Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11   Entries 16-20 of 52
August 27, 2015, 2:14 PM

Four Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset in Students

August 25, 2015 — 

Some years ago, Dr. Carol Dweck wrote a book called Mindset. It was based on her research at Columbia University, where she and her team discovered what was preventing students from really achieving their potential. This has special application for today’s coaches, educators, employers, and parents.

In a single phrase, it was a “fixed mindset” versus a “growth mindset.”

We were privileged to hear from Carol Dweck at this year’s National Leadership Forum that we hosted in Atlanta. She reminded us that both students and adults can be guilty of falling into the trap of thinking with a fixed mindset.

What does that mean, you say?

A “fixed mindset” believes that you are what you are, and you really can’t grow or change much in life. This person makes statements like:


  • “Well, I’m just not good at math.”

  • “I just can’t learn to throw a slider.”

  • “I’ve never been good at setting picks.”

  • “I just don’t remember names well.”

    As adults, we find this mindset lingering, moving us to say:

  • “I can’t ever seem to balance the checkbook.”

  • “I just can’t lose weight.”

  • “I’m not very good at starting conversations with players.”

  • “I’m not a good leader.”

    Dr. Dweck says that kind of thinking can stunt our growth.

    Instead, she advocates a “growth mindset.” This thinking assumes that while some issues are tougher than others for each of us, we all can grow; and given enough effort, we can fair far better than we ever imagined by just thinking correctly about our lives. The growth mindset is not a lesson in futility. It doesn’t mean we live in denial. It simply refuses to believe in a fate that is thrust upon us that we have no choice about. If I am not good at math today, I am not destined to be poor at math forever. This is not my identity.

Four Ways to Build a Growth Mindset

After talking with Dr. Dweck on the Stanford University campus, I asked her about developing a growth mindset. How can both adults and students build one? Let me offer four simple steps below.

1. Believe that your brain works like a muscle.

Through the right training, our brains can be developed, just like a muscle in a fitness center. When we view our brains this way, we stop hiding behind excuses and get honest: If we’re not changing, it’s because we’re lazy. There are specific tasks or exercises you can perform to expand your brain in areas you felt were impossible to develop.

2. Use the word “yet.”

It’s okay to be honest about your challenges, but insert the word “yet” into your affirmations: I am not good at math… yet. I am not great at spelling…. yet. I am not a good dancer… yet. I am not good at shooting free throws… yet. Dr. Dweck believes this single word, while it isn’t magic, can transform the way we view our problems. Our current condition isn’t good, but we are in route towards progress. The word actually fosters the idea that we are growing and improving.

3. Affirm variables that are in our control.

Too many parents and teachers unwittingly affirm attributes that are out of our student’s control. We say things like, “You’re smart. You’re beautiful. You’re gifted.” There is nothing inherently wrong with these phrases, but Dweck’s research tells us it causes students to stop working hard. They say things like: “Well, if I’m so smart, I shouldn’t have to try so hard!” Instead, we must affirm variables that are in their control: “I love the strategy you used on that problem. I love your work ethic in practice. I love how honest you are with your friends. I love how hard you tried.” When we affirm effort, which is in their control, we tend to get more effort.

4. Surround yourself with “growth mindset” people.

People will grow into the conversations (and people) they have around them. You will become more and more like the people you have around you. Obviously, we can’t control every interaction we have with people, but we can choose our inner circle. Growing people determine to surround themselves with growth mindset people, who become contagious with others. You will reflect the books you read and the people you position next to you.

Both adults and kids can fall into the trap of fixed mindsets. We get stuck in old patterns and routines and become lazy when it comes to risk and growth. We make excuses as to why we can’t change or grow or make a difference. This prevents us from becoming who we’re capable of becoming. I read recently that women from one of the poorest slums of Uganda, earning less than a dollar a day, raised over $1,000 for the victims of Hurricane Katrina. Wow. Here’s to cultivating a growth mindset this year as you teach and lead your students.

August 21, 2015, 11:51 AM

Two Vital Qualities Your Students Need From You

Two Vital Qualities Your Students Need From You

As we enter a new school year, may I offer a simple reminder? Your students need you to lead them clearly and wisely. I believe doing this requires a balancing act. Armchair quarterbacks shout from the sidelines, but few get involved in the hard stuff of this balancing act. This is why good parents are harder to find today, as so many seem to have low self-awareness on this issue. One report said the majority of moms and dads today give themselves an A or a B in their parenting skills, but they give other parents a D or an F. This is also why great staff or faculty can be rare, as this leadership approach requires two seemingly opposite qualities.

