Posts tagged “William Glasser

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.

ASDASA and Leading the Quality School


I will be in Dallas, Texas, for much of this week attending the ASDASA Conference, a large event for Adventist school administrators from around North America. I was asked to present a breakout session on Leading the Quality School, which I will be doing on Monday and Tuesday.

Leading a quality school is a complex task, all the more so when you throw religion into the mix, yet I will attempt to share The What, The Why, and The How of it during the brief time scheduled for the breakout.


It’s impossible to talk about a school or district incorporating choice theory without talking about lead management. If choice theory provides the foundation, lead management is about actually building the structure on that foundation. If choice theory is the target; lead management is the arrow. Lead management is choice theory in action.

Glasser talked about two leadership styles – lead management based on choice theory and the idea of internal control, while boss management is based on behaviorism and the idea of external control. Boss management is very different from lead management, although there is overlap between the two. Some assume that boss management is the exact opposite of lead management, but this is not true. The opposite of boss management is laissez faire, which is basically a hands-off leadership style approximating no management.

Dr. William Glasser (1990)

Dr. William Glasser (1990)

As a slide from the presentation conveys, both boss managers and lead managers want results based on high expectations. They differ on how they manage toward good results, but they both have high goals in mind. They also both want good relationships with the people with whom they work. It’s too easy to assume that boss managers are mean and don’t care about people, but I don’t believe that. I have known some boss managers with good hearts who do care about the people or students with whom they work. It’s very hard for a boss manager to maintain positive relationships, due to the nature of external control, but in their heart of hearts they want to get along with people.

Lead managers and boss managers differ in key areas, though, as the graphic below suggests.

Screenshot 2015-02-13 17.19.30

Others role vs My role
Boss managers tend to be focused on the performance of others, what others are doing correctly or wrongly, and the external forces that need to be applied to improve their performance; while the lead manager recognizes that the only person he can control is himself; the lead manager sees that so much about management is about what is inside of him – the knowledge, the attitude, the extent to which his ego is involved.

Then he added, Son of man, let all my words sink into your own heart first. Listen to them carefully for yourself.   Ezekiel 3:10

Individual-focused vs. System-focused
Boss managers believe that poor performance is an individual’s problem, probably caused by lack of skill, lack of effort, lack of commitment, or poor judgment. In their minds, the situation would be better if the individual took it more seriously or tried harder. A lead manager believes that poor performance, by an individual or otherwise, often reflects systemic flaws. In a lead manager’s mind, individuals perform better when needed support is built into the system.

Accountability vs. Solutions
When mistakes are made, boss managers hone in on who made the mistake and establish the level of blame that is appropriate. They might not be comfortable with the word blame here, but basically it’s about blame. Lead managers are more concerned with problem-solving and solutions than assigning blame. What can be done to fix this or make it better? is the focus.

Provides rewards vs. Provides support
The boss manager sees it as her/his responsibility to make subordinates achieve success through the strategic application of incentives and sanctions. Rewards feel better than punishments, but they both are on the manipulative side of the coin. Lead managers seek to learn from their colleagues what they need to do their job well and try to supply that need. Lead managers offer affirmations and celebrations, but not as a carrot to manipulate performance.

Evaluates vs. Mirrors
The boss manager conducts evaluations and shares her/his findings with subordinates. These evaluations reflect the boss manager’s view of the employee’s performance, often with four commendations for every recommendation. Rather than judging an employee’s performance, the lead manager’s goal is to facilitate the employee self-evaluating his own performance. The lead manager becomes a mirror to the employee, and through well-worded questions assists the employee as he reviews his own performance and sets goals for the future.

School leadership is about creating the conditions for students and teachers to be successful, and in the process to become the best version of themselves!


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There is a lot of choice theory material you can easily access on The Better Plan site. At the top of the page, on the left hand side, you will see links that are titled Year At A Glance. Clicking on one of those links, either for 2013 or 2014, will give you the article titles from that entire year. Click on one of the titles and you instantly are able to check it out. Do some exploring and find posts that are of special interest to you.


