There are many audacious claims out there! Some of them really make you scratch your head and wonder how people come up with this stuff. Well, I have my own that I’d like to share with you: we have rebranded the crow! I have made this claim in a couple of podcasts and live interviews and usually people ask, “wait, what does that even mean?” Allow me to explain.
Here’s what I used to think about the crow.:
I will never forget watching the movie “The Seventh Sign” when I was younger. That movie definitely spooked me! Here’s a link to the trailer if you don’t know what I’m talking about. I have never forgotten the quote, “Will you die for him?” I get chills just thinking about it. Another part of the movie that has persisted in my mind is the part where the main character (played by Demi Moore) dreamed of a crow while pregnant. This ominous sign, along with the rest of the plot, was enough to scare me away from crows! I didn’t want to see them, dream about them, or hear them! There was only one problem, the American Crow is one of the top ten most common birds in Louisiana. There are literally thousands of them! Even so, I did my best to avoid them.
My thoughts about the crow obviously changed.
You’re probably wondering, “How did the crow become the main character for your Amazon best-seller and the image for your brand?” That would be a logical question. In fact, Josh (the illustrator for Crow From the Shadow) asked the same question when I pitched him this crazy idea. I told him there were three reasons why I chose the crow.:
1. I wanted to make a winner out of a character who was unlikely to ever be the focal point or hero.
There are millions of children’s books out there, and I have probably read a thousand of them. From what I can recall, I have only seen the crow portrayed as a dark, ominous creature–primarily used in young adult literature to give an eerie feeling to the book. Josh did a phenomenal job of giving a similar, but age appropriate, aura in the beginning of Crow From the Shadow. The pages are dark, and is Crow almost consumed by “the Shadow.”
Where my story differs is Crow slowly begins to come out of that shadow, and “the Shadow” completely fades away by the end of the story as Crow learns that he had the power within to defeat “the Shadow” all along! The story begins dark and gloomy and ends with Crow being thrust into the light as he is enlightened!
The message is that all of us face “the Shadow,” no matter who, what, or where that may be for you. “The Shadow” always tells us what we can and cannot do, and it predetermines whether we will succeed or fail. But just like Crow who began in complete darkness, we have the power to defeat “the Shadow” once we identify its control over us and determine we will overcome the odds.
2. Many people prejudge a crow and predetermine its destiny.
I don’t know about you, but I had never even considered what a baby crow looks like. Have you ever seen a baby crow? It could be the most adorable bird in the world, but most of us would never know unless we actually intentionally researched it.
Many of us would agree that crows knock our trash over, drop road kill in our yard, damage crops, and make a lot of noise near our windows while we’re resting. For those reasons, we consider them annoyances or pests, and they will always be written off as such.
Ironically, that sounds like a lot of us depending on where we’re from, what we’ve done in the past, what people have told us, our disabilities, etc. My goal is to break that norm and give you the greatest power there is–the power of choice. No matter who says what, my goal is to empower you to choose to determine your own future! Which leads to my final point.
3. (The completion of my rebranding efforts.) The crow is now a common reminder that YOU control your own destiny!
I hope that you think of the encouraging message every time you see or hear a crow. No matter who you are, where you are from, or what people have told you, you can be and do whatever you put your mind to. So dream BIG and pursue your purpose! Just like Crow, you have the power to #defeattheshadow!
Whether you are a parent, teacher, mentor, or in any other leadership position, there is one thing that we all need: discipline! We need self-discipline and must demand discipline from those we lead (that includes our children).
The first image that pops in my head when I think of the word “discipline” is the iconic U.S. Marine Corps drill instructor. That’s partly because every drill instructor probably says the word a million times. In fact, one of the first things the senior drill instructor tells his or her recruits at Marine Corps Recruit Depot (aka “boot camp”) is, “Discipline and spirit are the hallmarks of a Marine. Each one of you can become a Marine if you develop discipline and spirit.” Although it would be the absolute worst time to ask, a recruit may be wondering, “Sir, what is discipline?” So that’s where I will begin.
My thoughts on discipline.
