Posts tagged “Champion of Choice

3 Minutes, 27%, and Having a Bad Day

Isaac Lidsky is back and is as helpful and impressive as ever!

Almost a year ago I wrote about an incredible TED talk by a guy named Isaac Lidsky, who movingly described how our brains masterfully construct our own unique, personal, and virtual realities. I’m not going to say anything more about that talk, because I don’t want to give any spoilers for why the talk was so moving, but you can access the blog post and talk at the following link –

What You Feel Can Change What You See

I said Isaac Lidsky is back because I recently became aware of an interview he conducted with Michelle Gielan, who I will say more about in a second. It turns out that Isaac has a website, which you can access at, and which you can also access below –

Ms. Gielan is a former CBS News anchor who became disturbed about the amount of negativity in her reporting, so she left to begin studying positive psychology with Martin Seligman. As a result, she has become a positive psychology expert herself and is a researcher and best-selling author. Specifically, “She studies the power of mindset to create happiness and forward progress in our lives.”

The interview, one of Lidsky’s Mastering Your Reality series, is not long, less than 15 minutes, and I encourage you to check it out. In case you don’t watch it right away, here are some of my takeaways from their visit, each of them so complimentary to Choice Theory beliefs –

+ Happiness doesn’t just happen, it takes attention.

+ Starting your day with three minutes of negative news in the morning increases your chance of having a bad day by 27% (as recorded 6-7 hours later).

+ It’s incredibly important to focus on a solution, rather than focus on the problem.

+ 91% of us need to respond to stress better; people get stuck in the problem.

+ Helpful to get the brain to focus on even one small meaningful action you can take right now to start solving the problem; so many benefits from getting to an action phase.

“You’re not going to get from A to Z unless you get from A to B.”

+ Becoming who or what we want to be isn’t about discovering and flipping some life-changing switch, as much as it is about intentionality everyday and managing your own well being.

+ Optimism is basically the belief that in the midst of challenges our behavior matters and the expectation that good things will happen.

+ We are malleable and can change our levels of optimism.

“Starting your day with 3 minutes of negative news in the morning
increases your chances of having a bad day by 27%.”

The interview closed with noting three dimensions of stress –

1) Do you stay stuck in the problem? vs. Do you move to an action plan?

2) Are you keeping things inside you? vs. Are you communicating with people you trust? Building social connection is the greatest predictor of long-term happiness.

3) Are you staying calm? vs. Are you letting something ruin your whole day?

In general, do you view events as a stress or do you view them as a challenge? The brain really gets into taking on challenges, which also results in less stress symptoms.

Finally, the interview ended by emphasizing the importance of taking your vacation days, all of them, every year! We are better at our jobs when take vacations and mentally disconnect from work. Choose to go on vacations!

Improve your work.
Go on vacation!

Lidsky has written his own bestseller, Eyes Wide Open, which will be even more impressive to you after viewing his TED talk.


On a personal note: After reading about and watching the Lidsky / Gielan interview, I did a search on The Better Plan blog and re-discovered my post of October 9, 2016, in which I not only introduced readers to Lidsky’s amazing story, but also shared my own (then recent) cancer diagnosis, a rare form of non-Hodgkins lymphoma known as Waldenstroms. Seeing that I am writing about Lidsky again, it seems right to update you on my cancer thing.

After almost a year of chemo pills and infusion therapy, my blood levels are almost entirely back where they need to be. My energy is back up and I have even gotten back on the bike and conquered the small mountain on which I live. Recently, I was taken off of the pills and the infusions because they want to see how I can do on my own. So far, so good. Love to all.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser’s ideas and his career.

VENTURES Interview Available for a Short Time

I’m sure you know how much I love the work of Dr. Bill Glasser, known as Choice Theory, Reality Therapy and Lead Management. It’s had such a big impact on my life and work, and it’s very effective at helping people to build stronger relationships with themselves and those around them.
I was recently featured in an interview on an online program called VENTURES, which has been created to build the global Glasser community and extend the legacy of Dr. Glasser’s work around the world. This interview is available online now, and they’ve opened up a window so that the [people in my world can watch it… but it is a time-limited opportunity. The video will be available for a sneak peek for only the next 10 days… after that, this special promo page will be taken down, and it will only be available to subscribers.
CLICK HERE to watch it now.
I’m really excited about the work of VENTURES, and I encourage you to become a subscriber. Every month VENTURES releases new content specifically created to inspire, support and extend the ideas of Dr. Glasser. The people behind VENTURES are Jean Seville Suffield, President of Glasser Canada, and Lynn Sumida, Senior Faculty for Glasser International. They, together with newcomer Paul Johnson, have been working tirelessly to launch this project, and I’m so happy to both support and recommend them to you.
The biography is such a good way to meet the man, but it is also a great way to learn about his ideas.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser’s ideas and his career.

The biography can be purchased from the William Glasser Inc. bookstore at

It can also be purchased through Amazon at this link.

A digital version of the book can be purchased from the publisher at this link. All formats are available.

