Posts tagged “Glasser

Trading Life for Looks

I saw some data from recent research that, unfortunately, brought to mind The Better Plan blog from January 22, 2013, which was titled Give Me Victory or Give Me Death. You can click on the title to take a  look at the post, but basically it described the results of a survey given to elite athletes where half of them admitted that they would trade their lives for success in their particular sport. The article commented on how powerful the basic needs are in our lives, as well as how central the quality world is in choosing the behaviors we see as need-satisfying. Toward the end of the post I wrote that –

SI cover

Until athletes, and the rest of us for that matter, understand the concept of the basic needs and the scrap book (quality world) process of meeting those needs, our rules and punishments will have very marginal success at best, and actually be counterproductive at worst. We need to understand that people are always acting in what they think is their best interest at the moment. Whether a recreational cyclist who drinks water before heading out on a ride to get in better shape or a professional cyclist who dopes before heading out on the next leg of the competition, both are doing what they think is best. Based on the pictures they pre-determined in their mental scrap books, their behavior is rational. Maybe not right or ethical, but rational.


In similar ominous fashion, recent research out of the UK has found that 30 percent of women would trade at least one year of their life to achieve their ideal body weight and shape. Once again we have evidence of people, in this case women, who are willing to trade their lives for a picture in their quality world. The data revealed that in order to achieve their ideal body weight and shape –

  • 16% would trade 1 year of their life
  • 10% would trade 2-5 years of their life
  • 2% would trade 6-10 years of their life
  • 1% would trade 21 years or more of their life

Further data revealed that –

  • 46% of the women surveyed have been ridiculed or bullied because of their appearance.
  • 39% of the women surveyed reported that if money wasn’t a concern they would have cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance. Of the 39% who said they would have cosmetic surgery, 76% desired multiple surgical procedures. 5% of the women surveyed have already had cosmetic surgery to alter their appearance.
  • 79% of the women surveyed reported that they would like to lose weight, despite the fact that the majority of the women sampled (78.37%) were actually within the underweight or ‘normal’ weight ranges. Only 3% said that they would like to gain weight.
  • 93% of the women surveyed reported that they had had negative thoughts about their appearance during the past week. 31% had negative thoughts several times a day.

There is so much to say here, yet you probably could respond to this data as well as me. I think of the quality world as the My Needs Met world (MNM). It is hard to overstate the importance of the pictures we create and store in our personal My Needs Met storage system. So important are these pictures, so valuable are they to us, that in some cases we are willing to trade our lives for them.

There are influences around us that invite us and pressure us to create these pictures. Applause and adulation invites us to trade our lives for a trophy; media pressure invites us, especially women, to trade self-acceptance for self-loathing and constant efforts to be different, even if it means going under the knife. Such pressure and invitations are external to us, though. They can beckon, but they cannot enter our quality world without our consent. We put pictures into our quality world and we can take them out. There are quality world pictures that are worth dying for. Let’s really make sure they are the right pictures.

* An article on the study out of the UK can be found here.


Follow The Better Plan on Twitter



Click on Champion of Choice to quickly order a copy.

Now priced at $18.51 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.51 on Amazon.




Stuffing God Into a Box


Cartoons can say so much with so few words. This cartoon does that for me. As soon as I saw it I thought of a particular element on the choice theory chart. In case you don’t have the chart close by at the moment (I know that some of you have the chart memorized) here it is.


What part of the chart does this cartoon relate to for you? If you were teaching a choice theory class or workshop, could the cartoon be used to help class members understand the chart? I would love to hear from you on this. I suspect that the cartoon could be applied to more than one area of the chart and I would like to hear your take on it.

For me, the cartoon of a person trying to shove God into a box of their preconceived beliefs really relates to the concept of the Perceived World. The Perceived World represents our personal view of reality. We are constantly comparing the pictures we have in our Quality World (what we want) with the reality of our Perceived World (what we think we have). When what we want differs greatly enough from what we think we have, we choose a behavior that we think will fix the discrepancy.

