So much of what we can change in our lives starts and is predicated on our understanding of who we are and the choices that we make. I am very excited for today's episode with my guest Claude Larson, a teacher of over 25 years and an author of the...
See show notes at: https://www.thinkunbrokenpodcast.com/e348-the-power-of-choice-with-claude-larson-cptsd-and-mental-health-coach/#show-notes
So much of what we can change in our lives starts and is predicated on our understanding of who we are and the choices that we make.
I am very excited for today's episode with my guest Claude Larson, a teacher of over 25 years and an author of the power of choice, a teen's guide to finding personal success.
And I know what you might be thinking, like, why are we having a teacher come on, Think Unbroken. Why are you sharing this information about teens? And the truth is, as you know, the goal of ending generational trauma in my lifetime through education and information. And that applies not only to us as adults consuming this information but also to the information we can give to children. One of the big things happening and Think Unbroken right now is a curriculum redesign happening for us to go and give this information to kids in schools.
When I came across Claude, and we had our initial conversation, I thought to myself, and this is the perfect subject matter for Think Unbroken. When I got deeper into her book, I realized that a lot of her curriculum is what I teach adults over here in the think unbroken side. And I thought to myself; this makes a lot of sense; this is a perfect mesh up of two different teaching styles in two different arenas, schools, and teens, as opposed to me with adults and business leaders. And thinking this if we can start mending this, this brings us even closer to my goal.
I'm very excited to have her on as we talk about values, habits, and the power of choosing yourself and moving through life. What you are going to learn will be transferable into your personal life with the kids you're working with and even your own life.
Learn More About Claude Larson at: https://claudeblarsonllc.com/
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Michael: Hey! What's up, Unbroken Nation. Hope that you're doing well, wherever you are in the world today. I'm very excited to be back with you with another episode with my guest Claude Larson, who is the author of the power of choice at teen's guide to finding personal success. Hello, my friend. How are you today?
Claude: I am excellent. And I'm so happy to be here with you today.
Michael: As am I. I've been looking forward to this conversation for months now, and I know it's gonna be incredibly beneficial for the Unbroken Nation audience, because the tools we're gonna talk about, not only do they apply to teens, but they definitely apply to adults as well. So, before we jump in, tell us a little bit about your backstory and how you got to where you are today?
Claude: Okay. So, my backstory is I was a public-school teacher, mostly middle school. I spent a little time in high school, but I really did like teaching teenagers and I did that for 25 years. I started in 1986 and I finished in 2019 right before the pandemic year, which every, you know, when everything just went sideways but I think that even growing up, I was just a natural teacher. If somebody was confused, I wanted to help them. If there was something I didn't know, I wanted to learn it. And so, I really enjoyed the profession of teaching. I was a science teacher, which was really fun because we got to do stuff like I thought about, oh, those history teachers, they're just reading about dead people and things from the past and I'm like, no, we have beakers and fire and cool stuff and so, I really liked my job. However, as the years went by doing the job of educating teenagers, got a little more challenging, anybody who's ever been in the company of teenagers might have noticed they became more self-absorbed and more electronically connected to people than actually connected to people which made it harder to be an educator and harder to connect with them.
And so, in my 24th year of teaching out of sheer frustration of going to work and feeling like I wasn't making a difference, which is like, that's the whole goal as a teacher. You get up every day and you go to your job and you, I had a hundred plus students and I knew that when they would leave my room, my intention was that they knew more than before they walked in every day and I felt more and more like that wasn't happening.
