Thursday, July 07, 2011

You, Not Them is the Way To Begin

I love helping people learn about and live TJED principles.  TJED is a lifestyle and for most people it takes a lot of conscious effort to develop a TJED lifestyle in their own home and family.

A lot of people read one of the TJED Books and then ask, “But how do I really do it?”  There are a lot of really great answers to that question.  Some of my favorite answers are in the books Leadership Education and The TJED Home Companion

Family Builder
I’ve also learned of a new resource that aims to mentor families and groups of adults through the process of developing a TJED lifestyle:  Family Builder.  It is amazing.  I whole-heartedly recommend it.  The first 3 audio downloads are free.  Listen to them and you’ll know if Family Builder is for you.  The program consists of audio lectures and worksheets that take you through the Family Builder process.  Ideally, you would be part of a local Family Builder group, led by a Family Builder Facilitator that would meet regularly to work through the Family Builder program together.  I hope to get trained as a Facilitator and lead a group in my area someday.  You can also do the program on your own or with an online group. 

I have my own way of answering the question, “But how do I really do it?” and my way really isn’t different from what all those other resources say but sometimes it is helpful to hear the same information in a variety of ways.  My thoughts draw heavily on the TJED books and an audio lecture titled, Adult Phases, given by Julie Earley at a TJED Forum. You can buy it here.  So here is how I answer the question, "But how do I really do it?"

A Shiny New Dream
Most often (definitely not always) it is the mother in a family who discovers TJED and decides she wants to “use it” with her family.  My thoughts apply to fathers and singles who want to “use” or “do” TJED too.  My imaginary narrative will be about a typical aspiring TJED mom.  Mom has usually discovered TJED at an event or after talking to a good friend who “does” TJED.  She is really excited and dreaming of a home cleaned by her children who spend their afternoon studying Calculus, Greek, and Philosophy and then relax with a family reading of a novel like Les Miserables.  When her children grow up, they save the world in half a dozen different ways.  Her dream really inspires her and she wants to see it become a reality, tomorrow. 

I think that dream sounds lovely and living a TJED lifestyle will very likely yield some if not all of those results but that is not what TJED is about.  TJED is about building leaders, also known as statesmen.  Building leaders works best when the future leader grows up in a certain kind of home environment with a certain kind of family lifestyle that inspires and helps them to progress through the phases of learning.  An individual who progresses through the phases of learning will become a leader no matter how old they are when they begin the process.  Success is not limited to children, homeschoolers or farmers. 

Reality: a Rocky Start
Mom comes home with a stack of classics and half a dozen plans for how to start “doing” TJED.   She begins to share her dream with her family, sure that they will feel just as inspired by it and get right to work on fulfilling it.  But they aren’t and they don’t.  And she isn’t even sure what to tell them to do.  She is sure that if she can just figure out what “they” should do, it will all come together.  At this point she is seriously tempted to give up and go back to what she was doing before she heard about TJED. Or, she may ask, "But how do I really do it?"

The answer is one of the 7 Keys of Great Teaching, from A Thomas Jefferson Education:

You, Not Them, is the Way to Begin

If you want to develop a TJED lifestyle for yourself and your family, you must begin with yourself and leave everyone else alone.  You must progress yourself through the phases of learning, beginning with Core Phase.  You cannot inspire someone to pursue a Core Phase or mentor them through it if you haven’t experienced it yourself.  This is hard to swallow for most people and it probably sounds all wrong but I know it works.  It doesn’t just work, it shoots the moon.  You won’t believe the results you’ll see if you give this a try.  I’m talking totally transformational, revolutionary results.

But it will sound so simple you might be tempted to dismiss it.  I beg of you, just try it.  You will probably be able to do steps 1-5 in an evening.  One week of working on step 6 will probably convince you the process works.  Here’s the specific steps I recommend:

1.  Don’t change a thing.
Whatever your family has been doing, don’t change it, just let them keep on keepin’ on.  Whatever routine your family has right now, maintain it.  Of course if someone in your family is in a dangerous or harmful situation then get them out of it immediately but don’t make them do anything else.  Even if you’ve pulled your kids out of school and the default routine is for them to play all day, let it happen.  Sometimes nothing really is better than an inferior something.  A little detox time with lots of play will not hurt your family while you figure out what you are going to do.

2.  Determine your Core Book and Authority Figure.
Fundamental to TJED and Core Phase is a learning good/bad, right/wrong, true false.  Your Authority Figure and Core Book define these for you.  An Authority Figure is often a higher power or a transcendent human being.  Someone like God, a Prophet, a Political Leader, a Philosopher etc. that you turn to for answers to Life’s Big Questions.  A Core Book does the same kind of thing and some people use a Core Book as their Authority Figure.  Some examples of Core Books are The Bible, The Bhagavad Gita, The Torah, The Koran, Shakespeare’s Collected Works, The Declaration of Independence, and The Humanist Manifesto.  Some people use a combination of 2 or 3 books/documents as their Core Book.  What is your Core Book and who is your Authority Figure? 