Signed copies of Soul Shapers or Champion of Choice can be ordered from me. You can also quickly order them through Amazon using the links below. There is also a digital version link for those of you with iPads and Kindles.

 Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Educators

Available new on Amazon from $14.76; used from $5.47.

Available new on Amazon from $14.76; used from $5.47.

William Glasser: Champion of Choice

Now priced at $18.57 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.57 on Amazon.

Click here for electronic version of Champion of Choice.

Credit for Actual Learning, Instead of Time in Class


A recent headline in Fast Company got my attention. It read –

Credit for Actually Learning – Not Time in Class – Is Shaking Up Higher Education

I like it when books or articles affirm Glasser’s view. The idea of “credit for actually learning” was an important part of his vision for school improvement. In his book, Every Student Can Succeed (2000), Glasser introduced the Competency-Based Classroom and described in detail how students can be supported to success. He believed that students need to demonstrate competence to receive credit. Simply sitting in the classroom and doing little to learn the material was not good enough.

The Fast Company article can be accessed by clicking on HERE, however the article’s second headline and first two paragraphs that follow will give you a feel for its focus.

Competency-based learning is the new hot trend, but no one is quite sure how to replace the credit hour.

The credit hour is the standard way of measuring achievement in U.S. higher education. It’s the unit students have to accumulate before they can graduate. It’s used in assessments of how much to pay faculty. It’s an organizing force on campus and in relations between institutions. It’s a currency that everyone understands—but also something that an increasing number of people criticize. Are students really learning or time-serving? Does making everyone learn at the same pace hold back students who could learn more quickly, and does the credit hour-system raise costs unnecessarily?

In its place, a growing number of institutions are developing courses based on “competency”—or what students actually learn—rather than the number of hours they put in. Competency-based education (CBE) is a hot topic among policy-makers, foundations, and colleges because it has the potential to lower costs, broaden access to education, and perhaps raise standards. But, as two new reports point out, CBE isn’t a perfect solution. In some cases, it may be more expensive than the traditional model, and, importantly, it’s still unclear what could replace the credit hour as a universal unit.


It felt to me that one of the first waves to shake higher education, at least in terms of the credit hour policy, was the wave of high school and academy students wanting transfer credit for various classes and life experiences they were claiming. This was especially true of non-traditional or home school students. The second wave, more like a tsunami really, has to do with the effect of the Internet and online learning. More and more students are taking advantage of cyberspace learning, rather than face-to-face, in the classroom interactions with an instructor.

The Internet reality has most higher education institutions jumping on the digital learning bandwagon, and as a result they are focusing more on what students need to know or be able to do to receive credit. The implications of this kind of focus are spilling over into traditional, Carnegie unit classrooms, too. While a comparatively few universities and colleges do seem glad to pursue this new model of learning, most higher ed institutions are reluctant to consider it at all. If they do begin to get involved they are more likely to enter the “actual learning vs. the credit hour” discussion kicking and screaming, rather than having any real excitement over the potential of a new approach. Still, though, it is good they are getting involved. Their involvement may look about as positive and comfortable as a cat getting a bath, but the end result will be better learning and a clean cat.


Glasser’s reasons for emphasizing competency-based learning were different than higher ed’s reasons today. His reasons went deeper, as he recognized the importance to an individual’s mental health to be involved in quality pursuits and to ultimately create quality products, be it at home, at work, or at school. It is need-satisfying to learn relevant material and then to produce quality assignments. Students need to learn that their efforts matter and that they can accomplish what they put their minds to. The Internet existed in 2000 when Glasser wrote Every Student Can Succeed, although online learning had not yet started to explode. The Internet didn’t exist in 1990 when he wrote The Quality School and explained that only when students achieved competence would a grade be recorded in the transcript.


