Visualize Your Best Self to Improve Mental Strength — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Visualize Your Best Self to Improve Mental Strength — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Uncertainty creates doubt, doubt creates fear, fear creates panic, and panic results in chaos. The thing about this sequence of emotions is that it can be prevented. The first crucial step to preventing chaos is in recognizing when uncertainty has begun. When you are able to see your emotions for what they are, you are better equipped to shift your focus on the future by harnessing optimism and clarity.

Too often, individuals and organizations normalize chaos, and in times of uncertainty it can happen faster than ever, taking hold quicker than we can even react. All it takes is a dash of doubt, and you can be on a chaotic rollercoaster of events. The difference for great leaders is that their poise prevails over panic, their calmness confronts chaos, and their fortitude fights fear. 

Leaders who exhibit mental-strength-muscles focus on and visualize a brighter future for themselves and the people who they serve. Just think of a time when you anticipated something terrific, and it happened that way. This future-forward process for visualization is no different. When we take time to see our best selves by looking in the mirror for what we want to see, we actually then work to be that person throughout the day. Positivitivity is an intentional act and an ongoing decision. Positive leaders bring out the positivity in others through mental strength and the calm that comes with clarity of purpose.

The 3-Minute Challenge

The power of visualization cannot be underestimated. In The Rise, Sarah Lewis describes how superior archers transition to shooting less frequently, combined with other practices, like meditation, they begin to visualize more often. Seeing the arrow hit the target in their mind trains them to do so more accurately in practice. Taking time to clearly see our future, ourselves in it, and even how an event should unfold is an effective way to focus and improve our performance. This means that we must take time each day to visualize a better tomorrow, an improved outcome, and a better self. Don’t be afraid to dream big. Pick any area of your life and with clear detail write it out. Answer these three quick questions to start your visualization: 

  1. What is one area of your life that you want to improve? 
  2. How would it feel if you were mentally fit enough to be better in that area on a regular basis? 
  3. What do your behaviors look like–visualize them in action–if that area is at its best? 

Pro Tip: Visualization takes practice. Try not to get frustrated with yourself when you lose concentration or when your visualization is fuzzy. One way to practice is to think of a great memory and hold onto to that time and feeling in your mind. Spend a few minutes with the past to project the future. Maybe it’s a time when you won an award or when you took your kids to Disney and they met Mickey Mouse. Regardless of the event, the key is to home in on a specific moment–remembering the scene, the emotion, and the experience. This process will help you to understand more about what you want to feel and do as a focus for the future. Remembering the specifics of a quality emotional experience allows us to recreate them again more easily.

Reach out and share your story with us.

Stay tuned for more challenges, reflection questions, leadership models, podcasts, and more by following It’s our job to curate, synthesize, and communicate so that you can lead better and grow faster. In a world plagued by nothing but noise, we help you by getting to simple.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

Flex Your Mental-Strength-Muscles Using These 3 Leadership Tactics — #SH302

Flex Your Mental-Strength-Muscles Using These 3 Leadership Tactics — #SH302

“I tried to do so many things to fit in. But when you look in the mirror, that’s the one person you can’t lie to.” – David Goggins 

April 13, 2013 at 2:49PM, two bombs exploded, killing three people and injuring hundreds of others. The Boston Marathon, the quintessential 26.2 mile race, an event that symbolizes patriotism and honor, was attacked by two assailants. Simply put, they sought to terrorize and destroy. Soon after the horrific bombing, the message Boston Strong was plastered everywhere. It quickly became a source of strength for many. This single symbol of solidarity gave people the mental strength to push forward. In times of need, it isn’t the physical aspects of ourselves and others that we need to be tough but rather the mental toughness that allows us to endure. 

In all facets of life–sports, work, friendships, heroes–we tend to admire people who possess superior physical strength. Marvel characters like Thor and Wonder Woman impress us with their size and power, but the reality is that mental strength is much more important in our day-to-day lives. As we think about the toughest times in history, the individuals who emerge demonstrated true grit and mental vigor. Whether we look to Mother Theresa or Winston Churchill, the greatest leaders throughout history are the ones who maintained mental strength over physical prowess. Granted, physical health is important, it certainly sells at the box office, and most of work for a toner physique, but our accustomed manner in which we go looking for strength by way of seeing muscles is deceiving.