And out of frustration, at that point I was teaching eighth graders, I was like, what did I learn in eighth grade science? And I could not attribute a single science fact to eighth grade, might be, I don't know, it might be sad or it might just be the fact that science changes every two years, they say right, the amount of scientific information doubles every two years. But I did remember my teacher and how he made me feel about being in his classroom and how much I enjoyed being in this classroom. And I thought I realized in that moment that I needed to take some time and teach my students or introduce my students to some ancient wisdom, things like how to bring gratitude into your life or like what excellence is, because that concept has been lost and I feel like that's been the downhill slide since everybody got a trophy for participating, it was like, nobody's excellent anymore, every game ends in a tie and everybody gets a trophy and people want prizes just for showing up. So, I decided to start talking to my students about that. As a science teacher made this an experiment, I said, okay, I'm gonna do this for 10 weeks. I'm gonna do it on Mondays. Start out my week. Start out their week. See if this affects any change, if this creates any impact with my students or in my classroom. And it was truly an experiment and it was a risk because when you address 13- and 14-year-olds, sometimes you might fall on your face, they're not the most, clear minded sometimes, they're not always open to an older person's opinion. So, I really just took a risk and I committed, like, and in that moment, you know, that moment you really commit, like you commit to the resolution or you commit to the workout plan or whatever. There's a difference between saying it and I am committed to doing this. I'm not just interested in doing it. I'm committed. And once I felt that commitment, I did not care what their reaction was going to be, I was going to address what I felt was important.
And in my first day I did this each of my five teaching periods in the first day. I had colleagues come to me and say, I don't know what you talked about in class, but they were talking about it in my class and I couldn't get my class started. I don't know what you talked about in class, they were talking about it in the locker room. So, this is the PHED instructors were telling me this cafeteria aids saw me in the main office, I don't know what you talked about in class, but they were talking about it in the cafeteria. And in that moment, I knew, this was what I wanted to do. I wanted to be a teacher who effected change that was so important to me. And so, I carried on with my plan now, you know, my enthusiasm was up high and when I got to week 10, I said, okay, well that was my experiment. I was gonna do this for 10 weeks and I sort of announced to one of my class periods like, oh, this is gonna be our last like mindful Monday lesson. And they were like, what? Aren't we gonna keep doing this till the end of the year? And I said, well, do you guys like it? Do you want me to? Absolutely. One of the students actually said to me, we should probably be doing this more than once a week. So, they recognized that these were topic that they needed to think about that nobody I was asking them questions and putting them through little exercises that nobody had ever questions, they had never been asked before and things they had never sat down and really deliberately thought about. And the change in my classroom was amazing they were nicer to each other; they were more attentive to each other as opposed to the constant stream of distraction. I actually got more learning done in my classroom every week from that point forward because they were ready for it. And it was like, I just started every class on a Monday, doing 10 or 15 minutes, very short chapters, I knew my audience, you know, 25 years in the business of teaching teenagers. I know what gets their intention or what loses it. So, it became this really positive experience that I was just doing for myself. And then I realized at one point, a little voice said to me, like, this is a book, because this helped you, this helped them, this affected change, and this can help other people. And that's what brings me to writing the book, which anybody who's written a book. You know, you write this book and you think it's so great and then you read it out loud to yourself and you have to re-edit every single word, sentence, paragraph and chapter. So, it put me through my paces, but I never lost sight of my goal is to help young people get an early start on really good life habits because the longer you have a good habit, the better it serves you, right? Like the first week that you start meditating for 10 minutes a day, you might not see a big change, but all of a sudden, when you say, wow, I've been doing this for a year and I'm so much calmer and less anxious, right? So, these habits, I had the benefit the following year to start it right in September and for nine months, every week we went over like ancient wisdom and life habits, and I got them to analyze their own behavior, their thought process, clarify their values, right before they were heading to high school which is, I mean, it's just so important to know have a good sense of who you are before you get thrown in with things that can really, go wrong quickly when you're in, especially when you're a teenager and you don't always make the best choices.
Michael: You know, I recall being and we've all been teenagers and we've all had those moments and we're all like trying to learn and figure out and understand how to decipher the world. And for me as a kid, as I went through this book and I kind of consumed it, I was thinking to myself like, damn, where was this when I was a kid, because (A) I hated school. I had straight F’s almost entirely, didn't graduate on time, in fact, they just handed me my high school diploma at the end and said, we're done with you. And I'm like dealing with the chaos of life, there's trauma and homelessness and abuse and like the whole nine. And so many people listening has had that experience and as I went through this book, I was like, this should be a curriculum, not only for kids, but for adults, because like, ultimately there are some amazing tools in here that will help people who are struggling. And I think that the struggle is you have the ability to adapt, but you need the tools and the structure to be able to do so.