As a guy who grew up in the south, I have always heard, “spare the rod, spoil the child” or as Ms. Trunchbull said in Matilda, “My school is a model of discipline! Use the rod, beat the child, that’s my motto.” Both of these are a spin off of the biblical verse in Proverbs 13:24 that says, “Whoever spares the rod hates his son, but he who loves him is diligent to discipline him.”
I recognize that I probably just split my audience in two. One group’s pants just dropped as they ripped their belt from their waist and said, “that’s what I’m talking about!” The other is ready to just stop reading and give me a thumbs down. Either way, I am here to neither condemn nor endorse a particular disciplinary method. My goal is to simply provide my take on discipline. After you finish reading, I encourage you to research and develop disciplinary methods that will work for the people you are leading.
What is “discipline”:
My thoughts on discipline are a result of several things. First, my upbringing and life experiences as a U.S. Marine officer, parent, and mentor. Next, the books I’ve read like “Quiet Strength” by Tony Dungy , “How to Win Friends and Influence People” by Dale Carnegie, “It Worked for Me: In Life and Leadership” by Colin Powell, and many others. Most recently, I discussed discipline in my home Bible study group with other U.S. Marines (who happen to be special operators and fathers themselves).
Discipline is both a noun and a verb that is defined in numerous sources as “the practice of training people to obey rules or a code of behavior, using punishment to correct disobedience.” In verb form, there is an even more direct definition that says, “punish or rebuke (someone) formally for an offense.”
Seems pretty clear that discipline is all about training by applying painful consequences!
Before we commit to that logic, let’s take a look at the root of the word.
The word “discipline” is from the Latin word “discipulus,” meaning “pupil, learner.” “Discipulus” is also the source of a familiar English word “disciple” which means “one who accepts and assists in spreading the doctrines of another.” As you continue to follow the word “discipulus,” you will find it also produced the Latin word, “disciplīna” which means “teaching, instruction, branch of study, orderly conduct based on moral training.” Here’s where it gets interesting, “disciplīna” produced the Middle English word “discipline” which we have already defined. The interesting part is now the word “chastisement” or “punishment” was introduced in 13th century religious practices. To me, that means the word lost its purity over time as various teaching methods were introduced.
My counter cultural belief.
Aside from quotes like Ms. Trunchbull’s in the early 1990s, you will hear quotes like “pain retains” when discussing discipline today. Even so, I submit that if we truly want to achieve the ultimate goal, which is for our followers to develop self-discipline, we must return to the root of the word. With that in mind, my belief can be summarized by the quote below.
I believe the above authors would agree that punishmentcreates immediate conformity, but again, the goal should be self-discipline, which is a long-term objective. I define self-discipline as the continued application of lessons learned regardless of the circumstance or level of supervision.
My personal example
Sometimes, immediate conformity is necessary. For example, my 3 year old was innocently wandering towards the street. I rushed over, physically stopped her, and sternly commanded, “do not go into the street!” After doing this three to four times, one would assume that discipline by physical means or punishment was achieved. To that, I’d agree. My daughter (the pupil) has learned that I am willing to use physical force to immediately stop her from walking into the street. Many leaders would stop there–assuming the child has received the appropriate instruction and has adequate discipline. The immediate question I would ask is, “what happens when Dad is not around?”
In this case, I needed instant conformity to stop my daughter from wandering into a dangerous situation to prevent a potentially fatal outcome. However, as the instructor who is looking to help the pupil develop discipline, my work does not stop there. I must help her accept my teachings by making it relevant to her. Then, and only then, has she achieved self-discipline. In this example, I showed her how fast the car is going and explained how dangerous it is to walk into the road. When we passed vehicle accidents, I showed her how people could get injured and how vehicles were ruined. Now, she corrects me if she doesn’t see me check both ways before crossing the road. Self-discipline has been achieved.
Effective discipline leads to self-discipline.
If discipline is training your followers to accept what you or your organization believe to be right, then (as I said before) self-discipline is the consistent application of these lessons regardless of the circumstance. For example, I wasn’t the best free throw shooter in high school. In fact, I shot around 65-70% accuracy. I remember the coach telling us, “free throws are FREE!” In other words, the free throw is the only uncontested shot in basketball.