The wave of online learning is only going to grow, which means that traditional formats, including the credit hour policy, will continue to be tweaked and changed. For those of us who are teachers it would be good to give Every Student Can Succeed another read, as regardless of the level at which we teach – elementary, secondary, or higher ed – the implications of the “actual learning vs. credit hour policies” will have an impact on our instruction and assessment.



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 Soul Shapers: A Better Plan for Parents and Educators

Available new on Amazon from $14.76; used from $5.47.

Available new on Amazon from $14.76; used from $5.47.

William Glasser: Champion of Choice

Now priced at $18.57 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.57 on Amazon.

Click here for electronic version of Champion of Choice.

We Live the Feeling of Our Thinking



This picture just captivates me.

On one level I am drawn to its wonderful creativity. I bought the door stop pictured below for my office door out of sheer respect for whoever the person was who thought of it. This kind of creativity needs to be rewarded.


I have to tip my cap to this artist of the chain link fence picture as well. On another level, though, this picture goes so much deeper than just creativity. What is it saying to you? The chain link fence, ubiquitous, a comparatively cheap and efficient way to keep something in or keep something out, strong, you can see what is on the other side, yet you cannot reach it. The design of the fence itself is a model of conformity and permanence. Its tightly wound wire states very emphatically that “you can’t get out.”

Yet in this picture, not only can someone get past this fence now, the fence itself is breaking free. The very instrument of control, force, and restriction is itself becoming instruments of freedom. Dead weight has become helium. Anchors have become wings.

It is easy to see ourselves in the picture, both in the lock-step control of the lower part of the fence and in the links breaking free in the upper part of the fence. Optimism spills out from the picture, even if only to feel good for the links flying into the distance. “Good for you,” we whisper. “Good for you.” So powerful are the images of the links as wings that even the total grayness of the picture cannot keep us feeling gray. Somehow we see the gray as a color of the rainbow.

Of course, we need not only whisper, good for you. The links taking off to who knows where can be us. Those freedom loving links can represent our new way of being, our new view of the world, our recognition that we can choose to leave a tightly wound focus on control.

IMG_0517 - Version 2

It would be interesting to use this picture as part of an assignment in school. I can see it easily being used in creative writing for Language Arts, or for activities in Health class, or Social Studies, or Bible. What are some thought questions that could open the discussion in a class setting? Such questions might include –

What is this picture saying?
What did the artist want to convey?
The caption under this picture said that We Live the Feeling of Our Thinking. What does that mean?
Did someone need to cut the links to free them or did they free themselves?
Does this picture suggest that fences are bad and that being free of them is the goal?
Is there such a thing as a good fence?
What would make a fence less good, or even bad?

What do you think? How could this picture be used in a classroom or in a choice theory workshop? How could the picture’s creativity and insight really be plugged into?


Quickly order books by Jim Roy at the links below –

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Now priced at $13.47 on Amazon.

Click for Soul Shapers

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Now priced at $18.51 on Amazon.

Click here for Champion of Choice


And I Quote . . .


A fellow blogger* posted “75 of the Best, Most Inspiring, and Kickass Quotes on (Positive Mental) Attitude!” and it caught my attention. I am passing on to you several of the quotes that especially relate to the elements in choice theory. For instance –

It isn’t what you have or who you are or where you are or what you are doing that makes you happy or unhappy. It is what you think about it.   Dale Carnegie

When something bad happens, you have three choices: you can either let it define you, destroy you, or let it strengthen you.   Anonymous

A man sees the world what he carries in his heart.   Goethe

Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.   Rumi

Happiness is an attitude. We either make ourselves miserable, or happy and strong. The amount of work is the same.   Francesca Reigler

It is our attitude toward events, not events themselves, which we can control. Nothing is by its own nature calamitous – even death is terrible only if we fear it.   Epictetus

There is little difference in people, but that little difference makes a big difference. The little difference is attitude. The big difference is whether it is positive or negative.   W. Clement Stone
Part of the reason I include this quote is that it was the Clement Stone Foundation that donated $300,000 to a young William Glasser in 1967, which allowed Glasser to set up the Institute for Reality Therapy.

If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude. Don’t complain.   Maya Angelou

I don’t think of all the misery, but of the beauty that still remains.   Anne Frank

A positive mental attitude may not solve all your problems, but it will annoy enough people to make it worth the effort.   Herm Albright

The greatest discovery of my generation is that a human being can alter his life by altering his attitudes.   William James

If you want to change attitudes, start with a change in behavior.   William Glasser


May each of us continue to shift toward personal responsibility; may we recognize the power we have to adjust and focus our thinking; and may we do this in a spirit of love.

Have Choose a great day!


Read about the Clement Stone Foundation reaching out to Glasser and, even as his wife and others urged him not to take the money, his decision to accept it in the Glasser biography – Champion of Choice. Click here to order the book quickly.

Now priced at $18.42 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.42 on Amazon.

* Click here for the blog I get these quotes from – 75 of the Best, Most Inspiring, Kickass Quotes.

Unpublished Glasser Article on Pain

The problem of undiagnosed pain received a lot of Glasser’s attention during his career. Today’s blog is a short article he wrote on the subject of pain that, as far as I know, was never published. He wrote it shortly after the Warning book was published, and refers to it several times, yet in between he offers important advice for those suffering with chronic pain. And it’s always good to hear his voice once again as you read.

Glasser writing at home. (Photo by Jim Roy)

Glasser writing at home. (Photo by Jim Roy)

The Choice Theory Approach to Pain that Has No Known Medical Cause
by William Glasser, M.D.

I explain in the book, Warning: Psychiatry Can Be Hazardous to Your Mental Health, how readers can learn to improve their own mental health and rid themselves of the pain, both physical and emotional, which is one of the symptoms of unhappiness. I point out that the most important component of mental health is learning to get along well with all the important people in your life but, for the sufferers of chronic pain, it may be even more important for you to make an effort to accept yourself and not to ask more from yourself than deep down you want to give. As much as you try, you may not be able to be the perfect version of yourself that you want to be.


If you are mentally healthy, you tend not only to accept that the people around you are not perfect but, even more important, you aren’t either. Mostly you are happy and if you have a bad time for a while, you accept that there are many things that come and go in your life that you can’t control. There are always going to be days when it rains on your parade.

If you can learn to live your life this way, you will rarely suffer from the pain, fatigue and weakness that plague millions of people who believe they are happy and well-adjusted but tend to want more from themselves and others than it is possible to get. For these competent people and the physicians who treat them and get to know them, the cause of their pain is a medical mystery. Many more women suffer from pain without a cause because in our culture women tend to ask much more of themselves than men. And are more likely to go unappreciated for what they do. Yet, they continue to strive to be the perfect wife, mother, house keeper, gourmet cook, corporate executive, wage earner, and budget wizard.


Almost all of these sufferers claim if they could get relief from their pain they would be happy. They strongly reject the idea that there is a connection between what they are choosing to believe and do and their physical pain. I don’t blame these competent women for rejecting this connection when everything they are trying to do tells them otherwise.

Because they are competent, I suggest that they continue to do all they can to help themselves along with anything their doctor suggests. All I recommend is that they read my Warning book and from what they read learn to put a way of behaving that I call choice theory to work in their lives. Choice theory is easy to learn, sensible and costs no money to practice. Also, there is no risk or downside to using choice theory. Accepting yourself and getting along better with the people in your life cannot possibly do you or them any harm.

As I explain in the book, all I ask is that you be willing to make a sustained effort to take a good look at how much you are demanding from yourself and others. Think of all the days that you have said to yourself, “If only there were more hours in the day.” Think of all the times you have thought why do I have to do so much and “they” so little, whoever they may be.

“I can only control myself.”  William Glasser

When you become willing to take a less demanding look at your life, you will discover the major wisdom of choice theory, which is I can only control myself. I can choose to continue to live my life as I have lived it or I can choose to change. Your pain is not because you lack adequacy, it is because you have burdened yourself with expectations of too much adequacy.

