Eric was not doing very well. This junior in high school was barely getting by with his grades. He hated school and several of his teachers did not believe that he would even graduate. While in class, Eric barely paid attention, and he would spend more time being the class clown than listening and doing his school work.


After seeing his first semester report card that junior year, Eric told his mom, “I’m just not very smart. I don’t think that I’m cut out to go to college.” He added, “The SATs are coming up, but what’s the use of even taking them?”

Eric’s mom was very supportive and encouraged his son to give the SATs a shot. “You have nothing to lose,” she told him. “There may be some colleges you can get into, but you’ll never know your capabilities if you do not at least take that test.”

“OK mom, OK, I’ll take the test,” he said begrudgingly. The next day Eric signed up.

A month went by and with no surprise, Eric hadn’t studied at all. He showed up to take the SAT and felt that it was hard, but that he did know some of the answers. There were many tough questions though, which he tried to cheat, but everyone’s test around him looked different than his. He did his best to at least write down an answer and not leave one blank. When Eric finished, he turned his test in with a sigh of relief and said, “I’m glad that’s over.”

Several months went by and Eric’s behavior started to get even worse. He went to detention for fighting after school and he was even failing his chemistry class. Eric’s mom was stressed worrying about her boy when an envelope arrived in the mail. It was the results of his SAT test. After school that day they opened it together not expecting much.

Anticipating the worst, they received an extreme surprise...they saw his score: 1500 (out of 1600). They both almost fainted. “What!” Eric’s mother screamed. “A 1500! Is that right? Eric, did you cheat?”

“No mom I didn’t. I promise,” Eric responded. “To be honest, I tried, but everyone’s test was different. Maybe I am smart after all.”

They both couldn’t believe it. Maybe Eric was intelligent, but just wasn’t focusing or trying hard in school? This test result really motivated Eric and he began to make some changes. He stopped skipping class. He paid more attention during lectures and for the first time in his life he was turning all of his homework assignments in on time. Eric really had a transformation. His mom was most excited about the fact that Eric stopped hanging out with certain individuals that were bringing him down with their behavior.

“Maybe college is for me.” Eric told his mom.

With all of his hard work during his senior year in high school, Eric was able to get his GPA up to a level where he could graduate. His improved focus and commitment paid off. Upon graduation, Eric was accepted and attended a small four year college about two hours north of his home.

While in college, he thrived in that environment and eventually graduated with honors. Years later, Eric became the CEO of a popular magazine brand and he credits the turning point of his life, receiving his high SAT score.

The most powerful force is how you see yourself. 

The most powerful force is how you see yourself. 

“My self-image really changed after taking that test,” He often would say. “For once in my life I actually believed in myself.”

While coming home for Christmas to his mom’s house with his wife and two children many years later (16 years after he graduated from high school), Eric’s mom had an envelope waiting for him. It was from the College Board and the Educational Testing Service (ETS), which developed the SAT. “Eric, this is for you,” his mom said while sipping a cup of coffee. “This envelope arrived about two weeks ago.”

While reading this letter standing around the kitchen island, the ETS informed Eric that there was a mistake on his test. While performing an internal audit, they found that in the past 16 years, a handful of individuals were sent the wrong test results. They apologized, but his score was actually a 710—not a 1500.

“What? How can this be?” Eric asked his mom with astonishment.

“Who cares about this letter dear?” His mom responded. “That mistake helped you find your true potential.”

She was right. Even though Eric’s grades and SAT results would suggest that his intelligence during high school was average or below average versus his peers, Eric turned his life around. By having a more positive self-image, his habits, actions, and behaviors changed.

This lesson, which is actually based on a true story, is this: Excellence is not fixed, but can grow…and it all starts with how you see yourself.

How is your self-image?

It’s time to believe in yourself, take control of your life, and begin to change key habits that will help lead you to success. You do not need a false test score, external validation, your past, or current situation to begin your own journey of self-confidence. Decide today that you are enough and that you have everything you need to reach or exceed your potential.


The power of belief and self-image are the most powerful forces we have. Change your self-talk and your image will improve. Change your image, and your actions will match that image. With an improved self-image and actions, your results will reach a higher level. With better results, the stronger your belief will become.

What areas of your life are you self-sabotaging with a negative image of yourself?

  • Scholastics
  • Athletics
  • Socially
  • Dating
  • Marriage  
  • Your fitness  
  • Trying new things
  • Career opportunities
  • Public speaking
  • Bouncing back from failure

What steps can you take to improve your self-image?

USE THE SVP METHOD TO IMPROVE YOUR SELF IMAGE. Take out a piece of paper and answer these questions. This is a form of self-advertising. You are using your conscious brain to advertise and reshape your self-image to your subconscious brain.

  • S: What are my Strengths? What do I naturally excel at and enjoy?
  • V: What is my Vision? Set a goal for yourself and work consistently on achieving that goal.
  • V: What are my Values? List key words that will guide your behavior. These guiding principles will help you stay on course to achieve your vision.  
  • P: Write down where you had Past success. This is an affirmation exercise and you are remembering that you can achieve’s time to do it again.  
  • P: What’s your Purpose? Why do you want your goal? No passion. Having a clear purpose will help you push through the hard times.  

Rome was not built in a day...nor will the best version of you be either. Identify your strengths. Focus on your vision. Stop comparing and obsessing what others think of you. Zero in on your values and just be you. But, more importantly, take the necessary actions needed to grow and improve...that is where ultimate fulfillment is found.

Make a change for the better. Commit. Believe. Work hard. Persist. And lastly, give yourself GRACE. If you follow this recipe, you will unlock your full potential and RISE...just like Eric.

Check out my book  Project Rise  and it’s counterpart the  Rise Journal  and learn life-changing tools to be the best version of you.

Check out my book Project Rise and it’s counterpart the Rise Journal and learn life-changing tools to be the best version of you.