The two filters to the left of the Perceived World are significant. We perceive reality through our senses, a sleek process that a) evaluates the level of knowledge we have about the input, and also b) evaluates the value we place on the input. The Knowledge filter is pretty straight-forward. Those things we have partial knowledge of or better slip through to our Values filter, which is a very important moment in the process of perceiving our reality. You’ll notice that the Values filter is the same color – yellow – as the Quality World. The Quality World is the album in our heads where we store pictures of everything that we come across in our lives that is need-satisfying. As children we learn things from our parents, our teachers, our pastors, and any number of other adults that we place in our Quality World. As a result the Quality World becomes a very powerful compass in our lives, not always an accurate compass, but a powerful one none the less. Powerful because what we place in our Quality World becomes the filter or lens through which we see our reality.


When I see a person trying to stuff God into a box of their own religious beliefs, it reminds me of the ability we have as human beings to create our own picture of reality, and further to believe that picture is in fact the only accurate picture of reality period. Voltaire, the French philosopher, may have understood this human ability when he wrote that “If God has created us in His own image, we have more than reciprocated.” So powerful is our Quality World filter and the picture of reality that we create that rather than letting God make is into His image, we go about making Him into our image.

We do not see things the way they are. We see things the way we are.

What did I miss? How would you use the cartoon to teach about a piece of the chart?

This same topic has been addressed in earlier posts. Check them out here –

Misdirected Zeal

Why Christians Are So Un-Christian


Click here to easily access a digital copy of the Glasser biography, Champion of Choice.

Now priced at $18.77 on Amazon.

Only $10 for digital version.


25 Ways to Ask Your Kids “How Was School Today?”


If you are into choice theory you have come to recognize how valuable a well-worded question can be. Not all questions are well-worded and lead to quality responses, though.

The Omaha Sun Times recently ran an article entitled, 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids ‘So How Was School Today?’ Without Asking Them ‘So How Was School Today?’ This regularly-asked question garners pretty much the same answer from kids, “Uh, ok.” So what kind of questions might actually get more than an “Uh, ok,” response? Here are some examples from the 25 Ways list –

What was the best thing that happened in school today?

Tell me something that made you laugh today.

If you could choose, who would you like to sit by in class? (Not sit by?)

If I called your teacher tonight, what would she tell me about you?

How did you help somebody today?

How did somebody help you today?

When were you the happiest today?

Who would you like to play with at recess that you’ve never played with before?

What do you think you should do more of at school? (Less of?)

Who in your class do you think you could be nicer to?

If you got to be the teacher tomorrow, what would you do?

Tell me about three different times you used your pencil today.

These kinds of questions will get more than “Uh, ok” answers and will begin to help us empathize with the lives of our children.

Those taking the Soul Shapers training during the summer at PUC (or those taking the basic or advanced Glasser training at locations around the world) learn about the WDEP method of problem-solving conferencing. The letters WDEP stand for categories of questions that will assist the person you are conferencing with – be they student, fellow teacher, parent, or administrator – to effectively self-evaluate and engage in solving the problem, whatever the problem may be.

W stands for Want or What do you Want?
D stands for Doing or What are you Doing?
E stands for Evaluation or Is it Working?
P stands for Plan or What is your Plan?

There are many different questions in each of these categories that can be asked to facilitate self-evaluation and discussion. The key is that good questions can help your student or your child or whoever it is you are trying to help to figure out what they should do and how they should do it. Good questions also minimize the talking that we do and maximize the talking of the person who should be doing the talking – that being your student or child or colleague.

Examples of questions from each of these categories include –

What do you want?
What is your goal?
What are you willing to settle for?
How do you want your class to be?
When was the last time you were happy?

What are you doing?
What action have you taken?
What have you tried?
When you think those thoughts, what do you usually do?
What do you do between 8:00 and 10:00 PM as a general rule?

Is it working?
If you continue to act that way, what do you think will happen?
Are you satisfied with the way things are?
In what ways have things improved?
Is your behavior helping you or hurting you?

What is your plan?
What? Where? When? With whom? How often? What time?
What would you commit yourself to for the rest of the week?
Can you think of something that would help you put this plan into action?
How committed are you to making this happen?

Whether you are creating a PBL lesson (Project-Based Learning) or leading out in a problem-solving conference, a great question is worth its weight in gold!


William Glasser: Champion of Choice is now available as an eBook and can be accessed at the following link –

Now priced at $17.73 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been uploaded so far.

Now priced at $17.73 on Amazon; 16 reviews have been uploaded so far.


