Want more articles like this one?
You're in luck! We've got a weekly newsletter that's filled with goodness!

Wrap up each week on a positive note with our Today in Goodness newsletter featuring our top content from the week, goodness on the horizon, and good news from around the world. 

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.

Wrap up each week on a positive note with our Today in Goodness newsletter featuring our top content from the week, goodness on the horizon, and good news from around the world. 

This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.
View Collection

Why Kids Can’t Change Until Adults Do with AJ Crabill (Episode #126)

Dr. Lynda talks with AJ Crabill about getting where we want to be by resisting the urge to focus on the strategies most familiar to us, and instead identifying the outcome we want and finding the most effective strategy from there. Through his work improving student outcomes by keeping “collectivism” in the center of the table, AJ has found some secrets that we can all use to come together in all kinds of boardrooms—schools, businesses, and communities—and even around the kitchen table. 

Episode Highlights

About Our Guest:

It’s a rare person who can gracefully cause us to pause and rethink things we thought were written in stone. And AJ Crabill is one of them. 

People like AJ have the ability to gracefully challenge our assumptions while completely protecting our dignity. And if you love people who make you pause to rethink things with fresh eyes, then you will love this interview.  

There, you’ll find reason to understand that AJ has a knack for finding that perfect balance between creating psychological safety and challenging us to get something done.

In this interview, we will share a conversation that includes AJ’s wonderful, energizing thoughts on how we can shift from a  “survival mentality” to an “expression mentality.”

We’ll chat about how we all have to find a better balance between honoring the goals of the past and our ancestors, versus investing in our futures. 

We will share AJ’s counterintuitive insights on how maladaptive behavior is rooted in very understandable logic, if we look at things from the child’s point of view. And we can apply that to our own choices and those of the people we love.  

With our dignity in tact, after this interview, we will be able to do something AJ challenges himself to consider every day: 

“I have to be willing to reevaluate what I’m doing, if what I’m doing isn’t working.”

– A.J. Crabill

AJ is a thought leader in education who is challenging our notions about what’s possible once the adults in our school boards rethink and then recommit to fundamentally better goals in education. He is famous for saying, “Student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change.”

But his insights go way beyond the world of education. 

After listening to AJ in this interview, instead of getting annoyed or angry about the negative behavior of others (on the news, social media, in your work, on a board you participate with, etc.) you may find it very easy to pause and think how that behavior is simply their way of adapting to some circumstance they face, that you know nothing about.

Instead of unconsciously following impulses like overwhelm, contempt or despair, you will find it easier to be more compassionate, or at the very least, avoid treating the negative behaviors of others as a threat to your well-being or influence.  

It’s all about everyone’s attempts to adapt. 

And once we get a firm grip on that concept, we can look at problems like gang-membership, teenage pregnancy, malicious behavior on social media, and much of the negative noise in society, with fresh eyes and a new angle on what problem actually needs to be solved. 

AJ has the most graceful, thoughtful way of facilitating the hard conversations about how adult behaviors must change…. he casts no stones, looks for beautiful yet undiscovered places for collaboration, and generally protects everyone’s dignity in conversations that could be very hard. 

And THAT’S why I wanted to interview AJ… I KNOW he is one of the voices that many of us are searching for: helpful, measured, approachable. 

You know how we might see a news story where something terrible suddenly happens that is caught on film…. And almost everyone in the scene is running away from the calamity? Well, a thought leader on this podcast taught me to look for the “helpers”…. There will almost always be someone who is rushing in to start helping. 

This is how I see the potential in AJ Crabill’s growing role in how we move Education (and solve other social problems) to meet the needs of our modern world. 

“Student outcomes don’t change until adult behaviors change.”

AJ Crabill repeats this mantra often as he travels the country working to persuade community leaders, educators, and board members to examine what they are optimizing for. 

We can keep defending systems and goals that were designed 40-70, even 100 years ago—for a completely different world…. Or we can take a deep breath—together—and make sure everything we do is in service of collectively better outcomes.

Show Notes

(00:00- 03:06) OPENING

(03:07- 19:10)

  • Intentional commitment
  • Maladaptive behavior is actually adaptive
  • What can we be doing to create the context of belonging and safety?
  • What I really want us adults to deconstruct is.., What is the context that their choices were made? What options did they experience?
  • PODCAST: Mapping Goodness: Making Our Neighborhoods Extraordinary with Hadiya Masieh
  • What do I have to do to be able to help them…what do I have to do to be present. Are young people going to open their toolbox and use what they think will unlock. They need a diversity of tools. Beating a nail in with a wrench.
  • Misalignment of intention and impact is a lack of clarity. Input and outputs… outcomes results… people can get clear at the beginning but there is a misalignment of inputs and outputs
  • Mental fallacies

(19:11- 22:13) BREAK

(22:14- 36:21)

  • The Marshmallow Test
  • Whether children grow up with an experience of scarcity or not isn’t merely a ladder of affluence
  • In the context of whatever is put in front of me that I still am able to make some choice to be focused on creation rather than merely of survival
  • How do we create a space where we’re allowing young folks to experience that growth for themselves?
  • I’ve got to be celebrating the successes that we’ve experienced but then honoring that they are insufficient to get us to the next level

(36:22- 56:18)

(56:19- 57:18) CLOSING

Join for as little as $5 per month

As a Member, you get instant access to unlimited good news, fresh ideas, and positive perspectives. Don't miss out on full access to articles, podcasts, videos, and curated playlists of our content, as well as our weekly newsletter, and access to our mobile app!

Become a Member

Follow Us

Positive news for curious people.

There is a wave of goodness and progress well underway, all around the world.