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Welcome to Success for Life 101!

Here's the essence of what's in the video for those who'd rather read than watch

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Hi! I’m Marianne Douglas and welcome to “Success for Life 101.” This series of videos is based on a program I created for my high school years ago, which was then called “Strategies for Success”.


What I was aiming to do back then was to create a program that would empower the students in my school, to improve their decision making ability, to help them de-stress because teenage life is very stressful, and to help them so they wouldn’t find themselves in a situation that one of my students had found himself in: he had been bullied so much that he took his own life. I was at a class banquet when we found out the news. That loss profoundly changed me and encouraged me to create the “Strategies for Success” program.

I was lucky back then that I had a Principal who took a chance on me. I was lucky that I got to study with Tony Robbins (look him up if you don’t know who he is) and became part of his first youth leadership. That camp gave me the ideas to begin this exploration. I created the course and never looked back.

The course changed my school in many ways. Students loved it (you can read some of the testimonials on the website). The main thing that stuck with me was the message from a student who said “this is the class that we’ll still be talking about 10 years later” and believe it or not, it’s been longer than 10 years and they still are! We didn’t know back then about social media, but I’m still getting positive messages not only for what the strategies did for them while they were in high school but how they’re still using them now as adults with jobs and families, and especially in these challenging times.

So what’s it all about? First of all, this is not going to be like taking another class in school. Parents, students, and teachers have enough on their plate. The goal for this is to share some of the most valuable lessons that I taught my students back then that hopefully will be helpful now.

It’s going to be very different than my classroom because my classroom was very interactive. We started every day with music and high fives.  Unfortunately, high fives are not a great idea right now.  We can do a virtual one and that’s certainly something, but it will be very different from what I envisioned when I first thought about doing this.

Let me tell you a little bit more about the kinds of things you might be learning about in this class, and why I think it’s worth your time to take it.

First of all, I had no intention of ever doing this like this. I’ve never video-taped myself and it’s not something I’m 100% comfortable with. But so what! We all have things we’re not comfortable with but some of them help us grow and they’re worth doing and some of them are worth doing because they help other people.  That’s what I hope happens here.

What can you expect?  A mini-lesson direct from my living room that I hope to make fun, that’s very useful, worth remembering and sharing.

What kind of lessons?  Life lessons.  Like strategies for handling  stress.  There’s certainly stress to deal with right now.  I can’t imagine what it feels like to be a teenager under these circumstances . It’s bad enough you have to do school from home without friends to have lunch with or talk to in the hall.  Instead you’re home.  You can’t get out of your house.  We don’t know what’s coming next, so there’s so much uncertainty. Any strategies that will help minimize stress are certainly worth doing.  Some you’ve never heard before or never heard in this particular way.

You’re going to learn how to cope with frustration, going to learn how to get along with people a little bit better. One of the highlights of my classes was that students were mixed together in ways they usually weren’t. When you’re a teacher, you get whatever students the office puts in your class. So I had students from special needs to honors all mixed together.  I taught the class 25 times and began to notice that the students started bonding within 9 days. I’m not kidding! 9 days! People who might have even picked on each other, were now part of the same team.

How to get along better with others might include how you perceive them.  Often we think “oh, that person’s very different than me” but when you really stop to think about it, we all pretty much want some of the same things!

It will be interesting to share this without the interactive piece, but it’s never been more important to get along with people – especially for many the people in your house!  Once we get to leave our houses, we still want to be able to interact in a positive, healthy way with others.

We can use these mini lessons and this time to create the best version of ourselves with minimal stress.  I hope that I can help myself and you come out of the other side of this better than we were. Even if it’s just a little kinder, a little more understanding, and a little more appreciative than before we went into this.

I have not structured this and written it out yet. I had planned to create this in a much more “professional” way. I was going to hire videographers and editors and actors and all of that. I had planned to spend some time going through an office full of notes and notebooks and things that I’ve studied for the past I can’t begin to tell you how many years. 

But then one of my former students was talking about how her sons were overly stressed and I thought to myself, “Why am I waiting?” It doesn’t have to be perfect, it doesn’t have to be me in a classroom, or me outside or edited in with great footage. It just needs to be. It needs to get out there, it needs to be here to help people now.

So, I’m going to do my best to do as many lessons as I can that I think of that I think would be useful now. If you think it’s valuable, feel free to share with other teens or families in your life. It’s PG, it’s non-political, it’s from the best of the best people I’ve studied over the years – from psychologists to thought leaders to scientists – a great range of people I admire! And what I have found over the years, as I’ve studied various ideas from a variety of people, the same messages come across. So, that’s what you’ll see as you go through this. I hope you’ll have fun!

What do I need from you? I need you to have an open mind. That’s what I used to tell my students on the first day of school.  I had a Martin Luther King quote that said, “Take the first step in faith. You don't have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step”.  I asked them to do things way out of their comfort zone because a course like this did not exist in any school.  And they did and they were better for it. I was better for it! And we had the time of our live.

So keep an open mind. Take the journey. If a strategy doesn’t make sense to you, just put it aside and save it for later. Some may seem too simple but isn’t it true that the most important things in life are the simplest? Aren’t we finding that out right now? I mean how much do we appreciate being able to get the food that we like, if we’re even able to do it?  Or to be able to meet a friend? So gather the strategies, take them and use whatever works for you!

I did not put this on Facebook, I did not do Facebook Live, because I want to make sure I get the best message across. And I don’t want it to get bogged down with comments and maybe requests for help that I can’t necessarily fulfill.

In theory, I would love to have this interactive.  Sadly, there are a lot of people with time right now who may choose to use this for reasons that are not positive and that’s not the time for this.

You get what you’re looking for. If you’re looking for things that will work for you, my belief is that you’ll find them. If you’re looking for things to nitpick, you’ll find that too, because this is not the way I’ve ever taught.

Thank you so much for reading this! I hope I see you at the first lesson.  Until then, thank you, thank you, thank you!

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