Teaching the Quality World

Today’s blog post is authored by Banning Lary, who I met at the Toronto conference last month. I want to create a page on The Better Plan website at which people can find Choice Theory instructional ideas. This article does just that. The article has previously appeared in The International Journal of Choice Theory and is used with the permission of the author. Thank you, Banning, for sharing this.

Explaining Glasser’s ‘Quality World’
by Banning Lary

During the process of learning about Choice Theory / Reality Therapy (CT/RT) to a level worthy of certification, I found the “How the Brain Works” chart to be intimidating in its complexity. My first instinct was to change the chart and make it more palatable. But, as I began to understand CT/RT the chart began to make more and more sense and I eventually fell in step with the many who have come before me whose minds were positively altered by this sublime and workable model. As certification requires selecting a portion of the chart and preparing a presentation, I wanted to choose an area I wanted to know thoroughly, to the extent that I could explain it to others. I searched Dr. Glasser’s Choice Theory (1998) until I came upon this quote:

“Learning what is in a person’s ‘Quality World’ and trying to support it, will bring us closer to that person than anything else we can do.” (p. 51).

If our work is to help others self-evaluate, learning about their Quality Worlds (QW) seemed not only critically important, but possibly a good place to initiate a dialogue to find out about a person. I thus selected the Quality World portion of the chart as my certification project and developed a PowerPoint presentation, slides of which are incorporated into this article.

As I was setting up my computer to begin my presentation, I passed a white index card to everyone in the class and asked them to read the card and write a one-sentence answer. Every card contained the same set of instructions:

What is a table?

Picture a table you know in your mind. Then
write a one sentence description on this card.

The purpose for this will become clear in a moment.

I started my presentation macroscopically and worked inward. I described the Real World as being made up of phenomena, appearances in time and space that can be apprehended by the senses. The Perceived World was described as being a subset of the Real World, comprised of only what we as individuals see, smell, touch, taste or hear. This was further illustrated using the parable of the blind men and the elephant.

Five blind men approached an elephant for the first time and tried to describe it to others. “It’s flat and floppy,” said the blind mind who came in contact with the elephant’s ear. “No, it’s round and heavy,” said the man with his arms round a leg. “It’s like a tapered tube,” said the man holding the snout. “It’s thin and ropelike,” said the man with its tail. “It’s broad and wide,” the fifth blind man said, his arms outstretched spanning the elephant’s torso.


I then asked my colleagues to read what they had written on their cards. “A table is wooden, rectangular and usually found in a dining room.” “A table is round with a thick glass top.” “A table is made of columns and rows of numbers, like an accountant would use.” “A green felt covered piece of slate housed in a heavy frame with bumpers used for billiards.” And so on.


From one simple word, all these different perceptions. Now what would happen if you asked a group of different people to explain their perception of words like power, love, freedom, physical health or fun: the five basic needs of Choice Theory, their fulfillment ideally represented in a person’s Quality World. Therefore, each person’s Quality World is a subset of their Perceived World which is a subset of the Real World.


According to Glasser, a Quality World is made of pictures (people, places, things, activities, ideas and belief systems) we perceive as being need-fulfilling whether anyone else may regard them as need-fulfilling or not. These pictures relate to our past experiences, future aims and ambitions and relate to our idealized selves. Our personal Quality World pictures direct our efforts to fulfill our vision of our basic needs and thereby direct our behavior. Behavior, as Glasser sees it, is comprised of thinking, doing, feeling and physiology (Total Behavior), but that is another area of the chart outside of this discussion.


Pictures in our Quality Worlds are changing and changeable as we go through life. Pictures in an infant’s Quality World may just be his or her parents as they fulfil the infant’s five basic needs. These pictures can vary in levels of intensity or in the possibility of attainment, such as personal goals of becoming a doctor, having a family, building a vacation home or even winning an Oscar. The composite Quality World of a young adult will be more complex and contain more pictures. A Teenager, for example, may have a composite Quality World that looks like this:


Or like this:


Notice how the size and span of the images can vary, how one picture can fill one or more of our basic needs. Notice also the change in the size of the pictures in the second example from the first example. Assuming these are Quality World composites from the same individual, notice how the importance of athletic achievement diminished as the desire or want to smoke dope and hang out with pals increased. This acknowledges Glasser’s observation that Quality Worlds are not always comprised of pictures we (others) might ethically, legally or morally judge as being right. And that…

“… a lot of people have not found anyone they can trust and enjoy being with. They may have been rejected or abused… to feel good they begin to replace people pictures with nonpeople pleasure pictures – pictures of violence, drugs and unloving sex – in the quality worlds. As they do so they separate themselves further from people and happiness, compounding the urgency of their problem.” (Glasser, Choice Theory, 1998, p. 49).

