top of page
  • Writer's pictureDoak Turner

Things I Wish I Knew In High School

Updated: Aug 27, 2019

Things I Wish I Knew In High School

I was asked to come and talk to the junior class at St. Albans high School in my home town – April 20th, 2012

Topic that came to mind, “What I Wish I knew In High School”.

I could talk from that day till graduation on that topic, however to narrow it down:

I did not have much confidence in school and I found out later, most of my friends did not have confidence either!  SO Let’s change that for the junior class at St. Albans high School!

Confidence and where to get it – my life changed when I started reading Positive Mental Attitude books – PMA. Books such as “Think and Grow Rich” by Napoleon Hill, “Power of Positive Thinking” by Norman Vincent Peale, “See You At The Top” and other Zig Ziglar books. “The Magic of Thinking Big” by David Schwartz, “You Gotta Be Hungry” by Les Brown, “The Greatest Salesman in the World” and other books by Og Mandingo and most recent from one of our home town authors and school teachers, “99 Success Strategies” by Deb Austin Brown

Deb is a teacher at Alban Elementary and teaches every student a Success Strategy of the Week and the students are on V100 every week reading the Success Strategy of the Week. Check out what they are doing at that school, get involved, start a Success Club right here at SAHS! That’s right K-5th graders are learning about goal setting, being and thinking positive every day! WHO wants to learn about those important things in life to help you and your friends become better people? Check with Alban Elementary as they are doing some great things – those 5th graders and every kid in the school knows about the importance of setting goals and they study Successful People!

Those books led me to listening to books on tape by authors such as Dennis Waitley, Wayne Dyer, Robert Schuler and other positive thinking people.  In the books, I learned about setting goals and working towards them in life, reading about successful people and how they reached their goals and dreams in life.

I learned GIGO – Garbage In Garbage Out – in other words, thing negative you become negative, think positive you become positive. Who wants to be a negative thinker?? Who wants to be a Positive Thinker and do positives in life – can I see a show of hands??

When you study success you start becoming successful, one day at a time. You do not have to have your life all figured out and what you want to do exactly at a young age – try many things to see how you like them, build friendships and relationship at each place your work and things you do in life. The people you meet will make a big difference in your life so hang with the positive people that work to do the right things!

If I had confidence in high school, I would have asked girls out but I was afraid they would say that dreaded word, NO.  You have to ask yourself, what is the worst they can say – NO and then you are no worse than before you asked! So if ya do not have a prom date – go ahead and ask – the worst they can say is no, then ask the next one!  NO is not always a bad word – ASK that person to prom you are thinking about!

If I was in the tux and dress business – I’d make a couple sales today!

You will have a great time and look back in years to come and be glad you were not sitting at home that Saturday night! 

My dad, Jerry Goff who is a successful architect in town gave me some advice when I was about 18 and it is truly how life works. He said, pointing to his open hand, try this over here for a while, go over there next, up here next job or career, go over there for a while and when ya get up here – pointing to about 5 stages and trying, what ya learned back here and here will help ya on this career or job! Just TRY by doing different things to see what you love to do in life.

 Learned the following from a sales trainer, “Ask and You Get, Don’t and You Won’t”

Do not be afraid of the word, NO, sometimes it means not yet, sometimes it means ok, move on and many times the person is glad you asked and will reply YES!

This phrase has got me on trips to great events in life, met some great people and things I would have never done in life just remembering, “Ask And You Get, Don’t And You Won’t” – remember and use it in your life!!

The word FEAR – that stands for False Elements Appearing Real – in other words, do not let fear stop you from anything! Try new things, meet new people, take chances with jobs, go out of your comfort zones, and do not be afraid of technology.

I started one of my sites and e-zines 9 years ago that has made me money and a difference in our music community called the Nashville Muse.