3.  Assess your current routine.
Write down your current personal daily and weekly routine. We are creatures of habit.  Most of what we do every day, we do on autopilot, out of habit.  What do you habitually do every day?  Every week? What time do you wake up?  When do you eat and what do you eat?  When do you work?  When do you play?  When are you home?  When are you somewhere else?  What else do you do?  When do you sleep?  Do not include anything you are not personally involved in. It is important to focus on your routine, no one else’s.  Write it all down, in chronological order.

4.  Determine an ideal routine.
Now remember, we are talking about your routine, the things you will do daily or weekly in an ideal world, not what you hope anyone else in your family, workplace, etc. will do. 

An ideal TJED Core Phaser routine includes:

  •       Time to read your Core Book
  •       Time to pray, meditate, or otherwise communicate with your Authority Figure
  •       Time to work (This includes your responsibilities inside and outside of your home)
  •       Time to play
  •       Time to be inspired
  •       Time to eat
  •       Time to sleep
  •       Time for relationships
  •       Time to take care of personal needs and hygiene

There will be other things in your ideal routine.  What are they?  It’s also important to note that I’m using the word routine, not schedule.  If you are most comfortable with a minute-by-minute schedule, I suspect that is routine for you.  But it isn’t necessary.  A routine is a flow of events that happens habitually.  It is good for a routine to be flexible and allow for deviations.  Specific activities take more or less time on a given day.  Where people and their needs are concerned, it is especially important to take the time it takes to meet those needs.  Often you will be doing two or more basics at once. For example, most of my work and play is also time for relationships. 

Now review your current routine and compare it to your ideal routine.  What do you notice about your current routine?  What is good about it?  Are there important things missing from it?  How happy are you with this routine?  How happy do you think you would be if you were following your ideal routine?

5. Begin Implementing Your Ideal Routine

Proceed with caution.  Remember three things as you begin. 

  • We are only talking about your routine, not what your family, roommates, or coworkers are doing.  Just leave them alone. 
  • You will be successful if you focus on 1 or 2 small changes to your routine at a time.  If you try to change a lot of things all at once, or you try to make a drastic change you are unlikely to stick with it.  I know limiting yourself to 1 or 2 small changes seems like it won’t work.  I promise that it does. 
  • The process is more important than what is accomplished.  This is another way of saying, Trust the Process.  Something magical happens when you consistently work on something small – it becomes a habit.   If the change is a good one, the positive effects ripple throughout your life and world.  Say for example, that time to study your Core Book is not part of your current routine but you decide to work on developing the habit of reading your Core Book for 5 minutes every day.  Even though it is only 5 minutes, it will take a tremendous amount of mental and emotional energy to work this into your routine.  It will take at least 3 weeks of tremendous daily effort to make this a habit.  But, you will experience positive results after just 1 day of reading for 5 minutes.  Some of those results will likely be that your family and/or those around you will see your example and be inspired to do likewise.  Seriously, it will happen. The positive results will make you feel great.  They will motivate you to keep working at it.  They will increase with each successful day.  Resist the urge to start requiring more of yourself.  Define your daily success by whether or not you read your Core Book for 5 minutes.  If your ideal goal is to read for 30 minutes each day and on day 2 you kept going and read for 10 minutes, that is just fine but what really matters is that you read for at least 5 minutes.  Developing the habit is the point.  Once reading your Core Book for 5 minutes a day is a habit, you can work on increasing the amount of time.  Going from 5 minutes to 10 minutes won’t be such a stretch.  Going from no minutes to 10 minutes would be a big change.  And bigger changes are a lot harder to turn into habits.  I was once told that it is our habits that determine our destiny, and I believe it.

After you have made one permanent (habitual) change to your routine, you can begin working on another one.  Keep working at making new habits until your current routine matches your ideal routine, most of the time.  Please note I said, most of the time, not every single day.  Unless you are perfect, you will never be able to follow the ideal routine every day.  If you obsess about perfection you will prevent yourself from fulfilling your potential and you will teach those around you to do likewise.

Depending on how different your current routine and your ideal routine are, this process may take a few months or a few years.  Your definition of ideal is likely to evolve, especially as you progress through the phases.   And you will fall out of some habits and have to make them again.  I have a pretty good personal routine that I’ve worked on for years but I am continually improving it.  This week I’m recreating the habit of making my bed before breakfast.

When you don’t have to think about your ideal routine to make it happen, you can begin working on Creating an Inspiring Environment.  And that’s a post for another day…

1 comment:

LaDonna said...

This is great. Thanks!