Of course like many other teams, we ran for missed free throws. Though it helped me get in better shape, running had very little impact on my free throw shooting accuracy. What forced me to change was my realization that my poor free throw shooting could be the difference between a win and a loss. That realization encouraged me to practice. Many great free throw shooters will tell you that the secret to shooting more accurately is to do the same thing every time. That means from the way you wipe your sweat to the way you bend your legs to the way you breathe to the way you release the basketball. These factors (and more) contribute to your accuracy. My free throw shooting percentage significantly improved when I learned to consistently apply my coach’s shooting instructions. This is what developing discipline is all about–consistently applying instructions regardless of circumstances for your benefit and the benefit of the entire family or organization.
How to lead others to develop discipline.
I wouldn’t dare claim this is an all-encompassing list, but here are my thoughts on how you can lead others to develop discipline.
1. Set the example!
One of my favorite phrases is, “more is caught than taught.” In other words, people want to see their leaders practicing what they are teaching. Leaders must have self-discipline before they can discipline others.
2. It’s a team effort.
In case you haven’t realized it yet, you have an integral role in helping others develop self-discipline. I know Hollywood would have us believe that we can climb Mount Fuji shirtless to find ourselves and develop discipline, but that’s not reality. For example, U.S. Marine Corps drill instructors don’t allow recruits to just wander around for thirteen weeks until they find this mythical thing called “discipline.” The drill instructors lead the recruits on a physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional journey and allow them to graduate once they demonstrate self-discipline.
3. Repetition is key.
I elaborate on this in a previous blog post entitled “Establishing Winning Habits.” Therein, I said, “You are what you repeat.” Which means we have to teach our followers to practice applying the instructions we provide. That is the only way to influence habitual behavior.
4. Be consistent and persistent.
I have had the opportunity to peak behind the curtains at Marine Corps boot camp. From that experience, I can tell you that some recruits require longer than thirteen weeks to develop self-discipline. That means that some recruits graduate with a different company than they started with. However, as long as the recruit (pupil) refuses to give up, the team at the Marine Corps Recruit Depots will continue to lead that recruit. This same logic applies to any pupil. Everyone is different, so that means you may have to train them longer (or shorter) than you expected. Remain consistent and persistent in your teachings.
5. Reward and hold accountable.
There are numerous studies that conclude that living beings respond positively to being rewarded for doing well. But, we cannot ignore the other half of the equation–accountability. Celebrate successes and quickly correct deficiencies. That is the best way to ensure someone accepts your instructions.
6. Prioritize education and explain the “why.”
This is one of the most important factors to encourage others to accept your instructions. As a leader, telling your followers what to do is easy, but great leaders understand that educating followers by explaining the “why” is what allows the followers to consistently apply the teachings regardless of the circumstance. Help your followers understand why your instructions are relevant to the family or organization as a whole, and help your followers understand why your instructions are relevant to them individually.
There are a few key points that I want you to take with you today. Self-discipline is the ultimate goal. That requires leaders to lead their followers on a journey towards developing self-discipline. Along this journey, it’s imperative that leaders research and develop disciplinary methods that will adequately contribute to the overall goal. In the end, discipline is what will ensure your family’s or organization’s success. It is up to you to instill that discipline.
One of the best parts about visiting my hometown is stopping by some of the places that brought me wonderful memories. I guess you could say I am often overcome with acute nostalgia. One place I always like to visit is my old job that I worked during my college days. This time around, I reflected not only on the fun times I had and the great people I met but on the lessons I learned that I still apply today. The best way to describe my time there is to borrow a quote from Charles Dickens: “it was the best of times, it was the worst of times.” Regardless, the biggest lesson I learned was to embrace where you are because there is a lesson in everything. I learned some lifelong lessons:
Although my name tag introduced me as a “server,” I absolutely hated that label. I preferred to be called a “waiter” because “server” felt degrading, demeaning, and humiliating. I often quipped, “I work and study hard, so I am no one’s servant!” It wasn’t until later that I truly understood and began to appreciate how important servitude is. In fact, I learned that servitude is one of every successful organization’s core values, and it is one of each inspirational leader’s foundational principles. Servitude is not about degrading the servant’s self-esteem as I previously believed; instead, it is about putting another’s needs before your own to create an environment where everyone can grow, develop, and thrive. Serving others is an honor.