In other words, people who do not have their needs fulfilled in ways society regards as being healthy and positive, may turn to negative and destructive activities to get their needs met. This is where aberration begins. And, if we can discover these life diminishing behaviors by being allowed into the other person’s Quality World, we can ask the kind of questions necessary to help the person make more life-sustaining choices. These choices will lead to further refinement and replacement of images in the person’s Quality World.


As an exercise, I then put up a blank screen and pass around a placard listing a variety of images I have in a folder that are easily accessible on my computer. At the top of the card it reads:



The card is passed around and I ask participants to select an image that fulfills a need and tell how it does so. The images I have used are: Aerobics Class, Backpacking, Basketball, Basketball Professional, Boating, Burger And Fries, Carribean Cruise, Community Service, Cooking Class, Coworkers Smiling, Daughter And Father, Dental Hygenist, Dentist, Dinner Party, Diploma, Family, Father Or Grandfather, Fiesta Dance, Flying Small Plane, Gambling, Gardening, Grandparents , Gymnastics Girls, Hiking, Horseback Riding, Knitting, Making A Movie, Man Fishing, Man Golfing, Man Job Promotion, Man Losing Weight, Man Skiing , Mother, Public Speaking, Quinceanera, Rap Music, Running, Scuba Diving, Sky Diving, Smoking Marijuana, Surgeon, Teaching, Weight Lifting, Travel To Asia, Travel To Europe, Vacation Home, Volunteering In Hospital, Wedding On Beach, Winning The Oscar, Woman And Cat, Woman And Dog, Women Archery,, Woman Bowling, Woman Helping The Elderly, Woman Job Promotion, Woman Losing Weight, Woman Skiing, Woman Snorkeling, Woman Tennis, Woman Water Skiing, Woman With Baby.

Someone might select the image of the diploma and say it fulfills their basic need for power (self-worth). Another might pick the photo of the mother, grandparents or coworkers smiling and refer to fulfilling the need for love and belonging. For fun, I have had them choose scuba diving, golfing, gymnastics, gardening or having a dinner party, which could also fulfill love and belonging, and so forth. There are, of course, no right or wrong answers, but as they select these images I place them on the page. This provides a dynamic example of how a Quality World is created that is easy to understand.


After we have constructed a sample Quality World and everyone who wants to participates, I conclude with a good thematic quote from Glasser:

“But, ultimately, whether people agree with us or not, we define reality in the way that works best for us.” (Glasser, Choice Theory, 1998, p. 47).

Therein lies the beauty of the Quality World, the visual composite of our ideal need fulfilling images which uniquely frames the mentality of every individual. By understanding and embracing another’s Quality World, we afford ourselves the opportunity to help people self-evaluate and change their lives.

If this exercise appeals to you, feel free to use it or develop a variation for use in your own work with clients or students or to help educate others about the Quality World and its importance to Choice Theory / Reality Therapy.


Glasser, W. (1998). Choice Theory. New York: Harper Collins.

William Glasser Institute: How the Brain Works Chart


Banning K. Lary
344 Madison Place
Lexington, KY 40508



13 Amazon reviews; can we make it 15?

13 Amazon reviews; can we make it 15?

For U.S. customers, get a signed copy of Champion of Choice for $20 + $6 (shipping). Send your check, along with any special instructions (e.g.- if the book is a gift), as well as your shipping address, and I will get the biography out to you right away.
Please include your email address, just in case I have questions about your order. My address is P. O. Box 933, Angwin, CA 94508

Get a signed copy of Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Teachers for $17.


Some Amazon reviews for Soul Shapers wouldn’t hurt either.




You can access The Better Plan posts on –



No Word for Accountability? Are You Kidding Me?


Finland is doing something really, really right with their schools, yet the U.S. education system is either ignoring what Finland is doing, or is incapable of seeing the value in what they are doing. I suggest we Americans take a moment and consider three key points in Finland’s approach.