Also, signed copies can purchased from me. Let me know.
If you have read the book I encourage you to post a review on Amazon or even on your Facebook page. Let’s continue to get the word out on mental health and happiness.

It’s the 7 Principles of the Thing

The Japanese translation of Glasser's biography, Champion of Choice.

The Japanese translation of Glasser’s biography, Champion of Choice.

I am looking forward next month to traveling to Japan and speaking at their Glasser conference on Reality Therapy and Choice Theory. The Glasser biography, Champion of Choice (2014) has been translated in Japanese (thanks to Masaki Kakitani and Achievement Publishing) and is selling well there. Some of you are aware of Choice Theory’s presence in countries around the world, with several countries – Australia, Ireland, Canada, and Japan, to name a few – having active and influential Choice Theory organizations.

Like a number of other cultures, Japanese read from right to left, and they also read from top to bottom. Again, thank you Masaki Kakitani.

Like a number of other cultures, Japanese read from right to left, and they also read from top to bottom. Again, thank you Masaki Kakitani.

Choice Theory’s worldwide presence and appeal underscores a point that shouldn’t be lost on us, the point being that Choice Theory is based on principles. Think about it, we define a principle as a foundational, fundamental truth, not restricted by time or place. In other words, a principle of human behavior would be as relevant in Singapore as it is in Scotland; as relevant in 1500 BC as it is in 2016.

Glasser referred to Choice Theory having axioms, which is a pretty good word, too, but not everyone really knows what an axiom is. If you are curious, an axiom is a self-evident truth that requires no evidence or a universally accepted principle. So the two words – principle and axiom – are close. (I am not sure I like the idea that an axiom requires no evidence. It seems, even when it comes to an important principle we are constantly reviewing it for accuracy.)

Principles provide compass points for our lives.
(They’re that dependable.)

So, given that Choice Theory is being studied and practiced around the world, what are the principles of human behavior that Choice Theory desires to honor and promote?

ONE – Every human being behaves for totally personal reasons.
We don’t behave for some reasons that are personal, or for reasons that are mostly personal. We behave for reasons that are totally personal. All of our motivation comes from within. We may change our behavior in response to a threat from someone else, or we may disregard the threat and do what we want, but either way we are deciding for reasons inside of us. We may accept a bribe and do what we are being paid to do, or we may reject the bribe and follow our own path, but again, we are deciding for internal reasons. We weigh outside circumstances; those circumstances don’t control us.

TWO – The only person we have a chance to control is ourselves.
Since every human being is internally motivated and controlled, it follows that “external control” or “outside control” really isn’t possible. We are not designed to be controlled by another person; nor are we designed to control others.

THREE – All behavior is purposeful.
I like Glasser’s explanation that any behavior is an attempt at that moment to meet a Basic Need. (Glasser would add that it is our “best” attempt to meet a need, but I am still thinking about that.) If we believe that people are internally controlled, then we must also believe that we behave for a reason, including the behavior of choosing to be miserable. (It’s fascinating to consider how being miserable could somehow be need-satisfying.)

FOUR – Attempts to control another person’s behavior will end poorly.
Because we are not designed to be controlled by others, or to control others, all our efforts to do so will harm the relationship between the controller and the controlee, and will also harm the quality of the task or product being demanded.

FIVE – Positive changes in behavior always come from tapping into a person’s strengths, not from trying to eliminate a person’s weakness.
Weaknesses represent areas in which we lack, sometimes significantly, so expecting changes to be based on areas in which do not have an affinity for or the needed skills seems a bit ill-advised. When working with a student (or teacher for that matter) who is performing marginally, the key lies in identifying areas of strength and building a success plan based on those strengths.

SIX – Positive changes are fueled by positive relationships with key individuals.
This may sound obvious, but it is striking how often this is ignored. Students, for instance, will work for a teacher with whom they enjoy a positive relationship, even in a content area the student doesn’t particularly like. And the opposite is just as true where students will do marginally in a content area they like because they are at odds with the teacher. One of the things that happens because of a good relationship is trust, and very little of value happens without trust.

SEVEN – Effective assessment is standards-based and always includes self-evaluation.
Measuring against a standard, especially when it comes to professional licensing (e.g.- passenger plane pilot, brain surgeon, lawyer, etc.), is important. However, the essential piece in the assessment process always comes back to how the individual being evaluated evaluates himself. Whether a student is working through a behavior problem on one hand or considering his level of performance on a Biology project on another, the goal is to help him/her accurately self-evaluate and then, if needed, to make a plan for improvement.

This list is not exhaustive, but it does state seven important principles of human behavior. My view is these principles have been around since the dawn of time and that they apply regardless of where you live. I have shared the elements of Choice Theory in places like Bangkok, Beirut, and Bermuda, disparate cultures that view the implications of Choice Theory differently. Of course, we here in the U.S. and Canada have our own cultural challenges, too, when it comes to Choice Theory. Yet principles are . . . well . . . principles. They don’t go away because we don’t understand them or don’t want to honor them.