Mental muscles aren’t available for the eye. Mental strength is all about training the mind, putting in the psychological reps, so that we can find the courage to continue in even the greatest of hardships and difficult scenarios. It’s what leaders lean on when everyone else seems to be falling apart or coming unraveled. 

If you’re reading this–especially now–it’s because you want to lead better and grow faster. Embrace the formula below to flex your mental-strength-muscles. 

The Ability to Stay Positive 

Staying positive during a crisis, or even through daily trials, is tough. Our emotions can easily be hijacked by worry and fear. These feelings grow as uncertainty about the future looms. One powerful way to stay positive is to imagine or visualize your best self. We know that the seasons of life will pass, looking optimistically towards the future is a proven way to remain hopeful and anticipate a better day. 

Fighting Against the Alternative 

So often it seems that we are simply “wired” to be pessimistic. Negative feelings and worst case scenarios come naturally. Our human nature is one of protection, and in many situations this benefits us. The hurdle we face is how to use the information we receive to put us in a position to protect ourselves and others rather than consuming our thoughts and paralyzing our actions.  

The Capacity to be Rational

Mentally strong individuals possess similar qualities that help them wade through some of the most trying and difficult circumstances. They learn to give up or let go of defeating behaviors and attitudes that aren’t productive.They remove “the bad habits” associated with brooding, worry, and doubt by thinking rationally about the reality of the moment. The key, says expert Dr. Amy Cooper Hakim, is to remove emotions, especially negative emotions. 

Fighting Against the Alternative

Being rational, essentially taking out the emotion, is no easy feat. Admittedly, sometimes it feels good to wallow and embrace the darkness. Dare we say that it even may provide some degree of comfort, since the pain is very real. This approach, though, in the long run, doesn’t provide the relief and comfort we naturally seek. We need to discipline ourselves to take the necessary steps to remain in control of how we respond to situations regardless of the circumstance.

The Commitment to Remain Focused 

Mental toughness requires commitment and resilience. This may seem counterintuitive. One would think that in order to stay focused and committed you need mental toughness, but it’s the other way around. You need to focus on mental strength to actually have it when you need it. That’s the unique quality of mentally strong leaders; they practice being strong so that they can retrieve their highest levels when called upon. This requires nothing less than a conscientious and deliberate effort.

Fighting Against the Alternative 

Losing sight of our goals and long term plans can easily occur when the daily grind seems insurmountable. We take our eyes off of the prize and the little things consume our thoughts and then dictate our behaviors. As Stephen Covey clearly articulated, we need to fight against what seems urgent to focus on the important stuff. If we don’t stay focused on the big picture, we never have the reserves needed to see a brighter future.   

Because our world is seized by COVID-19, we’ve dedicated this month to mental strength. The greatest opportunities to grow and become your best self are during times of crisis. We hope this message is useful and inspiring. God bless.

Stay tuned for challenges, nuggets of wisdom, reflection questions, technical tips, and the best resources for leading better and growing faster. Follow us at to join thousands of leaders who get our alerts, blogs, podcasts, and more.

Let us know what you think of this #SH302 post with a like, a follow, or a comment. Find us on Twitter, YouTube, iTunes, Facebook, & SoundCould. And, again, if you want one simple model for leading better and growing faster per month, follow this blog by entering your email at the top right of the screen.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.

Three Surefire Ways to Grow Every Day – Infographic

Three Surefire Ways to Grow Every Day – Infographic

As we conclude our month-long series in Self-Improvement, we’ve put together this infographic to visually sum up what we’ve learned. To download this infographic, simply click the button below and then right click to save the image.. Please share this page with others who will benefit.


Review and Reflect: Make Self-Improvement a Reality #reviewandreflect

Review and Reflect: Make Self-Improvement a Reality #reviewandreflect

This is TheSchoolHouse302’s monthly #reviewandreflect, wrapping up our focus on getting better

Major Takeaway for this Month:

If you want to improve any area of your life, you must be clear on what you want to improve and have a solid plan to follow. Don’t over complicate this process; the strategy that Ben Franklin used to develop his virtues was simple. Here’s the formula: 

  1. He identified 13 Virtues (areas he wanted to perfect). 
  2. He focused on 1 per week for 52 weeks, and he kept a brief method to chart his progress.
  3. He followed his plan. 52 divided by 13 = 4. By following this method, Ben would focus on 1 virtue for an entire month by the end of the year.

Let’s first acknowledge that Ben was incredibly gifted. But, let’s not assume that he didn’t work hard. Don’t chalk-up his achievements to natural talent. It is clear that his self-improvement was a lifelong pursuit. 

What we asked of you to do this month was to choose 1 viritue that you want to improve and get after it. We also asked that you keep a journal to define your purpose–your why!

Three Minute Challenges

Throughout the month we offered 3 Minute Challenges. Identifying a goal is critical, but it’s only valuable if it is supported with decisive action. 

How well did you do on the challenges this month?

Choosing One Virtue

I identified one key virtue that I will continually strive to master.

I took an action step to begin working on improving in this identified area.


I identified a specific space for me to journal each morning and night.

I started journaling each day.

Defining Your Why

I dentified the three or four most important things in my life. 

I reflected on my daily activities to determine alignment between my actions and my WHY?

Great Leaders Are Avid Readers

One of the most powerful ways to fuel your thinking is to be a voracious reader. Below are the three must reads that we featured this month.  


What an expert has to say about self-improvement.

We were thrilled to interview Bob Burg this month. Here’s the bottom line: put others first. Too often we associate growth with focusing on ourselves, but explosive growth occurs when we focus on giving ourselves to others. 

That’s our Review and Reflection on self-improvement. 

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple and maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Please let us know how our leadership posts are working for you, what you are reading to improve yourself, and your thoughts on leadership and growth here on our blog and Twitter. Follow our #onethingseries podcast on iTunes and our #readthisseries on YouTube. 

Self-Improvement Requires a Rationale for Your Personal WHY — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge

Self-Improvement Requires a Rationale for Your Personal WHY — #TheThreeMinuteChallenge


The two most important days in your life are the day you are born and the day you find out why. ~ Mark Twain


Sandra is considered “successful” by her peers and colleagues. Admired by many. She often hears phrases like, “I don’t know how you do it.” Or “You always seem to have it together.” Professionally, she is an executive vice president, and was recently recognized by the local rotary for her civic contributions. And, to top it off, people love her.


Personally, Sandra is married with three kids, and by all accounts, everything is going well. She still makes it to her kids’ games, cooks dinner occasionally, and even organized the last lacrosse post-game barbecue.


However, despite her achievements, she’s conflicted internally about her own personal mission and finding time to balance work- and home-life. There’s a level of personal fulfillment missing, and she just isn’t satisfied with all of her accomplishments. It’s hard for her to truly grasp what it is that gnaws at her, and even harder for her to admit it to herself or others, knowing that she is so fortunate for the wonderful life she is living.



Sandra’s story is quite common. We hear time-and-time again from people, executive level folks, who seem to have it all figured out, only to learn that they are struggling in some aspect of their growth or contribution. One important way to grow as an individual is by creating greater peace and harmony in our lives by examining the values and virtues that mean something to us. To gain insight and clarity regarding our personal WHY, we need to define our rationale for the self-improvement goals we identify. Once our WHY is clear so will be our priorities, which guide our daily choices. Sandra knows that something is missing, but she hasn’t linked it to values, priorities, and choices. Life is complex and we must have the courage to explore our thoughts to be able to expand our influence. The challenge is to land on values, set your priorities, and make choices that get you closer to your goals.


Landing on Values

  1. Identify the three or four most important things in your life. As we all face COVID-19 and witness the devastating impact of this pandemic, we are forced to figure out what really matters. These should be three or four clearly identifiable aspects of life that you care about more. We typically see family as one of these

Values Determine Priorities

       2. Once you identify those things that are really important in your life, take a look back at your last few months. Does your checkbook reflect your values? Do your daily activities reflect how much your family means to you, for example? If your job demands that you work a tremendous number of hours, do you communicate to your kids the reasons why you are so committed? Our money, our calendars, and our communication are all examples of what we have prioritized.


Priorities Inform Choices

      3. Once you are clear on our priorities, you can create a rationale for why they are so important to you or what you want to change to reach your goals. If there is an area that isn’t aligned, what steps can you take to create greater alignment? Your rationale helps to keep you on track in your journaling and your efforts to reach your goals.