Someone in California suggested that I send out an e-mail in 2003 of where people in our community are playing in what venues, I did not know how to copy/paste, did not know about spamming, fighting through the internet company and learning how to send to lists and a bunch of other challenges. I use the site and e-zine to promote events that make a difference, the friends that have been made because of the Nashville Muse – I am thankful that I kept learning every day on how to make the site and e-zine a resource for people.   I did not FEAR the internet or know the right questions to ask – until they came up at a roadblock and the Good Lord always sent me someone to help me on the journey!

I wish I had known It All Works Out – in time. When going through challenges – and instead of calling them problems, call them challenges – that time will pass, you will get through it. My mom and grandmother would say, “It Will Be Alright” and ya know THEY WERE RIGHT in the long run. Some things we can control and some things we cannot control, do not let everything just drive us crazy – relax it will be alright!

I wish I’d known that I would loose friends, to drugs and alcohol and diseases– I would have tried harder, been smarter not to drive and drink when I was in high school. One Tuesday in my senior year, I had some friends over and two of those were Bobby Miles and Christine Munsey – two great kids in the 10th grade – they were dating and always had smiles, to of the best kids I can ever recall knowing and calling friend. The Saturday night just 4 nights later, Bobby and Christine were killed in a car wreck coming out of River Lake, crashed into a tree right after coming out of the tunnel and onto the main road, they had been drinking. If I had known it was going to happen or if Anyone would have known, we would not have let them drive and drink.  It happens to your friends unfortunately. YOU have to be responsible to help prevent these types of accidents with yourself and your friends.

Now days – texting causes accidents. A couple of weeks ago in Nashville, I met the family of a girl from Texas that was 17 and on her way to school, texted and rolled her truck over 3 times and was killed – a beautiful girl Alex Brown – look her up the Alex Brown Foundation.

I lost other friends from high school later in life due to alcoholism. Not just in car wrecks, but the wreck the alcohol made of their lives, divorcing their wife or husband, hurting their kids and family and eventually loosing their life to the drug. The drinks, drugs, meth labs and other addictions are all leading to disaster – nothing good comes out of those!!  Do not start and if you have – go get help NOW! Nothing positive, it is all negative with the drugs!

YOU will loose friends to alcoholism, drugs and also to diseases. When we held our 30th class reunion, we released about 15 helium filled balloons and read the names of classmates who had passed away over the years. The point being – appreciate everyone that you know, help each other, reach out when you have challenges and be there for each other. Not trying to be downer – again – just things I wish I knew in High School.

I wish I’d known that I do not have to have life figured out – what I am going to do in life – what career – well careers can change – find something you are passionate about!

Me, I grew up listening to radio and loved music, went to every concert I could and had no idea I would eventually be in the music business, become friends with some of the people I used to admire because they could play guitar or sing on stage, or eventually meet those athletes I’d see on TV and read about in magazines.

What did I learn about those people – they are just people. They had dreams and goals, worked hard for those goals to play rock and roll, one  friend I have ended  be able to play guitar for Ted Nugent all those years ago, to tour the world with other bands, to be successful athletes they trained hard and stayed focused on the goals for their life! Rob can tell ya about those music dreams!

They did something EVERY DAY toward their goals and dreams. They did not know exactly where it would all lead, so they kept working on their dreams, getting fired along the way, learning lessons on dealing with other people and ya know – again – they are just people. They have kids, they have good days bad days, their washer breaks down at home, their car breaks down, they have been through good times and bad times, at times questioned themselves about life and what they are supposed to do, but kept working on their goals and dreams!

I wish I’d Known – how important communication is in life – to let people know how ya feel about them, to let them know you care about them, they are important to you! We do not always have our friends and relatives; spend time with your parents and grandparents – aunts and uncles, cousins, friends! Share laughs, good times, be there when challenges arrive! We do not know when the last time that we will see them – so let people know ya care about them! Be kind!

Take time to have dinner with your family – I miss dinner with my family – parents, brother and sister. That was a special time when we all gathered around 5:15  and had a nice dinner. Do it – you will cherish those times later in life! Take time to have dinner with your family, share the positives, say THANK YOU to your parents for cooking dinner. Say grace at the table!