In “quality of life” global surveys, out of all the countries in the world Finland ranks #1. The PISA (Programme for International Student Assessment) survey, which compares 15 year olds from 18 different countries in reading, math, and science, ranks Finnish students at the top as well. Since 2001, they have either been ranked 1st, 2nd, or 3rd. PISA performance for U.S. students has been middling at best.


So what gives in Finland? Here are three keys to keep in mind.

1)  Finland is an education superpower because it values equality over excellence.
When Finland recognized in the 1970s that they had to fix their schools they decided to create an education system that worked for all of its citizens, and especially their children. Today there are hardly any private schools in Finland, and those that do exist cannot charge tuition. Their goal was not to focus on choice, but on equity; not on competition, but on cooperation.

2)  They view learning as a constructive process.
Finnish schools assign less homework and schedule more creative play. Except for a national matriculation exam at the end of high school, there are no standardized tests. Periodically, some tests are given to sample groups, but these tests simply provide a snapshot of how their education system is doing in specific content areas.

3)  There is no word for accountability in Finnish.
No wonder the Finnish approach to education is going completely over the heads of Americans. We are obsessed with accountability, and because of this we are always on the lookout for a strategy to keep track of performance and then apply the right carrot or stick as needed. Pasi Sahlberg, director of the Finnish Ministry of Education’s Center for International Mobility, during an interview at Teachers’ College of Columbia University, when asked about accountability, shrugged as he pointed out that “There’s no word for accountability in Finnish.” He then explained that “Accountability is something that is left when responsibility has been subtracted.”


From a choice theory perspective there is so much here to think about. Equity over choice might alarm some, but think about the implications of this emphasis. Their goal is to have 100% of their schools be the kind of school that any student would want to attend. In America we don’t work to create excellent schools for all students, but then we use the idea of “choice” to wiggle out of this level of responsibility. We stress competition, even as the “playing field” heavily favors those with money. And no word for accountability? How can that be? As I have thought about it I have come to see the external control nature of accountability. Accountability is monitoring performance so that an external reward or punishment can be strategically applied.

I suppose that accountability does not have to be a bad word. Glasser used the word responsibility a lot to begin with, but then retreated from it when he saw how teachers were using it to pressure kids. He didn’t have good feelings about the word motivate either. He thought that it conveyed the idea of one person applying some sort of external stimuli to get another person to behave in a certain way. Maybe accountability is a similar kind of word. Maybe, though, there is a way to use it appropriately; may it can be used in a way that doesn’t attempt to control people. If we do like the concept of accountability we will need to be vigilant. External control can be so tempting.

Apparently, the Finns don’t have the word accountability in their dictionary. I wonder how we can get it out of ours.


You can access The Better Plan posts on –



12 Amazon reviews; can we make it 13?

12 Amazon reviews; can we make it 13?

For U.S. customers, get a signed copy of Champion of Choice for $20 + $6 (shipping). Send your check, along with any special instructions (e.g.- if the book is a gift), as well as your shipping address, and I will get the biography out to you right away.
Please include your email address, just in case I have questions about your order. My address is P. O. Box 933, Angwin, CA 94508


Today’s blog was based on an article in The Atlantic (Dec. 29, 2011) by Anu Partanen titled What Americans Keep Ignoring About Finland’s School Success. There have been many other articles touting Finland’s school system since then.

Love and Belonging: Same Side of the Coin?


I am trying to wrap my head around something Glasser wrote in Choice Theory (1998, p.96) about how to measure the strength of our need for love and belonging. “It is important to understand,” he began, “that the strength of this need is measured by how much we are willing to give, not by how much we are willing to receive.” At first glance this seems easy enough to understand, but as I think about what this really means I begin to sense something deeper and more important.

I teach about the Basic Needs as part of the choice theory workshops I facilitate each summer, including asking participants to try to identify their own Basic Need strength levels.

When participants assess their personal need for Love and Belonging I am pretty sure they focus more on their perceived need to belong than on their need to love. Belonging has to do with our need for connection, and I think that is where participants go when they self-evaluate in this area. “To what extent do I need to connect with others?” they are probably wondering.


But that’s not really how to measure this strength, at least according to Bill. Belonging is about our need to “receive” from others, to be affirmed through membership within a group or from a relationship with another person, and to be included. Love, on the other hand, is giving affection and caring about others, without regard to receiving favors in return.