Servitude is not about degrading the servant’s self-esteem as I previously believed; instead, it is about putting another’s needs before your own to create an environment where everyone can grow, develop, and thrive.
I always considered myself a hard-working guy who does not mind getting dirty. Like seriously, I worked on a chicken farm in high school. I always envisioned I would use that blue-collar mentality to become the leader known for rolling up his sleeves and standing shoulder-to-shoulder with his constituents to get the job done.
Even so, there was a part of my job as a server that completely humbled me–“crab leg night.” On “crab leg night,” we added crab legs and other seafood items to the buffet. Aside from holidays like Mother’s Day, these were by far the busiest shifts. Of course there was nothing wrong with “crab leg night” in general; however, some customers really tested how far my attitude of servitude would stretch!
They tested my humility!
Customers complained about prices, questioned me about the quality of the food, threw crab legs on the floor, left a $0.27 tip, and truly tested my humility. Even so, I had to question why I was getting frustrated with these type of customers who made up a very small percentage of the customers I served. My conclusion was that I was frustrated because I felt this kind of work was “beneath me.” That was a red flag because it was contradictory to my can do, blue-collar philosophy. That day I took an oath to never allow myself to become so consumed by my own self-worth that I am unable to willingly and cheerfully serve others.
Remember those busy “crab leg nights” I mentioned? Funny story: I actually made a pretty big mistake during one of the busiest crab leg nights I’ve ever worked. I remember it like it was yesterday: the team and I were working hard to keep customers satisfied–refilling drinks, busing tables, serving orders etc.
Well, it was my turn to make some more sweet tea. As I had done numerous times before, I grabbed two buckets and headed to grab sugar. The first container I opened was completely empty, so I quickly moved on to the second container. Once I opened the second container, I observed the white granular content within and proceeded to scoop it into my buckets. About five minutes later, one customer stopped me to tell me her tea did not taste right… Then another… Then another.
I made a huge mistake.
Before long, everyone in the restaurant who previously had a taste for sweet tea was now waving their glass in the air while making a disgusted face. I am sure it was only about four or five customers, but to me, it seemed like the entire restaurant was about to start a riot. That is when one of the customers yelled, “this is salty, and I’m a diabetic!” If you haven’t figured it out by now, I put about two giant scoops of salt in the “sweet tea.” I wouldn’t have believed it if I hadn’t tasted it myself. It reminded me of my first time wrestling with my brothers in the Atlantic Ocean.
Several customers requested free meals and other accomodations to make up for their salty surprise. As expected, the manager on duty (and owner) was not very happy with me. I later walked in her office fully expecting to be written up and charged for several meals for this mistake. Instead, she asked me what happened, then told me to be more careful in the future.
She forgave me for what should have been an easily-avoidable mistake and inadvertently taught me a lesson about forgiveness. You can win more people over by forgiving them than administering the punishment they know they deserve. I was bought in from that day, and I did my best to represent myself and the company well throughout each interaction. Her forgiveness earned my loyalty and respect.
You can win more people over by forgiving them than administering the punishment they know they deserve.
Embrace Hard work.
Gordon B. Hinckley has a quote that has resonated with me: “without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.” I believe I relate to this quote because I have literally spent countless hours pulling weeds while doing yard work. I also metaphorically understand how much we grow and develop from each of our experiences. When I was working as a server, I learned that my work ethic had a direct correlation with my success. There was nothing like walking around for a few hours while ensuring each of my customers had a pleasant experience. My customers’ smiles, words of encouragement, tips, and appreciation gave me a sense of accomplishment each. Pretty soon, I began to crave that feeling of accomplishment and it became one of my driving forces each day. Work hard and grow!
