Monday, April 7, 2008

Two recipes- One for Chaos and One for Achievment

The Recipes for Chaos and Achievement
I read this article and a response from Former Elijah company's owner and mom to three homeschooled kids, Ellen Davis in a newsletter I subscribe to and wanted to share it with you. The article is by Dr. Phillip E. Humbert (Copyright (c) 2006, all rights reserved. Contact him at: or email:

We all want lives of achievement, health, happiness and some measure ofwealth. And yet, the vast majority end up leading relatively average, middle-class lives. How can this be? How can so many of the world's most educated people end up working paycheck to paycheck?

I think the answers are pretty simple.

Most of us were never taught HOW to create and live a great life! We don't
study this in school. We admire people who have done great things, but no one
coaches us, no one shows us the way. And so we stumble. We struggle. We ARE
educated, ambitious, educated people and we do the best we can, but without the
basic recipe, too often we get only average results.

So, I want to share with you two of the most important "recipes" I know. I teach these formulas to my coaching clients and I want to share them with you. My price? Only this: If you find them helpful, I ask that you pass them on to at least two other people. Forward this email, or print it out and mail it to two friends. I hope you're willing to do that.

Ok, here we go.

The Recipe for Chaos
The first recipe is what I call the recipe for chaos.
It goes like this:

Impulse + Opportunity = Chaos

Every day, we all have impulses to study or to spend, to do our work or to
watch television. Impulses are merely ideas that pop into our brains and
momentarily catch our attention. The problem is that they are relatively random
and too many are based on casual appetites or unhealthy temptations. There's
nothing inherently bad or wrong with our impulses, but there is nothing
inherently good or trustworthy about them, either.

And, too often our impulses get matched with opportunity for instant
gratification. Here's how it works.

Consider the impulse to spend, combined with a credit card in your wallet.
Too often, the result is casual debt, and that can be a problem. Or how about
the impulse to watch television (just one show), combined with a beautiful new
TV in the family room? Too often, the result is wasted time. You see the

Impulses happen. When we surround ourselves with opportunities for instant
gratification, the result can be a life lurching out of control.

The Recipe for Achievement
Now, consider another recipe, the one for achievement.
Here it is:

Desire + Discipline = Achievement

"Desire" comes from Latin words that mean "of the father." Our deepest
desires represent our true longings, our mission or purpose or values in life.
When we are clear about our real DESIRES and combine them with a disciplined
life, the results can be astonishing!

Jonas Salk had the DESIRE to prevent polio and the DISCIPLINE to do the
research, study his notes and make the discoveries. The results changed the

Mary Kay Ash (of Mary Kay Cosmetics) had the DESIRE to help single moms
like herself, and the DISCIPLINE to find a way. She had no money (she started
with $500) and no business experience, but she pressed forward. She changed an
industry and helped millions of women in the process.

Random impulses in a world of undisciplined opportunity can lead to chaos,
debt, and disaster. Knowing your deepest DESIRES and matching them with even
minimal DISCIPLINE, however, is the recipe for achievement. When Stephen Covey
talks about "starting with the end in mind," he's talking about being clear
about your desires. When we talk about written goals, we're talking about strong
desires. When you know what you truly want, and go after it with discipline and
determination, the results are astounding.

That's the recipe for achievement!

Below are my (Ellen Davis) thoughts about this article.

What Does This Have to Do With Home Schooling?

Well, if you're like me, there have been times your home schooling has been chaotic and there have been times you have actually felt a sense of achievement and accomplishment. The same two recipes apply. When I look back on the times of chaos in my home schooling (or in my life, for that matter), they pretty much followed Dr. Humbert's recipe:

Impulse + Opportunity = Chaos.

Except I would add another ingredient to his recipe. Mine would go like
this:Impulse + Justification + Opportunity = Chaos-First there was the impulse.
It usually happened at a bookfair or at a support group meeting. It went like
this...."Oh my gosh! Janey's been using this really neat program that teaches
her kids how to be math whizzes in three weeks! I want to try that with my
kids!"After the impulse usually came the justification. My mind would come up
with all sorts of rationalizations as to why I needed to spend the grocery money
on this new program. "This will give my kids a brighter future. This will allow
them to do better on their ACTs. And besides, I can always sell it to another
home schooler when I'm done with it."

Next came the opportunity. I just log onto a website, pull out my credit
card, and, before I know it, I've bought the $300 math program, rearranged my
whole school schedule, and voila! all of the ingredients have been added to the
mix to create a big batch of chaos. Then comes the chaos.

Six weeks later the expensive math program is sitting on the bookcase shelf
in the garage and I'm trying to restore order to an out of control schedule and
frantically catching everyone up on what we missed in our regular math program
by taking our detour into becoming math whizzes.This isn't to say that we
shouldn't divert from our plans.

When things are obviously not working, it's time to reconsider our options
and regroup. This is called experience not impulse.Or, on a beautiful spring
day, we may want to put the regular school materials aside and take a nature
walk to just enjoy the changing season. This is called spontaneity, not impulse.
The difference between experience or spontaneity and impulse is that experience
and spontaneity occur within a structure of desire and discipline. Dr. Humbert
calls it "disciplined opportunity."Somehow, we've gotten the idea that
"discipline" is a dirty word. It's usually associated with punishment of some

Chaos is, by its very definition, a state of extreme confusion, disorder,
and unpredictability. Discipline refers to order, predictability, and
clarity.Discipline is simply the act of creating a context of in which order,
predictability, and clarity is more prevalent than confusion, disorder, and
unpredictability. True creativity and accomplishment can only occur in such a

I have a friend who grow up in a very abusive, chaotic home and she has
tended to continually recreate her childhood once she became an adult. She's in
counseling right now, and this week the counselor zeroed in on chaos. The
essence of her advice to my friend was to try and become aware of the process
that goes on when she creates chaos--the feelings, the actions, the thoughts.

In other words, she should start trying to be mindful of how she creates
chaos. Now that we know the recipe, we can also become more mindful of why we
create chaos in our lives. And we can choose achievement instead.

No comments: