Tuesday, September 30, 2014

An Awesome Way to Open the Conversation About Grit at Your School

Grit and resilience. We talk frequently at my school, to both kids and parents, about these two characteristics. People often ask for specific examples of how we address grit with our kids, so I decided to post one awesome example here. This exercise generated so much conversation, I decided I should share the entire process with you here.

We began the school year with a two-part series in chapel on the importance of struggle and challenges, and the importance of grit and resilience. In the second chapel, our entire student body watched the video of Admiral McRaven addressing the 2014 University of Texas at Austin graduating class. Yes, the entire student body watched the video and the kids sat absolutely mesmerized through his entire 20-minute speech. They even applauded after the video! 

After the chapel in which the student body watched the video, I sent the email below to each student and parent. The email outlines what we told our kids, includes a link to the video of the commencement address,  and provides a bullet list of the Admiral's main points. I have altered the link on this page to direct you to a source that has both the video and the transcript. Please feel free to use this idea and even this communication to students and parents to generate conversation at your school about grit. Even though Admiral McRaven does not mention the word grit, you will see how easy it is to transition to grit.

Even if you do not plan to try this at your school, please watch the video. I was blown away, and I believe you will be, too. I'm not easily inspired. However, this inspired me.

Families of the Class of ...,

I am pleased to report that the 2014-2015 school year is off to an excellent start. During our first two chapels of the year, I spoke about my desire for our kids to experience challenges and struggles in life. In our first chapel together, I challenged our student body with the idea that the things we will encounter during our years at _____ – in the classroom, on the stage, in the studio, on the field, outside of school – may be tough. I explained, though, that if being an Eagle were easy, everyone would do it. If achieving all the great things that Eagles achieve were easy, everyone would, and the achievements no longer would be special. I explained that the lessons we learn in our time here can and will prepare us to do things that, quite frankly, other students in other places will not be able to do, thus setting our Eagles apart. The challenges we will encounter together serve to build and strengthen us. I reminded them that often God equips those he has called and does not always call those who are equipped. So, how can we be equipped for success when faced with struggles and challenges?

In our second chapel, I presented a rather brilliant and inspiring plan for meeting challenges and struggles head on. The plan is not my plan. Rather, the plan comes from Admiral William H. McRaven who spoke at the 2014 University of Texas commencement. The entire student body watched the video together as the Admiral spelled out his plan. He framed the commencement address in terms of lessons he learned in SEAL training that would be valuable for the UT grads as they head out from Austin to change the world. I think his words are so powerful that I decided I should share them with you. I have included for you below both a link to the video and an outline of Admiral McRaven’s main points. I hope that each of you have the opportunity to watch and rewatch the video, and to discuss his plan as a family. I believe you will find Admiral McRaven an excellent communicator with a unique and memorable message.

May each of you have a transformational school year,


10 Lessons Admiral William H. McRaven Learned from Basic SEAL Training that Will Be of Value as You Move Forward in Life

If you want to change the world, 

  • start off by making your bed.
  • find someone to help you paddle.
  • measure a person by the size of their heart, not by the size of their flippers.
  • get over being a sugar cookie and keep moving forward.
  • don’t be afraid of the circuses.
  • sometimes you have to slide down the obstacles head first.
  • don’t back down from the sharks.
  • you must be your very best in the darkest moments.
  • start singing when you’re up to your neck in mud.
  • don’t ever, ever ring the bell.

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