Your Balancing Act

Leading students well depends on the timing of your actions and your leadership style. What an adolescent needs is an adult (parent, teacher, coach, employer, pastor or leader) who makes appropriate demands and sets appropriate standards for them in a responsive environment of belief and concern. In short, they need adults to display a balance of two characteristics—they need them to be both responsive and demanding.

  1. Responsive: to display acceptance, support and belief; to be attentive to them.
  2. Demanding: to establish standards and hold students accountable to them.

Psychologist Diana Baumrind speaks of these characteristics in her groundbreaking writing and suggests that adults with too little or too much result in these scenarios:

  1. Permissive – Too much responsiveness with too little demands.
  2. Authoritarian – Too many demands with too little responsiveness.
  3. Uninvolved – Virtually no responsiveness and no demands.
  4. Authoritative – Responsiveness is matched with appropriate demands.

We’ve all seen it — teens who act like immature brats because teachers or parents have failed to hold them to standards of behavior. On the other hand, we’ve all seen the pitiful scenario where students live in fear because adults have pressured them to perform… but never communicated grace and support. They need a balance.

Case Study: Jonathan

My son is 23-years-old. As a teen, he grew interested in the entertainment industry. As a parent, I wanted to stoke his passion, but I also wanted to help him mature at the same time. At 16, he came to me with the idea of moving out to Hollywood for a few months. We talked it over and concluded his mother would move out with him under these conditions:

  • He would assume responsibility for half of all the expenses.
  • Any auditions that turned into income would pay back his loan.
  • He would pay for half of the car he would need to eventually buy.
  • He would pay for any accidents he had that didn’t require insurance.
  • He would pay for fuel he used, and we would pay for insurance.

It was an incredible time of maturing, as he took on autonomy and responsibility.

Case Study: Nick

David is a friend of mine whose 12-year-old son wanted an iPod. The particular one Nick wanted was in limited supply, and he was afraid it would sell out before he had the money to buy it. David performed a wonderful balancing act with Nick. He bought the iPod, then said to his son, “I will hold onto it until you earn the money to purchase it from me. If I give it to you now to enjoy, you’ll have no incentive to pay it off, and you won’t appreciate it as much.” Six months ago, my friend handed the iPod to his son. It was fully paid for by a grateful teenager.

Stop and reflect on this reality for a moment, described by authors Joseph Allen and Claudia Worrell Allen in their book Escaping the Endless Adolescence:

Generations ago, 14-year-olds used to drive, 17-year olds led armies, and average teens contributed labor and income to help keep their families afloat. While facing other problems, those teens displayed adult-like maturity far more quickly than today’s, who are remarkably well-kept but cut off from most of the responsibility, work and growth-producing feedback of the adult world.

Here’s the troubling report on today’s kids. One major nationwide study showed that the desire to leave home and live on one’s own has steadily increased. Unfortunately, this is not at all an eagerness to assume adult responsibilities, for at the same time, high school seniors are more and more likely to say that they “feel hesitant about taking a full-time job and becoming part of the ‘adult’ world.” Indeed, although eagerness to leave home is consistently higher, we see a similar trend. They express a proportionate decline in readiness to actually “be” an adult. (The hesitation about becoming an adult is not simply a result of more students planning to attend college, for the trend holds both for college-bound and non-college-bound students.) Thus, students increasingly anticipate a period of living on their own before taking on adult responsibilities.

There’s no doubt that every kid grows up at a different pace. This is why adults must be responsive and demanding — whether it’s a college student or a secondary school student, we must time what we say and do appropriately. I believe we earn the right to be demanding by first being responsive to them. Remember, our job is to prepare the child for the path, not the path for the child.

A Case Study

I have a friend who’s balanced this well for years with his five children. His son, Bryson, made the varsity basketball team his freshman year of high school. We all got excited for him—that’s quite a feat for a 14-year-old kid. Four weeks into the season, however, Bryson approached his dad and said he planned to quit the team. He was spending all his time on the bench and it wasn’t as fun as he expected.

“Son,” my friend responded as they sat down in their family room, “I am so sorry you are having to sit on the bench and watch the games instead of playing. I know you were hoping to show your talent to the coach and team, and I’m sure it’s not fun sitting idle at the end of the bench.” Then he paused. “But, I can’t let you quit the team. You see, you took someone else’s spot when you made the team. You need to finish what you started. Commitments are not always fun, and I expect you to cheer your teammates on and encourage every one of them through the entire season. After its over, you don’t have to go out for the team next season—but I’m requiring you to finish this one.”

His son has thanked him many times since. That’s what I call a perfect balancing act.