But as easy as this is for me to say, a super competent sufferer is rarely willing to change. You continue to focus on the pain instead of the things that need to be changed. This focus may stand directly in the way of your becoming pain free.

“Your pain is not because you lack adequacy, it is because you have burdened yourself with expectations of too much adequacy.”  William Glasser

The first thing that choice theory teaches is that you are not imagining what you are feeling. Your pain is not only real, it is far worse than any pain you might suffer from an injury or a diagnosable disease. That pain heals, yours lasts or gets worse. Genetically we are proud creatures. We hate to admit that anything may be wrong with how we are choosing to live our lives when all our choices seem so important. Many people would rather suffer the pain than admit that they may be part of the problem.

Read the book and find out about your quality world and how only you can change it plus a whole host of suggestions on how to lead a satisfying, choice theory life. You can do this by yourself but if you are lucky enough to be part of a Choice Theory Focus Group you will get a lot of support. If you can become as competent at using choice theory in your life as you are dedicated to everything else, you are well on your way.

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

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


I have started reading the book I talked about in an earlier blog, Back in Control: A Spine Surgeon’s Road Map Out of Chronic Pain, and I am excited about the profound similarities between Dr. Glasser’s and Dr. Hanscom’s views. The link to the previous blog is below. If you are dealing with chronic pain I encourage you to check out Back in Control.

A Spine Surgeon’s Road Map Out of Chronic Pain




Get a digital version of the Glasser biography at Zeig, Tucker & Thiesen Publishing. Just click here.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.


I’ll Have Some Grateful

It’s interesting how when we become interested in a new product, say a certain model of car, that we seem to continually notice that specific car whenever and wherever we go. Thinking about getting an eco-friendly Prius? Suddenly you’re seeing a lot of Prius cars.


This is how it has been for me and the idea of gratefulness. This is a topic I have been giving attention to in my own life, and in a similar fashion I am seeing a lot of articles and books on this topic, whether on the Internet, in magazines and journals, or in bookstores. Gratefulness, the articles are saying, can go a long way towards being happy and ultimately being mentally healthy.


Scripture affirms the benefits of gratefulness and, along with the concept of Total Behavior, reminds us that gratefulness and being thankful is something we choose and consciously nurture. It’s wonderful to feel gratefulness, to experience a wave of gratitude that brings with it a sense of peace and contentment, but feelings can be fickle, a momentary rush that quickly passes. Gratefulness, it would appear, is more about a decision we make than a feeling we experience.


This is where Scripture and Total Behavior can really help us.

Total Behavior (to quickly review) is based on the idea that all our behavior is purposeful, that we are constantly behaving to meet our needs, and that every behavior is always made up of four parts – the action part, the thinking part, the feeling part, and the physiology part. Glasser states that while every behavior is made up of the four parts, only two of the parts – our thinking and our acting – are under our direct control. Our feelings (emotions) and our physiology (i.e. – heart rate, eye dilation, breathing, etc.) reflect and/or come into line with our thinking and acting, but we cannot control them directly. Total Behavior is often compared to a diagram of a car, with the front wheels (those that we directly steer) representing thinking and acting, and the back wheels representing feelings and physiology. Because of this reality, choice theory reminds us to focus on the front two tires – thinking and acting – as much as possible. It is empowering to realize that you can directly control or influence your thought patterns.

The tires on a car are used to represent the four parts of total behavior.

The tires on a car are used to represent the four parts of total behavior.

It is tempting, and maybe even appealing, to choose misery. (Misery might be the exact opposite of being grateful.) Our thought patterns become scripts of how someone else has mistreated us, which then prompt us to “write” imaginary conversations that defend our hurt and direct the blame toward someone else. We wallow in our resentment and become ever more convinced that we deserve to feel unhappy. It’s like we are in a cocoon of our own making, wrapping the blankets around us more thickly and tightly with each passing moment. It can be hard to believe that we choose our misery, but, if we think that feeling miserable is our least painful option at that moment, we do.