Without hard work, nothing grows but weeds.
Gordon B. Hinckley
One of my least favorite parts about working at Peking was missing my little brother’s and oldest nephew’s basketball games. It annoyed me so much that I considered just not showing up to work a couple of times. These thoughts were usually short-lived when I remembered I had bills to pay, but more importantly, I accepted that life often presents us opportunities to accept temporary discomfort for long-term results.
I accepted that life often presents us opportunities to accept temporary discomfort for long-term results.
I knew my time at Peking would be short-lived, but I had to remain focused on why I was working there in the first place and how much I was growing in the process. Though I sacrificed quite a bit of my social life, I gained the financial stability I needed to prepare me for life after college which included marriage, children, and starting a career. All of the lessons I learned and the sacrifices I made during this time in my life came to head and made me the man I am today. Although I remain a work in progress, I am grateful that I chose to embrace my time as a server, and I implore you to embrace where you are today. You can and will grow from this!
That was my experience, but what have you learned from your past experiences? What can you learn as you embrace where you are now?
Happy Tuesday! I had a couple of heartening moments yesterday that I want to share as encouragement to the fathers and male role models out there. It started with my oldest daughter who told me how excited she was to share my website with her friends when given the opportunity in her Middle School class. Additionally, she received a perfect score on a writing assignment. When questioned about it, she said, “I must’ve gotten my writing skills from my dad.” It really warms my heart to see how much pride she takes in my work and accomplishments!
Later yesterday evening…
Later yesterday evening, my son had his first basketball playoff game. This is his first year playing basketball, but he has worked tirelessly to learn more and improve. His most significant improvement over the past few weeks has been his jump shot. To aide in this improvement, I showed him a hand placement trick to become more consistent and accurate. He immediately latched on to this advice and even taught a couple of his friends. So it made me proud to see him use this technique last night to score the most points he’s ever scored in a game. He made me more proud when said (after a loss), “I’m not really that sad because I scored. I can’t believe I scored all those points!”
Fathers and male role models, your actions may sometimes seem small, but your impact is eternal.
These occurrences may seem small, but they mean the world to me! Fathers and role models, it does not matter how “small” your similar stories may seem to others, it is huge for those you lead! So whether you are feeling like the best father/role model ever or you are feeling pretty down right now, you are doing an awesome job! Thank you for the sacrifices you make and for doing the “small” things that leave a lasting impact. You are awesome!
Even if you’re not a father/role model, do me a favor: find at least father and/or male role model and tell him, “you are doing a great job! Thank you!” Shake his hand, pound it, or give him a hug if you can. It will mean the world to him.
I love free stuff! Don’t you? That’s why I am so excited to offer another free downloadable resource for parents, teachers, and mentors! Introducing the Three Day Mental Health Guide: Major Payne Edition!
In this guide, you will learn strategies to raise mentally tough children. I initially created this guide with the “father-son” relationship in mind; however, I quickly realized that readers can apply the strategies discussed within to any relationship! This guide is broken into three different sections: Day 1-“A Tough Topic;” Day 2– “Time to Break the Mold!;” and Day 3– “The ‘Major Payne’ Leadership Model.” On Day 1, we focus on the importance of discussing mental health—a topic that is considered taboo in numerous homes. On Day 2, we dispel the myths associated with society’s view of masculinity and mental toughness. Finally, on Day 3, we discuss the “Major Payne” leadership model that we can apply to be effective leaders. Each section ends with a prompt to get your wheels turning.
Parents, teachers, and mentors, this is an excellent resource for all ages so feel free to use this guide to lead your children on their own personal journey towards excellent mental health. Together, we can build mentally tough children who excel at whatever they put their minds to!
Download, share, post in your home/office, hang on your website, do whatever you want with this guide. It is yours to keep!
Proven techniques to help you reclaim your life. Get unstuck and thrive!
Updated on July 24, 2022. Did you miss the Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity conference? No problem! Here are the videos!:
Hello my friends! Imagine being able to stay in the comfort of your home listening to top experts giving you tools and strategies that are proven to conquer anxiety.
