Relax, Let Go, and Learn More: The Weekly Mentor


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.


About the Author:

Rachel is the co-author of Leadership Education: The Phases of Learning and the audio series Core and Love of Learning: A Recipe for Success, and the author of the award-winning educational resource, This Week in History. She is an accomplished musician, writer, literary editor, public speaker, consultant and momschool organizer.


  1. Katie October 10, 2013 at 10:44 am - Reply

    “Thank you!” does not begin to describe my appreciation for this article. This was so timely and so needed. How glad I am that you took the time to share these thoughts. They have given me a much needed change in perspective and, actually, much-needed validation in my life.

    Never in my life have I surrounded myself with like-minded people. When I hear something that rings true for me from somebody that is yet living, I find it refreshing and invigorating.

    How I thank you,


  2. Belinda October 13, 2013 at 8:08 pm - Reply

    A timely reminder – thank you. I shared this with my kids (14yo / 16yo) and it generated a great discussion and helped them get a better perspective on the things that they don’t think are going so well in their lives.

  3. Christine October 17, 2013 at 6:57 am - Reply

    This is a thought-provoking article that leaves me both encouraged and discouraged. Is the “right kind of chaos” referring to the messes and minimal limitations put on what they can choose to do during school time? I can’t imagine that it involves the level of contention that we have been experiencing lately. I feel better to understand that problems are a necessary part of progress, but I still am struggling so much to understand how to apply the principles (which I truly believe in) of TJ Ed. I suppose I need to re-read it all and re-evaluate what I’m doing/not doing. Thank you for this article, I am finding a lot of help in the website after reading the books.

    • Rachel DeMille October 17, 2013 at 7:24 am - Reply

      “Chaos” means unregimented creativity, freedom to choose, etc., inspirational resources and opportunities that don’t have a overly-defined outcome. If contention is an issue, you might want to consider our good friend Nicholeen Peck’s works as well: She’s a TJEd homeschooler and world-class parenting guru. You’ll love her!

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