Why You Should Live Your Life as an Experiment

What’s the worst that could happen if we lived life as an experiment? What if we played around with requests and made asks just to see what could occur?

Want to get more out of life? Here’s why you should shift your thinking and start to live your life as an experiment.

This idea may feel unfamiliar, especially if we’re used to holding back. When was the last time we went for something that we really wanted? When did we speak up? Push back? Ask for a bigger piece of pie, a helping hand, or even a raise? Many of us hold back from making requests and even living the life we want because we think it’s not within our capacity. We may believe we can’t, or we may feel afraid we’ll fail (or perhaps both).

But what if we start to view life as an experiment? What if we decided to test the waters and see what happens when we embrace possibilities, take opportunities, and learn from mistakes? Let’s ask ourselves—what’s the worst that could happen?

The Power of a Growth Mindset

As human beings, we’re gifted with an infinite number of ways our life could go and paths we could take in our life experiment. The possibilities and outcomes are literally endless. Yet, the path we take is often dictated by our self-fulfilling prophecies and shaped by our limiting beliefs—ideas about ourselves and our world that keep us from realizing possibility.

Counteracting and overcoming our limiting beliefs is a challenge, but if we develop what’s called a “growth mindset,” we shift our way of thinking.

A growth mindset focuses our thoughts and drives our actions toward learning, discovery, and advancement. Confronted with the barrier of a fixed mindset, we make excuses and tell ourselves that each obstacle we encounter in our life journey is a reason to stop our progression. On the other hand, a growth mindset shifts our thinking to realize that a barrier is a challenge to overcome. By breaking past the border, we’ll further grow and develop into who we could become. We’ll move toward our higher potential.

When we’re around high-performing individuals, we may compare ourselves and shift the standard by which we view our own potential. We might feel inadequate or compare ourselves. We start to make excuses so we don’t push forward or try. We’re blocked by thinking, “I could never do that because I don’t have the talent/knowledge/physical ability…”

Researcher Carol Dweck studies human motivation and the impact of our mindset. She describes a fixed mindset as a belief that intelligence is static. With a fixed mindset, we may desire to “look smart,” so we’re afraid of allowing ourselves to experience the vulnerability of growth.

When viewing challenges, a fixed mindset tells us it’s best to avoid obstacles and give up easily. We see effort as a futile pursuit. We may ignore feedback, particularly if it’s deemed negative or critical. We may also resent and even feel threatened by the success of others, as though there’s not enough success to go around.

On the other hand, a growth mindset drives us to a different train of thought. Those with a growth mindset believe intelligence is developed, and they hold a strong desire to learn, even if it means admitting what they don’t know. Those with a growth mindset forge ahead in their life experiment despite challenges. They see obstacles as objects to persist and overcome.

A growth mindset tells us effort leads to eventual mastery, and we eagerly welcome feedback and criticism from others, knowing it will help us get even better.

Embracing mistakes and finding lessons in each moment is part of this mindset. Those growth-minded individuals also surround themselves with successful people, looking at their success as inspiring rather than threatening.

Consequently, those who embrace a growth mindset continue to reach higher and higher levels of achievement as they look to each new hill on the horizon.

If we’re ready to develop a growth mindset, it’s time to start viewing life as an experiment. Play around with perceptions—when we find ourselves holding back, explore the real reason why.

Embracing the Assignment Way of Living

We can shift to a growth mindset by starting to live our lives as an experiment. At the Wright Foundation, we refer to this practice as the “assignment way of living.”

We all have limiting beliefs—even with a growth mindset—but those with a fixed mindset are more static in their limiting beliefs. These beliefs lead us toward the trap of the self-fulfilling prophecy. When we get stuck in this cycle, we’re constantly seeking examples and situations to confirm our limiting beliefs.

We think we can’t do something; therefore, we walk into a meeting with our shoulders hunched, our head down, and our mouth shut. Because others in the meeting pick up on our body language, posture, and presence, they too believe the message we’re sending, “I can’t.” When we’re not called on, it reinforces our limiting belief, and the cycle goes around and around.

This is one reason why some friends seem invested in us staying who they know us to be, rather than living life as an experiment and discovering a new us. Instead of growing together, this leads to a cycle of codependence in our relationships.

Breaking out of those limiting beliefs and forging ahead into the assignment way of living means realizing it’s okay to ask, “what if?” and experiment by expanding our behaviors.