Bible writers like David and Paul want us to choose gratefulness, to nurture its presence in our lives, and to recognize it as a decision more than an emotion.

This is the day the Lord has made;
let us rejoice and be glad in it.   Ps. 118:24

Always be full of joy in the Lord. I say it again – rejoice!
Don’t worry about anything; instead, pray about everything. Tell God what you need, and thank Him for all He has done. Then you will experience God’s peace, which exceeds anything we can understand.   Philippians 4:4,6,7

Some make the mistake of waiting to feel grateful – part of the total behavior we don’t directly control – rather than choosing to be grateful. We wait for gratefulness to come to us, instead of intentionally claiming it. Life on a free will planet is so much about choices. I think God wants us to use our choice power to freely choose Him, to choose to have faith, to claim thankfulness, to forgive others, and to love liberally. Choice theory acknowledges our need for love, power, freedom, joy, and purpose, which are needs that God not only acknowledges, He created us with these needs in the first place. I encourage you to choose gratefulness today!


Thinking of Martin Luther King today and the principles for which he stood. His courage was pretty incredible! Click on the I Have a Dream link to listen to or read the famous speech he gave in 1963.

I Have a Dream



Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.



I finished listening to the 12th and final episode of Serial last Sunday. Up until this past weekend, I was patiently getting through the podcasts, often waiting for a long drive in the car to listen to the next episode. But I started to see articles on the Internet about the podcast, many of them with potential spoilers, so I decided to get on with it and listen to them all for myself.

Adnan Syed as a high school senior.

Adnan Syed as a high school senior.

Serial is a story told in 12 segments, 12 audio podcasts about the murder of high school student, Hae Min Lee, in suburban Baltimore in 1999. Adnan Syed, a high school student himself at the time and a former boyfriend of Hae Min, was ultimately convicted of the murder and has been in prison ever since.


Serial, in a remarkably simple format, reviews the details of the story, including interviews of friends, teachers, family, jury members, and Adnan himself, transcripts from police interviews and court sessions, and evidence presented during the trial. Although the evidence was seemingly shaky the prosecutor was able to convince the jury to convict Adnan. Serial listeners, over the course of the 12 podcasts, are given the evidence to decide for themselves.

Sarah Koenig, narrator and executive producer of the Serial podcast.

Sarah Koenig, narrator and executive producer of the Serial podcast.

One of the areas that comes into question during the podcast is whether or not Adnan’s defense attorney, Cristina Guttierrez, did an adequate job of defending him and presenting his side of the story effectively. The narrator appropriately wonders why certain individuals essential to Adnan’s alibi were not contacted, and why cell phone tower data was not scrutinized more carefully. These are just two examples of Guttierrez’s mistakes.

Defense mistakes like these examples were bad for Adnan, but even worse than this strategic ineptness was the courtroom demeanor of Ms. Guttierrez. The Serial narrator, Sarah Koenig, characterized Gutierrez’s demeanor as aggressive, but I don’t think aggressive fully captures how she came across. During Episode 10 – The Best Defense Is a Good Defense – listeners hear actual recordings from the trial of Gutierrez grilling a key prosecution witness and then later making a procedural point with the judge. Her approach is a mixture of anger, disgust, and incredulity, all dripping with sarcasm, condescension, and arrogance. Her diatribes, long and passionate, were intended to bring the courtroom to her view of things, but they had the opposite effect on me.

Cristina Guttierrez, defense attorney for Adnan Syed. She was disbarred a year after the trial.

Cristina Guttierrez, defense attorney for Adnan Syed. She was disbarred a year after the trial.

Her approach was very off-putting and I wonder if her behavior had the same effect on the jury. The way she came across was so condescending that I could see myself (had I been on the jury) wanting the exact opposite of whatever it was that she wanted. Her passionate speeches emphasized her emotions, rather than substance. She made it look like the facts that favored her client were so weak that she needed to blow people away with her anger.


We may not be an attorney, but those of us who are a parent or a teacher know that our demeanor matters, too. Within the realm of choice theory this is why relationships and the Caring Habits are so important. When we use a Deadly Habit (e.g. – criticizing, blaming, threatening, etc.) to try and manipulate the behavior of others our demeanor alone can push people in the opposite direction from what we want. And the relationship is hurt in the process.

There can be a lot of influence and power in a calm, reasonable, and firm demeanor. We can “plant a flag” and uphold a rule without getting angry and sarcastic. In fact, the minute we get angry it takes away from that power. I think choice theory provides us with tools to minimize the number of our battles and the nature of our battles. There is nothing in choice theory that prevents us from taking a stand on an issue or that prevents us from confronting a student behavior that needs to change. To a significant degree, the challenge lies in staying calm and reasonable and connected.

As long as you are connected, you have influence.

Yes, connected. In regard to parents and children, or teachers and students, or even supervisors and employees, many times I heard Glasser say, “As long as you are connected, you have influence.” I think Cristina Gutierrez lost the connection, through her bombastic sarcasm and anger, with the jury, which led to her losing any shred of influence. Ultimately I think it led to her losing the case and sending a man to prison for life.

If you haven’t listened to Serial, you should. It’s that good. And it’s free.


 Read any good books lately? May I suggest a very interesting biography.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.49 on Amazon.

Click here to quickly order the biography on Amazon.

Click here to access a digital version of the biography.

Email me at for a signed copy of the biography.

The Wild Truth


A couple of days after posting a blog (posted Dec. 20, 2014) based on the book, Into the Wild (1996) by Jon Krakauer, I received a response from Tim Shey, a blogger in his own right, who informed me that a new book on the life of Chris McCandless, The Wild Truth (2014) had just recently been published.

         Carine McCandless

Carine McCandless

Chris McCandless was the young man featured in Into the Wild, a compelling book that documented his quest for truth and personal freedom, a journey that ultimately ended with his death in the Alaskan wilderness. The new book, The Wild Truth, is written by Chris’s sister, Carine McCandless, and is important because she describes the dysfunctional behavior of her parents that led to Chris disappearing and pursuing his quest. Carine holds nothing back as she reveals the selfish, manipulative, and violent behavior that regularly took place in her home. I am amazed at her courage in sharing the details of her own life, which included her admitting her own ineffective behaviors.

Carine, Billie, Walt, and Chris McCandless

Carine, Billie, Walt, and Chris McCandless

Throughout the book, though, there is a tone of love and a consistent desire for forgiveness and reconciliation. I don’t know how much to say here, as I don’t want to spoil the book for those of you who are as fascinated with this family’s story as I am. Suffice it to say that The Wild Truth fills in holes that Into the Wild didn’t address.

Carine actually asked Krakauer not to share details regarding her parents’ behavior and the dynamics in their home, which Krakauer honored, but it left us guessing as to what really went on between these parents and their two children. After her brother’s death, and as Krakauer was writing the manuscript for Into the Wild, Carine still hoped her parents would “get it,” that they would understand the effects of their behavior on Chris, and would see their role in his disappearance. The Wild Truth shares what Carine asked Krakauer not to share, and as painful as the story is, it depicts important lessons for all of us.

Jon Krakauer and Carine McCandless

Jon Krakauer and Carine McCandless

There was so much control and dishonesty constantly present in this home and Chris McCandless didn’t want to be around it anymore. Carine McCandless wanted us to understand that Chris’s journey wasn’t just about independence, freedom, and truth. He admired each of those qualities, but to understand Chris you have to recognize his desire to separate himself from toxic external control. If you think I am going overboard by using the word toxic, read the book.