As the Love chapter in 1 Corinthians says –

Love is patient and kind.
Love is not jealous or boastful or proud or rude.
It does not demand its own way.
It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged.
It does not rejoice about injustice, but rejoices whenever the truth wins out.
Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.   ! Cor. 13:4-7


There seems to be a distinct difference between love and belonging. Both are about relationships, yet one is about what we take from the relationship, while the other is about what we bring or give to the relationship.

Glasser hits this theme again when he describes the Solving Circle for marital discord. (He actually recommended drawing an imaginary circle on the floor that spouses would enter before beginning their conversation.) “Step into the circle,” he coached, “and tell each other not what you want but what you are willing to give.” (Choice Theory, p.98)

So what do we do with the Love and Belonging need? Is it possible to have a high need for belonging and a low need to love? Given Glasser’s view that the strength of the Love and Belonging need is how much a person is willing to give, it would seem the person with a low need to love and a high need to belong ends up with a lower score for Love and Belonging. Does that make sense? I am really thinking about how to process this piece in future workshops.


10 Amazon reviews; can we make it 11?

10 Amazon reviews; can we make it 11?

For U.S. customers, get a signed copy of Champion of Choice for $20 + $6 (shipping). Send your check, along with any special instructions (e.g.- if the book is a gift), as well as your shipping address, and I will get the biography out to you right away.
Please include your email address, just in case I have questions about your order. My address is P. O. Box 933, Angwin, CA 94508


A Picture Is Worth a Thousand Discussions



Some pictures just cause us to pause and think about what we are seeing. This picture did that for me. (Thank you, Chris Kinney, for sharing this picture with us.) What a great discussion-starter it would be in a class, especially a choice theory workshop. Or maybe ask participants to come up with a title for the picture. It certainly causes us to think about classroom learning strategies and our own experience as a teacher and as a learner. In the year and a half The Better Plan blog has been going, the posts have shared several “discussion starter” pictures. Today’s blog is a gallery of those pictures. So much can be captured in a photo, a drawing, or a painting.

Candy Vacuum   We Choose   strings-attached   Push or Pull
Still a classic, no matter how many times I see it.

Still a classic, no matter how many times I see it.

This is such a dark picture, yet it captures a process in which we might find ourselves.

This is such a dark picture, yet it captures a process in which we might find ourselves.



It is a good thing when we can help people see how powerful the pictures they place in their quality worlds are, and how these pictures drive us toward their fulfillment. It is good, too, when people come to see how valuable freedom is, not just freedom from political tyranny, but freedom within our own thinking and behavior. Sometimes a picture can say more than a 20 minute lecture, and it invites a personal response in ways that a lecture may not.


Leaving tomorrow morning for the 2nd International Glasser Conference, being held in Toronto, Ontario, from July 9-13. I am looking forward to seeing some of you there. I am presenting at the conference, first thing Thursday morning, about the biography and key aspects of Glasser and his ideas. I think I’m ready. We’ll see how it goes.

I spent a lot of time yesterday trying to be able to sell my books, Champion of Choice and Soul Shapers, right here on the blog. It can be done, however it is fairly expensive to set it up. I may end up just having people send me a check, along with their shipping address and any instructions for how they may want me to sign the book. If the requests for signed editions of the book are great enough, I would definitely want to add an on-line sales option.


Have you contributed a review of Champion of Choice on Amazon? Why not take a moment and do that now? It doesn’t have to be lengthy, and it’s easy to do.


Cancer and “How Should I Live My Life Now?”

I don’t know how many of you will take the time to watch Jeff Tirengel’s talk about his life as a cancer patient, but if you do you will be emotionally moved and your thinking about life will be deepened.

I thought about titling this blog post, Cancer and Choice Theory, but this talk can’t be pigeon-holed that neatly.

Pretty much all of us have been affected by cancer, either personally or by its affect on family and friends, and I believe Jeff’s story will be a help to each of us, whatever our involvement with it may be. His calmness, his humor, and his brutal candor all contribute to the power of the talk.

Jeff is a dear friend, so I was naturally drawn to his story. However, as I began to watch and listen it became more than a friend thing. The content is powerful on its own merit.