  • “What if I walk into the meeting with my head held high?”
  • “What if I tell the waitress my order is wrong?”
  • “What if today, I decide to engage in deeper conversation with those around me?”
  • “What if I stop worrying about what others think of me?”

As part of the assignment way of living, we may take on a new assignment or experiment each day. Our lives become more playful, where new experiences are simply an opportunity to test out new behaviors, reactions, and interactions. We commit to learning and growing in everything we do.

Practice Assignments and Take on Life Experiments

If we play a musical instrument, we don’t expect to get better without a coach or teacher. Nor should we expect to get better if we don’t practice each day with increasingly difficult music. Similarly, we can practice the assignment way of living in our daily lives. We can practice growing and stretching ourselves in new situations and new opportunities.

One assignment our students recently tackled was to go out and ask for things. What did they ask for? Absolutely anything! The objective wasn’t to “get more stuff” but rather to stretch and practice their ability and comfort with asking.

Our students came back and reported how difficult the assignment was for many of them. They discovered they had a limiting belief that the world wasn’t a giving place—it was full of scarcity rather than abundance. They were amazed at how overcoming that limiting belief enabled them to attract and get things beyond what they had ever imagined. Some course members ended up getting raises. One course member who worked for a nonprofit went to a big donor and asked for a gift for the charity. He was blown away when the donor said yes!

It’s amazing what happens when we suddenly realize the power of saying what we usually wouldn’t say. When we break out of the beliefs that hold us back and start testing the waters with little assignments and life experiments, we may be astonished at the outcomes.

Every assignment is designed to challenge at least one limiting belief. For example, asking for things may challenge a limiting belief about politeness. It may also challenge an assumption about the nature of society and our role within the world.

Start by stretching a little. Do or say something that feels a little edgy. Ask for something (even if it’s embarrassing). Work up to something bigger and then something even bigger.

Each Day is a Chance to Live Life as an Experiment

Every person was socialized as a child to limit their behavior. Maybe we believed we should be polite, we shouldn’t be emotional, we shouldn’t speak up, or we shouldn’t be “too much.” These beliefs are carried with us throughout our lives.

Rather than solidifying those beliefs as adults, we can instead stretch and expand our capacity to practice radical honesty and become more engaged, creative, and expressive. We can start to push ourselves beyond the limits of what we’ve deemed as being socially acceptable. We can begin to rock the boat.

As we pinpoint, recognize, and identify our limiting beliefs, we work through them and disprove them. Many of our beliefs have long been carried with us. There are often stories and myths behind them. Many of our families may have set rules about how we should behave. These ideas are deeply entrenched, but the first step is identifying them and playing with the limitations.

One of the big life experiments for our students is to challenge their family beliefs and rules. Even though our family beliefs may have some validity, we generally hold them as more restrictive than they need to be. Through the assignment way of living, we can continue to challenge these ideas and explore our identity.

At the deepest level, we all hold limiting beliefs about ourselves and what the world expects from us. These beliefs show up in our relationships, work, marriage, salary, and other aspects of our lives.

As we challenge these beliefs and start living life as an experiment, we’ll see powerful changes in many areas of our lives. We may realize our fixed mindset and limiting beliefs hold us back from realizing our full potential and attaining the life we dream about.

So, if you’re ready to tackle your limiting beliefs, start thinking of the world as your playground. Go out, experiment, make mistakes, test the waters, and see what happens. Look for the lesson in each experience and push yourself beyond your comfort zone.

If you’re looking for more ways to get what you want out of life, don’t miss our courses available on WrightNow. We have a library of exciting personal growth courses designed to help you get the relationship, career, and life of your dreams.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Is it Ever Okay to Tell “White Lies”?

The truth will always set us free and help us live authentically. We should always tell the truth, even hard truths. We should all be big believers in the truth.

Is it ever okay to tell white lies? It's essential to be as truthful as possible, but here's how to navigate these tricky waters.

Inevitably, when we discuss telling the truth—and especially difficult truths—the question of little white lies always comes up. Is it ever alright to tell white lies?

When someone asks, “Does this outfit make me look fat?” or “Did you like my Jell-O salad?” or even, “Do you like my new girlfriend?” How can we be honest? Does it really matter? How do we navigate these delicate situations?

Why Do We Lie?

So is lying ever okay? When can we get away with telling a little white lie?

Most of us don’t like to hurt others. We may even cringe and find it painful to tell people hard truths (and the hard-to-hear truths). No one wants to say to a friend they don’t like their outfit, homecooked meal, or significant other. Is it alright to fudge the truth a little when we’re asked these challenging questions? When is it better to tell a white lie?