Chris ultimately became free of the toxic control when he died in the bus in Alaska. He faced tough challenges during his self-imposed exile, especially during the last 100 days of his life in an isolated wilderness, but I actually think that Carine’s journey has been even more challenging. Chris left this planet much too early. In his effort to get away from the toxicity, he paid with his life. The toxicity can no longer reach him, though. Carine, on the other hand, lived on and has had to deal with more than her fair share of challenges – her parents’ dysfunctional behavior, the loss of her brother, and her own failed relationships, to name a few. Hitting the road on your own (as Chris did) can be tough; hanging in there at home and trying to be there for others, even as your life seems to be getting harder and harder, is tougher.

If you have read Into the Wild, you need to now read The Wild Truth. If you haven’t read either book, plan on reading both.


Now priced at $18.01 on Amazon. (Lowest its been for a long time.)

Now priced at $18.01 on Amazon. (Lowest its been for a long time.)

Click here to get your copy of William Glasser: Champion of Choice.

For a signed copy get in touch with me at




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So Long, 2014! Hello, 2015!


It’s interesting the effect that January 1 can have on so many of us. Apparently, there is something about starting over that appeals deeply to us. The beginning of a new year can feel like an opportunity for a new beginning in our lives. Like a lot of you I certainly have some “new beginnings” in mind for myself.

A case could be made for January 1 being celebrated as Choice Theory Day. Maybe more than any other day of the year, January 1 represents the “kick off day” for putting into practice the quality world pictures that we believe captures the best version of ourselves. January 1 represents our ability to choose to embrace a new, better us. We take an inventory of ourselves, especially in October, November, and December, and we come up short. We recognize we aren’t making good choices and thank goodness January 1 is just around the corner so we change things for the better. I say let’s do it! Let’s pursue the best versions of ourselves!


thebetterplan PP redo

The Better Plan blog has completed its second year of sharing choice theory posts and the following data may be of interest to you.

The blog was viewed 18,000 times during 2014. (Compared to 8,000 views in 2013)

The busiest day of the year was November 19 with 161 views. The most popular post that day was entitled Stamina. (The Stamina post was about a classroom I visited during a NapaLearns board meeting. NapaLearns shared the post with their peeps and it led to more views.)

There were 90 new posts during the year, contributing to the 174 total posts in the archives.

And followers contributed 532 comments responding to the posts. (Compared to 371 in 2013)

The day I posted on most frequently was Saturday (hmm . . .) with 18 posts.

The five posts that got the most views in 2014 were –

#5 – Linda, Gone Too Soon on April 8

Linda Harshman and Jim Roy, both attending the 2005 Glasser International Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

Linda Harshman and Jim Roy, both attending the 2005 Glasser International Conference in Dublin, Ireland.

#4 – GREAT DREAM – Acronym for Happiness on March 9


#3 – 25 Ways to Ask Your Kids “How was school today?” – on September 1


#2 – Stamina on November 19

The remarkable reading data chart.

The remarkable reading data chart.

And at #1 – 7 Cardinal Rules for Life on January 21


Some posts (like the 7 Cardinal Rules) continue to be discovered and read long after the date they first are posted. I am not sure if search engines lock onto an effective tag associated with the post or if people are looking through the Year in a Glance archives and locking onto a catchy title.

Top referring sites include Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest. I thought I was hooked into Google and general search engines, too, but maybe I’m not. I’ve got to look at that.

People from 138 different countries read posts from The Better Plan blog during 2014, although most readers were from the United States, Australia, and Canada.

The most commented on post was Essential Elements in a Classroom Management Class? which appeared on September 6. This was excellent because I gave an assignment to my class that connected them with the insights that so many of you shared. Very cool!

As of December 31, 2014, the blog has 300 followers. (Compared to 189 followers at the end of 2013)


December 31 is also significant in that the publisher tallies the number of Glasser biographies, both paper and electronic, that have been sold. I don’t know what that number is as I write this, but I assume I will soon learn how well or how poorly the biography has done. To those of you who have purchased the book and have shared supportive comments with me, and to those who have uploaded reviews of the biography on Amazon — Thank You! Hopefully, the word will continue to get out there regarding the existence of the biography, with the result being even more people learning about William Glasser and his life-changing ideas.

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

Now priced at $18.50 on Amazon.

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