Would you word any of the seven principles differently? Can you add any to the list?



For those of you who read from left to right, remember the English version of Glasser’s biography is also available.

You can buy the paperback version through William Glasser Books at
It is also available through Amazon.

Electronic versions of the biography are available through Zeig, Tucker Publishing at



This Is Your Life


The two days labeled as December 31 and January 1 are two of the biggest choice theory days of the year! We make a big deal out of these two days – one day representing a reflective farewell, the other representing a determined new beginning. There can be other important days in our calendar year, unexpected challenges that call on our choice theory prowess, but these two days roll around every year. And every year they seem to invite us to take a look back, to take stock of ourselves, to self-evaluate, and then to make a plan and set a course toward goals we see as important.

A song called This Is Your Life seems to capture the most important element of this reflection and self-evaluation. The lyrics acknowledge yesterday – the new wrinkle on our forehead and the way in which we may have let others down – but they emphasize that today is really all we have. “This is your life” the lyrics remind, and then just as powerfully ask, “Are you who you want to be?”

Our minds may be thinking about a lot of different things – how to eat better, exercise more, love others more fully, be less selfish, reach out to others more, do something for yourself once in a while, do better at arriving at appointments on time, talk with your mother without getting upset, watch less TV, to name a few. We can get so caught up in these “symptom” behaviors that we lose sight of the bigger picture. All these smaller behaviors revolve around the big question, “Am I who I want to be?”

One thing choice theory points out is that it is possible, in fact, likely, that we will have conflicting pictures in our Quality World. The Quality World represents the area in our brains where we store pictures of any person or any thing that satisfies a Basic Need. There is nothing that says we can’t place things in our Quality World that satisfy a need, yet aren’t good for us. I can have a picture in my Quality World of not eating high fat, high sugar food, and I can have a picture of cake in there, too. (Maybe the incredible lemon cake I described in the June 14, 2014 blog post.) Both of these pictures are need-satisfying in some way. I like the idea of eating healthy food, and I like the idea of eating unhealthy food.

A piece of cake from the Social Work consecration reception at PUC yesterday.

The apostle Paul seemed to really capture the angst of conflicting pictures in his letter to the Romans when he wrote that –

I want to do what is right, but I can’t.
I want to do what is good, but I don’t.
I don’t want to do what is wrong, but I do it anyway. Romans 7:18, 19

A lot of us can relate to this angst.


Choice Theory agrees with Switchfoot, the band who wrote This Is Your Life, in that today is indeed all we have. Fuming about the past or worrying about the future will not empower us to answer the important question, Are you who you want to be? With this in mind, here are a few things to keep in mind as we let go of 2015 and plan for 2016.

Admit It
It’s good to admit that for some reason ineffective behavior is need-satisfying. Ineffective behaviors are often (maybe always) self-medicating. Healthy or unhealthy we do these behaviors for a reason.

Make a Plan
Make a plan that is realistic and reachable. Overnight, complete makeovers don’t qualify as realistic or reachable. A good starting point might be just selecting a time during the day when you can center, balance, and focus on the important. Call it meditation, call it devotional time, call it whatever, but set a private time for centering and strengthening.


Replace Ineffective Pictures
Instantly eradicating a need-satisfying behavior, even one that is destructive, is hard to do. It is more doable when we come up with a new or different behavior to take its place. This takes some creativity, but it is worth the time.

Small Steps Are Fine
Taking small, consistent steps toward a goal is a good way to make significant change. Huge, immediate victories are great, but such a mindset can lead to huge defeats, too.

Don’t Let Slip-Ups Derail You
Don’t let slip-ups and mistakes keep you from re-evaluating and re-engaging in the plan. Slip-ups are common and are to be expected. You will sleep in instead of going to the gym; you will criticize a loved one; you will eat the lemon cake. Instead of guilting yourself and throwing out the plan because of your mistake, celebrate that it didn’t feel right when you behaved the way you did – whether it was overeating or vegging out in front of the television – and get back on track with a new plan.

Never give up
Never give up on yourself and never give up on the important people in your life. Every day of the year can be a December 31 when it comes to self-evaluation and change.



For those who may be interested, here are the lyrics for This Is Your Life:

Yesterday is a wrinkle on your forehead
Yesterday is a promise that you’ve broken
Don’t close your eyes, don’t close your eyes
This is your life and today is all you’ve got now
Yeah, and today is all you’ll ever have
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be?
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose
Yesterday is a kid in the corner
Yesterday is dead and over
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed that it would be?
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
Don’t close your eyes
This is your life are you who you want to be?
This is your life are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, are you who you want to be?
This is your life, is it everything you dreamed it would be
When the world was younger and you had everything to lose
And you had everything to lose


If you have read the Glasser biography, Champion of Choice, I encourage you to post a brief review on Amazon. More reviews will encourage others to check out Glasser’s ideas.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser's ideas and his career.

The book that connects the dots of William Glasser’s ideas and his career.

