Tim Elmore’s latest post regarding Instagram and overcoming the negative influence

Tim Elmore is an author I’ve shared with you before. He writes a blog on GrowingLeaders.com. I strongly recommend subscribing; you’ll receive an amazing amount of good advice for leading (parenting) youth. 

What We Can Learn About Leading Students from Instagram

Angela is in the sixth grade. Her parents have chosen to not purchase a smart phone for her yet, because they see the anxiety social media platforms cause Angela’s peers. When my teammate Andrew McPeak asked her if she wishes she had a phone, her response was insightful.  She said, “No. I wish my friends didn’t have phones.”

The fact is, social media platforms have turned into a popularity contest.

What originally began an innocent platform to post pictures of a significant event or relationship has now become a competition to stage a scenario that appears to be amazing or heartwarming, just to get “likes.” Other platforms do the same thing, begging users to post content for:

  •  “views”
  •  “shares”
  •  “retweets”

Did you hear what Instagram is doing about this?

Instagram is Considering Removing “Likes”

This past week, Instagram announced at Facebook’s F8 developer conference that they are experimenting with a new feature that removes exact “like” counts from posts. Instead of a numerical count, a user will be notified that some users “and others” liked the post and leave it at that. Short and simple. Very general.

Why is this important?

First, a user’s life can become about appearances rather than reality. I know too many middle and high school students who are more concerned with how they look instead of who they really are. Instagram’s decision may cut our preoccupation with image.

Second, it slows down the popularity contest obsession. Teens have always been into seeking who is most popular, so that reality won’t completely disappear. But this can level the playing field a bit, pushing students back toward authentic communication.

Third, since current social media scorecards measure the responses a post gets, they foster artificial stories; filtered photos; exaggerations or distortions. Many young users have additional account personas called “finstas” (fake Instagram accounts). This may slow down.

Journalist Karissa Bell writes, “Though ‘like’ counts may seem like a relatively minor feature, it’s one that’s become emblematic of the social pressures often surrounding Instagram. Younger users in particular can feel pressure to get a certain amount of likes, and sometimes delete posts if they don’t get enough. De-emphasizing like counts could reduce potential bullying or make people feel better about their feed.”

How Does This Inform Our Leadership?

Let me offer some tips on what we can learn from Instagram’s decision. Like this platform, we can be intentional about our leadership of students when it comes to social media:

1.  Help students develop a sense of identity outside of social media.

Several teens in our recent focus groups reported that they draw their primary sense of identity from their social media accounts. This sets them up to ride an emotional roller coaster. Why not work with your students to create purpose statements for their life that focus on doing something meaningful? Then, social media can be a servant not a master. The more time students spend offline, the more balanced they tend to be, both socially and emotionally. Teach them to find a need and fill it. Teach them to serve and in the process, discover their talents and abilities. When kids finally spend hours away from their phones they soon feel how liberating it is. Social media is supposed to “enhance our lives” not “enslave our lives.”

2. Take steps to enhance your students’ wellbeing.

Instagram is demonstrating a growing focus on features meant to enhance users’ “wellbeing.” In fact, the company has launched anti-bullying elements and tools to monitor your screen time. Coaches and parents can join them in providing guidelines or guardrails for social media use by minors:

  • No Phone Zones. Why not give clear guidance on when phones can be used for educational, meaningful exchanges or research and when they cannot, such as lunch time in the cafeteria or meal time at home. Also, what if 9:00 pm is the time everyone turns their phones in to re-charge them and enjoy time offline.
  • Equal Time Equations. Why not teach students the unintended consequences of smartphones (i.e. anxiety and depression) and help them spend an equal amount of time in face-to-face interactions as they have on a screen. We tried to ensure our kids had equal hours in quiet and with people as they did online.

3. Offer students a different kind of report card.

For too many young adults, Instagram is their sole, unilateral scorecard for how important they are. The more followers and “likes” they get, the better they feel about themselves. Both Instagram and I say it’s time for a new report card. Students need to “live their life” not just “post their life.” Posting can be both superficial and meaningful depending on our motive. Pause and consider this fact: we all have chosen something to measure how we feel about ourselves. It could be our performance. Our friendships. Our faith. You name it. Why not work with your students to choose to measure themselves with something that cannot be taken away by someone else. Popularity is a very bad scorecard. Purpose is a very good scorecard. Help them to be conscious about how they evaluate their life and satisfaction. Suggest they consider items like:

  1. Positively contributing to a cause or a community.
  2. Belonging to a group or family.
  3. Taking a stand for their values and convictions.

I think you and Instagram together can make a great team to help your students.


“I will respect myself and others!” A look at the Warriors of Grace Dojo Kun

Why a dojo kun?

Along with bowing in, the dojo kun is a reminder for us — a reminder for why we are training in karate, a reminder to be all in and focused while we are in class, and a reminder to have a “black belt attitude” throughout class!

“I will respect myself and others!”

What does that mean? 

We say this every class, but do we think about what we’re saying?

To respect something means it is really important to you.

Are you important? Yes! That’s why you need to be kind to yourself.

Are others important? Yes! That’s why you need to be kind to everyone else, too!

We take care of things and people that are important to us. By being kind and taking care of each other — that’s how we show respect!

The truth is that when we listen to mom and dad, and do what they tell us, we are respecting our self as well as them. They are telling us what to do in order to help us grow and learn and be safe. They are the “black belts” that are in charge of us. By following their directions, we are taking care of ourselves as well as being respectful to them.

“I will be courageous!”

Did you  know that every time you back away from something you are afraid of, the FEAR gets BIGGER?

Did you  know that the only way to have the FEAR get SMALLER is to push through, walk towards it, and overcome it? By overcoming, it doesn’t mean that you’re not afraid. It means that you did what needed to be done, despite being afraid. 

And every time you overcome your fear it gets SMALLER!

“I am dedicated!”

We are dedicated to something we feel strongly about, to something that is important to us. 

If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing well. It’s worth giving it your all. It’s worth making it an important part of your life.

That’s dedication.  Also sounds a lot like INTENSITY, huh? (Last month’s theme!)

“I am motivated!”

To be motivated is to have a reason for what you’re doing.  Having a reason so compelling that you can’t imagine NOT doing it!

What’s our reason for being dedicated and motivate to give our all while we are in karate class?

“I’m on a quest to be my best!”

There it is – that’s why we train. That’s why we never give up. That’s why we’re “all in”.

Karate is all about the journey to form ourselves into the best people we can be!

Intensity – Taking it to the next level

We’re ready to take it to the next level!

Everyone knows that karate is good at developing focus and concentration. And those are, indeed, important skills to have. 

Life can be so overwhelmingly distracting, that we can all use an extra ounce of focus to keep us on track.

For the next month we’re going to be increasing intensity. We’ll be working on a relatively simple set of moves, called san dan gi. Three moves: 3 moves on the receiving end, 3 moves on the attacking end. 

This relatively simple set of moves are the perfect opportunity to encourage focus, concentration, and increasing intensity.

So what is intensity?

 Intensity refers to the level of force, power, strength; but in this case, we’re also going to use it to refer to the level of focus, or concentration.

Yes, when we’re working out, when we’re doing power reps, we want to see a high level of power, or giving all you’ve got. Think: “I’m going to go as hard as I can”.

When we’re working on techniques, like san dan gi, we want to see total focus, and attention to every detail.

Karate is all about the details

Every movement, every stance is very precise in Okinawan Goju Ryu. It is in part how character is developed: paying attention to every detail, not being ok with good enough. 

But it goes deeper. The longer you train in karate, the more you learn about the parts of the body and how they can be affected by a strike or block. When you learn the precise moves, you are also learning about anatomy and vital points, and how to get the most out of every movement you make. 

Intensity vs Concentration

When it comes to Intensity, we want to see 100% effort given in class. Each day may bring a different level of what your 100% looks like, but be sure to bring it all.

Going through the motions will not benefit your body or your mind. Be all in.

Concentration is developed in karate quite naturally because it is so difficult. The moves are counter to what comes naturally, so even to walk or stand may take full concentration.

How can you help your children develop concentration?

The truth is, like most things, it’s through actually DOING things that you develop concentration.

We try to use some games and exercises in the karate school that develop focus. Simon Says turns into Sempai Says. Especially when the words don’t match what the senpai is doing (“senpai says touch your knees” is the instruction but the senpai touches his elbows), that helps to increase concentration.

Here’s an article with a number of ways to develop some pretty great skills in children.

Even listening to stories helps kids to develop focus.  We’ll use picture books to help the little ones develop focus and listening skills.

We need to have margins in order to have patience

There is a concept that has crossed my radar frequently over the last few years. That concept is about having margins.


When I first heard it, I didn’t have a clue what was meant. Margins. You know: like the blank space along all the edges of the page (or even this post). If we crammed the writing right up against every edge, it would actually make reading pretty difficult. 

Well, when you cram every moment with things to be done, life can get pretty difficult.

We need space

We do need space. And time. For ourselves. For thought. For breathing. 

If we fail to plan for that space, we can find ourselves without it. That’s when we find ourselves running a rat race without even remembering why we’re in the race to begin with.

What’s your win?

Some talk about being in a race. Well, when you’re in a race, you want to win, right? So decide what’s your ‘win’ ahead of time.

If we’re going to run this race, wouldn’t be nice to know what winning would look like? If you don’t know what your win is, how will you know if you’ve succeeded?

For instance: he who has the most toys when he dies wins. Absolutely horrible goal, but it makes a funny t-shirt. And it’s a pretty concrete way to know if you’re “winning”. (Hopefully none of you think this is a good win!)

But take some time. Think about what winning would look like in each area of your life. I’m going to share some wins that Andy and Sandra Stanley set for themselves.

Early in their marriage they came up with what would be a win for them: that they each would always want to be where the other person was. Pretty simple, yet pretty profound. 

Once they had a child they decided the over arching goal for their kids would be: that they would want to be with each other and their parents after they no longer had to. Pretty simple, and yet who can argue that’s not a great win?

Now create margins

Once you know your win, it’s easier to make decisions. Does this get me closer to my goal? 

If something might start to crowd in on what your goals are, then it makes it a little easier to decide what to pare down.

Once you’ve pared down your activities, and have some margin, you’ll find yourself with a lot more patience.

Why patience?

Let’s face it – isn’t the most common reason for running out of patience, is that you feel that you’re running out of time?

When you’ve got extra time built in, then you don’t get overwhelmed, and you have the, what some might say, the luxury of patience. 

But remember to practice patience with yourself! Changes come about with small steps over time. Don’t try to radically alter your life all at once. Choose one area in which you can create a little margin. Baby steps. When you see the difference it makes, you’ll find the motivation to make more changes.

Happy margin making!

Leading Ourselves So We Can Lead Others: 7pm Wednesday 20 Feb

Leadership is an Action
To lead is to take an action. It is a verb. Something you do.
Leading is easier for some; harder for others. For some, the fear that we will do it wrong will discourage us, and cause us to shrink from the challenge. But even if you do, you must remember that leadership is still happening. Leadership can be something you do without even knowing that you’re doing it, and whether you’re consciously leading or not, there’s someone following you. They may be your kids, your siblings, your cousins, your friends, your colleagues and co-workers, and of course your fellow students in karate-do. They may look to you for guidance, to be an example, for reassurance, or for any number of other things…but like it or not, they need you to lead them the right way, in the right direction.  Whoever they are — whoever you are — they need you to lead them with purpose.
Leading by example
Last month in the Warriors of Grace Leadership Institute, we talked a lot about what leadership really is, and what it is not. As a team, we talked about what makes leadership different from power or authority, and the importance of being confident and deliberate in who and how we lead. Easier said than done!
Understanding Ourselves as Leaders
This month, our focus will be a little different. Rather than focusing on the verb  we’re going to focus on the noun, the person doing the leading. You! Understanding ourselves, our identities, our goals, and our missions (big or small) is essential to the task of conscious, deliberate leadership….and to understanding how we may be influencing those who we lead less consciously. To truly lead with purpose, you must be able to understand your genuine self. Only then will you be able to bring your unique strengths and experiences to the forefront when they’re needed. In short, you need to know yourself and lead yourself before you can lead others on purpose.
With all that in mind, I’d like to challenge our new and returning Leadership Institute students to do a little homework before our next meeting. Please bring a short paragraph about who you are. Try a few sentences, or even a bulleted list. Though it may be tempting to do so, don’t try to imagine how others might see you, or try to write about the person you wish you were. Tell us about how you see yourself — who you are today. I’ll be sure to do the same.
See you soon!