And as I went through this, I thought to myself, wow, this is impactful and important. And I think this is also a really incredible tool and guide for parents who probably have teens as well. And what I'd love for you to talk about is kind of the experience of putting this curriculum together and the purpose that you believe it serves.
Claude: So, putting this, but I love that you think of it as like this curriculum, cuz honestly, I infused it in my science classroom, but it could have been done anywhere. And I think this has been, only because I know people have reached out to me via my website and they've emailed me and they've said, they've purchased this book and they've been using it. And some parents they're purchasing my teacher's addition because I realized I wrote these 30 lessons and you can hand this to a teenager, but it's so much better if you have a structure and you can talk to them within that structure and give them time, their time is so scheduled, I think it's overscheduled to be honest. You know, parents are so very worried about filling their kids' time because they see them doing things like they spend an hour on TikTok, well, maybe if I get them involved in another activity, I'll keep them from other things or getting into trouble. So, that was the original plan and then I realized that if I wanna help educators, I should make a teacher's edition, which I did and I created more exercises, so there's each of the 30 short chapters, but after each chapter, there's a group exercise you could do with your entire class. And that brings the class together talking about the same topic.
So, for example, if the topic were excellence, and they've now, you read the few paragraphs about it, they do their self-analysis, their own personal questions, they fill all that out, but then you say, think of someone who's excellent. Okay. Don't tell me who it is, and you just on my board and this whole thing is like so analog, because I do think kids, especially after COVID and the pandemic, there's just too much screen time and the rate of things going in, they don't have time to process it.
So, this is very like pencil paper just write your thoughts down. And nobody, I never looked at their paper. I never collected them. It was like, I was super clear, like this is none of my business. This is just for you to evaluate what you're doing, what you're not doing and make choices that you feel are in your best interest because I don't know what that is for you.
So, back to my example, so excellence. I just drew a line down the middle of the board and I wrote never and always, and then I handed each kid two sticky notes, whoever your excellent person is doesn't matter. Right? It could be a parent, a neighbor, a friend celebrity, doesn't matter. What do they never do? What do they always do that makes them excellent? And you have the kids just stick it on the board. So now it's not personal information and you read them as a class and all of a sudden, you're having a conversation about excellence and down the road a week later, I can say, you know what, I'm gonna need excellence today, that means, nobody's gonna be complaining, everybody's gonna be putting in their best effort, you're gonna be helping each other, not judging or putting down anybody, like we know what excellence is, right? We've talked about it, these are the things we're not gonna do, these are the things we are gonna do and we would create this shared vocabulary based on what they said. And a lot of things, they said, things like somebody who's excellent always listens to me, they give me their full attention or they encourage me, they support me, they never complain. They're saying all these things and I would say to them, which one of these costs’ money? Like this is available to everyone. You don't have to be of a certain economic status to be excellent, anybody can do this. And they start realizing, yeah, old young, rich, poor, male, female, does not matter, it just doesn't matter. These are traits of excellence. And when I would ask them, like a daily thing, but every now and again, I'd be like, this is what I need guys today and they would rise to it every time.
And this was the kind of thing people were emailing me about saying, I read this book for myself and these are dinner conversations they started having with their kids at the table or these were topics they started bringing up when you were driving, your child to practice or picking them up from wherever or even on the way to the dentist's office. There are times that you're in the car and they're looking at their phone to be honest, and it's hard to get their attention, but people found that you could have these topics in those moments when there was no interruption, like you just put down your phone, I just wanna talk to you about something. And it gives you a way in that's very teen friendly, cuz that's like, I stayed in my lane, what did I do? I was an expert at teaching teenagers. Who am I comfortable around? Give me all the teenagers, but not a lot of people would want that, but I was fine with it.
So, everything is very like teen friendly, they can relate to these topics, they can relate to these examples. Adults can as well, but it's more for my young adult audience, but the parents that emailed me were like, this has made a big difference in how we communicate to each other because a teenager is not gonna come and say, I need you to listen when I speak, they're not gonna say that. And parents quite honest in a lot of households with two working parents, they don't have the time, the bandwidth or the energy to like, be thinking what important ancient wisdom do I need to be addressing? It was like, here it is, it's laid out for you. It's super like user friendly, which is the goal because you wanna make it accessible.
Michael: One of the things I'm thinking here as you're going through, this is one, I love this idea in this top of excellence and I may be too rigid around it because I'm right there with you. I'm like there's no second place, gold medals. And I think that we really have to embed and impart people like you've gotta earn the success that you want to have in your life. And I've seen time and time again, people who I don't wanna say have it too easy, cuz that would be unfair but that's the terminology that comes to mind, in these achievements, whether it be academics or in sports, they're set up for failure so desperately bad because they get into the real world and they expect, you know, everybody to bend and placate to them. And I just think you're doing people such a massive this service by allotting them the space to show up and just get the award. And I'm like, that's not how the life works. I promise you. It's not, cuz I've never experienced that once. And so, I'm, I'm definitely there with you, I'm a proponent of that, but I think there's a lot of fear, I'm gonna use that word because it feels like the right word. I think there's a lot of fear that people have in trying to embed and ingrain this wisdom into children when they're struggling themselves. Right? When they're like, man, my life is kind of a disaster. I don't know how to show up, I'm struggling with these things. How do I possibly have this conversation with my kid or with, you know, I know there's some teachers listening to this show, how do I have this conversation with my students. And so, what I'm really curious about is how do you broach that gap there between people having this insecurity around, especially content like this, cuz you know, like adults, we don't even have these kinds of conversations. So how do you step into, what does it look like as an adult to have a conversation like this with a child?
Claude: So, and I have to say when I had, because for me, this was, I just pulled up my lab stool, I sat down, I was very calm. It was like, clear your desk. I want no visual distractions and my board, you know, I had a lot of structure in my room. You walked in, you looked at the board, it told you what to do first if the first thing was, you know, put your homework in the basket. If the first thing was. Take out your notebook, whatever the first, and it would say take a piece of paper off the front table, have a pen or pencil ready? Clear your lab table. And they knew on Mondays that all of a sudden, they were like, oh yeah, it's mindful Monday. And they looked forward to it. And of course, I don't know how many kids are dying to get outta bed on a Monday and go to school. But the ones who walked into my class, they were like, oh yeah, oh, I love this. Like I had kids who wouldn't say two words if I asked them a physics question, but they would say to me, I really do like mindful Monday. Unbelievable. So, as a teacher and they were right out of the gate like I established trust, like, guys, you're not sharing your answers with anybody, I'm not reading or collecting any of this. You can write anything you want on that paper. Like it. Fine. And I had students who, I mean, you were describing chaos and having some hard circumstances that they lived in. I had one boy, he was just so angry and his parents were a mess. They were alcoholism, there was anger, there was absenteeism. I mean, there was all kinds of problems going on at home. He did this every time I did this on Monday and we had a conversation. I was like, your future does not have to look like what you're living in right now. Like you have a choice and if you don't want your life to be what you're growing up in. You can decide what you want it to be and make that happen for yourself, but you've gotta make different choices than what you have seen so far, understand choices are unlimited, right? You don't have to choose to follow in the footsteps of either one of the bad role models that you currently have as parents. And because I established trust and because I spoke to them, like you are young adults at some point, you're gonna have to take charge of your life and you can't blame your past for the things you didn't get in your future. They were super receptive. And I shared personal stuff too, like I would tell a story if I was talking about a particular topic and an anecdote just like came to mind, I would share that with them. Of course, it was, you know, something appropriate for them to hear but yeah, I struggle too. I have people in my life who are kind of a pain in the neck and I have to figure out how to let go of grudges. And I have to clarify what I want in a relationship so that I don't make myself crazy and stressed out, you know, and that's life, like everybody has problems.
The level of problems they have might be different, but the better, the sooner and the better you learn to deal with them, the sooner you're going to experience what you feel is like contentment and satisfaction. But you have to lay the groundwork for trust. And I had students come to me after class and share things that had come up for them when we were doing the exercises, they knew it was going nowhere. Like, unless, they were gonna, and no student ever shared with me, they were gonna harm themselves or harm anybody else. But if that would've come up clearly like counseling, I would've gotten help, but they would just share with me private things because they knew they could trust me.
You know, as teachers, our lives can be stressful. Anybody who's sitting in a classroom at any point in time can appreciate, you know, the crazy email, the crazy parent, the crazy administrator, the end of the day but I think taking yourself through these lessons as you take your students through then hugely eye opening. And it, for me, a lot of things that weren't important, like fell away in the classroom, like these are the things that I do not need to prioritize. And once I was doing these lessons in my classroom, I had students who were reported to me by other educators. This kid is a giant pain in the neck, in my room, I can't even get him to like, do any work, pay attention, stop interrupting and they would come to me and say, well, what do you do? Do you have him? What do you do with him? I'd say, I don't have that problem with him. I don't have to do that because they would check themselves all of a sudden, they were like, oh yeah, we're in a room where she talks to us about what is excellence. She talks to us about evaluating our own behavior choices. Right? So, they were checking themselves, I didn't even have to, which was remarkable because before that, it was just constant distraction and interruption I was having trouble teaching. They became more, I guess the self-awareness, just improve their self-control, they became more self-disciplined and I didn't have to implement that aspect of the classroom. It made teaching so much more of a pleasure and less stressful, cuz I didn't have to worry about I'm gonna get interrupted 15 times before I can get out this the directions for what we're gonna be doing, it just stopped happening.
I think teachers, especially if you're teaching teenagers, you stand in front of them every day, which is its own challenge. But this is a risk that I took and I'm sort of paying it forward because I know and I have colleagues using this since I've written it, I know that it makes a difference. And it's worth an investment of 15 minutes outta your week, I got so much more out of every week because of the investment of 15 minutes early on. It was remarkable, and just as much as the angry kid, who's from a home that's a mess, I had kids who were stable home, good students, but they found the value in it and they would say, this helps me. I had a couple of girls and girls going through eighth grade I mean, that's just a rough time of year, you know, rough time of life. And they were like, this is so helpful, I've never even thought about this. And they started clarifying like, this is why this person like gets under my skin gets, gets on my nerves is because this is what they're about, this is their values. And it's so opposite of mind. I shouldn't worry about what this person thinks of me because our values aren't aligned and that's okay. You know, because they were worried how come this kid is just, and I'm like, yeah, but let that go, cuz that's what's important to them, it's not important to you. Just get in alignment with what you want and it'll be fine. And they found themselves less stressed out, which I mean, it's great. Kids are so stressed now. I don't know. I remember being a teenager and I don't know if I had as much stress in the seventies being a teenager but I sure didn't have what they have now.
Michael: Yeah. That’s for sure. And I see that happen all the time and programs here in the city and you know, you see kids get stuck you know, because I’m involved in programs here in the city and you see kids get stuck in interesting intrinsic fear about being themselves because of the shame, the guilt, the ridicule that exists in the world. And I know, with a lot of the people who I coach, who are parents, sometimes they'll ask me, they'll be like, how do I handle this thing with my kid? And, you know, it comes always back to not always, I'll be clear about that, but frequently it kind of comes back to this thing about this public embarrassment, this potential for this pain, this suffering. I earmarked one of the chapters in your book that I thought was especially important that is something that I think crosses all parameters of the human experience. And it's titled what is the worst punishment in the world? You write laughter. And I thought to myself as I read this and then I went through and I started diving into the exercises on the next page. I was like for a very long time, that felt so true in my life, the fear of showing up as me, the fear of doing the things that I wanted to do, the fear. And so many people experience this, about who they are is because of the other side, the other people's opinions.
And my greatest superpower today is that I don't care. I will be publicly humiliated. I do not give a shit. I'm going to live my life and that's become this incredible cornerstone, but I'd love for you to dive into this and especially you wrote here, laughter's the worst punishment in the world. People will do almost anything to avoid being the target of people's laughter. And I want you to talk about why that chapter is so important?
