SUCCESS Foundation: Goal-Driven

Taekwondo master Rich Brugger, a fourth-degree black belt, thinks of the martial arts as part of a journey toward self-improvement. He’s always seeking ways to help his students achieve goals, a quest that led him to the SUCCESS for Teens program funded through the SUCCESS Foundation. He first learned about SUCCESS for Teens through one of SUCCESS’s articles about the program.

“We really believe in using the martial arts as a vehicle for children to learn about self-esteem, self-control, self-discipline—and of course, setting and achieving goals for themselves, which is how I ended up getting tied in with SUCCESS for Teens,” Brugger  says.

Brugger purchased copies of the book that’s central to the program: SUCCESS for Teens: Real Teens Talk about Using the Slight Edge (student books and a facilitator’s guide are offered in printed and e-book formats; student books are also available on CD). Although the SUCCESS Foundation provides the books free to schools, churches and nonprofit youth-development associations, Brugger chose to buy copies because his company, Martial Arts for Life in New Providence, N.J., is a for-profit business. In fall 2013 he offered a free workshop to his teenage students and promised the book and pizza to participants.

Stories in SUCCESS for Teens are written in teenagers’ own words, and workshop participant Amba Parekh identified with Taylor, featured in Chapter 1, “Little Things Matter.” Taylor, 15, was a soccer player who disliked running. When Taylor’s coach started her team on running drills, she resisted and didn’t run every day. But Taylor noticed that players who ran regularly played better and longer. Soon she was running daily—even when she didn’t really want to—because it improved her skills and helped her team.

“Taylor’s story touched me the most because I play soccer and absolutely love it,” says Amba, 13. “I understand how important running is to the sport. Reading Taylor’s story made me realize that it is very true that ‘small actions compound over time’ [a lesson in the book], because I have experienced this myself.

“I have been reading SUCCESS for Teens since I got it at the workshop, and I believe it can help me in everything I do. I love the Action Steps throughout the book and the concept that someday never comes—that actions have to be taken today, right now, if we want to see results.”

Brugger was pleased with his workshop, which emphasized parts of the book relating to goal-setting, and hopes to make SUCCESS for Teens a regular component of the Martial Arts for Life program.

“It gave them an opportunity to think about some things they might like to do—really big goals for themselves in the future,” he says. “My hope is that they won’t just have come to the workshop, but they’ll read the book and do the rest of the exercises that are recommended.”

Contact the SUCCESS Foundation at [email protected] for more information about the SUCCESS for Teens program or to make a tax-deductible contribution to it. If you are a leader using the program or a donor, email the foundation to be profiled in a future column.


Betsy Simnacher is a freelance writer who has been published in numerous newspapers and magazines nationwide. She lives in the suburbs of Dallas.

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