No comments

One of my favorite learnings from college was the discussion about underachiever and overachiever. Clearly, an underachiever is someone who’s achieving below his or her potential. But an overachiever has been said to be achieving more than they are capable of.  Now isn't that silly?  How can anyone achieve more than they’re capable of? What it really means is that if one has is labeled as an overachiever, they've always had the capacity and the potential, but circumstances have prevented them from achieving what they were capable of – all along!! It could be a learning style or environmental issue or several other possible problems. But the issue becomes - - in order to uncover that individual’s real, true, actual capacity, their circumstances need to be changed and/or adapted. Sometimes that may be difficult - but it doesn't change the fact that it can be done.

 As an example, in the early days of LD, the definition of learning disabled was one who wasn't able to achieve up to their potential due to a learning impairment or impediment. They had the potential, but some often neurological disconnect prevented learning or performance. So, the issue becomes figuring out how to overcome or work around that learning impairment. And that's where the challenge and the change comes in!

SO – what can you do, as a parent?

Patience. Try and try again, with patience. Show no frustration…

Try different approaches.  Most of us use all three modes of learning: visual, auditory and kinesthetic.  For some, the kinesthetic approach – touch – holding in their hands – may be the best.  Most of us [about 70%] are visual learners – but that doesn’t eliminate the others.  I can do two things at once – but ONLY if I turn the radio up REAL LOUD.  Experiment, OBSERVE, see what works – and especially, what they REALLY dislike or jump back from - and avoid it.

I once worked with a young person with learning challenges – he hated sitting in a chair – but if we went outside and practiced arithmetic – counting trees on the playground, he lit up!  He loved it!

And don’t always rely on their teacher to do all this experimenting – teachers have a lot of kids and a lot of varied and varying responsibilities.

And please don’t ask your child how they learn best – THEY DON’T and WON’T KNOW.

Einstein said, “we cannot teach people, but instead provide conditions in which people can learn and grow.”

For more information or thoughts, message me here or CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com.

No comments

Almost everyone has doubts or negative thoughts about what they’re trying to achieve - and teenagers may be at the top of that list!  So, your teen, even all of us – need strategies to overcome those doubts and hesitations.

I heard a high performing athlete and former Navy SEAL pounding on the concept of Prisoner of the Mind –that a huge number of our impediments are in our mind, such as:

·       “…I can’t”

·       “I’m not smart enough”

·       “I don’t know how” - - - “I don’t know where to find out or learn”

·       “it can’t be done”


·       “I’ve got too much to do – I can’t keep up”

Here’s how to deal with negativity in one’s brain:

If it’s a conscious thought, ask:

·       What evidence tells you that?

·       Do you accept that evidence?

·       The big question: how and when will you overcome it?

·       And even if it’s valid or true – will you allow it to stop you?  THAT’S NEGATIVE THINKING.

As a former school psychologist, administering MANY intelligence tests, I found that intelligence is the SPEED at which one learns, NOT IF they can learn

RESEARCH evidence tells us that everything we’ve ever learned or experienced is still in our brain.

We are all living out the “script” in our mind – so to change “the output” we need to change “the input”

The best available tools are Affirmations and Visualizations.  BOTH need to be used and repeated many times each day.

Latest research tells us that it takes 66 days or more - to change a habit.

A [negative] mindset is an attitude – an attitude is a habit of thought

And realize and accept – this will probably be an everyday struggle – keep that Visualization Board easily viewable, viewed often and updated from time to time!

An affirmation is an “I” statement in the PRESENT tense – as if you were already in possession of it - of something you want to do, achieve or become.

A Visualization is a visual Affirmation.

These should ALWAYS BE IN THE POSITIVE.  The unconscious mind – which drives and controls our behaviors and choices – CANNOT TELL THE DIFFERENCE between positive and negative.  So, if you word your affirmation as a negative, you will be DRAWN to the negative!!

There are two kinds of visualizations: (1) the end result, and (2) your needed actions to achieve that result.


SAMPLE AFFIRMATIONS – use or adapt to your preferences and of course, develop your own

Affirmations, to be effective, must be repeated numerous times throughout the day.  Remember – they are overwriting the script that’s been in their head for a long time!