Jeff believes in the ideas of choice theory, yet there is no pressure in this talk, not even an invitation, for you to believe in choice theory, too. In giving this talk he is doing something much more important than preaching.

Jeff was a personal friend of Glasser and continues to be friends with Carleen Glasser, who was in attendance at the talk. I first met Jeff when we were in the same reality therapy/choice theory certification class in 2003 and we have stayed in touch ever since. He weaves choice theory principles throughout the talk, especially the basic needs.

I mentioned Jeff in a special blog from last year, the one entitled The Rest of the Story, Pt. 2, which was posted on Sept. 5, 2013. Check out this video and you will come to understand why I treasure Jeff. Many of you have loved ones and friends you treasure, too. I have a feeling Jeff’s story will resonate with you as deeply as it did with me.



Jeff Tirengel, PsyD, MPH is a Professor of Psychology at the California School of Professional Psychology at Alliant International University. He also directs psychological services for the Preventive and Rehabilitative Cardiac Center, Cedars-Sinai Heart Institute. Dr. Tirengel began his career in Washington, DC, serving public and private organizations including the U.S. Office of Disease Prevention and Health Promotion and the National Association of Community Health Centers.

Glasser and Jordan


Jim and Jordan

Jim and Jordan

My son graduated from law school today and this event, in its own way, brings up warm memories of my friend, Bill Glasser.

Jordan was never much enamored with traditional teaching methods, although learning has always been important to him. During his middle school years he was drawn to music and has poured a lot of his abundant creativity into his guitar, keyboard, and drums ever since. After graduating from high school he was not very excited about college and continuing the whole school thing and seemed intent on heading out on his own, even if the heading out involved elements that to me were short-sighted, unrealistic, and even dangerous.

By the time Jordan graduated from high school in 2001, Glasser and I had become friends. The Glasser Institute (its name at the time) was doing quite a bit of training on the Pacific Union College campus and Glasser was on campus a number of times over a three year period. I had shared with him about Jordan and some concerns I had and he expressed an interest in talking with Jordan, which Jordan was open to as well. After his time with Jordan, Glasser assured me that Jordan was fine and that he was going to be fine in the future.

I felt that Jordan would be fine, too, although the routes that Jordan chose at times created questions in my mind. He did do the college thing for a while, but with just a year left to finish his social work degree, he headed off to New York City to pursue his music and to .  .  .  well .  .  . experience New York City. NYC is not the easiest place to survive, yet he did so, on his own, and he re-enrolled in Brooklyn College and finished his undergraduate degree. I think he was in NYC for close to seven years.

Not too long after Jordan connected with Glasser, I began my doctoral program, which eventually led to my doing a dissertation on the development of Glasser’s ideas, which then led to my becoming his biographer. Starting in 2003 Glasser and I had a lot of time together, sometimes during formal interviews and sometimes just visiting about life. He would frequently bring up Jordan, interested in how he was doing and what the latest was with him. “He’s gonna be fine,” he would point out. I appreciated his interest and his confidence in my son.

I wish I could call Bill today and let him know that Jordan is more than fine; that he’s married; that he and Katy own a food truck; that they grow a lot of their own food; that they have six chickens; that Jordan continues to love his music; and that he graduated from law school. Bill would celebrate with us today. I feel that he was a part of Jordan’s journey.

Someone said to me today, “You must be very proud.” I replied that I don’t think pride is the word that describes my feelings. I explained that I am very happy for Jordan and that I am impressed with what he navigated to achieve a degree in law. To me, “being proud” has to do with his accomplishment somehow meeting my needs. I want to be careful not to go there. Maybe I am too sensitive about this (a result of choice theory, I think), but I don’t want to convey that something he has done has increased his value in my eyes. I was proud of him before he entered law school and, yes, I am proud of him afterward, but not because of the degree. I am proud of him for the man he has been becoming for quite a while now.

So, it is a big day for our clan and I wish Bill could have been a part of it. Somehow, I think he knew a day like this was coming for Jordan. Thanks again, Bill, for your belief in Jordan, and Jordan, dude, way to go!


External Standards vs. External Control

Do you want a doctor who “thinks” she has learned enough to do your surgery?

Writing from a coffee shop in Spokane, Washington, this morning. Margaret and I are on our way to Missoula, Montana, to see our son, Jordan, graduate from law school. More on Jordan and law school this weekend.