On one level, the answer is never. A lie is a lie is a lie. In a world where so many people navigate murky waters, the truth is like a shield and a superpower. When we free ourselves from the need to “lie” or put on a false front to others, we shift to align with our most authentic, true self.

So many of us, especially women, navigate the world by feigning interest, acting concerned, and trying to please others. Studies found that women tend to be less likely to lie when the stakes are high but are more likely to tell white lies or “altruistic” lies when it means pleasing others.

We may lie on first dates under the guise of “putting our best foot forward.” We may hold back when something bothers us, at the risk of offending others or believing we don’t matter or it’s not convenient to address our needs. We may lie to a friend because we think it’s what she wants to hear, and we want to make her feel good. We might even be so used to telling little lies that we don’t even catch ourselves doing it.

People mainly tell white lies out of the idea that they’re being sensitive to the feelings of others, but it may often be to protect ourselves.

We may tell a white lie like “I don’t mind running that errand for you” when we really do mind, but we don’t want to rock the boat. We lie because we don’t want to face conflict or upset someone by sharing the truth. But by doing so, we’re not authentic; we’re holding back our feelings.

When we realize the importance of operating in truth, it’s a power change that can boost our careers, friendships, and even our love life. We become authentic, honest, and we start to get exactly what we want because we’re truthful about it. The truth is powerful and valuable. Whenever possible, we should find a way to orient our path toward the most truth possible.

Should We EVER Tell a White Lie?

Reflecting on the question of “should we ever tell a white lie,” we may wonder about what to do when the truth is extremely hurtful in some way. For example, when telling a harsh truth is needlessly damaging, unsolicited, or we’re hurting someone in a way where they’re very vulnerable. In some instances, we may need to soften our approach. In one study, “white lies” were defined as trivial, non-malevolent, and partly grounded in truth. So are they really harmless?

Now, the idea of softening the truth isn’t giving license to telling little white lies every time we face a situation where we’re uncomfortable—not at all! Those times are when it’s even more important to lean into the truth. Even if we are in a situation where the truth may hurt or sting, it’s essential to face it head-on. Our discomfort with the truth may feel terrible, but we can learn a lot by exploring that uneasiness and going for it anyway.

It’s not about telling white lies. It’s about still telling the truth but thinking it through tactfully. In our approach, if the truth will have a tremendous negative impact, we may need to approach it with sensitivity.

Aim to always be as honest as possible but attune to the feelings of others. For example, suppose someone has a deep emotional wound or is particularly vulnerable to a particular topic. In that case, we may want to approach it carefully, gently, and from a position of concern rather than poking the wound and hurting them further. We can even express and acknowledge that we realize it’s a sensitive topic for them by saying something like, “I know this is a difficult area to talk about, but as your friend, I want always to be honest with you.” These cases are very rare, but they will occasionally come up in our lives, and sometimes the ability to tell it like it is, elevates us from being friends to being allies.

In all cases, we should side with the truth.

Why It’s Better to Tell the Truth

In most situations, 99.9% of the time, honesty is the best policy. Even if we feel like certain truths are difficult or complicated.

But why do we avoid the truth? Why do we struggle with honesty? Terms like “brutally” honest, spring to mind. We’ve trained ourselves that sometimes honesty is hurtful and means being critical and mean. We all yearn for others to notice us, to like us, and accept us. We may fear that our real selves won’t measure up or that expressing our feelings might hurt someone else.

So many of us have been trained to be extra careful with each other. We tiptoe around, not saying what we really need or want from others. We may think we’re protecting them, but often, we’re really trying to protect ourselves from rejection, from hurt, or from finding out that someone doesn’t like what we’ve said.

The reality is that most people we encounter are highly resilient. Most of us can handle the truth and even appreciate hearing it. Better still, we face many situations where having the courage to speak the truth will actually result in a greater outcome for all involved.

Take telling a hard truth at work, for example. If we see a fatal flaw in a coworker or boss’s strategic plan but don’t speak up, not only are we disempowering ourselves, but we’re doing a disservice to the company that could end up costing them significantly in the long run. It might feel uncomfortable and even frightening to tell the truth in the board room, especially when we know it could make someone feel angry or result in backlash. It’s hard to critique someone else’s hard work.

Yet, when we bite our tongues and let the project go out the door with our stamp of approval, we’re equally responsible for the inevitable failure. Look at those who have been brave enough to blow the whistle when it means saving lives. It can be painful and result in a lot of fallout, but it may ultimately protect people. Isn’t it better to tell the truth in a board meeting and head off the problem before it becomes too big to fix or someone is hurt?