One good tool is to write them on a 3x5 index card - fold it twice and put it in your pocket.

Putting them on your Visualization Board is another good strategy, or on the visor of your car.

You can chop these up any way you’d like – THEY’RE YOURS!

·       I am a strong, powerful, intelligent, high-achieving success machine!

·       I am energized, healthful, goal-directed, well-focused - each day, every day!

·       I have great energy.

·       I am FOCUSED – minute by minute, hour by hour.

·       I eat healthy foods in reasonable quantities.

·       I am successful and highly effective.

·       I make friends easily.  I have many great friends.

·       I am well-disciplined each day, every day.

·       I complete what I plan to do, each day, every day

·       I plan thoughtfully, allowing and enabling myself to complete what I’d want, to advance my success goals

·       ___________________________



If you have questions or comments – message me here or CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com

No comments

 For those of you experiencing hassles with your teenager – realize that almost every argument or flare-up – is them trying to prevent you from invading their rapidly evolving “new self.”  Figuratively speaking, it’s like them avoiding an invading army - you… They’re trying to stand their ground and maintain this new self. 

Best strategy?  ASK, DON’T TELL.  The more you TELL, the more they’ll fight you off or back - - - “I’ve gotta be me” [old song]. 

The more you ASK them, the more you’ll convey respect for their magnificent thinking machine – that brain that’s growing daily, even minute by minute. 

Nurture their thinking [by ASKING] – you’ll all come out ahead.  

For more information or thoughts, message me here or CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com. 

No comments

 In a recent article, a child psychologist confirmed the No. 1 skill that “sets mentally strong kids apart from ‘those who give up” - the most important element for success in a child’s life is HOPE.

I have said for several years that the two most critical elements in a teenager’s life traits are resilience and resourcefulness.  Evidently, perhaps obviously, resilience – getting back up after a defeat - demonstrates hope - the expectation that “I can do better or more.”

How does one develop resilience and hope?

By trying, failing and trying again – and perhaps again and again and again!!

Note that in the mindset of the helicoptering parent – who protects the child from ANY failure, the child will never learn how to get back up. And that’s a life lesson critical, crucial, important and foundational for any adult success.

Every single successful person has experienced multiple failures, sometimes the bigger the better.  Michael Jordan comes to mind with many, many FAILED last-minute shots on the basketball court and yet he remains one of the premier players of all time. We can also consider Thomas Edison whose thousands of failed attempts eventually led to a successful lightbulb!

It's that resilience - that belief, that hope, that enables success in anyone and especially a teenager in the midst of much psychological and cognitive churning.

So – how should you best deal with your child’s defeat?

·       LISTEN


·       “how do you feel about what happened?”

·       “how do you think you did?”

·       “How could you do that differently or better?” 

·       “who can we ask for guidance or coaching?”

AVOID saying things like “Oh, that’s OK…” or “don’t worry about it”

Allow them to feel the impact – and recover and rebuild – THAT’S resilience and HOPE!

As you know, parenting is not an exact science – so what you just read may need adjustment – but learn, adapt, adjust – and especially – ASK, DON’T TELL.  

Every time you TELL, you’ve prevented them from the most powerful learning: Discovery learning. ASKing questions, as above, is the magic!

And if you have questions or comments, please message me at CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com

No comments


We’ve seen much craziness and wild accusations in recent months and years about schools, teachers, school boards, etc. - some well-intentioned, some self-serving.

Please remind yourself:

YOU are ultimately responsible for your teenager’s life and success, NOT the school, teachers or school board.

Brief reminders: THE RESEARCH IS CLEAR – neither intelligence nor school grades predict nor define success for your teen.  The two most important, most powerful influences toward anyone’s success are RESILIENCE and RESOURCEFULNESS.

One of the weaknesses of today’s teens is the result of helicopter parenting – that is, parents protecting their kids from adversity, failure, defeat – WITH THE RESULT – documented by countless college professors – that, when they fail, today’s college students DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO ☹ ☹.

