100 Day Mindset Challenge

I’m obsessed with the potential of mindsets on human performance and potential. No… not the singular notion of “growth” mindset but rather the various mindsets we cultivated through experiences, skill development, and disposition frameworks. 

Born from this passion is an idea to challenge my kids over the next 100 days to dive a bit more deeply into their mindsets. 


I leave my children a note each day that is food for their development. This has shown to significantly mold their thinking and actions. However, I wanted to simplify and amplify this in a bit of a different way. Thus, the 100 day challenge.

  • Each day, I will leave them a baseball card that was created from a meaningful Instagram post focused on mindsets
  • Each baseball card has the Instagram post on one side and a challenge on the opposite
  • On the challenge side, there is room for their thoughts and determined action
  • Over the 100 days, they will have 100 challenges added to their ring along with their thoughts.
  • For the remaining 265 days of this year, they will work on those challenges by randomly or purposefully selecting a card daily.

Youth and Social Media: Shifting Mindsets

This past week I say on panel on social media and today’s youth. The panel immediately followed an an opening presentation by two speakers.

What was supposed to be “Understanding Social Media in Your Child’s World” turned quickly to what I often fear in these forums: Us vs. Them.

  1. Track
  2. Follow
  3. Oversee 
  4. Protect
  5. Block

And on and on with a tone that kids are ignorant of how to operate online and unable to make good decisions online all while there are evils awaiting them at each turn.

And while everyone was coming from a place of caring and desire to create the best conditions for kids, I’m fearful of the message that families took away.

My Take

I am not an expert. I don’t see all the evils that law enforcement encounter daily. And honestly, I’m not sure my message which was considerably different than anyone else resonated. But here it is in bite sizes

  1. There is a knowing-doing gap. Research tells us that kids can tell you how to act online, how to keep themselves save, and what to do when there are problems. However, they still make mistakes frequently.
  2. But… This isn’t a tween or teen issue. It is a societal issue. Adults are perhaps worse citizens online than children
  3. Historically, we have banned it then we tried scare tactics before saying we need to educate these kids. Education was “we know you don’t” before than gave way to “maybe they know more than us”. All of these approaches failed to some degree.
  4. Today, what is working is good parenting and good relationships in schools. Let’s embrace this together: explore, learn, and use social media together. It is part of a larger conversation about life than absolutes that governed early attempts
  5. We need to evolve the conversation beyond just Embracing together this journey into three key areas: Mindfulness, Mindsets, and Development of Self.
  6.  We need to know that all humans make mistakes when the emotions of the moment overtake the mindfulness that yields the ability to pay attention and process before action. Teaching mindfulness is key
  7. We need to know that a community mindset builds empathy, leadership, and connection. This frame of community makes us all aware and interested in the best possible things for people. It is human centric at the core.
  8. Knowing our self and developing the best version of that self is at the core. We spend far too much time on content that never yields growth beyond the surface intellectual. 
  9. We are so focused on catching them and assuming wrong doing that we sacrifice relationships, trust, and hope. Engage with your child in the ethical dilemmas we all face and be a positive model in a world full of adult models leading youth towards anger, tension, and meanness 
  10. Remember that right now digital distraction and lack of life focus is the greater concern. Lost in the intoxication of online and keeping up with the Jones is crushing the spirit of adults and youths alike. Mindful. This is the key

Notes to My Kids… Or Mindset Work.

Most mornings, my kids will find a note from me: thoughts, questions, and challenges. 

How did this start? Why did this start? When do you find the time to write these? How do you come up with these? 

Because I post many of these to my Instagram account, I get a lot of these questions so here you go:

How and Why Did This Start?

Honestly, it started from my failure as a father. Because I was not seeing my children in the morning and then at times not at all, I was not engaging in the meaningful conversations with them that I value. As a morning person and someone that thinks the entire time of the day is set within 60 minutes of rising, I became frustrated with myself as a father.

Like all things that disturb me, I go to work on them. I tried a few things that failed miserably: calling each morning, kissing them goodbye, and so forth.

But then a former student contacted me about how he was using two things from my time as an English teacher: BOHA and StoryLab. He, of course, has made them considerably better and more meaningful but he also sparked in me that, “duh… Why am I not doing this with my children.”

When do you find the time to write these? 

I write these all the time

  1. when the thoughts of my children emerge. The story in my head is often most readily connected with pieces that need to be cultivated. These tend to be reflective.
  2. when doing light cardio at the gym. My head is often clear and focused so I can be concise. These tend to be rather intense!
  3. when reading books and articles. These tend to be deep and inquisitive.
  4. and often at random times. These tend to be emotional.

In other words, I write a lot and on any random scrap of paper or phone app. I don’t tend to edit or revise; I keep it raw. 