Being What We Want Our Students to Become

The sun was in my eyes. Not all pictures can be great pictures. The important thing is I got a shot in front of a place that's important to me.

The sun was in my eyes. What can I say? Not all pictures can be great pictures. The important thing is I got a shot in front of a place that’s important to me.

I was privileged this past Thursday and Friday (June 11-12) to provide a Better Plan in-service to the staff at Livingstone Adventist Academy in Salem, Oregon. This was especially meaningful to me as my choice theory journey and the Soul Shaper book came out of my experience at Livingstone 20 years ago. I was principal of the school from 93-96. While several teachers (I always refer to the team I worked with as the Original Soul Shapers) from the mid-90s continued at the school until very recently, only one remains now, that being Chris Sequeira, who teaches History and Bible there. I was very pleased that the new team at Livingstone wants to learn about choice theory principles and consider ways to apply them in a classroom setting.

Chris Sequeira (on the right) and me in his classroom after the in-service was over, and just before we bid farewell to each other - him to see his daughter graduate from Walla Walla and me to head to PUC for graduation weekend.

Chris Sequeira (on the right) and me in his classroom after the in-service was over, and just before we bid farewell to each other – him to see his daughter graduate from Walla Walla and me to head to PUC for graduation weekend.

With the in-service behind me now, like school teachers and workshop facilitators around the world, I am now in that place called reflection. How did the workshop really go? What did I do or what took place that worked? What could be improved? What needs to be tweaked to make it better the next time I do a two-day training? Reflection is the act of self-evaluating, and self-evaluation is a powerful part of choice theory. It’s not about beating myself up over not covering as much content as I wanted to, or not covering a concept as effectively as I would have liked. It’s about authentically (and compassionately) reviewing what took place and then modifying my lesson plan for the next go at it. I did the best I could; now I think maybe my best can be better.


The team at Livingstone seemed to resonate with the choice theory concepts. Most of them had read some or all of Soul Shapers before the in-service, so that helped. They had questions about some of the psychology pieces, but I didn’t pick up any “dealbreaker”responses. Their real questions, the tougher questions, had to do with how do you put these ideas into action? How, for instance, do you use choice theory with five-year-olds? How would choice theory affect classroom management in a high school classroom? What do you do with the kid who refuses to respond to reasonable choices or additional chances for success? These kinds of questions are similar to the challenges we all face. Choice theory sounds good, but how does it really work?

The title and subtitle on the syllabus I used at Livingstone read:

The Better Plan
Being What We Want Our Students to Become

The subtitle came to me as I was putting the finishing touches on the handouts, but the more I think about it the more I like it. There’s a lot contained in the phrase, “Being what we want our students to become.” For one thing, as teachers and parents we tend to focus on the behavior of our children or our students. In other words, we focus on what we want them to become. Choice theory reminds us, though, indeed thoroughly explains the importance of our first focusing on ourselves and what we bring to our homes and classrooms. Choice theory emphasizes the value of understanding our own being – our thoughts, our goals, our habits, and our beliefs. Only as I come into an appreciation of my own internal control design can I share the theory of that design with my students. Only as I come to see the sense of the axiom that the only person I can control is myself will I be better able to implement a classroom management plan that honors the internal control design of each of my students.


Our first focusing on our “being” as teachers does not mean that we cannot seek to guide and influence the behavior of our students. It is always interesting, though, when we consider how our own thinking and acting may have been a part of creating the problem we want changed. The clearer we see ourselves the better our management strategies will be.

Like Ellen White wrote over a hundred years ago –

“Let it never be forgotten that the teacher must be what he desires his pupils to become.”                Fundamentals of Christian Education, p. 58


Not that I want to compete with Amazon, but I can beat (sounds competitive) the Amazon price when it comes to the Glasser biography – Champion of Choice. Amazon’s price right now for the book and shipping is $30.17. My price for the book and first class shipping is $26, plus I will sign the book if you request it. (Media Mail shipping would be less.) Get in touch with me to order your copy at Expedite the order by sending me a check for $26, along with shipping instructions, to P. O. Box 933, Angwin, CA 94508.

I can now sell for lower than Amazon. Get the book from me.

I can now sell for lower than Amazon. Let me know if you want one or several copies.

You Are Responsible. Period. Is That Choice Theoryesque?

A friend recently posted this picture on Facebook. She shared it after discovering it on Dr. Wayne Dyer’s Facebook page. What should we think and feel about this statement? A person into choice theory would have to agree with it, right, maybe even say an amen over it, yet for all the rightness in this statement there is something unsettling about it, too. We are drawn to it and repelled by it at the same time.


