Our antiquated ways of schooling are failing our kids. We have a linear perception of the path to education: Get good grades in high school, get into a good college, graduate, and get a good job. What’s forgotten by parents, students, and teachers is that education isn’t about grades, though disciplined effort is essential; it’s about growth. It’s about learning skills, tenacity, advanced ways of thinking, and finding the wisdom and creativity that make you come alive.
Our education system has forgotten that the goal is human optimization, inspiration, growth, and eventual contribution to society. Training physical and mental strength is ignored, despite its integral connection to academics.
Our linear mindset for education has become a network of dead ends. Grade inflation has watered down many classes to the point where only AP tracks adequately prepare students for college. And getting there isn’t the clear path to success that it once was. Thanks to technology, access to information is free and almost infinite, yet the cost of a degree skyrocketed, even as the degrees themselves are worth less than ever. Students rack up tremendous debt just to find that undergraduate degrees are a dime a dozen.
It’s clear that there is room for improvement in these systems. A return to a model closer to apprenticeship seems possible and attractive. To create an inspired, healthy future will require open minds and different ways of thinking. Before the methods, however, we must clarify the values that might inspire great lives.
What Can We Learn From the Successful?
Are we truly satisfied with the uninspired malaise, the physical and mental lethargy, the over-stressed rat race, and the nagging feeling of being meant for more than the cultural norm? Love him or hate him, Tony Robbins does not believe in mediocre living. He seeks intelligent approaches to common issues, and systematizes the methods of masters. In Money: Master the Game, Tony writes:
“Most people don’t have decades of sustained love and passion in their intimate relationships, nor do they experience ongoing gratitude and joy…. There are even fewer who start with little or nothing and become financially free. But a few do! … I have studied the few who do versus the many who talk.”
The position and power of our education system has made it the foremost authority in human development. But to do the job right requires development of intellect, body, emotion, purpose, and passion. It requires an understanding of the interconnectedness between all these arenas and their collective and individual contributions toward human development. While we may not find this in our current systems, it exists, and its time that a path to this system of education is offered.
The Guiding Values of the Thriving Hero
There is an immense opportunity in the United States for education reform that will produce a system that trains the mind and body for optimal development of the whole human. To this point, few resources in this vein are available for parental guidance, and little vision or alternative curriculum has been offered to educators.
My goal over the next few months is to provide the essential curriculum to produce a values-driven, inspired, and vibrant culture. At the backbone of this curriculum and all its lessons and experiences are clearly defined values that will guide all our training and give clarity to the path of a thriving hero. A commitment to these values and their principles are the key to creating empowered citizens who seek growth and contribution. This is the framework upon which we can build an inspired culture. These values are what constitute the bold in spirit
The Guiding Values of the Thriving Hero: Natural Harmony
This is a balanced approach to life, with emphasis on living in accordance with our nature. We all need active time in nature, space to think, mental stimulation, social connection, and play. This value is paying attention to connection between mind, body, and nature. Learning best occurs within a healthy, active body, and within an emotionally balanced mind.
Behaving in a human way entails human movements, embracing novel challenges, and eating real foods as nature intended for our body’s nourishment. This value seeks to shed the unnatural habits built from our attempts to create greater ease. Our pursuit of perpetual comfort has come at the expense of remaining balanced, human, and connected to our own innate path.
A harmonious, balanced person must practice quieting the ego, ignoring conditioned responses, and getting to know one’s self and what makes you come alive. As our perceptions of events change, our intuition can lead us to thrive. Our mental exploration will develop heightened awareness, as we bring our attention to the human condition. We’ll develop our own habits and empathize better with others. I believe these are at the heart of our human yearning; most notably, the need for love and contribution.
The Guiding Values of the Thriving Hero: Creativity
When we can silence the mind and get in touch with our natural inclinations; when we find balance and play; we’ll find a world of possibility opens up. We’ll seamlessly integrate multiple interests to create boundless expressions of ourselves and the great work we’re meant to do. As we shed the expectations we bring to each event, we’ll find ourselves open to the infinite opportunities presented in each challenge.