Love is patient, love is kind

We’re all at least somewhat familiar with the popular poem from the bible that is often read at weddings.

It’s interesting that the very first descriptive word of love is patience. Hmmmm, must be that it’s a pretty important aspect to love.

What do we need patience for?

I know no one actually has to ask that! 

We all come as a mixed bag of good stuff and not so good stuff. You have to take the not so good stuff along with the good stuff, or else you’ll be very lonely.

Yes, it’s true people can change. But the ONLY person YOU can change is YOU. So you need to get used to that not-so-good stuff in your friend. And maybe have a little compassion for what they have to put up with in you – to help motivate you to work on something you know irritates your friend.

Is patience a muscle?

In January we showed the kids a Class Dojo video which teaches a growth mindset. It’s really important to understand that we all can grow and changed and that who we are is not FIXED. 

In the video they had the brain doing exercises to get stronger in math.

But we can think of everything we want to improve as a “muscle” that can be exercised.

How to exercise patience?

The next time you’re late and stuck in traffic, think “this is a perfect opportunity to exercise my patience muscle.”  Ok, that may be like jumping straight to world champion muscle building.

How about the next time you’re waiting in the grocery line behind someone who’s having trouble searching for all the loose coins in her large tote bag?

Or when your child is all excited about something that he is desperately trying to tell you about, but having a hard time spitting the words out. Breathe, give him time to collect his thoughts (and exercise his own patience muscle) without jumping in and forming the words for him.

Every problem is an opportunity

That’s one of the mottoes that Sam Lariosa, our mentor in Michigan, lives by. Every problem is an opportunity.

In this case, every time you naturally would go to losing patience, is an opportunity to build your patience “muscle”. Take advantage of it, develop it, and it will impact everyone around you.

Kids learn from their primary teacher – YOU. And they learn more from what you DO and how you ACT, than what you say.

So as you’re strengthening your patience muscle, they’ll be watching and learning as well.

One more note

If you want to help your child develop patience, give them opportunities to exercise their patience muscles.

Intentionally providing opportunities to wait for things is an act of love to a child.  We need to learn patience and self-control at an early age. Start small, and they’ll learn.

For a short article on teaching kids patience, click here.

Take advantage of Warrior Week! It’s an opportunity you don’t want to miss

What’s so special about Warrior Week?

Hopefully people enjoy coming out and gathering with greater numbers than they normally do, whether it’s to watch a grading, attend a shiai (tournament), or enjoying all the delicious food there always is at our potlucks!

But Warrior Week can be a unique opportunity to learn some life lessons.

Be prepared

Being invited to grade offers a lesson in planning and preparing: bringing in the required paperwork, completing required written tests and character sheets. As your children get older you can begin to shift the responsibility over to them.

(We apologize for the delay in some grading invitations going out this time.  Thank you weather! We’ll allow extra time to get your paperwork in.)

Shiai (for us, it means friendly tournament!)

The shiai are an important opportunity you don’t want to miss. Watch your son or daughter carefully to see if they are behaving up to your expectations and if any emotions are coming up during the tournament. How do they handle winning? How do they handle losing? Did something seem unfair to them? The drive home will be a wonderful opportunity to address all of these things. Many critical life lessons or skills have only rare opportunities to develop or address. The shiai during Warrior Week might be one such time.

If you are an adult karate-ka — this is an opportunity for YOU, too! Notice what comes up, what feelings arise. Maybe you’ve never been to a shiai and you’re nervous about going. Why? What’s that about? Push yourself! Broaden your experience! Maybe the opposite is true. You can’t wait to go and kick butt! Really? Examine that!

Let’s eat together!

We want to encourage everyone to come to the potluck on Saturday. It’s always a great time to socialize, have the kids “on stage” (developing courage!), as well as learn new things about karate, our specific style, or some other topic we feel is important to share with you.

All students are asked to wear their gi to the potluck (pants and a t-shirt during lunch, adding the gi top and belt after eating), as we will have the classes do demonstrations after we eat.

Looking forward to a great week next week!




Happy 2019! January – the perfect time to create new habits!

This New Year what better habit to create than the habit of helping others!

Many people use the first of the year to set new goals and take those first steps towards self-improvement.  We are going to use the beginning of 2019 to do the same here at Warriors of Grace.

Parents – what is your goal for January?

Parents of our karate students are welcome to attend adult karate classes for free for the month of January. (New students only.) This is your opportunity to see if karate is a good match for meeting your goals – whether you want to get fit, develop discipline, learn something new to challenge your brain, or just have some fun in a new community of friends!

Our January Challenge for our students:

But what do we REALLY want to help our students here develop? Yes, we do talk about gratitude quite a lot, but we also try to get our students to think of OTHERS. Looking outward is essential to human growth. We stop growing if we remain self-focused.

So this month we are going to set a challenge for all our students. We are setting a goal, which if anyone remembers from last year is SMART.

S – Specific

M – Measurable

A – Attainable

R – Relevant

T – Time bound

Every day for the month of January, we are asking every student to




From something as simple as offering to carry something, to as big as volunteering at a homeless shelter, we want you to be aware of your surroundings, be aware of who is around you, and notice when there is something you can do for someone else. Then do it!


We will be handing out sheets to be able to record what you do, for whom, and when. 


The goal will be to do something for someone else at least 20 times during the month of January.  The more, the better, as that will help to make it a habit! Finding small things to do for others shouldn’t be a burden, and once you realize how easy it is, it might even become fun to look for how you can help someone! The 20 times doesn’t have to be on different days – so even if you don’t read this and get started late, it will still be attainable!


Taking the focus off ourselves and onto others does require practice. This will help us become more aware of what others may need and how we can help.


We have set this goal for the month of January – but hopefully many of our students will create the habit of looking for ways to help others. We will ask you to track your progress on sheets that will be handed out. (You can start recording now the date, who was helped and what was done for them.) All those who successfully meet the challenge, please bring in the completed sheet after January is over!


Leading others on purpose, with purpose

Leadership Institute 3.0: On Purpose and With Purpose – Open to all Juniors, Teens, & Adults, including parents of karate students!

Leadership is a tough subject. Sure, we talk about it in school, in our workplaces, in our places of worship, in our hobbies, and sometimes even in our homes. But what is it, really? Even the experts don’t agree. Some will tell you that leadership is an ability you’re born with (or without). Others might say that leadership is a skill — something you can develop with study and practice, just like karate. Still others might say that leadership is a calling: a mission (or a burden) that you choose to take on in order to serve others better.

They are all right. And all a little bit wrong.

The truth of the matter is simple: at some point, somewhere, you will be put in a position where you will lead. Regardless of whether you’re born with a talent for it, study the skills, or take on the calling, it’s going to happen. In fact, in some part of your life, you’re probably doing it right now. As crazy as it sounds, you can lead without ever knowing it. The secret that separates great leaders from bad, and even mediocre ones, is that they take the time to understand themselves and others, leading with responsibility and intention. They lead — and you can lead — on purpose and with purpose.

Juniors, Teens, Adult Students, and Parents: please join us on Wednesday, January 9th, from 7 – 8 pm for the first in a new offering in the Warriors of Grace Karate Leadership Institute: On Purpose and With Purpose, with facilitator/instructor Kennon Bauman.