I have seen the statement before and I think it is correct to attribute it to Wayne Dyer. I am aware of Dyer’s material, but not that familiar with it. Glasser talked about him. During one of my interview visits to his house (late 2003-early 2004) he was excited to be in communication with Dyer. He described how he had attended one of Dyer’s presentations and that Dyer had acknowledged William Glasser’s presence in the audience and briefly talked about the ways in which Glasser had influenced his thinking. I could tell this meant a lot to Glasser, even though he then went on to refer to Dyer’s spiritual views as being a bit loony. At the time of my visit Glasser did a lot of communicating through his fax machine. A fax was coming in as we were going to break from the interview for lunch and I remember him thinking aloud that it was from Dyer and that he was nervous about what it was going to say. In the end, Glasser enjoyed lunch without looking at it right away because he thought it might not say what he wanted it to say.

Dr. Wayne Dyer

Dr. Wayne Dyer

But I digress . . . back to the statement. What are we to make of it? “Everything you do is based on the choices you make,” it begins. Isnt this one of the essences of choice theory? “You are responsible for every decision and choice you make. Period.” it concludes. What could be more choice theory than this focus?

You Are Responsible. Period!

I agree with the truth in this statement, but I have to be careful where I allow that “truth” to take me. If the statement empowers me to better action, then good. If it inspires hope in me, also good. If it helps me to recognize my responsibility for my thinking and my behaving, more good. But if it encourages me to judge the poor circumstances of others as simply being the result of their poor choices, then not so good. If it keeps me from empathizing with those who are struggling or from seeking to truly understand their circumstances, and their choices, then this statement is much more harmful than helpful.


One such circumstance – that being poverty – that people have opinions about and make judgments about was recently addressed in an article with a really long title: 7 Things People Who Say They’re Fiscally Conservative But Socially Liberal Don’t Understand. What so many of us don’t understand or forget is that the cycle of poverty creates a permanent trap lasting generations. Ironically, it points out how being poor is actually more expensive than being rich. If we look at those struggling within this cycle of poverty and quickly assess that they are experiencing the result of their own choices we 1) seriously misunderstand their situation, 2) misuse the Dyer quote as an accusation, and 3) misrepresent the principles and spirit of choice theory.

photo 2

I wrote on this topic a bit last October in a post entitled Compassion and Slim Choices, which described how choices and options vary greatly from one person to the next, and on how we can’t view everyone as if they have the same choices and options. Compassion is the key. The lens of compassion must be the lens through which we see others, regardless of their circumstances. Yes, people possess the ability to make better choices, but these choices are often baby-steps within an atmosphere of love and support. Looking through the lens of judgment and conveying to others in poor circumstances that they are responsible for every decision and choice they make . . . period . . . doesn’t cut it.

Choice theory does not shy away from responsibility, but first it embraces compassion and connection.


Soul Shaper summer classes at PUC are just around the corner!

Soul Shapers 1: June 22-25
Soul Shapers 2: June 29 – July 2

Let me know if you are interested in attending at


Two books that will greatly contribute to your understanding of choice theory –

Available new on Amazon from $12.59; used from $1.01..

Available new on Amazon from $12.59; used from $1.01.

Soul Shapers provides evidence that Choice Theory changes people and schools into nurturing places of respect and choice. Roy shares his experience on how choice theory principles can be applied individually and collectively in educational settings, and offers practical suggestions on how true maturity begins with choices, not control and punishment. Dr. Ed Boyatt, retired educator

Soul Shapers combines the life changing clinical principles of choice theory that drive mental well-being and abundance and the spiritual principles of Christianity in a most powerful way! Tom Amato, Director of the Napa Valley Youth Advocacy Center.

Quickly order the biography from Amazon. Click on the book to

Quickly order the biography from Amazon.

Jim Roy’s biography is fascinating, and this book is a treasure. I have known Bill Glasser for over 20 years and have presented at many Glasser conferences. Reading about Dr. Glasser’s journey and Dr. Roy’s clear explanations of Dr. Glasser’s points in his numerous books on psychology, mental health, and education rate William Glasser as a major contributor in each of these areas. Anyone who is interested in becoming more efficient, improving relationships, and living a happier life will truly enjoy and learn from Jim Roy’s biography of William Glasser.  Dr. Marvin Marshall

Jim Roy has done a wonderful thing here: he has captured the truth and essence of the great unsung hero of psychology. William Glasser was a maverick, a licensed MD and psychiatrist who was not afraid to stand up against an ineffectual system of mental health and tell the world why and how it does not serve the needs of the afflicted. Glasser’s life journey is described in intimate detail from his early days in practice through all of the peregrinations and struggles in, not only developing his revolutionary ideas, but in finding an audience who would listen. Today his audience is strong and committed. Why? Because Dr. Glasser’s ideas work. Choice Theory and Reality Therapy, the two components of Glasser’s mental health system, are used by thousands of mental health practitioners around the world who report surprising results among even the most dismal populations. Anyone interested in what’s behind the veil in mental health practice should find much to resonate with in Jim Roy’s excellent biography.  Banning Lary

The Wrecking Crew


I recently saw The Wrecking Crew, a movie about the burgeoning music industry around Los Angeles in the 1960s, and the almost unknown studio musicians that played anonymously on many of the albums that were then being recorded. An impressive number of these songs went to the top of the billboard charts and achieved widespread fame.