Claude: Yeah. I think as you know, at a young age, but I know a lot of adults who were just be mortified, if they did something that didn't work out and other people found out about it, it would be humiliating and I'm like, nobody dies of embarrassment. I mean, I've tried and even in writing these lessons, when I started this, I was like, I could fall flat on my face, these 13- and 14-year-olds could look at me like you are crazy and we aren't doing this, but at that point, I'm like the risk for me turned out to be such an amazing reward. And that's the thing is until you've risked and maybe failed and maybe got back up and risked again, until you've gotten something, learned something, had something positive happen. The fear of risking falling on your face, being laughed at, it's just huge. And for some people, a little baby step introducing themselves to somebody, they don't know, they'd be like, what if they go? Like, why should I care who you are? You know, like if you don't have any self-confidence and self-worth, that could really be a crushing blow for a person. And I think everybody's got their own level of what's embarrassing and it's funny. The group activity for that is make a list of things that you think are embarrassing. And then I have the kid, you know, break it up into five categories, one to two, three to four, five to six, you know, all the way up to 10. And it's like, rate it, is it one to two? Like it's a little embarrassing or is it like nine to 10? Like you would just dig a whole climb in it and like, hope it closes up over you. Like where do you rate these things as embarrassing? And some kids would put things under nine and 10 that another kid put under one and two, and then you could have this conversation, why is this a one or two for you? And why is this a nine or 10? But if fear of public speaks, you know, this kid's one or two, it's embarrassing to have to get up in front of the class and give a presentation. And for another kid that's a nine or a 10, which I know public speaking is can be really scary for people. How did you get, what's your mindset that this is only a one or two for you? And like what nugget of wisdom cannot translate to somebody who thinks this is a nine or a 10. And all of a sudden, they go like, oh, okay. And it really just speaks to mindset. You know, like how much courage do you wanna have? Well, what do you wanna achieve? Because if you only wanna achieve a tiny bit, then only grow a tiny courage muscle, cuz that's all you're gonna need but if you actually want your life to be successful and you want to have been and do things, then you're gonna need a little courage.
My anecdote for that, when I was telling them was like, when I first started making art, like, it was pretty bad. I didn't show a lot of people. And when I did show people, I would say, yeah, I'm just starting out and, you know, whatever. And then one day I had just done this experiment of artwork experiment, and I brought it in to school to show one of my colleagues, cuz I had been telling her about it, telling her about it. A different colleague sees it and says, is that for sale? And bought it like on the spot went and got her checkbook and like paid me for it. And it was one of those, like I was embarrassed to show it cuz I was like, I don't think this is any good and then somebody else is like writing me a check. If I had never taken that outta my house and never been willing to show anybody, I mean, my artwork hangs in a gallery now. Why? Because I risked and they weren't all good, a lot of things ended up in the trash, a lot of things I had to start over, but the only reason that now 25 years down the road, I am where I am is because I was willing to make mistakes and like try again and show to people and there are people, you know, artwork. I mean, some people look at art and they go, oh, I love it. And other people go like, oh, that's terrible. I'm not gonna worry about that, you know, like I can't worry about that.
Michael: You know, it's so funny because as you say that I sit here and I’ve ton of five-star reviews for my first book and 1, 2-star review. And in the two-star review, they go, this grammar is horrible. And I thought to myself immediately, I was like, what does that have to do with anything, what to do with anything?
Claude: They didn't hear your message.
Michael: Exactly. And that's the thing I hope people are taking away from what we're talking about right now, because people are already judging you, they're already shaming you, they already have their opinion about who you are because of the, your hairstyle and the clothes you wear and the way that you speak and the whole nine. And I'm just like, who cares? What does that have to do with anything? And I agree with you courage and building that muscle is about the willingness to show up as yourself, despite the ridicule, because guess what it's gonna happen anyway. I mean, I get it every single day, people will come at you and they will say things and, you know, T.D. Jakes, who's an amazing public speaker, friend of mine has this quote. He says, you know, as you grow, new levels, new devils. And in that, it's this idea that like, as you get deeper into knowing who you are, the challenges actually become greater. It's not that you don't know less, it's more that you have to now figure out more. And that brought me to this other chapter in your book that also struck really home for me, that I've spoken about previously but I want to circle into, is this idea about how you do anything is how you do everything? And I'd love for you to talk about that.
