Daily Short-hOPT: A Lesson Learned In Sophomore English

“Don’t settle for style. Succeed in substance.” – Wynton Marsalis

When I was a sophomore in high school, my AP English teacher pulled me aside and said the following: “Charm will only get you so far if you have nothing to back it up.” I’m still not sure what I had done to provoke this comment, but I do recall that she and I didn’t see eye to eye much. I challenged her often and was likely a smart aleck. She was old school and probably thought I was all style and no substance. I know that she was wrong, but what I eventually realized was that I hadn’t shown her that she was. Further, I also eventually realized that, though her message was harsh, she was actually right, but in a general sense. I often skated by in school, doing the bare minimum to pass, especially when it came to subjects like math or science. So, to her, it probably did appear as though I was passing on style and lacked substance. What she didn’t know (nor did she attempt to) was that I wasn’t what she thought I was. Maybe she was trying to motivate me. I don’t know. I do know that the comment only insulted me. 

So, there are two things to take away here. The smaller, yet still relevant point is one that we’ve made often in our posts: your words can have a lasting and profound effect on people. The comment I discussed was said to me almost 20 years ago, and I still remember it like it was yesterday. Choose words wisely and speak with positive purpose. 

The more pertinent point to this post is that we should all try to live a life of substance. You’ve probably seen Ashton Kutcher’s speech on the Teen Choice Awards, or his interview on Ellen (if you haven’t, Google it), where he discusses people’s desires to be famous without actually working to create something that would make them famous. Say what you will about Ashton Kutcher, his points are incredibly valid. We live in an overly entitled culture these days, and, for whatever reason, folks seem to think that they’re owed things without earning them. True substance is willing to do the work to earn your due. 

Choose substance over style. Make happiness and compassion for others a priority. Earn your keep. 

Have an awesome Friday,



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