Perhaps I should start a blog about the ups and downs, fantastic victories, unbelievable challenges, and crazy curveballs that come every single day when trying to start a revolution. Today, specifically, I’m talking about our very personal mission to revolutionize global education by creating the schools that we believe EVERY CHILD DESERVES. Yesterday marked the first day of school in the second year of our pilot school in Phoenix, AZ. This has unequivocally been the hardest project I’ve ever attempted in my life.
Of course, I would have been extremely naïve to expect it would be a walk in the park. But guess what y’all? Turning the world upside down is H-A-R-D. There’s a reason that education looks like it does. Because, regardless of your particular arena of life, creating real, massive, long-lasting change requires getting messier, more creative, more vulnerable, more committed, and more uncomfortable than most people are willing. It requires putting ALL of yourself into the game. There is no sitting safely on the sidelines and critiquing the referee for making the wrong call. There’s no sending email complaints or leaving a text message and checking the box that you did your job. There’s no such things as nights, weekends, and free time, because revolutions don’t happen between the hours of 9 and 5.
First of all, why does this matter to me? And how does it fit in with my own mission to create a life of personal excellence? It matters to me, because it involves my own child…just as I would assume it would matter to every other parent on the planet. 1) I cannot, in good conscience, talk the talk of rising above mediocrity while I allow my son to waller in a mediocre environment. 2) I cannot, in good conscience, invest thousands of hours into developing leadership and personal excellence, while I watch my child be mindlessly programmed like a sheep being led to slaughter. 3) I cannot say that I care about this great country where I was fortunate enough to be born and allow it to continue to destroy itself from within while I do nothing but complain and reminisce about the good ol’ days. If something doesn’t change soon, I really fear that the Land of the Free will not be here for my children to enjoy.
If we really want to create change, we must fight for it with everything we’ve got. And by everything, I mean EVERYTHING. To join this revolution, I’ve given up my career, invested ALL of our money and then some, given all of our time, and all of our energy. Are we crazy? Absolutely. I wouldn’t actually recommend it to anyone. I’ve done a lot of stupid, horrible things in my life, and I’ve made more mistakes than I care to admit, but I am still a person who MUST believe that there is good in this world. I must believe that our children have a future…and not just any future, but an AWESOME one. I must believe that the gloom and doom messages we get from all sides are merely optional. I must believe that one small band of believers can change the world. I must believe that attitude is more powerful than aptitude, because I’m certainly not a professional educator and I’ve now thrown myself into a world that should probably be “left to the experts”. But I know that my own son is already halfway through his schooling, and if I don’t do something NOW, then I will have missed my chance to fight on his behalf for an awesome education and the preparation to actually thrive in this modern-day world.
Allow me to share by way of example. If any of our children were dying of a physical sickness (Heaven-forbid!!!), you’d better believe we’d raise Cain to save them. And the truth of the matter is that almost all of our children are being programmed for complacency, mediocrity, and misery through today’s standard educational system. Like an undiagnosed cancer that kills a person slowly, our educational system is stomping the life out of our children every single day. In his example, how could I keep feeding my kid red gummy bears or blue marshmallows when I KNOW it’s A PROVEN CAUSE of cancer?? I just don’t get it. Yes, the gummy bear is cute. Yes, the blue marshmallow tastes good. Yes, all the other kids are eating them. Yes, my kid is whining in my ear as to how he wants to be like all the other kids. (But by now he knows the answer: No, we won’t want to be like them in the hospital and cemetery when we’re 50!!) So, we have to be brave and strong to not give in to the stupidity of peer pressure, no matter how overpowering it may feel. (Come on, people…are we really so weak that we let our taste buds run our lives?? But don’t get me started…that’s a whole book on its own.) And in the same exact way, how could I knowingly subject my child to a minimum of 13 years of being programmed to become a pathetic human being?!? Let’s see, if he only goes to school from the time he’s 5 until he’s 18, that’s 13 years X an average of 9 months per year X an average of 20 days per month = a mere 2,340 days of settling for whatever the broken system is shoving down his throat. And we act surprised and appalled that “today’s generation” is what it is. Um, duh. WE CREATED THAT, PEOPLE!! Wake up!
It’s not their fault. It’s not the teachers’ fault. It’s not even the principal’s fault, and I’m certainly not gonna waste my time & energy blaming the government. So, what can I do? I can either give up and say, “It’s just the world we live in. Such a shame. I wish things were different. I wish I had a lot of money to make change. I wish I were in a position of influence to offer a solution. I wish it was like the good ol’ days. I wish we had more options. I wish the government would do something.” And if I take that route, I’m just officially giving up and settling for a life of generational status quo.