Airplanes have crashed, scandals have erupted, and patients have died because people were afraid to speak the truth. While it might be intimidating to tell a surgeon he made a mistake, the benefits of the truth far outweigh any bruising sustained to his ego. The truth requires bravery, but it’s worth the risk of upsetting someone.

On a smaller, day-to-day level, telling the truth still requires bravery, but the payoff is worth the effort. The truth will bring us closer and boost our relationships with others. We all want that friend who will be real with us—who will tell us the harsh truths. We can trust what they say, and we believe in their authenticity.  They won’t let us “get away” with lying to ourselves or others, and as a result, their praise and compliments resonate more strongly too.

Now there might not be a kind way to answer, “Do these pants make my butt look bad?” But most pals would appreciate knowing the truth from us before they walk out the door. There are nicer ways that we could say it, like, “I think those blue pants are more flattering on you.” In choosing a gentler approach, we’re not telling a white lie but rather sticking to the truth in a less hurtful way. The results and the message are still the same, and our friend will appreciate our candor.

We all need people in our lives who will be unflinchingly honest with us. We can and should be that person for others as well. If we’re struggling to tell someone a “harsh” truth, we should explore why we’re concerned about being honest with them. Are we trying to protect others, or are we just trying to protect ourselves from feeling awkward?

The truth is freeing. When we move toward operating in 100% truth, we are becoming our most authentic and honest selves—something that’s good for everyone.

For more on unlocking your full potential, please explore our courses on Wright Now. You’ll find excellent resources to help you live with more truth, light, and purpose.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Feminine Power, Masculine Power and The Yin and Yang of Achieving More

When we think of a powerful person, what comes to mind? An army commander? A boss? Someone in politics, business, or culture?

A man and woman balance each other doing acrobatics as they balance their power in life


We all possess a great deal of personal power within ourselves but knowing how to tap into and balance that power is a challenge. We often believe power to be a masculine energy trait. Now, maybe we see it displayed by both men and women, but the idea of “power” probably calls to mind an aggressive, go-out-there-and-get-it idea.

We think of power as grabbing, asserting, dominating, controlling, right? While this is one type of power—masculine power—there is an opposite and equal counterpart: feminine power. Think of it as a yin and yang. Masculine power asserts; feminine power envelopes and holds. Masculine power reaches out; feminine power receives and attracts. Here’s why we need both to achieve even more of what we want in life.

Feminine Power in Many Forms

Now, feminine and masculine power traits are displayed by either gender. It’s not to say women can’t be assertive and dominating, or men can’t be nurturing and attracting. There is a spectrum of masculine and feminine power within each of us, but learning how to balance the yin and yang of both sides will help us achieve and receive more.

One of the most vital qualities of feminine power is in silence. Now silence doesn’t imply women are quieter than men (or should be). Again, the difference between masculine and feminine power or masculine and feminine energies isn’t about gender. Both men and women can learn to become better listeners and wield silence as a powerful, positive tool.

When we think of using silence powerfully or to our advantage, we probably think of freezing someone out or giving them the silent treatment. But the cold shoulder is actually a misuse of the power of silence. We can use silence passive-aggressively, but if we want to use silence to attract more positivity and personal power into our lives, we shouldn’t use it as a weapon to harm someone or prove our point. Silence enables us to engage better and to hold space, not to manipulate.

In our book The Heart of the Fight, we discuss the common types of fights couples experience, and one of the most common is the Hidden Middle Finger. We’ve all been there before—when a partner really ticks us off, so instead of opening up about it, we silently sit and stew. Maybe we conveniently “forget” to do something for them they asked us to take care of. Perhaps we’re quieter than usual, so they’ll notice our irritation. We’re abusing the power of silence.

You walk away, seething, silent, and resentful—now is the time for the silent treatment. “That ought to show him” is the message you’re sending, but it rarely gets through. We resolve nothing, and the relationship never deepens.

Relationship fights can be deadly quiet; you can say “screw you” without raising your voice or even saying a word. In fact, Hidden Middle Finger fights often involve silence. You can simply pretend the disagreement isn’t there. Other exchanges can seem placid and even friendly on the surface. Beneath it, however, passive-aggressive behavior is eroding the relationship.

Getting the discussion to the point where we express the real upset and anger, and the hidden middle finger is out in the open, is critical. Some couples simply don’t have this much social-emotional intelligence. By developing their ability to express their feelings beyond their middle finger and interact more truthfully with each other, they grow in understanding, intimacy, and satisfaction.