Carol Kaye, bass player for The Wrecking Crew, and one of the best bass players of all time.

Carol Kaye, bass player for The Wrecking Crew, and one of the best bass players of all time.

These incognito studio musicians came to be known as The Wrecking Crew and were highly regarded throughout the Southern California music industry. Unfortunately, that almost invisible regard was all the notoriety these musicians would receive, as they were never mentioned on album covers or with singles that achieved #1 billboard status.

The list of individuals and groups they recorded with is too long to list here, but a few of them include: The Beach Boys, The Mamas & the Papas, The 5th Dimension, The Association, The Monkees, John Denver, Nat King Cole, Simon & Garfunkel, The Grass Roots, Gary Lewis & the Playboys, Cher, The Partridge Family, Bing Crosby, and Nancy Sinatra. They also recorded countless TV program theme songs (recall the opening to Bonanza) and commercial jingles.

Tommy Tedesco, probably the best guitarist you never heard of.

Tommy Tedesco, probably the best guitarist you never heard of.

So what’s the problem, you might be thinking. Let’s take The Beach Boys as an example. Brian Wilson, a member of The Beach Boys, was a music genius and arranged harmonies that are incredible. The rest of the group could sing well, but they weren’t as good as Brian when it came to the instruments. Brian would work with The Wrecking Crew musicians when it came to recording an album, since musically these guys were amazing. Another of The Beach Boys admitted that they were on the road 150 days out of the year and didn’t have time to practice. And yes, the sound of the live group on the road was quite a bit different than the studio musicians back home. This same scenario played out time and time again with other groups, too.

The Beach Boys

The Beach Boys

I loved a Gary Lewis & the Playboys album I listened to a lot as a kid back in 1967, yet now I know the actual musical impact of Lewis and the playboys on that album was pretty insignificant. There are some wonderful background guitar riffs, for instance, in the song Sure Gonna Miss Her, but as it turns out there was never anyone in the group capable of playing a guitar like that. (Thank you, Tommy Tedesco, of The Wrecking Crew.)

And so these little known musicians stayed very busy during this unique beginning of the rock and roll era, and they made good money in the process, yet they were rarely acknowledged for their contributions. Hit song after hit song was the result of their talent, but they were not given credit for any of them.

Things would change in the music industry and the studio era would pass. Music groups would come to be made of individuals with serious music talent, able to both record in the studio as well as to perform on the road. The Wrecking Crew musicians became less and less busy as a result. Some of them, like Glen Campbell, created solo careers, but this was pretty rare. For those of us who still enjoy a good song from the late 60s, we owe these musicians a big thank you.

Bill Glasser, at home, ready to visit about whatever is on your mind.  (Photo by Jim Roy)

Bill Glasser, at home, ready to visit about whatever is on your mind. (Photo by Jim Roy)

On the way home from the movie I couldn’t help but think of Glasser in the same way. I continue to see articles and books that build on (whether they realize it or not) the beliefs of William Glasser, yet he is never mentioned or acknowledged in the articles. A recent such article, How Our Thoughts Control Our DNA, explains how our perceptions can actually re-write our genes. Bruce Lipton, author of The Biology of Belief (2005), writes that –

“The common idea that DNA determines so much of who we are – not only our eye or hair color, for example, but also our addictions, disorders, or susceptibility to cancer – is a misconception. This concept says you are less powerful than your genes. The problem with that belief system is that it extends to another level. You find yourself to be more or less a victim of your heredity. You become irresponsible. You say, ‘I can’t do anything about it, so why try?’ In reality, a person’s perception, not genetic programming, is what spurs all action in the body. It is actually our beliefs that select our genes, that select our behavior.”

“It is actually our beliefs that select our genes, that select our behavior.”

Anyone who has read much of Glasser cannot read this Lipton passage without tracing the important connection between the two. One of my hopes for the Glasser biography was that it would establish and remind readers of Glasser’s influence. There is a growing awareness of the human capacity to make choices and the implication this capacity has on psychological and physical health. The psychology of internal control is gaining momentum!

The psychiatric shot heard around the world!

The psychiatric shot heard around the world!

It is good that The Wrecking Crew is now being recognized for their sizable contributions to the world of music. I loved their music as a kid and continue to love their music now. In the world of psychology the most important thing is that people understand how to be responsible for their own happiness and that they understand how to meet their basic needs without bulldozing or manipulating others in the process. That said, though, I would like for William Glasser to be seen as a major contributor to this view of mental health.


Quickly order the biography from Amazon. Click on the book to access the Amazon link.

Quickly order the biography from Amazon. Click on the book to access the Amazon link.

Is There Any Choice Theory in Being a Tiger Parent?



Is this message to parents choice theory friendly? How should a choice theorist relate to these kinds of posters?

