Lessons learned from The Difference: This book resonated with me on many levels. It meshed with my Strategies program, which I'm in the process of updating so that I can donate it to 300 schools this spring by way of a contest. As I was reading Jean's book, I took copious notes of all the ideas that supported what I had been sharing with my students, the research behind the conclusions she reached, the exercises that I thought would be great for teens to take and the research that Jean provided.
One great lesson in The Difference was on optimism. As a teacher, I have always instinctively known that creating a fun, optimistic classroom was important to the well-being and learning potential of my students. The Difference tells why: "When you're thinking pessimistically, your creativity narrows and your problem-solving ability fades." What a great antidote to the negativity that is pervasive in our society especially in these economic times! We all need to be able to solve the problems that life throws at us and The Difference teaches us—backed up by research and in an easy to read format—that being optimistic truly helps!
I started my program to provide teens with the information that adults would love to have known at 15 years old—financial literacy, goal setting, optimism, how to survive and thrive (a term both Jean and I use). I love that with The Difference, I now have access to all this great new information and research for updating my program and for the new weekend success seminars I'm building for teens with two wonderful people I recently met at a seminar in New Jersey. The Difference teaches, whether adult or teen, that you can certainly rise from failure and from difficult times—that, in fact, is when we grow the most.
Reading this book at this particular time has given me the special tools, the research and extra inspiration I need to not give up on the difficult quest of getting my program noticed so it can, as my students often said, "Keep changing lives." A big thank you to Jean for writing a book that we all can learn so much from.
Favorite chapter from The Difference: I'm not sure I can choose a favorite. I love Chapter 4 where not only do you get valuable advice about finding your passion, but how to empower your outlook for what you currently do so that it inspires you to get out there and enjoy it while developing your passion into a new career. Chapter 9's focus on gratitude is spot-on. So many people talk about gratitude, but Jean explains why being grateful matters, how to begin the gratitude process and how shifting your focus toward gratitude, especially during tough times, changes everything—including the bottom line.
All in all, this book not only provides the data and characteristics that separate the different financial levels but how to move up as many levels as we choose—all while providing strong guidance, a sense of humor (I love the "Choose one. Can't pick? I'll pick for you. Pick number one!" section), inspiration and the knowledge that success is within our power—as soon as we decide.