Yes, there are a few great teacher, principals, and schools. And yes, there are a few rich and famous people in the world. I choose not to live my life playing the coulda, woulda, shoulda lottery game. Why can’t EVERY kid have a great teacher, principal, and school? Why can’t every kid have good food, good air, and love? I believe it WILL be a reality one day, just as much as Thomas Edison believed in the light bulb. You can call me an idealist and you can call me crazy, but I’ll take those odds. No one believed in Christopher Columbus either, and last time I checked the world isn’t flat.
So back to our food analogy. Yes, I also used to eat garbage and enjoyed every bite. And then I learned it was actually killing me, so I stopped. And in the exact same way, I used to think that the educational system was average but ok, so I went along with it. Even once I started seeing the problems, it was much easier to look the other way, which I tried to do for six years. We actually put our son in school on three different continents and saw the exact same breakdowns in every place: underpaid and overworked teachers, principals caught in the middle of politics, masses of parents who brace themselves for the worst, because they figure it’s the best they’re gonna get, and a decent minority of parents who really do want better options, but don’t have the resources to create them. Oh, and of course…the hundreds of millions of children who we line up like a herd of sheep headed to the slaughter house. Please forgive me: I really hate to sound so jaded and dramatic and graphic. But think about it….how do we feel about kindergartners? So much potential! Little dreamers who are going to conquer the world! And by the time they’re finished with schooling? We’re complaining about a jaded generation that is drowning in entitlement but doesn’t have enough skills to balance a checkbook or manage a calendar. So, what happened in between? Schooling. The parents blame the school, the schools blame the kids, and the government continues to be the tail that wags the dog. What can we do about it? I’m not daring to say that I have all the answers, but I do know that I’ve got to try. That’s why I gave up our family business and left everything to join the education revolution…because remaining as a consumer was ultimately failing our children.
And it’s not just about fixing the curriculum and “testing” epidemic. Yes, it’s a massive piece of the puzzle. But raising smarter, more talented kids who can simply “produce more” isn’t the answer. The human race doesn’t need more efficiency. What we crave is connection and deep, true meaning. Let’s face it. Life as we know it has changed. Quiet suburbia is an era gone by. In front of our eyes, an entire population is emerging that refuses to settle for busy work and shallow answers. We have a beautiful generation of young pioneers ready to make their mark on the planet, and they are supported by a trifecta of resources never before seen in human history: wealth, access and desire. They insist on more, and they aren’t afraid to work for it…but on new terms…their terms. Cliché as it may sound, they want to breed goodness and contribute to the world with purpose. The biggest gift we can give to our youth is to free their minds from the old programming and limitations that stem from trying to force them into a box that doesn’t actually exist. From technology to social media, and science to self-actualization, the world is ready. Our Millennial World is so closely linked via technology, social media, and a craving to connect that we finally actually have the potential power to affect Thailand from Tucson and Bombay from Boston. All we have to do is flip the switch.
But, how do we change a global landscape? The world won’t achieve long-term, lasting change if we only transform one small section of the planet. What we’re talking about here is a global revolution, because changing just one neighborhood, city, state, or even country will no longer work due to constant infiltration from the outside world. So, we have an incredible plan for putting these schools in every community around the world! But it all starts one child at a time.
And THAT, my friends, is what we’re working to do at MMA and LIFE. We started last year with one school – our pilot school. And like every other awesome opportunity in the world, we’re having to give this the fight of our lives. The hurdles we’re facing and walls we’re running into are staggering. We’re seeing threats, attempts at sabotage, and criticism from outsiders. We’re getting hit with CRAZY obstacles out of nowhere, and the financial weight of all of it is beyond words.
But we are either going to keep marching forward and building an army until we succeed, or you’re gonna find me dead on the side of the road trying (Gd-forbid), because there is no way I could quit on these kids. And I want to give a HUGE, HUGE shout out to our teachers & families who have risked everything to partner with us on this mission: I have never seen such resilience and such pure love and faith in the future. I will be better and stronger for the rest of my life as a result of learning SOOOO MUCH from each of you every single day during this chapter of the journey, and these kids have NO IDEA how blessed they are to have you in their corner.
We never know what tomorrow or next week or next year will hold. But I do know that Heaven has an awesome plan, and I am blessed to show up every single day and fight for what I believe in. We love these kids fiercely, because we know that they have been entrusted to us for a Divine reason. So, for all of the teachers and parents and students out there who want to give up – don’t. Show the world what you’re made of TODAY. Make it your best day ever. Stand a little taller. Show a little extra kindness. Finish with a smile. You do matter. Your efforts matter. And if we add up all of our desire and energy to change the world…THAT is the makings of a real revolution.