There are a couple things you can do to strengthen your teen’s resilience:

(1)  DO NOT ‘fix things for them –

(2)  instead, ask them what they think they should do – this time or ‘the next time’ –

(3)  AND THEN [VERY important] - ask a follow-up question or two:

·       “how do you think that will work” –

·       “what past experience makes you think that?” 

There are more, but that’s a start.

It’s been said that ‘every time you do something for your child that they could have done, you (o) prevented learning AND (o) taught them that you don’t have confidence in them!!!

The more you follow our suggested ASK, DON’T TELL approach, the more resilient and innovative and self-confident your teen will become!  And isn’t that a worthy goal?

ASK, DON’T TELL is much like the Socratic method – or a Jewish mother: always reply with a question, never an answer!      [we have a resource we can send you if you’d like]


To build Resourcefulness, again, ask A LOT of questions, then invite and reinforce wild ’n crazy ideas!!

It’s been said that “every new idea was at first considered preposterous.”  How true!!  In the days of the Fax machine, imagine that salesman telling you – “I’m going to send this piece of paper though your phone line…”   WHAT????????

Good questions:

·       “How else might you or could you do that?” [whatever the task]

·       “How else?” [again!]

·       “What’s the real goal here?  [that will very often re-slant their approach]

Again, it’s been said – “Nothing is more dangerous than one idea when it’s the only one you have.”

 Brainstorming – a treasure trove, a gold mine, a flood of wild ’n crazy ideas!!  KEY POINT: while brainstorming, NO NEGATIVES - nothing rejected [that comes later, after (1) clarifying, and (2) combining, where possible]

GUIDE, LEAD, INFLUENCE your teen toward great success: Resilient, Resourceful - for life!! 

If I can help you in any way, please message me to discuss what’s on your parenting mind [at no charge].  [for background] I’m a former spec ed director, school psychologist, 30+ year success coach now focusing on teenagers.

No comments

Yeah, I know- "it won't happen to my teen" - same thing I said.

BUT IT DID. She took her own life.

 If there’s one thing we should learn from this teen world today – they do things completely unexpected, illogical, non-logical and unanticipated.

 We see more and more and more media reports about teen suicide.  It happens for several reasons – some legitimate, some hyper-inflated.

 But let's talk prevention.

 The most important thing to know is YOU DON’T KNOW!

 YEARS of research says, “there are always signs.” 

And yet, there are MANY reports of teens who have great relationships wit their parents, family, school, good friends, community and on and on – real contributors, etc.

And all of a sudden, they end it.

 This problem will never have a perfect solution – but here’s a starting point:

LISTEN.  Listen, listen, listen, listen!! Stop telling.

 ASK, DON’T TELL – stop telling, sermonizing, correcting, etc.  The split-second you lapse into that tone of voice, your teen zones out.

That’s not what a possibly emotionally illogical person needs!

 Let’s recall: emotions are beyond logic. 

You realized that years ago when you fell in love with the wrong person.

In sales, people buy on emotion, not on logic.

The golden door into a teen will always be LISTENING.

 Stop refuting their logic or their feelings!

Recognize, accept, VALIDATE every feeling they share and then ASK ABOUT IT.


“tell me more”

“tell me about that”

“please tell me what made [makes] you think that]

“help me to better understand”


 ASK, DON’T TELL has been our philosophy for several years and it has drawn out amazing results and information the parent wouldn’t have had if they immediately knee-jerk-reflexed into arguing.

 As adults, as parents we are constantly attempting to tell or teach or instruct our teenagers – EVEN THOUGH they’re at an age when [we hope] they’ve begun to develop a mind of their own.

Let's respect that! Let's listen and listen and listen deeper.

As said previously, listening is the greatest gift you can give.

 After my daughter died, I spent many hours reflecting, wondering, searching.  She was surrounded by loving family and even professional services. 

I am fully aware that this isn’t practically possible, but I came to the belief that the only real solution was to literally hold her hands 24-7.

 To summarize:

·       LISTEN, deeply.

·       Ask gentle, non-invasive follow-up questions.

·       Validate feelings they express even if they make no sense to you or are totally opposite of “the reality” you see.

·       Watch for signs – changes in behavior or patterns.