How do you come up with these?

Experiences and my daily work on cultivating a better me. These are deeply personal and deeply raw, but I am wanting my children to be comfortable with chaos, emotions, growth, and vulnerability. This is a way to model.

Some might say they are too young or not cognitively ready. I’d argue this is the perfect time and example upon example shows me this mindset work is growing them in deeply profound ways.

Why Improv Creates Creative Chaos  for a Compassion Classroom

When I think about why I find it so valuable to bring improvisation to the classroom even to the point that I commit time during new teacher orientation week, it is about aligning our actions with our stated beliefs. Too many times, we talk at our teachers about things we believe but we never help shift them to action nor do we ourselves model those aspects.

Improv is a lever that provides pragmatic strategies, philosophical belief growth, and organizational values grounding.

  1. Mindsets
  2. Mindfulness, Mind-Body-Heart
  3. Courage – Creativity – Community
  4. Play, Fun, and Happiness
  5. Engagement and Movement
  6. Voice and choice 
  7. Growth minded
  8. Risk-taking
  9. Empathy 
  10. Agility, Assessment, and Reflection

These are just a few of the themes that emerged from working with teachers on improv. And many of these themes are what we say we want and believe to be important in the classroom. Improv work allows us to discuss these themes in pragmatic ways that make these deeply philosophical topics more digestible with ways to shape the classroom immediately.

Today, a partner and I continue our journey of reimagining learning and teaching using out of box, “noneducation” ways to approach key themes. Improv was one catalyst that evoked conversations in the aforementioned areas at an empathic, thoughtful way unlike years of conversation that seem surface levels.

Ideas flew at the end of how to use improv for all of the above BUT also the experience pushed them to reimagine practices that were counter to deep learning experiences.

Rethink. Reimagine. Get beyond education to create a new education!

Am I Selfish?

Am I selfish?

(of a person, action, or motive) lacking consideration for others; concerned chiefly with one’s own personal profit or pleasure.

To answer the question, one must ask whether selfish is about intent and outcome or just about one’s actions.

For example, am I selfish because I devote 2-3 hours a day to the gym? If one is looking at it purely from an action point of view, one could reasonably argue that I’m selfish given that I have children and a profession. On the other hand, one could look at the intent and mindset behind my 2-3 hours a day in the gym not merely the act of going to the gym. That would, undoubtedly, yield a different view.

But selfish is often a label placed upon people like me. What is a person like me? I’m a person who…

  • is all in or all out – no in between
  • feels dead inside when he isn’t challenged
  • thrives on change and evolving
  • takes risks and fails forward
  • seeks the horizon, dreams wildly, and lives in the clouds
  • fears complacency and
  • play and lives on the edge
  • longs for adventure, the new, and the extraordinary
  • abandons things quickly if they aren’t moving him forward, bringing him growth, or maximizing his ability to #livelaughlove to the greatest degree
  • loathes normalcy and believes he is destined for anything but average
  • chases dreams and cultivates his vision at the expense of nearly anything
  • connects with many people but intimately surrounds himself with but a few, extremely passionate people
  • intolerant of people who embrace stagnation and defend status quo

Egocentric? Selfish? Self-Centered? Before you answer that, let me pose this…

I model for my children and those in my life a growth mindset. I model a constant movement towards a better me. I model a life of passion and dreams. I am creative and innovative yet know I have many flaws – I simply choose to work on making my strengths so much stronger that my weaknesses are minimized.

But I see person after person who model for their children and those around them a fixed mindset. How they look, behave, and function today is what they will be 5, 10, 20 years from now. They don’t change. They don’t evolve. They’ve stopped growing. They’ve stopped dreaming. They live day to day as a checklist not a vision list. They wake walk. Are they happy? Maybe. Not for me to judge.

So back to Am I selfish. The real question is who is selfish? The person showing a life of growth or a life of stagnation? I was once told that “by doing what you love, you inspire and awaken the hearts of others.” Those that are stagnant aren’t doing what they love. They are operating from fear, safety, and complacency. How is that a model for anyone? If I’m inspiring and awakening a fire in my children, students, and those I’m blessed to cross paths with in life, then I’ll take this brilliant label of selfish oft cast upon me.

And ultimately, perhaps there is a larger question: why the negative connotation with the word selfish?

Three Choices 

Life’s moments can be simplified down to three choices. With any moment, one can…

  1. Give up. 
  2. Give in. 
  3. Give it everything. 

It comes down to beliefs, heart, and passion. In other words, our way of looking at life, our mindsets.

And that is just it. We must overcome our number one obstacle: our mind. Otherwise, fear, excuses, and paralysis govern decision making.