There are lots of choice theorists out there and I don’t presume to speak for all of them, however I do have a personal opinion on the matter. I saw this message on Facebook and noticed it had garnered a lot of likes. Amy Chua is the author of the 2011 viral book, Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, which many interpreted as a manifesto for parents needing to take control of their children’s lives. There was a huge amount of attention given to the book and the topic of parenting, in general. My goal here is not to share a review of the book. I will share below a seven-minute interview of Ms. Chua on PBS, because I think it captures a more complete picture of her motivation to write the book. She explains that much of what she wrote was tongue-in-cheek and that she didn’t expect her ideas to go viral in the way they did. In the end she admitted that her strategies did not work with her youngest daughter, in fact the strategies threatened the relationship between her and her daughter, and had to be softened. Check out the video and decide for yourself.


My goal as a parent is to prepare you for the future, not to make you like me.   Amy Chua

The either-or design of the statement – You can have a successful child or you can have a good relationship with him – is really a false choice. It conveys the idea that you can’t have both at the same time, which is a problem for a choice theorist, who sees the statement needing to be worded more like – My goal as a parent is to nurture a consistent and positive relationship with my child, from which I can inspire and guide him to success.

The phrase “My goal as a parent is to prepare you for the future” is really a statement about what success is and specifically, what the parent’s picture of success is. Parents that live this statement seem to be saying “I know what is best for you” and “I know how you should get to where I want you to go.” Such an approach emphasizes control, rather than influence, and children (like every human being on the planet) resist being controlled. It has been said that as long as we are connected to our children, we have influence on their thinking and behavior. Disregard that connection and focus on control at your child’s peril.

The phrase “not to make you like me” implies I actually can make you like me, but that I am willing to sacrifice this luxury in favor of your eventual success. This is inaccurate in that a person cannot be made to like anybody. A relationship can be invited, but not forced. Again, the relationship element is seen as possibly nice, but probably a distraction or worse, and thus needs to be de-valued or even eliminated.

Statements like the Chua quote seem to tap into what the reader already believes or wants to believe. It confirms a belief in the value of control, even if it means coercing behavior. People with this mindset read “Spare the rod; spoil the child” as a directive to assertively control kids into submission. They see the rod as a necessary weapon. Others, with a different mindset, see the “rod” as a gentle tool, like that with which shepherds guide and prod and nudge.

The Amy Chua quote has much more to do with the needs of adults, than it has to do with the needs of children. It has to do with what we think success looks like, rather than helping children and students identify their own vision for success. And it has to do with our willingness to de-value relationships, instead of acknowledging the desperate need children have for positive, nurturing, supportive relationships.

William Glasser (1981)

William Glasser (1981)

William Glasser ran into this same challenge early in his career. He emphasized personal responsibility in his groundbreaking book, Reality Therapy (1965), which was a part of a total approach that included involvement (the term Glasser originally used to convey human connection and warm relationships) and never giving up. Some latched on to the idea of responsibility and used it as a way to pressure and control kids, which was a huge concern to Glasser and caused him to pull back from the emphasis. He knew that relationships had to be at the top of the list, and that responsibility must be planted in and grow out of these relationships.

Amy Chua learned this, too, and changed her approach before it ruined her relationship with her second daughter. For those working with students, this same dynamic will play out for us, too. We can have a false sense of control or we can have true influence. We decide.


Quickly access a digital version of the Glasser biography, Champion of Choice, by clicking on the book below –

Digital version only $10.

Digital version only $10.

Chris Borland and The Choice

Chris Borland, taken during the Nov. 27, 2014, game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Chris Borland, taken during the Nov. 27, 2014, game against the Seattle Seahawks.

Sports media, and news media in general, was abuzz this week over the decision of a young man to retire from football . . . at the age of 24. Chris Borland, a linebacker for the San Francisco 49ers, announced that he is hanging up his cleats and heading another direction. He explained that he had looked carefully at the data regarding head impact and trauma, and that the numbers regarding CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy), early dementia, memory loss, and depression are pretty alarming. For him the risk wasn’t worth the reward.

Borland, focused and ready to attack just prior to the snap.

Borland, focused and ready to attack just prior to the snap.

Borland was scheduled to make $504,000 this coming season, not that much by NFL standards, but he most certainly was headed toward making much more than that in the near future. Drafted in the third round out of Wisconsin last year, he caught the notice of the football world when he filled in for an injured Patrick Willis and played like a human missile, consistently unleashing havoc on opponents throughout the second half of last season. In fact, even with less than a full season of playing he led the 49ers in tackles. With Willis recently retiring because of his physical status, 49er fans were comforted by the fact that they had Borland to step in and fill that void. Borland’s announcement to the contrary hit SF Bay Area fans particularly hard.

Talking heads of the sports world went nuts with Borland’s announcement. ESPN covered it as one of their major news stories. On a personal level, most commentators felt that Borland had the right to choose as he saw fit regarding his football career, although they were incredulous at his ability to walk away from the money and the fame he was in the process of receiving. The real story, though, was Borland’s decision and its effect on the NFL. Would Borland, for instance, be the first of many to walk away from the violent sport? Some commentators felt that the answer to that question was yes, and that Borland’s decision literally marked the beginning of the end for football as we know it. Not immediately, but eventually. The following Sports Illustrated headline reflects the concern.

With Chris Borland deciding risk not worth reward, questions linger for NFL

Chris Borland’s choice took the sports world by surprise, yet it is completely consistent with the principles of choice theory. Given that choice theory’s contention is that 1) all behavior is purposeful and need-satisfying, and that 2) people behave in a way that best meets their needs at any given moment, Borland’s decision is understandable and, many would say, sensible.

On the January 22, 2013, blog I posted – Give Me Victory or Give Me Death – I wrote about athletes who are willing to risk injury and death in the pursuit of fame. Elite athletes from many different sports must contend with the temptation to enhance their performance through unfair or illegal means. The post especially looked at the sport of cycling and the way in which serious sanctions and penalties did not dissuade elite cyclists (the most famous being Lance Armstrong) from using performance-enhancing drugs (PEDs). From a choice theory perspective, the post argued that while their decision to use PEDs was wrong according to the rules, it was explainable based on the basic needs and quality world of the cyclists within the context of how the sport was then governed.

If I am going to comment on a low-point in sports – the PED cycling dilemma – and the out-of-control athletes seeking to gain and maintain a winning advantage as an example of choice theory’s explanation of human behavior, I figure I should also be on the lookout for what I believe to be a high-point in sports – that being Chris Borland’s thoughtful decision to retire from football – and a completely in-control athlete as an example of choice theory as well.

The sports world doesn’t know what to do with the Borland decision. Most don’t get it at all – “he’s a quitter” or “ wuss” some Twittered. (Anyone who saw him play could not intelligently use his name and wuss in the same sentence.) Some get it, but shake their heads none-the-less, unable to fully get how a young man could walk away from fame and fortune. For Borland it wasn’t all that complicated. (Choice theory has a way of making things less complicated.) In his own words, “I just honestly want to do what’s best for my health. From what I’ve researched and what I’ve experienced, I don’t think it’s worth the risk.”

Borland during team activities without helmet and pads.

Borland during team activities without helmet and pads.

We are “inside-out” creatures. “Outside-in” punishments didn’t keep cyclists from cheating, nor did “outside-in” fortune and fame keep Borland on the playing field.


“Everything we do – good or bad, effective or ineffective, painful or pleasurable, crazy or sane, sick or well, drunk or sober – is to satisfy powerful forces within ourselves.”   William Glasser

Now priced at $18.18 on Amazon.

Now priced at $22.95 on Amazon.




Melting Self-Justification



We are masters at creating reality;
experts of self-justification.

How can it be me
that got me into this mess?
I don’t like messes.
I’m sure it can’t be me.

We are gifted at crafting a perception
that explains our powerlessness
and protects us from change.

It’s so unfair how I have been treated,
so misunderstood and under-appreciated.
I want to do my part,
but not when people take advantage of me.

We are capable of lifting the lid
to our pandora mind;
and seeing the truth
that explains our past, present, and future.

Capable maybe,
but what about the bravery part?
What about the part
where I become willing to see my role
on the road more traveled.

It is a brave thing
to look within;
not for justification,
but for the truth,
whatever it might be.

I don’t think I can do it alone.
I’m too good at seeing things my way.
I’m afraid of what I will find,
afraid of glimpsing the people I have hurt.

I’m ready;
ask me the questions that will help me discover . . . me.


It is more the rule than the exception that people grow into adulthood without ever challenging their self-justifications. For such an adult, much energy goes toward crafting a narrowly-focused self view, while at the same time fighting off and even denying different perspectives. The result of this narrow view is a less than happy life, as relationships and circumstances come to be viewed through a victim lens.


It is an incredible gift for parents and teachers to guide and mentor children toward being able to bravely look at themselves. The endless cycle of self-justification needs to be melted and it can begin early.

Keep in mind that while learning to effectively self-evaluate is one of the most important skills a person can have, it can’t be forced or pressured. In fact, pressure almost always leads to the opposite outcome. It has been explained that –

We volunteer to look into this mirror; we choose to pursue self-reflection. People – like teachers and parents – may want to push children to the mirror and force them to think about themselves, but it doesn’t work that way. In fact, pushing to the mirror causes children to push back and to refuse to think and reflect.   Turner Herrold

This same person went on to say that –

Blame and punishment are tools that adults can use to push children toward the mirror, but they are an ill-suited pair for such a task. Looking into the mirror requires bravery; blame and punishment create resentment and defensiveness. Looking into the mirror requires vulnerability; blame and punishment build entrenchment.

Choice theory can take on many roles – telescope, microscope, compass, GPS, and map, to name a few – but one of its most important roles is that of mirror. Looking into choice theory we begin to see ourselves more accurately.



The William Glasser biography – Champion of Choice – will be a huge help toward melting ineffective self-justification. Click on the book to quickly order one from Amazon.

Now priced at $18.18 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.58 on Amazon.

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