Claude: That's such a huge habit for me and I've actually said no to doing a lot of things because I couldn't do it well, I couldn't give it my time, focus attention, I couldn't give it any of those things to the level that I wanted to. And I think kids, they get in the habit of, you know what, I did my homework on the bus, it looked like chicken scratch, I handed it in but you know, I gotta check good enough and then they say, okay, their parents ask them to do something, they do it maybe after being asked 10 times, okay, got her off my back, done good enough. And they don't see the value in doing the best job possible. And I think that's the chapter where I talk about like taking out the trash, like how do you take out the trash? Do you make sure you've gotten all of it? Do you wrap it up? Make sure everything goes in the trash can outside, if it falls on the ground, do you pick it up? Do you check all the trash cans? Like, do you do the best possible job you could do? I would say to the students, like, so, you know, you're asked to do a simple thing, empty the dishwasher, right? And you have to be asked 10 times, and you are perfectly capable of doing this and you do a terrible job or you let them nag you to death because you really hope they'll never ask you again. And that is a mindset of the less I do the less they'll ask me to do, it's learned helplessness, they learn that. You know what, if I just do a lousy job or make it so miserable for them in the process of getting me to do something, they won't ask me anymore, I can do less and less and less and then you become capable of doing less and less and less until you're helpless. And we see this so often, you know, with students, we accept, give me anything, you know, like you're desperate to just hand me any piece of paper with anything on it. I mean, I was a stickler, I was like, no, I would like your work in pencil, black ink, blue ink. And I had a kid, he did his entire thing in like red pen and I was, you're gonna have to do it again because I was super clear on this; this is what I expect. And he was so mad and I go, well, you know, that's the way it is, it's the way that's, I didn't like make that rule up for you. I didn't make that rule up today. And he learned in that moment, like he learned how I do these matters? Could I have read it in read pen? Could I have accepted? Could I have lowered my expectations? Sure. Of course. But instead, I was like, no, I want you to rise to the task at hand and I want you to do this the best way that you can, given you were you knew all of this. And I think he was trying to see where my line was. And I was like, my line's super clear. But they get in the habit and I don't know about parents and teenagers these days, cuz my kids are 30 and 31 but you know, when they would be asked to do something, there was no, like, this is the seventh time I've said, could you do that? It was like, this is the expectation, it will be done, you know, this is what I expect. And schools do this, oh, they do this all the time is okay, this is the deadline for handing in your money or your permission slip or your something and then they'll take it late and then they'll take it two days late and then they'll take it a week late and then they'll take it 10 minutes before everybody's loading on the bus. And I had a kid where I was just like, oh no, I'm sorry. It's late. And I go, you know, let's say you get a job and you start like showing up late every day and they keep paying you the same amount of money. Is there any incentive for you to start showing up on time? He's like, no, I go, what have you showing 15 minutes late. And then you start showing up half hour late and then you're showing up an hour late and nobody cares and they just keep paying you the same money or they need a presentation and there's gonna be 20 people there but you don't have it ready, you're gonna have it done three days from now like nobody wants to see your presentation three days from now they want it when they want it. Like, this is how the world works, they want what they want when they wanna get in the habit of doing things to the very best of your ability.
And I know there's, done is better than perfect, I've always said that. Getting it done is better. Perfect. And if you've written a book, so, I'm sure. Did you go back and re-edit anything after it was published?
Michael: Yeah. I've written three books, of course, and you know, to me that came into personal responsibility and accountability and saying, what do I want to put in the world? And like, I'm not the greatest editor in the world, I had friends edited and look at it too, and professionals, and at the end of the day, you just gotta put it. You can't be scared of the fear and the accountability of how you do it is about did I do my best? And that's what I come down to and I think to myself, as long as you do your best, like that's the thing that matters. And when I hear how you do anything is how you do everything. Like that's the thing I take away from that is like, did I show up? Did I do everything?
