gives you the keys Marva Collins used to unlock the great potential buried in each of her kids. You can use those keys to unlock the great potential that is locked inside you.

The very same methods that turned her so-called un-teachable students into scholars can turn you into a great business person, an elite executive or an exceptional parent.

She took kids time and time again and led them to greatness. It’s said that a great general with 100 men can beat a poor general with 10,000 men. Marva Collins was a great general. Each day, she faithfully led her troops through the war of ignorance and bravely on to educational victory.

Just to be clear, there were many who doubted her work. One scholarly book called ‘The Bell Curve’ openly questioned her methods. It essentially said Marva Collins stories were just anecdotal (Oddball occurrences that’d fail with time as society’s influences reasserted it’s failing impact). That type of skeptical outlook led, the investigative news show, ’60 Minutes” to go back 30 years later.

How did the young inner-city ghetto students do? Did they fall back into old patterns? Did they end up in jail like so many other kids from that ghetto?

The answer is that those kids, formerly deemed ‘unteachable’, had become teachers, lawyers, managers, business owners, military leaders and upstanding citizens. So, as we cover these methods today, keep in mind that these methods have stood the test of time. At the bottom of this post is a link to the actual 60 Minutes Report.

3 Steps the Master Teacher Used to Create Breakthroughs

First, Marva Collin used a carefully crafted statement to get the students to connect the dots between their actions and their future. It’s critical because all too often, we let short-term pleasures sacrifice long-term gains. Surprisingly, when the consequences of short term pleasure are brought into the light of the decision making moment, we tend to make better choices.

Here’s what Mrs. Collins did when she asked a student to do reading but the student defiantly replied: “I won’t do it and you can’t make me.”

NOTE: keep in mind that a part of you is like that defiant student, fighting to keep yourself locked in your comfort zone. So, listen to how skillfully Marva Collins gives the kid the power to make the right choice. Instead of fighting or disciplining the kid, here’s what she said…

“I don’t make children do anything. You make yourself what you are. You must decide for yourself what you want to do in here, peach. You have the right to learn. You also have the right to fail, if you choose.”

Mrs. Collins doesn’t demand. She simply shapes a statement that lets the kids make the right choice. The brilliance is in how she reminds the student of the consequences of the wrong action (failure), and she doesn’t force or order the student. She also emphasizes that the student has the power to choose. Science, today, tells us that when we connect to our power to choose, we tend to own the decision and we become more motivated.

She also uses the endearment ‘peach’ to lighten the interaction. Maybe to remind the student that she’s on their side.

Now, if you were at a pivot point where you could move forward or fall back into your comfort zone and you were told … “My friend, you make yourself what you are. You must decide for yourself what you want to do here. You have the right to push forward and succeed. You also have the right to fail, if you choose.”

What decision would you make?

By the way, timing is another vital component. She makes this statement at the point of decision.

I’m strongly suggesting that as you come to your daily decision points, especially when you’re close to making a breakthrough and you’re starting to lean backwards, then at that time use Marva Collins’s coaching statement to lead you to a breakthrough.

The second key Marva Collins used to create breakthroughs is ‘environment’.

Mrs. Collins carefully created the environment for breakthroughs.

We’ve already covered how Mrs. Collins gets kids to make the ‘right’ decision but let’s uncover how she gets them to push past barriers, bad beliefs and limitations.

Here’s what Mrs. Collins said. “I found that hugging and touching and saying, “I love you” immediately made them feel SECURE and comfortable in the classroom, establishing a bond between us and also among the [other] children.”

“Children,” she began, “today will decide whether you succeed or fail tomorrow. I promise you, I won’t let you fail. I care about you. I love you. You can pay people to teach but not to care.”

In the book the Synaptic Self by Dr. Joseph Ledoux, he says that ‘love biases us more toward an open and accepting mode of processing than toward tension and vigilance.”

Of course, the second key is love. Love not only made the kids feel safe and secure but it opened their minds so they could be more flexible, accepting and try new things.

Stanford professor Kelly McConigal, author of the “Will-Power Instinct”, said “self-compassion—being supportive and kind to yourself, especially in the face of stress and failure—is associated with more motivation and better self-control.”

Look, if you’re tired of trying to beat yourself into submission and it hasn’t gotten you great results, then take a page from Marva Collins.

If you want to breakthrough, then stop the mean, badgering football coach routine and use love. It might sound too easy but it worked. And Marva Collins proved it.

The third and final step was “coaching”. Marva Collins coached kids to a breakthrough.

Mrs. Collins had a student who insisted that she could NOT read. But Mrs. Collins wanted her to read. You might think this interaction is unrelated to your daily life but it mimics an interaction people have every day.

You see, we fight ourselves to do more work, to do better work; To be more productive. In the mornings, when willpower is strongest you can push past obstacles but  as the day wears you down, asyou become tired and push to the edge of our comfort zone, well, that’s when procrastination and distraction creep in. They overpower willpower and pull you back down into your comfort zone. It happens everyday in public schools, corporations and even in small businesses. But NOT at Marva Collins’s school.

How do you push beyond your comfort zone? How did Marva Collins handle it?

Here’s what happened as described in the book “The Marva Collins Way”.

“Still it was a struggle to get her to read. She kept saying, “I can’t do it, I can’t do it.” And I kept telling her how pretty and bright she was and reminded her of the story “The Little Engine That Could”. When it was her turn to read, I put my arms around her and praised her for each word she read. As soon as Tracy finished three or four words in a row correctly, I had her stop, lest the fifth word prove too difficult, I did not want Tracy discouraged. Until she had a better opinion of herself. Tracy had to be insulated from failure.”

Mrs. Collins coached the kid beyond her old bad belief. And that’s what you must do too. If you’re at the edge of your comfort zone and part of you is pulling back, then this is where you make a stand. And use, as Marva Collins did, love, encouragement and determination to get you past that old belief. You don’t have to go too far. Breaking just beyond that old belief barrier will do that trick. It’ll build the momentum to take you much farther.

One last point. Obviously, you don’t have Marva Collins to coach you beyond your comfort zone. That’s why you must coach yourself.

You must whisper in your own ear. At first blush, this might seem silly but the fact is that we talk to ourselves all the time. Much of the time we beat ourselves up. I know I do Unfortunately, I’m an expert at it. I have scars from my verbal beat downs. But if I heard the safe, secure and loving words Marva Collins used to take her kids beyond their comfort zones and onto greatness, then I’d be a lot farther along. Does this make sense?

Well, sorry for adding so much but I want to give you really good solutions to current problems. Do you think this will help at all? Did you enjoy it? If so, then please let me know. I’d love to hear from you.

To your habitual success,


PS. To see the actual 60 Minutes Video Report, Master Teacher’s Students – 30 Years Later