By reducing the clutter of the mind, we will react with more speed and accuracy. By training optimism, we’ll see more possibility. By chasing passions, our imaginations will light up. Through being open to human connection, we’ll be able to benefit from the differing perspectives of others. Through 3-dimensional movement and play, we’ll be able to dream of a world outside the box.
The Guiding Values of the Thriving Hero: Strength
Have I lost you yet? It gets less frou-frou, I promise! Here’s where we get to my “Clint Eastwood” side.
Strength is an empowered mindset, confidence to chase dreams, dogged tenacity to persevere, commitment to truth and principles, and a relentless pursuit of growth and education. Strength implies growth, as we are always either growing or dying. Strength is also a component of toughness and resilience. We cannot ignore the tendency of the world to be harsh and unfair. Toughness is necessary for the inspired life. Without it, a toxic, victim mentality develops, and we destroy ourselves with our self-pity.
While a rigid value on its face, strength works in concert with creativity and natural harmony. It’s not enough to reconnect with nature, if we cannot use that to stand up and make a better world. Strength is itself a force of nature.
To harness and build our strength, we must train our bodies. Physical training is an essential practice to develop strength not only of body, but of will, discipline, and the physical mastery necessary to thrive.
The Guiding Values of the Thriving Hero: Integrity
If we are to contribute to the world, we must stand for what we believe. A code of ethics that extends from one’s true beliefs is essential to having purpose in life. Today’s world is characterized by a moral relativism that brings great angst. It’s allowed gradual concessions that, over time, have led to massive erosion of our culture.
Aristotle once said, “say nothing, do nothing, be nothing.” The hero’s path is not always celebrated. To stand for something, you’ll have to be willing to piss some people off. You may be fixing a significant issue, but likely someone profited from whatever caused that issue. This does not mean poking the bear or looking for a fight. However, a great and happy life are lived intentionally, and in concert with one’s values.
Our society has lost its ability to develop a code. Vibrant education insists upon a constantly evolving code—not a rigid, stifling list of rules, but an understanding of what we innately believe and what stirs us to stand up and push forth. Compromise is essential in a world that works and grows together. For that vision, we need less dogma and more earnest efforts to grow and listen. But a code of ethics prevents compromise from sliding into an embrace of toxicity and selfishness. It creates clarity, inspiration, and direction to fight against the morally bankrupt.
The Guiding Values of the Thriving Hero: Passion
If we boldly live in accordance with the previous values, passion is a near certainty. It extends naturally from harmony, strength, and integrity. It is codependent upon creativity. To live passionately is to live optimistically, believing in your own ability to create great change. It’s not the delusion that everything will work itself out, but a growth mindset that we can create an inspired life. Setbacks can and will occur, but resolve and approach will not waver.
Passion is contagious. It breathes possibility and excitement into all it encounters. It creates possibility and appreciation where most would find little.
Education Needs a New Purpose
So much of our education system is geared toward seeking a degree, a grade, a result. We want to get to our end goal with as little resistance as possible. Inspired education requires a recalibration of the purpose of education.
Why do you pay for personal training, a sports psychologist, or a self-help book? There is nothing of greater value than investing in you. Great training offers the opportunity to save a lifetime of troubles with ineffective or counterproductive methods. It can save us thousands of dollars on medical bills. Great lessons might trigger the vision necessary to start a multi-million-dollar business, or create a charity with endless impact.
An inspired education system can deepen our cultural understanding of the human condition and our ability to connect with those around us. It might open our eyes to an understanding of mental health, and allow for stronger and deeper relationships. Education driven by the values above can help create the dialogue necessary to fix all of our modern challenges, and to enrich all our life experiences with gratitude, positivity, and possibility.
Shouldn’t the goal of education be to leave kids with essentials skills, thought processes, and structures to thrive in every aspect of life? I believe in the power of ideas. I believe education is not simply a list of boxes to be checked off. Education should open up a world of possibilities and open us up to a life of thriving, not merely existing. Ideas, concepts, ways of perceiving and reacting, habits, mindsets, skills—these have the opportunity to revolutionize our lives.
If we educate the mind and skip the body, we’re only helping half the person: