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  • Writer's pictureRay Diffley

Want to be a great parent, teacher or coach? Consider these two critical pieces of advice.

Updated: Aug 14, 2019

This will be short, and simple. It’s what I have learned in nearly 30 years of working with some of the very finest, most impressive families, students, schools, researchers and educational partners all around the globe. It is the framing of everything you will do as a parent, and as the child grows, it will become, ideally, part of their philosophy as well. It will serve you lifelong in fact, as it does every day, for me.

The first message is a 16 second video clip from one of the most watched TED TALKS on earth by a man I had the pleasure of meeting and dining with. It is Sir Ken Robinson talking about how humans develop.

“…Create the conditions in which they will begin to flourish” This is what parents, teachers, coaches and mentors of any kind should try to do. I often tell a “funny” story about taking home a perfect rhododendron from the garden center, where, for sure, the conditions were right for it to flourish.

Think: parents handing over their perfect little child to a day care provider or a k-12 private school. Or any school for that matter.

I read the instructions on the plant (by the way kids don’t come with these helpful instructions), but to be honest I didn’t take great care in digging the hole (2x wider than the root ball--that’s a lot of work!) or preparing the soil (more work!), I really just plunked it in a hole I dug, gave it a little water for a few days and hoped it would do okay. Upon studying its progress a year later, it was very clear, it didn’t do well.

This story/metaphor can go on and on in so many ways, but the question is: are you…or is your child, in an environment where the conditions are such that they can flourish? This is a foundational goal for my work at RD3 Education Center.

Don’t stop reading now…part two is essential to this approach.

#2. This second message is a 13 second video clip on ESPN authored by Scott Van Pelt and is an absolute companion video to Sir Ken Robinson…they must go together.

"Prepare your kids for the path...not the path for your kids." I thought all I needed to know was what Sir Ken Robinson shared. Until I heard Scott Van Pelt and remembered a funny (luckily) story that brings his wisdom (which is taken from others of course) to life.

A few years back my newly licensed (to drive) daughter came home from a treacherous car ride. It was fall in new England and getting cold, a terrible rain and fog. She burst through the door happy to be alive and described the impossible driving conditions…citing she could not see a thing through the foggy windshield and driving rain. I asked her: “was the defroster not working?” to which she replied: “WHAT is the defroster?!” Sigh. I had not prepared her (ok, I’m blaming the driving school) for what POSSIBLE conditions she might face in the real world of driving (never mind rotaries in Massachusetts!). It literally could have been a disaster. Luckily it wasn’t. But it reminds us to have confidence, we must be prepared for what MIGHT come…on the test, in the game, or on the crazy New England roads.

These two pieces of advice…or approaches, will serve you well and are the foundation of all I do at RD3 Education & Advising Center. Thank you for reading. For more, please visit

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