Tim Mitchell and Jim Weller brought up great questions regarding the process of evaluation and specifically, self-evaluation, and today, Bob Hoglund, senior faculty at William Glasser, Inc., and the chairperson of the Glasser board in the U.S., adds to our understanding in the following article –

External Expectations and Standards vs. External Control
Bob Hoglund, Senior Faculty, WGI

With Dr. Glasser’s emphasis on External Control Psychology vs. Choice Theory®, it seems necessary to distinguish between reasonable external expectations (standards) and external control. Consider the following:

  • Do you want a pilot who self-evaluated that he is able to fly a passenger jet?
  • Do you want a farmer to self-evaluate that his meat is acceptable for consumers?
  • Do you want a manager who NEVER gives you feedback or direction?
  • Do you want an auto company to decide on its own that the problem with the brakes isn’t that bad?
  • Do you want a doctor that “thinks” she’s learned enough to do your surgery?
  • Do you want a dentist that has “decided” he’s ready to do your root canal?
  • The flaw of self-evaluation is… If all you do is self-evaluate, how do you know what you don’t know?

Given the above questions and expected answers, it would seem that there is a place for external standards and evaluations. For example,

  • Teachers provide needed instruction and feedback to their students. Without this, students may not learn properly or may practice incorrect methods.
  • Coaches correct actions to improve skills the players have not yet mastered.
  • Parents provide instruction and limits to teach their children the values and behaviors that they expect.

Many professions require external certifications in order to ensure standards of safety are met; however, unless an individual finds some worth in the external expectations and evaluations, there is little likelihood that he will produce quality work. The key to external evaluation is involving the individual in finding value in expectations and evaluations.

Additionally, it is important for the workers to be taught exactly what is expected of them, prior to any self or external evaluation. Dr. Deming said, “It is not enough to do your best. You must first know what to do and then do your best.” When there are set processes, procedures or policies, rubrics, checklists and other quality tools are helpful to the teaching/learning process and to enhance the quality or self and external evaluations.

When external evaluations are required, there are three factors that increase the likelihood that external evaluation will produce the desired result. External evaluation and information is crucial to our learning and growth. The external evaluation doesn’t “make” us do, think or feel anything. We take the external information and use the “self-evaluation” process to determine if we will use the information we are getting.

The term learner is used from this point forward to represent anyone receiving feedback or evaluation information because successful external evaluation results in learning.

There are three factors that determine the effectiveness of external evaluation?

1. Does it benefit the learner?
a. How will the evaluation be used?
b. Does the learner have a chance to improve the rating/grade or score?

2. Is it wanted / asked for?
a. Does the learner “respect” the source of the evaluation?
b. Does the rating / grade / score mean anything to the learner?

3. Does the evaluation give the learner the information needed to make the necessary improvements?

“Does the evaluation give the learner the information needed to make the necessary improvements” is the crux of the Glasser Quality School Model. Reteach and retest.

Dr. Glasser’s emphasis on self-evaluation and co-verification can coexist with the expectations of external evaluation that are expected in many workplaces and schools. This coexistence can become positive by involving others in the evaluation process.

A suggestion for increasing meaningful methods of external evaluation is to survey the individual(s) who will be evaluated. Questions, such as the following, provide a base from which to build useful, meaningful evaluations.

1. What does your ideal performance review look or sound like?
a. What would you like it to say?
b. What knowledge and skills would be recognized?
c. What accomplishments would be included?

2. In what type of environment do you work best?
a. How do you get along with others?
b. How do you treat others?
c. How do others get along with you?
d. On a scale of 1 to 10, how autonomous would you prefer your job to be?
i. How often do you think you should report your progress?
ii. How would you like to report your progress?

3. What expectations do you have of yourself?
a. What expectations do you think that the company has of you?
b. What expectations seem reasonable to you?
c. What expectations don’t seem reasonable to you?
d. How do you reconcile any differences between the two?

4. What type of evaluation is most helpful for you?
a. When do you want to receive it?
b. How do you want to receive it?

In conclusion, The Three E’s (Hoglund, 2000) provide the framework for optimal benefit:
The expectations and evaluations occur within a positive, supportive, trusting learning and working environment.
The expectations, even when external, have benefits for the learner or worker.
The evaluation is helpful because it meets the above criteria.




%d bloggers like this: