by Oliver DeMille

Bestselling author Grant Cardone taught a very important principle that applies to parents and teachers. He wrote that you “need new problems. They’re signs that you’re making progress and heading in the right direction.relax-book-canstockphoto14539037

“If you’re not creating new problems for yourself, then you aren’t taking enough action. You need to face new issues and dilemmas that will challenge you to keep finding and creating solutions….

“One of the major differences between successful and unsuccessful people is that the former look for problems to resolve, whereas the latter make every effort to avoid them….

“Fear isn’t bad or something to avoid… Fear is actually a sign that you are doing what is needed to move in the right direction.”

This is deep, but it is counter-intuitive for most people. Moreover, it really works. Let’s break it down point by point. Effective teachers and homeschooling parents:

  • …have problems. Welcome to leadership. And since they work with their own family, these problems can be emotional and recurring.
  • …recognize that their problems are literally signs that they are “making progress.” A lack of problems or roadblocks only happens when you aren’t accomplishing much.
  • …take action, which creates additional problems, showing that they’re accomplishing even more progress.
  • …have to figure out solutions to each new challenge, and take even more action.
  • …actually look for problems to resolve (especially in the Weekly Family Executive Council and the 6 Month “No”).

This focus on taking action to make a positive difference, running into snags, and then retrying things in new ways, can be scary. But it frequently leads to real progress.

If all of this sounds a bit crazy, welcome to the chaos of great education. Let’s be clear: Great learning flourishes in an environment of example, free time, adult support, and free choice. The effective teacher steps in to share his or her passion for learning, then steps back and lets the student pursue his own learning.

The adult is there, setting an example of studying and learning, available to answer a question or stop and read for a few minutes, but never forcing, demanding, or over-structuring the day. And as Montessori taught, the adult makes sure the child or youth has constant access to the best books and learning materials.

Stephen Covey was right that great learning happens in a cycle of Work-Commit-Do that looks like chaos but spirals upward as we do it over and over. This is the process of quality education, and when we come face-to-face with greatness through the classics and other truly excellent books, art and learning materials, this seeming chaos turns to real learning.

Frequently the biggest problems in education occur when adults fear chaos, the very environment in which learning truly flourishes. The solution is to keep trying, to allow the right kind of chaos and freedom for learning, along with a bit of structure that keeps things going.

And smile a lot more often. Things aren’t as overwhelming as they sometimes seem. Problems are opportunities, especially in learning. For example, we build the whole field of math around exercises known as problems. Solving them means progress and learning.

Learning is more fun, and usually more effective, when we let go of our fears and enjoy the chaos of learning. The kids will love it, and they’ll love your extra smiles and laughter. They’ll also tend to learn more in an environment where it feels fun.



Image Oliver DeMille is the co-founder of the Center for Social Leadership, and a co-creator of TJEd. He is the NY Times Bestselling co-author of LeaderShift, and author of A Thomas Jefferson Education: Teaching a Generation of Leaders for the 21st Century, The Coming Aristocracy: Education & the Future of Freedom, and FreedomShift: 3 Choices to Reclaim America’s Destiny.

Oliver is dedicated to promoting freedom through Leadership Education. He and his wife Rachel are raising their eight children in Cedar City, Utah.