Kennon Bauman is a trained facilitator who works for the Federal government, with nearly 15 years of experience as a civilian mission leader and manager for the U.S. Department of Defense. Mr. Bauman studied Political Science, History, and Civic Leadership as a part of the W.O. Farber Center at the University of South Dakota, and is currently pursuing a Masters of Science in Leadership and Management at the National Intelligence University in Bethesda, MD.

Please let us know you plan on joining us, and we will ask for feedback regarding frequency of sessions. However, if you haven’t let us know you’ll be coming — please join us anyway on January 9th!

Karate makes us strong inside and out

We spent the last month focusing on strength during our mat chats. Karate makes us strong inside and out.

As school got under way we encouraged all of our students to


We let them know that it is up to THEM to make this school year the BEST YEAR EVER!

And the easiest way to start strong? With a good attitude!

They can make a good impression right from the beginning! (Just SMILING is HUGE!) And it is up to THEM to be READY to learn and to do their BEST.

We told them: The world and everything in it is changing so fast that it’s really important to be a good LEARNER! You will be learning throughout your whole life.

Our dojo kun ends with: “I’m on a quest to be my best!” That means giving 100% at school.

The best way to do that is to get excited about school and make the DECISION to start strong.

When you go in with a positive attitude, the odds are very high that not only will you end up doing well but you’ll also enjoy it!

Everything we do in karate makes us stronger. But what’s most important is developing

strength on the inside.

It also matters what you USE your STRENGTH for.

Just like you don’t want to use your physical, outer strength to break a kitchen chair even if you could — you also don’t want to use your inner strength for the WRONG reasons.

We have a “knower” inside that lets us know when we’re doing something wrong.

It’s usually a whole lot easier to just ignore that voice.

Sometimes that “knower” nudges us and points us to do something that we don’t want to do.

It’s definitely a whole lot easier to just ignore that nudge.

We need to use our inner strength to change course — to stop doing what we know is wrong. Or to DO something that we know we OUGHT to do but just don’t feel like it.

THAT’S what developing inner strength is all about — being able to follow how our inner “knower” directs us, instead of just ignoring it.

Anyone can exercise and develop outer strength – that’s fairly easy to do.

But inner strength is a lot harder and takes focused effort to develop.

We talked about listening to our inner voice to help us do the right thing.

There are several ways to help us

hear that inner voice.

Here are two ways:

One way is to just SLOW down and be QUIET. Our culture can reward staying busy. It can be hard to just stop and listen. It’s not just being quiet (we can be quiet when we are distracted by something around us or focused on a game). But we want to be quiet and LISTEN to what’s going on inside of us. Taking a deep breath can help us stop and do just that.

Sometimes we just need to stop and listen to what someone is telling us. In our busy-ness we can block out other people, like mom or dad, or a teacher, who could really help us.

The second way to help us hear our inner voice, is to know WHO we are.

By that I mean, what kind of person you are – what your values are – what’s important to you.

Who are the most important people in your life? What’s most important to you? Those people and those things, help to define us, help to shape who we are.

Your mom and dad are really important: they are playing a large role in shaping who you are. When you are having a hard time knowing what is the right thing to do in a situation, knowing that can help. You can ask yourself “what would mom or dad think is the right thing to do?”

When we know who we are, and who is shaping us, we can answer the question “what’s the right thing to do?” without asking anyone. We just need to be still, and listen to our inner voice.


Another word for


is inner strength.

When you’re physically weak, it might mean you can’t do the things you want to do.

When we talk about character we’re talking about the inside. To be strong in your character means you’ve adopted good positive character traits.

But saying you think honesty and kindness, for example, are good character traits isn’t enough.

You need to be strong to be able to live up to what you know is right.

Our character is judged by what we do when no one is looking. With no fear of getting caught, how do we behave?

That’s where we have to develop strength.

It takes strength to be honest even when no one would ever know if we lied.

It takes strength to be kind even when we don’t feel like it and no one that matters to us is around to see.

Training in karate helps us be strong – inside AND out.