Claude: And in that moment, that you pushed publish on that book, right? In that moment, that was the best that you had in that moment. you know, and then I had somebody say like, did you know there was a typo or like a missing word on one page. Oh, okay. And then I went and fixed it. Like it wasn't the end of the world, you know, I crumble the book didn't crash, it was like, oh, okay, I just have to fix that. Even though in that moment, I was like, this is the best I could do. Oh, there was a mistake because I'm a human being. Okay. You know, keep working at it. And that's the thing, and that's the habit is I showed up, I did the best I could. Okay. So now the next thing that I do, I'm going to elevate that and do that the best I could, do that the best I could.
And I've had people, you know, say, I need somebody to do this big thing, and I will check myself and say, do I have the passion and interest that they have cuz if I don't share it, I might not be the person who's gonna do that for you. But if I do something for you and this is when I say yes, I'm gonna do this for you, you can expect my absolute best effort, because if I'm not gonna give you my absolute best effort, I will probably say, I'm not that person like you need to find the right person for this either I don't have the proper time to commit. I don't have the passion to commit to this. There's a reason, but once I lock in and say, I'm doing it like just get out of the way I'm doing it. I got this.
Michael: I'm right there with you. And I think that's such a powerful way and beautiful way to look at life is showing up, falling through, do what you said. And there's so many great analogies and anecdote in this conversation like I hope people will go back and listen this again and really explore some of the truth in this cuz they may hear the word teen and I'm over here, like, yeah, but this applies to you too, buddy. Before I ask you my last question, can you tell everyone where they can find you?
Claude: Yes. So, my books, again, teacher’s edition, I have the student edition, The Power of Choice the Teens Guide Defining Personal Success. It's an eBook, so you can buy it as an eBook and get a companion journal so you'd get all the graphics. All of that can be found on Amazon because as, you know, writing a book is hard and I decided to go the path of least resistance when it came to getting it out into the world. So, it is on Amazon. I do work with organizations, so if this were something you were looking to buy bulk copies, I offer it at a discount. You just have to reach out to me through my website, which is claudeblarsonllc.com. And you reach out to me through there and I can work with an institution, get it, you know, tax free and at a substantial discount because I don't have to pay Amazon. I think Amazon's probably gonna be afloat and make plenty of money. So, I feel perfectly fine selling it without going through that platform in bulk. They can also find me on Instagram @thepowerofchoiceforsuccess. And I think those are the easiest and best places to find it and me.
Michael: Awesome. And of course, we'll put those links in the show notes. My last question for you, my friend, what does it mean to you to be unbroken?
Claude: I think that to be unbroken, you know who you wanna be, right? You have a vision; you have a goal and every day you're taking one step. Trying to get closer to that goal, working towards that, no matter what, no matter if there's an obstacle, no matter if you fail, you will still get up and try no matter if it requires you to risk and use your courage muscle.
I think being unbroken is taking the time, clarifying what I want, what's important to me, knowing why it's important to me and then using the motivation of why to keep me moving forward step by step because I often I use this phrase often, how do you eat an elephant one step at a time if your goal is the whole elephant one step at a time, one bite at a time, right? That's how you do it. Then the whole, you know, overnight success, right? They say it takes 10 years to be an overnight success. It's just sticking with it, it's consistency and perseverance.
Michael: Brilliantly said my friend. Thank you so much for being here. Unbroken Nation, thank you so much for listening.
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Claude Larson is a 25-year veteran of teaching in New Jersey
public schools, primarily middle school science. Her experience can be distilled down to two core beliefs about education and life. First, education can give anyone, despite their circumstances, power to direct their future. And second, well developed life habits have the power to give each day more value.
Her daily choices, both large and small, have brought her great success in life. Her books, Professional Development courses and Teen Workshops are vehicles to help you find the path to success for yourself and contribute your greatness to the world.