Showing Posts from: Personal


Some Kids Don’t Need “Grit;” They Need Healing

In education circles, there is a lot of talk about "Grit" and having a "Growth Mindset" these days.  There are a lot of admistrators and teachers convinced that their kids need to have more "grit." Angela Duckworth, the main proponent of “Grit," defines grit as "passion and perseverance for very long term goals." In other words, grit is passion and perseverance over a long period of time to achieve one’s goals. According to this definition, grit is specifically related to the achievement of goals.

During my presentation, "The Power of One," I sometimes talk about some of the trauma of my past, and assert, "sometimes kids don't need grit; they need healing." Well, recently, a very nice principal pulled me aside and respectfully challenged my thinking about grit. He said, "Manny, it takes grit to heal.”  His statement challenged me to clarify my thinking about the relationship between grit and healing.

Here are my brief thoughts on the matter. 

While I certainly agree that in order to achieve goals in school, work and life, students must develop "grit" (passion and perseverance over the long haul), I am convinced that several students have been so traumatized, victimized, and hurt that it is impossible for them to think about goals related to school, work, or life. For many of them, it is nearly impossible for them to even fathom “the long haul.” I used to really believe that I would be dead or in jail before I was 18 years old.  Many students are just trying make it through the night and don’t even have the capacity to see beyond their current circumstances. Many of them are trying to figure out how they are going to make it through the sexual abuse they are about to experience tonight.  Many of them are grieving over the loss of their best friend who just committed suicide yesterday. Some can’t get past the trauma of seeing their mother’s brains blown out with a shotgun and having to clean the brain and skull fragments off of their faces while cradling their dead mother in their arms. I could go on and on with stories like this.  For those kids, I am convinced that it is not grit that they need, but healing (through therapy or counseling or journaling or some other means of support). I believe it is therapy or counseling that helps traumatized people heal enough to even begin setting goals and dreaming big. It is counseling and therapy that gives them the skills to persevere, and frees them to find their passions. It is healing that frees people to develop grit.

So, my contention is that it does not “ take grit to heal,” but rather it takes “healing (or therapy) to have grit,” or, put another way, “grit is improbable without healing.” I believe healing should/must precede grit for many traumatized, victimized children. To be sure, I have certainly had to have grit to overcome many of the obstacles of my past to achieve the level of success I now enjoy.  I have had to have grit to become the first person in my family to graduate from high school. I had to have grit to graduate from college and graduate school. I had to have grit to learn how to fly planes. I have had to have grit to become the faithful husband and loving father I am today. I have had to have grit to grow my education consulting/speaking business.

From my experience, however, if it had not been for God and loving adults (pastors, teachers, counselors, coaches) who came into my life to help me heal from my hurts, I have no doubt that I would have been dead or in jail. My healing PRECEDED my grit. My healing freed me to have grit. My healing freed me to dream big and and set goals, and to develop the passion and perseverance to achieve those goals and dreams.  So yes, while I have no doubt that grit is an indispensable part of achievement and personal growth, healing, in my opinion, is the foundation upon which grit is built. 

So, I end where I began: Some students don't need grit; they need healing.

What do you think? 

Flying 7 Continents Solo

I just finished reading Flying 7 Continents Solo, by Harry R. Anderson. He is only the fifth pilot to fly solo in a single-engine aircraft to all seven continents.  Because it’s my dream to fly my family around the world, I read the book to get some perspective and insight from someone who has flown himself around the world in small airplane.

This was the first part of his route (The second (and third) part of his journey included flights from Washington State to Antarctica and back. But because I don’t plan on flying to Antarctica any time soon, I have excluded that part of his journey from this post):


(Harry R. Anderson’s Itinerary)

For the above trip, Harry flew his small airplane, a Lancair Columbia (averages 165 knots), nearly 25,000 miles in 164 days (although he hung out in the U.K. for 81 days to hang out with old friends). In all, he said such a trip would require about $50,000 and 3 months to complete.

Harry has a PhD in engineering and is an entrepreneur. So I appreciated his perspective on many levels.  His scientific orientation undoubtedly helped him to describe his journey with great detail. The book contains an appendix with several spreadsheets, aviation terms, and enumerated procedures on how to get permission to fly into, out of, or over particular countries.

English is the standard language for aviation communication around the world. So Harry didn't have too many troubles communicating with air traffic controllers.  There were a few instances in India and South America where local controllers spoke little to no English, but he was able to understand just enough to complete his flights. 