·       Love them deeply and remind them often.

No comments

THE NEW PARENTING   [reduce your stress and theirs!!]

Almost no one could have predicted the rocket-like changes in our society.  And to be absolutely sure, parenting MUST ADAPT.

When I was a school psychologist MANY years ago, we told parents that by about the age of 12, they had lost real control of their kids.  Fast forward 20+ years – that loss of real control is far greater.

So what can a ‘modern’ parent do?  Here are four adaptations or adjustments to parenting - not huge changes, more like adjusting your grip on a golf club or using a Cuisinart rather than an electric mixer.

1.     Listen first, really listen. In 7 Habits of Successful People, Steven Covey said “listen first to understand, then to be understood.”  As a society [probably including you] we are busy form our reply when we should be listening intently.  Listening, according to one writer, is the greatest human compliment.

·       You will also find that by listening first, the level and intensity or arguments will lessen.

·       Listening shows respect.

·       As with each of these steps, CHANGE WILL BE HARD. You’ll make a commitment – then forget.  Not a huge problem – just reminding yourself that you’re human – and commit to doing “it” differently the next time.


2.     The next logical step is one we’ve used with much success: ASK, DON’T TELL. 

·       After you’ve LISTENED, ask a follow-up, non-confrontational information-gathering question [è usually TWO follow-up questions…] 

·       In delivering sales training a few years back, I did an entire sales presentation asking only questions.  I never made a declarative statement.  It takes preparation!

·       One frequent teenage reply to a question is “I don’t know” – and much of the time, that will be true!  They just didn’t think – they just acted!  So, this becomes you chance to GENTLY ask “How do you think you might react the next time this happens?”

o   Have 2 or 3 or 4 prepared follow-up questions in your mind:

§  “how do you think that went?” 

§  “what could you do differently or better the next time?”

§  “what did you hope or think the outcome or result would be?”


·       If you approach this properly, you can build an even better/ stronger relationship with your teen – non-confrontational, solution-finding

·       Socrates [remember him?] – used his Socratic method – questioning, leading students to their own revelations about their world, people, science, etc.

·       You should also be thinking within and about ‘Discovery learning’ – which every kindergarten teacher uses to lead a student to reveal THEIR OWN answer to a question or a problem.  It also enables far greater retention and even self-satisfaction – which we can easily call self-growth!!


3.     Be a coach, not a drill sergeant

·       Every time you speak harshly and forcefully – without improvement suggestions, you will change NOTHING. The more you TELL and demand, the less of a THINKING teenager you’re building.

·       If you notice, the best coaches – in sports, life, debate club, dramatics – don’t confront nor lecture - they TEACH and question and SHOW HOW.

·       Coaching involves but is not just teaching.  It’s also supporting, encouraging, injecting some renewed motivation!


4.     Lastly, QUESTION your expectation for this teen - your goals and hopes [and, in #3 above, did you encourage teach and support, or just assume they’d be as perfect as you were?].

·       Do you want a clone of you – or do you just assume because they have your ‘seed’, they’ll just be like you?  Do you want them to be their own person?

·       At the other extreme – in a brief survey last year, a very large number of parents “just wanted their teen to be happy.”  That was an empty, meaningless reply.  It hugely omits a parent’s role to share their wisdom and insight and valuable experiences with their own teen!

·       You also have a very important role in teaching values for your teen – which you will do by word AND BY DEED.

·       If you show laziness or constant tiredness or taking the easy way out, what could they learn?  And if you feel any guilt here, let it pass and become more of the parent they need.


And with each one of these steps, LISTEN, OBSERVE, offer constructive feedback as they evolve.  You will one day be proud of “what you built.”

If you have questions or would like more information, please email – CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com

No comments

 In YOUR opinion, is your teenager performing below his/ her potential?

 If so, if you could gently, even invisibly guide them toward THEIR OWN desired growth or change or development, would you be interested? 

 We are preparing to release a very effective [low stress] system, enabling a teenager to strengthen their life in whatever area they choose – academics, sports, any area.  Before we release it to the public, we’d like your insight as a parent.  In exchange for your reply, you will receive a free gift, for you or your teen!