May 5, 2015, 11:31 AM

Choose to Be Changed

Are we there yet?”  “I’m bored.”  “John touched me.”  “Jill’s not sharing.” “I hate…”  “This stinks…”

Oh, the conversations in the back of the minivan—especially when you’ve been on the road for several hours and everyone is a little tired and could use a hug.  Sometimes you feel compelled as a parent to shout, “DON’T MAKE ME PULL THIS CAR OVER.”  It’s May and we’ve been in this school car for 9 &1/2 months.  Doing life together is not always easy or fun.  Sometimes it’s plain old hard work.  Sometimes you want to look at your kids, your school, your life in general, and say “I love you, I just don’t like you very much right now.” 

When we are tired and irritable and find ourselves getting short with those we love, we need to take pause and give our relationships a tune up like Paul speaks of in Colossians 3:12-14:

12 Since God chose you to be the holy people he loves, you must clothe yourselves with tenderhearted mercy, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. 13 Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember, the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others. 14 Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds us all together in perfect harmony.

We must choose to be changed.  We must choose to be the mighty duck and let things roll off our back and choose to “clothe” ourselves with Christ’s love.  The key word here is CHOOSE.  Choose to be grateful over being grumpy.  Choose to be thankful over throwing tantrums.  Choose to be selfless over being selfish. Choose to love over lashing out.

We can’t control others, but we can exercise self-control.  It’s a fruit of God’s Holy Spirit working within us (GAL. 5:22, 23). As we approach the end of the year and get ready to land this plane, let’s choose—choose to be changed. 

Shaping Hearts & Minds,

Dr. Chris

March 24, 2015, 10:05 AM

Making the Most of Easter

Holiday.  The word actually is a shortening of “holy day.” To be holy means to be “set apart.”  The church from its inception has always set apart certain days, and acknowledged them as “holy,” so we can take in the amazing, redemptive love story of what God did through Jesus Christ to rescue His people and restore us back to right relationship with Him.   The Bible tells us in 2 Corinthians 5: 19-21 (NLT):

19 For God was in Christ, reconciling the world to himself, no longer counting people’s sins against them. And he gave us this wonderful message of reconciliation. 20 So we are Christ’s ambassadors; God is making his appeal through us. We speak for Christ when we plead, “Come back to God!” 21 For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.

As the Easter holiday approaches, I encourage you to make this year different.  Yes, we will have all the festivities, egg hunts, chocolate, and family get-togethers.  In addition to that, make it a point to share with your family the Easter story.  A great place to start is any of the gospels and read the last few chapters that cover the events of the last week of His life.  Discuss with your family why Jesus came, why He willingly laid down His life as a sacrifice for our sins, and the awesome news that He has risen from the grave and conquered sin and death.  Share with them importance of embracing God’s free gift of salvation through faith in Jesus Christ.  Underscore why we must each choose to follow Christ on a daily basis.  We must help our kids internalize God’s love for them.

Faith grows as we hear the word of God and act upon it.  Let’s make this Easter season a meaningful time in our families spiritual lives.  Most churches will have services on Thursday, Friday & Sunday.  Make it a point to attend as a family.  May the Lord bless you and your family.

Shaping hearts and minds,

Dr. Chris


February 17, 2015, 9:01 AM

Seven Crippling Parent Behaviors

All the wisdom and love in the world doesn’t necessarily protect us from parenting in ways that hold our children back from thriving, gaining independence and becoming the leaders they have the potential to be. Sometimes in our efforts to provide and protect, we are actually hindering our kids from becoming the leaders God created them to be.  In the words of Dr. Tim Elmore, “Care enough to train them [our kids], not merely treat them to a good life. Coach them, more than coddle them.” I encourage you to read the short article, by clicking on the link:  

7 Damaging Parenting Behaviors

  1. We don’t let our children experience risk.

  2. We rescue too quickly.

  3. We rave too easily.

  4. We let guilt get in the way of leading well.

  5. We don’t share our past mistakes.

  6. We mistake intelligence, giftedness and influence for maturity.

  7. We don’t practice what we preach.

How can parents move away from these negative behaviors (without having to hire a family therapist to help)?

Here’s a start:

  1. Talk over the issues you wish you would’ve known about adulthood.

  2. Allow them to attempt things that stretch them and even let them fail.

  3. Discuss future consequences if they fail to master certain disciplines.

  4. Aid them in matching their strengths to real-world problems.

  5. Furnish projects that require patience, so they learn to delay gratification.

  6. Teach them that life is about choices and trade-offs; they can’t do everything.

  7. Initiate (or simulate) adult tasks like paying bills or making business deals.

  8. Introduce them to potential mentors from your network.

  9. Help them envision a fulfilling future, and then discuss the steps to get there.

  10. Celebrate progress they make toward autonomy and responsibility.

Again, I encourage you to read the brief article.  From my 21 years of experience in Post-Secondary and K-12 education, I can tell you Dr. Elmore’s words are right on.    



Page 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11   Entries 16-20 of 52