Also, while Harry seemed to have a great time flying himself around the world, I couldn’t help but wonder if he was lonely during the trip. He is not married and I don’t think he mentioned having any children.  For my trip, I don’t want to do it alone. I want to take my family with me.  As a family, we have already visited 48 states, backpacked through Western Europe, Visited Japan, China, and Australia. Because that is our rhythm, I couldn’t see myself trying to take a trip around the world without my family.

One other thing about Harry’s trip that is different from the one I am dreaming about is that he pretty much avoids the whole continent of Africa. Being of African descent, I cannot see myself flying us around the world without visiting several countries in Africa. I know it will add significantly to length and cost of our journey, but for us, Africa is an inescapable must for our itinerary. 

To make such a trip, we would definitely need a bigger, faster, stronger airplane.  Right now, we can fly about 750 miles per tank, but I would want to be able to fly at least 1000 nautical miles per tank. I would also need a plane that can carry more weight. Right now, fully fueled, we can carry a little over 900 pounds (people and luggage).  For our flight, however, I would like a plane that can hold more than 1,000 pounds. Ideally, it will have a payload of more than 1,300 pounds.  Given those requirements, I would probably need to invest in a Beechcraft Queen Air with an Excalibur Conversion.  Another consideration involves the speed and service ceiling of the plane.  During his trip, Harry encountered some icing on his wings, often at about 11,000 feet. Without de-icing equipment, he couldn’t fly in or above the icing layers, so he had to descend and fly at low altitudes (which, at times, made me uncomfortable).  So, a pressurized aircraft that can do what the Queen Air can do, but also has the ability to fly into known icing (FIKI) at higher altitudes would be ideal for our trip around the world. Right now, the Cessna 414A is the plane that keeps standing out to me. 

In any case, I appreciated the journey that Harry Anderson shares. I’m sure I’ll return to his book again and again when it comes time to start requesting visas and permissions to enter and exit countries.

On What Do You Base Your Most Basic Beliefs About Yourself and Others?

What is the basis of your self-image? What is the basis of your identity?

To change the quality of your life, whatever that means for you, you must first identify those beliefs in your head that are hurting you. Get specific!  Your beliefs are wings or weights: which ones are lifting you up, and which ones are weighing you down, specifically? After you have named them, and become aware of just how much they have caused, are causing, or will cause you to lose, you must work intentionally to re-frame or replace them with beliefs that can empower you to grow and flourish as a human being.

Furthermore, if you allow the ordained minister in me to take it a step further. As a Christian, I personally believe that the Bible has one of the best, most powerful teachings about who we are as human beings. It says that people are made in the "imago Dei"- in the image or likeness of God. That means, at the very least, that all people- including you- are similar to (but not the same as) God in the following ways:

  • You have a spiritual nature (you are not just a material body)
  • Were made to have loving with relationships with others (rather than living alone in isolation)
  • You have the ability to think (rather than just be a programmed robot)
  • You have the power to create (rather than just consume)
  • You have the capacity to rule (and not just be a passive recipient of all life throws at you)
  • You have the freedom to live a pure life and make ethical choices (and not be helplessly controlled by your drives like animals)
  • You have the ability to live forever (and not just end up as a pile of ashes or under six feet of dirt)

Also, BECAUSE humans are made in the image of God, all people- even those with whom we disagree- deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and love. 

That's what MY self-image is based on. That's also what I see when I look at other people. No matter who I am dealing with, I see beauty, potential, value, and worth. Even if they do not subscribe to my values, I still see all people as image-bearers. Having said that, in my view, we humans are all flawed, and cracked, and imperfect in so many ways, but beneath those imperfections, I still see glimpses of God's image in peoples' lives (and give myself permission to be imperfect too).  That view of myself and others helps me treat even the most addicted drug addict with respect. Beneath their addiction, they are people, just like me, made in the image of God.

That's the cognitive content I have chosen to replace my negative self-images with. It's also the content I have in my head about others.

What about you? On what do you base your most basic beliefs about yourself and others? How is that cognitive content helping or hurting your own growth as a person? How is it helping or hurting your relationships with others? That's just something to think about.

Have a great day!

-Manny

Do You Know of Any Groups that Need Clothes and Shoes?

Do you know anyone know of any ministries in the Bahamas, Africa, or Latin America who are serving people who could use some shoes or clothes? I have shoes and clothes in my closet that I have never worn, or worn once, and I want to give them to someone who could use them. Please send me an email about the ministry and a person's contact info at Manny@MannyScott.com Thanks.