No comments

That’s the unanswerable question for too many parents of teenage boys.

Yet, it’s contradicted by the FACT that all humans are inherently motivated.

So what’s the answer?

If you think it’s a biological or psychological problem, there’s at least an 80% chance you’re wrong!!

And if it’s not biological or psychological, there’s only one element left: their ENVIRONMENT – the world in which they live: parents, siblings, friends, school, sports, other activities.

As a parent your first reaction might be something like “how dare you? I’m doing my best… I feed him, clothe him, care for him…”  And in most all cases, it would be hard to find fault in your parenting.

Bottom line: when you left the hospital after he was born, they probably didn’t give you a book to tell you how to raise the perfect kid.

Parenting is hit or miss – if you miss, try again, DIFFERENTLY.

I’m amazed at how often I read of parents whose teens “suddenly” won’t do anything – school, household chores…  Are they REALLY believing this just started happening?  I think not!

If you’re a helicopter parent, doing and giving everything for him – why should he get off the couch?

Frankly, [subjective opinion] – those kids who have THE LEAST are often the most motivated.


Might you be trying to fit him into the paradigm box of your expectations – and he refuses…?

Are you trying too hard? 

Have you given him every book and resource to ATTEMPT to make him into what you want?

Has he failed – and given up?  If so, what did you do next?

Failure can be very upsetting, often creating an “I’m no good” thought.

Think of his possible interpretations – did he fail himself? Did he fail you?


Here are some questions to ask yourself:

•         What are your expectations of him?

•         WHY do you have those expectations?  [yes, instantly you will say “for his own good”]

•         Do you think he understands that? 

•         Would you, when you were a teen?


One key is to provide or allow as many different resources as he’s interested in – and let him discover his own motivation.

BTW - recent research shows that video-gaming is not harmful, unless done to excess.

I had robotic surgery a few years ago – I hope my surgeon was very good at video-gaming!



•         Have you said unkind things when he fell short – or did you reply as a teaching coach would – “this is how you can do it better…”

Bad example: we see too many parents trying to live out their sports dreams through their kids – which often makes them wild and over-emotional FAR too often and nutsy! ☹


1.       “Fertilize” him with resources and opportunities. 

2.       DON’T force any of them on him.

3.       Avoid over-persuading. You’ll turn him right off – and lose this battle.

4.       Be patient.  I’ll bet he notices – and emotionally ‘returns’ to receptivity.


Two over-arching thoughts:


If you’re interested, we have some simple tools you can use to begin to guide this process.

If we can be of help in this or any teenager issues, please message us here or CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com



No comments



One of the main areas of focus in business, executive and even personal coaching currently is the issue of finding your WHY.  That is, understanding your life’s purpose – WHY you’re here, on this planet, this life, this world.  That might seem too lofty or unnecessary or over-intellectualizing, but – it’s a worthwhile objective for most adults.


However, while that focus on knowing your WHY is important, it may be too premature for most high schoolers.  It does provide an excellent interim step to get them moving and thinking toward dreams and success and all its related elements toward life success.


In working with teens, we’ve found that helping them, guiding them, leading them to identify a dream goal that they can pursue now has value. [yes, like most all goals, it can be changed, deleted or replaced] Until high school, for the most part, they have been TOLD what to do, where to go, etc. – by parents, teachers, coaches, et al. But beginning to pursue “something of their own” on a daily basis, exercises and strengthens a number of valuable traits. It helps them to become more motivated, more focused, more driven and more success oriented. [we’ve also found that pursuing their own dream goal improves self-esteem and even family relationships AND academic performance!]


We also find that life and career dreaming is often quite foreign to their thinking and mindset.  And yet, it can plant some valuable fertilizing seeds toward their thinking, future and even today's life and world.


If you’re interested, we have a couple simple tools you can use to begin to guide this process.

If we can be of help in this or any teenager issues, please message us here or CoachSteve@Launch-Your-Life.com 

Success to you and your teen!!


A FINAL NOTE: ALL WE HAVE IN LIFE IS HOPE - and this is your teen’s starting point!

Print | Sitemap Recommend this page
© Launch Your Life 2015