Imagine your child’s future of success and resilience. Imagine you being able to feel confident within yourself. Now that’s invaluable! You can join “Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity” for FREE and gain access to live interviews from experts in the industry. Use this link to sign up!
Not convinced you should attend yet? Here’s a little more background:
My friend, Deb Kartz, asked me to help her lead a life-changing pre-recorded summit for parents and professionals to take a deeper look into Anxiety and how it can impact the lives of children, teens, and adults! Yes, anxiety is your body’s natural response to stress and helps us notice dangerous situations and focus our attention, so we stay safe. However, when anxiety starts to interfere with daily activities and routines, and you or your child feels nervous, panicky, or fearful on a regular basis, it is when you need to face those internal feelings.
When you’re feeling anxious or having a panic attack, do you notice your palms get sweaty, and your heart feels like it’s going through your chest?
Is your child glued to your hip and won’t sleep in their bed?
What about your teen who makes all the excuses in the world not to go to school?
Is this what you’re experiencing?
Have you ever wondered what it would be like to reduce your anxiety so you can keep moving forward with confidence? Have you felt stuck and frustrated because your child is stuck in their emotions, feeling anxious, shy, or angry?
If so, I have something mind-blowing to share with you, but you’ve got to act fast before it disappears!
You’re invited to be a part of this amazing summit with expert speakers to help you get unstuck and receive the tools to make a difference in your life and your children. We are putting this pre-recorded summit on so you can get the tools and thrive with confidence.
This event, “Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity,” will give new light and hope to moms, parents, caregivers, and professionals.
Did you know Anxiety disorders are among the most common and most treatable mental health conditions that impact adults, children, and teens?
Parents are uniquely positioned to help their children because children look up to their parents for reassurance and safety.
The biggest misconception about anxiety is people think it should be avoided, which can cause adults and children to fall into a bigger trap and feel anxious, fearful, and angry.
“Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity” will open a new doorway so you will learn new ways to approach your anxiety and your children’s anxiety. With proven techniques, tools, and strategies, you will feel confident in yourself, and you will see your child grow with self-esteem and be resilient.
This 21-Day summit aims to build awareness that anxiety is treatable. You will have new insight into dealing with your child’s stress and see when they are stuck in their emotions; you will be able to work through it together. You will gain confidence in yourself as a parent with anxiety. This 21-day pre-recorded summit is FULL of scientific studies backed with research that gives you the tools to get unstuck and flourish and help your child and loved ones who are suffering in silence with anxiety.
My friend Deb Kartz is a Parent and Wellness Coach and creator of “Conquer Anxiety & Toxicity.” She wants to share this exclusive invitation for you to be fully immersed in your heart’s dream to go from feeling trapped inside your body to feeling confident within yourself and have your child flourish with self-esteem. Deb wants you to receive guidance from experts she hand-picked for their expertise in anxiety.
Deb is a mother of three grown children who once lived a life of complete turmoil and trauma for over two decades. After years of research and education, she has been able to help her children through their trauma and transform her own life. Her passion is to educate and help others understand the importance of nature, nurture, and growth.
Together with my friends and colleagues, I want to give you the encouragement and knowledge to get unstuck with your anxiety and be resilient to promote a nurturing, safe, engaging environment for your children. You will have the tools to encourage your children’s social, emotional, intellectual, and behavioral competencies! Don’t let anxiety take over. You have it in you to thrive; you just need the tools to break the cycle.
I’m one of the featured speakers! (And don’t worry, I brought all of my energy and excitement!)
I’ll be sharing my own methods on how you can conquer anxiety and toxicity! Anxiety and toxicity are just another way that sneaky “shadow” tries to creep into our life and our children’s lives. As my Amazon best-seller Crow From the Shadow says, “The Shadow is a person… or maybe a thing… or a place. The Shadow tells me who to be, how to go, and where to stay.” Not anymore! We are going to expose that sneaky shadow and kick ’em to the curb! Join us for FREE as we #defeattheshadow to conquer anxiety and toxicity!