Living you Why


Goal Values Priorities Choice Alignment Next Steps
To be more compassionate as a leader To demonstrate compassion in all areas of life Work with youth who are less fortunate Volunteer at the Boys and Girls Club on weekends Yes, volunteered for two weekends for a total of 4 hours Look into becoming a Big Brother


Technical Tip: We are grateful for thoughtful modern day thinkers like Simon Sinek who have led the charge to defining our Why. There are others as well, from Steven Covey to Paulo Coelho, who provide remarkable and differing ways for us to gain clarity on our purpose. The technical tip is to read books like Start with Why to become “expert” in defining your rationale for leading better and growing faster. The better you can explain your rationale to yourself and others, the stronger you get at feeling the sense of accomplishment that Sandra needs in her life because of her priorities and choices.


Reach out and share your WHY with us.

Stay tuned for more challenges, reflection questions, leadership models, podcasts, and more by following It’s our job to curate, synthesize, and communicate so that you can lead better and grow faster. In a world plagued by nothing but noise, we help you by getting to simple.

TheSchoolHouse302 is about getting to simple by maximizing effective research-based strategies that empower individuals to lead better and grow faster.

Joe & T.J.



Five Important Aspects of Social Distancing and Staying Sane for Leaders — #SH302

Five Important Aspects of Social Distancing and Staying Sane for Leaders — #SH302

Special COVID-19 Post

“You never know how strong you are until being strong is the only choice you have.” ~ Bob Marley  

These are incredibly challenging times, filled with uncertainty. As COVID-19 continues to spread, the world continues to respond. We know that you’re responding too, in whatever unique circumstances are forming around you. Our prayers and thoughts are with everyone during this pandemic.

This month, we’re focused on self-improvement, and the coronavirus almost makes it impossible to ignore what it means for all of us to get better. As we learn and grow, we build trust. Trust makes our communities stronger. The definition of leadership is influence. The challenge of leadership is conflict. The result of leadership is change. We know that you’re leading through conflict toward a time that will be different than what we used to know as our reality.

As you lead forward, we thought it would be beneficial to point to some key resources for being our best selves during the outbreak. While many of us are following the advice of the CDC, and other agencies, who suggest social distancing as a mitigation strategy for the spreading of the virus, we know that leaders are taking action as best they can with whatever information they have. Leading better and growing faster is always our mantra, especially in times like this, and being informed is the number one way we lead and grow. This post is not just more information about COVID-19, but rather the critical direction that we all need for how to bring some normalcy and peace into our lives, how to continue to learn and develop as leaders, and how we can be better tomorrow than we are today. 

Strategies For Remaining Calm

Martin Seligman, commonly known as the founder of positive psychology, provides key strategies that we can use when faced with uncertainty. His advice is simple and practical. 

Check it out here in Penn Today. Great leaders will use these strategies and help others to do the same. 

Exercising Without Going to the Gym

With social gatherings being limited, people are unable to go to some of their favorite locations. This includes the gym. Maintaining a solid health regimen is critical during this time for both mental and physical health benefits. Self-improvement always includes the body and the mind.

Check out this article from Runner’s World.

Check out this article for no equipment indoor exercises.

Staying fit is important for leading well. In fact, wellness, period, is synonymous with leadership. 

Unplugging While You’re Plugged-In

We know that most of our audience is just like we are, which means you’ve been burning the candle at both ends. You’re probably inundated with texts, emails, and online meetings. Social distancing has put everything and everyone is a tech-based cloud (pun intended). That said, we need a healthy relationship with our technology, using it for the betterment of ourselves and others rather than its destructive capabilities. 

Check out this piece on realistic guidance for getting unplugged. 

Connecting with Your Loved Ones

It may seem obvious but when we’re all stuck inside we have an opportunity to connect with loved ones, especially our household family. But then we don’t. We squander the time away, keeping busy but not connecting. We have an opportunity to strengthen relationships, and great leaders always make that a priority (both with family and friends).

This article has a ton of great advice about staying social in times like this. 

Working from Home 

Companies everywhere, along with school systems around the globe, are moving to a work-from-home policy. While it’s the smart choice when possible, not everyone knows how to transition successfully to working at home. If you’ve done it for any period of time in the past, you know how hard it can be. But many industries, including education, are just starting to explore how to make the shift. 

We like this article, which covers a number of best practices for working from home. 

Finally, if you’re looking for what we think is the best resource regarding COVID-19, visit here.

We would love to hear from you regarding what you’re doing differently to self-improve while you keep your distance from others. Lead better, grow faster, stay safe. 

Joe & T.J.