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First Thoughts

This month is about celebrating. School is out (for almost all of you, at least), the neighborhood pool is open, and the gas prices are low. And with the Brexit, it's cheaper than ever to score a London getaway...

On a personal note, June was a really hectic month (irony noted) full of travel and so I spent more time reading actual books than online posts. As such, you are getting a DOUBLE DOSE of the Reader's Digest. And if you've talked to me much in the past couple of weeks, you'll find the second title familiar. Yeah, it's that good.

The overarching question this month is, "what are we celebrating?" I'm a firm believer that what we choose to celebrate affects the attitudes and behaviors of those around us. If we structure our classrooms to celebrate grit, we'll end up with 'grittier' students with a higher capacity for perseverance. If we celebrate giving and our willingness to contribute to others, we'll find ourselves immersed in an ecosystem of generosity. (John Spencer and AJ Juliani echo this towards the end of their new book, LAUNCH, which I also highly recommend.)

Celebrating is fun. It's inclusive, drawing more people in. But it's too rare. We don't need a reason to dance, we just need to decide that it's important.

Reader's Digest


Angela Duckworth


She was told by her father she was 'no genius' but peers in her field and the MacArthur Foundation disagree. What makes people successful? What do we need to know about what perseverance and how does it apply to our daily lives?


  • We are infatuated with 'natural' talent and grossly over-value attainment compared to productive struggle
  • When we identify someone as naturally gifted/talented (and less as a hard worker) we change our expectations of them
  • The four elements of grit are
    • Interest
    • (deliberate) Practice
    • Purpose
    • Hope
  • Gritty people engage in tough, deliberate practice and then experience flow during their performances. These are not mutually exclusive.
  • We should create environments of 'emotion-free mistake-making' to model (and celebrate) the kind of productive, gritty struggle we want to see in others

Key Quotes:

“As much as talent counts, effort counts twice."

"Talent x Effort = Skill
Skill x Effort = Achievement."

"There's a world of difference between imitation and emulation."

Reader's Digest 2

Give & Take

Adam Grant

There are three types of people in the world: Givers, Takers, & Matchers. Which are you? What about your boss? Do you know how to identify each? Can you really get ahead as someone who just gives all the time?



  • Most people that you work with are 'matchers.' They live quid-pro-quo and in a system of always exchanging favors. Givers don't keep score and Takers don't bother helping (unless they see how it helps them).
  • Takers are known for 'kissing up, kicking down.'
  • A 'genius' is often a taker while a 'genius-maker' is a giver. The former focuses on independence, the latter on interdependence.
  • Givers and Takers both pursue influence, but in very different ways. Takers by dominance and power. Givers by prestige & respect.
  • Givers burn out when their gifts are disconnected from an emotional connection. To rejuvenate, provide MORE (not less) opportunities for giving, but make sure traction and efficacy can be felt.
  • Givers have to guard against mistaking 'disagreeable' for 'taker.' Implement 'sincerity screening' to help discernment.
  • To create a culture of giving, make it transparent and accessible.

Key Quote:

"The art of advocacy is to lead you to my conclusion on your terms." - Dave Walton

"People often take because they don't realize they're deviating from the norm."


Just for fun:

Disclaimer: I'm not a parent. (Dogs don't count, right?) But I thought this was epic. I suppose this could fit the theme of 'celebration' somehow, but I'll leave that up to you. This dad was tired of his daughter's 'sexy selfies,' so he took matters into his own hands. And camera. (SFW)

H/T to Amanda, who is always looking for creative ways to discipline our dogs when they pee on the floor. I don't think we'll be recreating that, though...
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