Take the Perfect word out of your vocabulary – no one is perfect – there is no perfect weight and scales are for fish! I have seen that challenge on friends in life that started when they were young!

Say THANK YOU more often!

I wish I’d known the only thing consistent is change–Life changes you have peaks and valleys – keep going through changes in life – going to college, changing jobs, people in your life or you move to another town or state!

Change is part of life, look for the positives in changes in your life

Use what you learned from the past to help you with changes.

I wish I had heard Zig Ziglar say earlier in life, “In order to get what you want out of life, help others get what they want in life”! That is how life works – help someone when you can!  That is a key along with another quote, which is by Henry Ford, “Whether you think you can or you cannot, you are absolutely right”!  If you think you are going to do well on a test and you prepare for a test in school and in life – decide you are going to do it great, prepare for it and do your very best! If you sincerely believe you can do something, you will find a way!!

I wish I’d known – more about money. Do not be afraid to learn about money, banking, saving for rainy days when things are going your way – things will change, you will have challenges – save some of that money – hopefully you do get old and if you invested correctly you will be happier in life! You do not need the newest and fanciest car to impress your friends. You do not need the biggest house to impress your friends and business people. Read the book, “The Millionaire Next Door”.  I was told to invest in my younger days – early and mid 20’s, but thought na, I will work hard and play hard and did not listen to the advice of my dad because if I was making this much money at a young age life could ONLY get better – well, not always! Listen to Dave Ramsey on the internet – he is good with money talks!

I interviewed Peter Buffett, son of the famously wealthy Warren Buffett, a huge millionaire. Warren Buffett still lives in the same home he bought in 1958, no fences around it, nothing fancy. His kids have not inherited a bunch of money. He gave it away to a couple foundations! Do not depend on anyone but yourself for those types of things in life. Find your passion in life!

I wake up excited every day – knowing this could be the day that changes my life! I say my thanks every morning for what I have – health, people that care about and love me and my love for those people in my life, I can see, breathe, can choose if I am going to be positive or negative – choose Positive! Say your thanks for your parents and family every day, I encourage you to start the day with thanks and be excited and thankful. Read something positive every day!

Do not wish for a great day – MAKE IT A GREAT DAY!

I have positive sayings around my house – on the fridge, on my bathroom mirror or behind the mirror of the medicine cabinet that I look at every day!

What is your dream in life? Whatever it is, “Run With Your Dream” – you can do ANYTHING you set your heart and soul to do and know what you will give up for that dream! If you want to do something – prepare for it! If you are thinking about being something – set your goal – look at it every day, use the internet to learn about the profession, ask others that are doing that profession for advice and how they became successful in their job!

Do not let ANYONE steal your dreams!

I read about a man that when he was in school, his teacher gave an assignment to write down your dreams and goals. The student wrote down that he would own a farm, have horses and be very successful. The teacher gave him an F on the paper and told him there was no way he would ever be successful and have what he wrote on the paper and asked him to write another paper on the same subject. The boy told the teacher, “You keep your F and I will keep my dream”!  Guess where that man lives today – on a big farm, is very successful and living his dream! Do NOT let ANYONE steal your dreams! DREAM BIG in life and Every Day – do at least one thing for your dreams!

Always be a leader. Robert Frost once wrote, “Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- / I took the one less traveled by, / And that has made all the difference.” There are two roads you can choose to take in high school (and in life): one is a road of integrity, honesty, and truthfulness; the other, a road of anarchy and uprising. Many people will take the later and it will be tempting to follow. Remain strong and do what you know is right.

Once school is over and everyone has moved into their adult lives, they will not remember those who barely got by and never participated. Get involved and make a difference.

LEARN every day, be positive, fake it till ya make it – try things and see what happens! Ask yourself, “What is the worst that can happen if I go try something”

Be curious about life and how things work, how discoveries were made – solve challenges for yourself and other people!

Remember – if you think you can or cannot do something you are right!

SECRET - The only real difference between adults and high school kids is that adults realize they need to get things done, and high school kids don’t. That realization hits most people around 23. But I’m letting you in on the secret early. So get to work. Maybe you can be the first generation whose greatest regret from high school isn’t how much time you wasted.

I have some wisdom from other successful friends of mine :

Byron Hill – hit songwriter

How much every moment counts REALLY!!

 Every step forward does start counting younger than ya think!

Start going forward with your life the time is now to learn and work towards goals!

Creating lasting friendships with people on the right track!

Stay on touch with those people – remain in touch with your friends! Some are going far! Your friends and classmates are going to do great things – be there with them and YOU do great things in life!

 Cannot keep up with everyone, but those that you believe in and who believe in you!

 Mentors – start finding mentors while young – people are willing to mentor you while you are young! Easier to find when young they will do everything to help you!!

Love and care for them too!! Scout leader, teacher, college professor, one boss that helps you when you are starting in life!  They will help and understand you!

Remind them what a difference they made in YOU!

 Sometimes later in life you will regret not letting someone help you. Let people help you – you cannot do it all alone in life!

 Finish goals in your life!  Try not to drop the balls and when ya do, pick them up and keep going!

 Do NOT be afraid to ask if you do not know something!!!

IMPORTANT – ask if ya do not know the answer!

 Learning is not always in the classroom! Get out and learn about life!

Always learn outside of the moment and what you are doing at the present time, do more than required!

 Learn how to canoe, a musical instrument or do something to enrich your life!

Add colors to your pallet – take a cooking class – learn cool things!

 From Tony Conway – successful booking agent in the music business:

Always double check the history of the company or the person you are going to do business with. Do not wait until you have entered into a deal. Also do not loan money to friends, and finally always follow your passion and the money will follow you.


 Victoria Shaw – hit songwriter - Wish I went to College and got that experience

 From my friend Eugene Napoleon – former WVU football star

 Hey Doak,

It’s always a blessing to have the opportunity to give something back. I have a few things to add.

I learned one of the most important aspects in life, is to always be honest with yourself, and others. Always respect yourself, and always show respect to others. If you can live with the following core qualities in life, your life will be successful: Have great character, strong morals, and values. Have great discipline, desire, determination, and a passion for whatever dreams, and goals you may have for the future.

My mother always told me to work hard, and always have a passion, a desire, and give God the glory for all of his many blessings. As always, my mother was right. I’ll leave you with my life’s creed:

“Opportunities and success are only obtained by those special individuals that inspire change.”

 Sheree Spoltore - I wish I would have had more faith and confidence in myself and my abilities.

 From my mom - Betty Goff:

Just remember, it’s not always the most outstanding and popular student who succeeds; the one who is more focused on reaching his goal (once he determines THAT goal) is the one who has the satisfaction that comes ONLY with a steadfast pace of accomplishing whatever brings peace of mind and realizing his dream has become a reality. And bear in mind, this doesn’t ALWAYS relate to money but more to the inner peace that one feels due to hard work and/or determination in reaching his goal.

Also, when we are young, we are going to make what some consider mistakes; in the end, mistakes are REALLY blessings in disguise; we learn from them and eventually hold them forever in our hearts and minds. They could be called ‘LESSONS WE LEARN FROM" because that is exactly what we do if we accept them for what they really are!

 From my friend Lisa Harless, very successful banker to the stars in Nashville:












 And in the words of Zig Ziglar – go to his website and subscribe to his blog, “In order to get what you want out of life, help others get what they want”!

 St. Albans Red Dragons are awesome , I expect GREAT THINGS from your class, now and in the future – we are in the room of great people that will do amazing things with their lives, I truly believe it looking around this room – you are awesome and I want you to do your best and know your dreams are possible!  

I have talked to your teachers and they tell me this is the brightest class they have seen in a long time and they really expect GREAT THINGS FROM YOU in the future! Those of you that do not know it – teachers can tell and all of you have the same opportunities for greatness – what is inside of you and how hard will you work and what will you give in life?? Attitude is Altitude!

 Ten powerful two letter words to remember in life:






StAlbansHighSchool #RedDragons #HighSchool

247 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All


bottom of page