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How we learn to Thrive

The Cycle of Growth

How we learn to Thrive

 It was 2002, and I received the call from Dr. Carroll Rinehart.

"Rinehart here... we're having coffee."

I knew who Carroll was and I was intrigued to be receiving a call from this legendary educator. A contemporary of Fred Rogers, a Lowell Scholar, the Co-Founder of the OMA Foundation, the former Director of Elementary School Music for TUSD, prolific author, and former professor of music education at the University of Arizona. Carroll and I knew of each other, and while I was the Associate Director of Bands at the University of Arizona, the then "retired" Dr. Rinehart hadn't showed any interest in connecting with me. To be fair, I had not showed any interest in connecting with him.

Little did I know that this one cup of coffee would lead to one of most life-changing mentors.

For 14 years, until his passing, Carroll would have a life lasting impact on how I think, connect and create.

Over the years we created and learned together. One of the foundational concepts he shared with me was his Cycle of Growth. I find it applies to any aspect of learning.


We usually think of affirmation as affirming others, and while this is important, I suggest you also think of affirmation as affirming yourself. We can all do a better job of affirming others and ourselves in many ways, including but not limited to the following:

  • Positive words; authentic words we speak to someone and ourselves.
  • Facial gestures; one of the most empowering ways as a gesture, much like a picture, can say many things.
  • Acts of Service; doing something for someone without them asking for help.
  • Quality Time; spending time with someone, regardless of what you are doing together.


When affirmation exists, there is a much better chance of trust existing. Trust is a state of being, whereas affirmation is an action. Trust is a spectrum and it builds over time. Think of each person you know as having an internal "Trust Bank Account".

  • Trust can be grown with many strategies including, but not limited to the following:
  • Asking great questions.
  • Allowing enough time for an authentic response.
  • Using physical gestures which are open in shape.


When the state of trust exists, there is a much better chance for positive risk to take place. Risk with your ideas and time are primarily what I'm talking about. For example:

  • Writing down your ideas.
  • Talking to people who can help you make your ideas become a reality.
  • Spending extra time creating ways to make your ideas a reality.

Sometimes people are afraid of going after their big ideas because they don't want to fail. However, when we think about it, we will miss out on 100% of the ideas we never go after. Also, keep in mind that the greatest of us have failed many times. What we as adults call "Failure" is actually part of the learning process.

This may seem odd, but I encourage you to embrace BOTH "failure" and "work ethic." Keep in mind that risk is both a state of mind and an action.


While many see growth as an action, I see it more as a state of being. For example, if we see growth as an ongoing process, as compared to an event, we can always be learning.

Know that affirmation leads to trust, which leads to risk, which sets us up for profound growth, as individuals and as organizations.


Carroll was fond of saying, "It is only at the precarious edge of the unknown where growth happens." I have continued his work in many areas and I have made a slight adjustment to this...

"It is only at the precarious edge of the unknown where the profound happens."

Seek the unknown... Seek better questions... Seek your best self

The First Step in Digital Transformation is Defining the Digital Space

The First Step in Digital Transformation is Defining the Digital Space

The transition to digital is undeniable and accelerating, disrupting both government and business models.

To succeed in the digital world and workplace, organizations will need to be more adaptive to change, will need to develop new capabilities, and put new practices into place in order to redefine the way they create, deliver and capture value. 

The Art of the Front Porch

Leaning into Random Conversations

The Art of the Front Porch

When I was a child, our lush, humid Maryland summers often forced me and my family onto our front porch. We had no air conditioning.

My mother had grown up in Baltimore City, with its famous white marble steps, and sitting out on the front porch in the evenings was just what we did. We watched traffic go by, chatted with neighbors out to water their yards, and -- most importantly -- we just talked.


How to create a healthier brain and elevate your energy!


Did you know that you can improve the speed and function of your brain with the kinds of fats and oils you cook with and eat? Well, you can! I have done this for many years and I suggest you keep reading this, and make these simple additions to your daily and weekly routine.

What are the skills that every young person needs?

How can adults (parents, teachers, mentors, etc.) help young people to learn the necessary skills for success in life? While it's true that young people need the care and support from the adults in their life, adults sometimes tend to over-protect their children, to the extent that there is now a meme known as "helicopter parents", which is related to tiger moms, or soccer dads, who are afraid of letting their kids make mistakes.

This parenting style, characterized by a helicopter-like tendency to hover over children (and even teenagers) and swoop in to rescue them at the first sign of trouble, exploded into mainstream consciousness in the early 2000s, just as the oldest millennials were entering young adulthood. This was a time in the culture that was fraught with peril, after events like Sept. 11 and the two economic crashes of 2000 and 2008, where parents had cause for concern over their children's futures.

The worst examples of helicopter parenting include previously unheard-of behaviors like parents attending their adult children's job interviews or calling college professors to argue over a grade. Meanwhile kids emerge from childhood without basic survival skills like how to cook, or clean, or do their own laundry.


While it's true that these parental characteristics generally come from the highly educated middle class or wealthier families with social and financial resources to share with adult children, it's also true that this is an ongoing set of circumstances that may come from many different economic and social backgrounds and that may need to be examined in more detail, if adults are to understand that their over-protectiveness may be stunting the development of young people as they grow into adulthood.

Read on to learn more about this important subject...