Goal 9: Teaching Ourselves & Them to Overcome #30GoalsEdu

Goal 9 of The 30 Goals Challenge for Educators! Click the link to find out more about the new changes to this year’s 30 Goals Challenge for Educators!

“The key to life is running and reading… If you learn how to defeat that person when you’re running, you will learn how to not quit when things get hard in your life… Gazillions of people have lived before us. There is no new problem that you can have that someone hasn’t solved and written about in a book.”~Will Smith

My Personal Thoughts About This Goal

I wanted to write my reflections for this goal instead of sharing them in a video. For the past year, I have been struggling to keep up with traveling, teacher training, organizing several professional development projects and conferences, writing, and maintaining this blog. I have been doing this while handling various family issues and personal obstacles. At points, this has become overwhelming and I felt lost and like giving up. However, I didn’t give up and this has been one of the most amazing years of accomplishments in my life from riding elephants in Thailand to speaking in NYC on June 20th about The 30 Goals in the same line up as Deepak Choprah. I believe it is because I know the art of picking myself up and overcoming.

How Did I Learn this Skill?

We all have tough times. We all have tough days. We all have tough years. I’ve often wondered how people who overcome struggles are able to accomplish great things. I’ve often wondered how they are able to pick themselves up and choose to keep moving forward. I know I am one of those people. I believe this is because throughout my life I have actively defeated negative voices. I often give myself pep talks. I currently speak in front of audiences and am the curator of several acclaimed education projects, but I remember growing up I would continually think that my voice was too squeaky, I was too short, I could not speak properly, I was clumsy, I wasn’t smart enough, etc. It is too easy to find all the reasons why we can’t or shouldn’t do something. Even now I still have to actively overcome these negative voices. However, I know that my projects are important as well as my message and that they have helped people. I know that overcoming and accomplishing are important.


My father taught me this skill. We grew up in a poor side of town where graduating from college is rare and teen pregnancy high. My four sisters and I are first generation college graduates. I remember my father used to often take us to the library. The librarians knew our names. I picked up reading at a very young age and I would consume about 500 pages a day. I would stay up in the bathroom till the wee hours not putting books down. Later, I began to write. My father would support me in entering contests for reading and writing and I remember receiving awards or accolades from them. The point wasn’t the award. The point was that I found a place to express myself, lose myself, and value myself. I remember that when I was bullied, picked on, failed at something, or just heard all the reasons I should stop striving to be successful,  I could hide in a book or expel the negative emotions in my writing.


Later on in life, I picked up running. Running has been an important ritual I have kept this year. Daily, I run and have conversations with myself. I give myself pep talks. In June 2011, I began the year feeling broken. I was leaving my home and teaching position of 4 years in Germany and did not know where I would live or what I would do professionally. This year I faced heartache, surgery, a lot of illness, family issues, my mother being in the hospital and more. With all the obstacles I faced this year, I remembered thinking that people can only begin to climb the metaphorical mountains of their lives once they have been in the metaphorical valleys. When a person feels as if she has nothing left to lose that is when that person will make decisions that if they were on solid ground would be too scary to risk. I remember reminding myself that I have done this before. I have left and explored and accomplished and adventured and made myself a better me with each mountain I’ve climbed metaphorically. This pep talk is what allowed me to pick my broken self up and continue The 30 Goals and say yes to opportunities that came my way even when I was traveling to countries where I didn’t speak the language and none of my PLN were there to hold my hand. Now, I have been to various countries this year in many cities, speaking about The 30 Goals and various education transformation projects. Some of these places include Brazil, Thailand, Japan, Canada, France, Istanbul, Scotland, the UK, and soon Tel Aviv.
It works to actively have a place to expel negative thoughts and to find value and strength in yourself. Running doesn’t only help me actively and regularly defeat the negative voices, it also makes me feel good about myself. It’s a ritual that helps me pick myself up and the process of picking oneself up is a skill we have to participate in often if we want to be the kind of people who move on to accomplish great feats.

Our Students

This is a skill we should be teaching our students, yet, this is what is left out of the curriculum. This year, a student I love dearly dropped out of high school, even though, this student only had a few more months before graduating. In 2009, in the US alone, there were 3 million 16 to 24 year-olds who made the decision not to receive a high school diploma. I often wonder why students struggle to overcome challenges and give up so easily. I think one way we can help our students is by showing them how to participate in rituals where they actively and continuously defeat negative voices. We need to help them learn what ritual works for them to overcome. Part of this is helping students discover their passions- sports, art, music, rapping, slam poetry, running, etc. We need to help them realize that obstacles are part of life and that even when their lives become especially tough they have the strength, talent, and ability to overcome. This needs to become part of the curriculum because when it becomes their senior year and our students decide then to give up, pep talks will not be enough. Too often our students will find it easier to give up, because they do not know the process of overcoming.

The Goals

Short-term– share your ritual for actively overcoming obstacles and negativity. Please share any activity or event that you have either been a part of or have observed that helps students learn how to overcome their negative thoughts.  You might also suggest a resource such as a book or film that is about this topic.
Long-term– try hosting an event or having a lesson in which students learn to overcome the negative thoughts and obstacles that they face. When you accomplish this, publish and post a reflection, pictures, a video, or other documentation of the event. This way, your students can revisit these memories.

Resources Related to This Goal

Important News

  • Lisa Dabbs and I have decided to change the hashtag to #30GoalsEdu because we have noticed some sports people using the hashtag. Please make the transition.
  • I have been traveling a lot so sorry I missed last week’s goal. This week I will update the Pinterest boards and begin commenting and sharing your posts so please continue to share!
  • This year we are focusing on 1 to 2 goals a week in order to have time to really reflect on the tasks and respond to each other’s posts and enhance our support system for each other.

Check out my Pinterests for other posts with this goal or ask me to add yours!


Share your ritual for actively overcoming obstacles and negativity or share any activity, event, book, film or other resource that helps students learn how to overcome their negative thoughts.

Did you reflect on this goal? Please leave a comment that you accomplished this goal by either posting your own video reflection on Youtube, using the hashtag #30Goals, posting on the 30 Goals Facebook group, adding a post to the GooglePlus page, or adding a comment below!

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