How My School Students Attempted to Avoid Trouble

When I was a high school teacher it was part of my everyday activity to have to deal with trouble makers who set out to disrupt the learning of others around them. Since I taught workshop subjects that always surprised me but it was a fact nonetheless.

I found there was a common series of excuses that a student who had done the wrong thing would go through in an attempt to avoid trouble.

Stage 1 – Denial – I didn’t do it!

You could bet this would always be the first line of defence. A student would blatantly lie about what really happened denying any wrongdoing, almost to the point where they had convinced themselves their lie was in fact the truth!

Stage 2 – Collective Justification!

After convincing the student that I had seen exactly what happened and there was no question about whether they were guilty or not, the second stage would be for the student to say they were not the only one doing whatever it was they should not have been doing.

To their mind this made it OK. “Everyone was doing it so you can’t punish me.”

Now whether other’s had done the same thing or not did not matter as far as I was concerned. “Is it Ok to murder someone because other people have done it? – No! You are guilty of the crime; take the consequences and I’ll decide if there are any other offenders who need following up as well”.

Stage 3 – The mirror.

Once guilt was acknowledged and hopes of absolution by collective justification was gone, it would be common for the student to then start suggesting that I as the teacher had not been doing my job properly and I was singling them out and picking on them for no reason (other than I caught them red handed).

When I eventually left teaching, the straw that broke the camel’s back was a 14 yr old serial offender who seriously twisted facts in an attempt to create a mirror strategy to reduce the focus on what he had done and I ended up having to untwist the lies to reveal the facts.

That was the Wednesday before Easter 2002 and I never went back to teaching after the Easter break. I made the very easy decision that 20 years was long enough in that occupation and the time had come to seriously pursue my goal of helping people with their personal finances.

I’m now very grateful for that event as I may have procrastinated for years before making the break!

The Lessons

Thinking about the 3 steps that my students commonly used to try to escape trouble I realised that as human beings we do not like to admit that we did something wrong, we goofed or we made a mistake.
However, I have seen that while you hold the position that you are just the victim of external circumstances you cannot learn from your mistakes or move to a better place with your life.

E.g. If you bought an investment property that lost you money it was not the salesperson’s fault. Even if you fell for a dodgy ‘pumped up’ deal the responsibility was on you to check it out prior to signing on the dotted line.

Or if you took a risk on some shares that were a red hot tip and you lost money, you were gambling in the first place and you need to stop gambling. Nobody held a gun to your head and made you buy those shares!

If the GFC caught you by surprise and everything came tumbling down around your ears, were you so exposed to risk that you were a disaster just waiting to happen sooner or later anyway? Were you just hoping the universe would be kind to you while you were building your house of cards?

Of course life is a gamble in one way or another. You might just be in the wrong place at the wrong time now and then, but if you are honest with yourself you know that bad luck does not happen every day. Don’t blame bad luck either!

It is only when you acknowledge that you do not know all you need to know to make the best decisions all the time and you go and get help, coaching, advice, training and support from someone other than your mates at the pub or the girls at the gym that you really have a good chance of making significant steps forward.

I encourage you, no matter what has happened in your past to accept that you messed up when things went wrong. Stop dwelling on it, stop blaming other people or circumstances and move on. Go get some education and support and make the future a better story!

Take off the rose tinted glasses that made you think everything would just work out fine when you signed up for the dud deals. Question everything, check everyone out to be sure they are trustworthy and keep looking in the mirror and asking the person looking back at you if he or she is working to a plan or getting swept away with unrealistic enthusiasm and taking risks that are not acceptable.

We do not learn from pleasure generally; we tend to learn from pain, so take heart at the fact that your mistakes have prepared you for better things ahead. They were either mistakes or lessons and lessons are the preferred outcome out of those two possibilities so move forwards rather than backwards.

If you don’t have a plan or a trusted advisor to assist you in creating a plan and you want to take responsibility for the rest of your life and your future prosperity, give me a call or reply to this email and together we will work out some options.

After 20 years of ‘stress busting’ people’s finances I’m keen to pass on my experience and expertise to help you live a better life with an ultimate better future.

While I’m Talking About Life Changing Events…

If you have not yet attended one of my ‘Succeed With Money’ days then I encourage you not to wait another minute to book your place at one of the three possibile events coming up in May/June. There are dates on my web-site right now for Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane.

Go to and go to ‘Events’ on the menu.

I really feel that now is the time to be getting your finances sorted out. It’s 2015, the year is more than 25% gone and you don’t want to be still spinning your wheels in the run up to Christmas this year, or any other year for that matter. Nobody else is going to make change happen but you can.

That’s all for now. I hope I have given you some food for thought.