The Heart of the Fight

On the Engagement Continuum, there are seven levels of engagement—from destructive to neutral to constructive and creative. Stonewalling and the silent treatment fall into the destructive first level. It’s a sign two people are disengaged (after all, can you be more disengaged than not speaking and outright ignoring?).

However, as we learn to become more engaged and work our way up the continuum for better engagement, we experience another side to the power of silence. Holding space for someone else—acting as a receptive, silent, positive presence is vital for deep engagement. When we’re listening and connected to another person, we’re taking them in. We’re attracting them. Our silent presence is extremely powerful and a force for good. Silence is representative of strong engagement, and it’s a powerful way to use feminine energy.

Think of the sentinel at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier—this powerful soldier stands to bear witness and to guard. Their silence is potent; it’s positive and protective. They’re awake, alert, present, and engaged—that’s the power of silence.

The Power of Presence

Another aspect of feminine power is the power of presence. It’s an attracting power—we’re here, we’re bringing in what we want and need from our lives.

Discover the infinite Power of Presence, the experience of being fully human, fully divine. Being present, you are conscious, awake, alert, available—you are the most You. Your heart is open, senses acute, creativity flowing, energy pulsing through you. And from this state, anything is possible, and everything is possible. Fully present, you command the resources of the universe.

Expand into your Presence and feel the power available to you, the resources of the moment, as you ride the roller coaster of life. Float peacefully and rise joyously on the wings of possibility as the Power of Presence stimulates, shaking you out of familiar patterns and ushering in the excitement of never-ending adventure. Open up all your channels to the gifts of the universe!

The One Decision

When we’re fully present, engaged, aware, and open, others are drawn to us. They’re attracted to our way of being and pulled into that powerful feminine energy. Others want to be around us because we’re dynamic—they feel better when they’re with us and look forward to spending time with us.

We’ve all met someone who lights up a room; whose very presence is attractive (not speaking in terms of physical attraction, but their draw). When we meet someone who’s like that, we want more!

The good news is, we all can tap into the power of presence. Again, whether we’re male or female, it doesn’t matter. Presence comes from that divine feminine energy. It’s the opposite of absence–the yin to the yang.

Presence means being engaged. It means tapping into what we like to refer to as “flow.” You know the feeling you get when everything is going well. You’re in harmony with the universe around you. You’re crushing it at work, tackling your goals, and loving life: that’s flow. It’s such a dynamic feeling it’s almost palpable. When we’re buzzing with flow, we feel alive and energized!

Flow is essential for getting more success in our job. When we tap into flow we’re fully mindful of the moment. We’re pushing ourselves a little further. We’re challenged and excited about what we’re achieving. We don’t have to reach out and fight for focus or fight to get what we want because we’re drawing it to us. We’re in “the zone.”

Embracing Both Sides of Our Energy

If we want to tap into flow and be better communicators, we must embrace both the yin and yang sides of our personal power. We need to draw the qualities of masculine power and feminine power to hold space, attract, and bring in the positive things we want out of life. It’s about balance.

Some of us fall stronger on the masculine power side, where we go out and demand what we want. We use our power aggressively. While there’s nothing wrong with going for what you want (in fact, you SHOULD always go for it), there are different approaches. We can balance that masculine power with our feminine power.

Feminine power isn’t passive or weak. It’s about drawing in what we want, about opening ourselves up to the possibilities in front of us, and being ready to receive and listen.

If we have dominant masculine energy, we can focus on cultivating stronger feminine energy traits (like listening, receiving, discovering) to help us find a more even yin and yang.

Ideally, when we’re balancing both sides of our masculine and feminine power, we’re speaking our truth. We’re honest, open communicators. We’re engaged with others and focused on a higher purpose. We’re asking for what we want (masculine power), and we’re attracting what we need (feminine power).

You see, power isn’t only about getting, taking, or demanding. True power is a balance. It’s about engagement, play, joy, and tapping into that powerful state of flow! It’s about being open and receptive to the wonders the universe has in store for us. When we do that, we’ll keep receiving and achieving better and better things. We’ll get even more of what we want.

If you’re ready to live a life of more—more satisfaction, more purpose, more flow, and more joy—focus on cultivating the yin and yang of your personal power. Use masculine power to speak up and ask for what you want and use feminine power to become more present, attract and engage.

To discover more about increasing your personal power, please visit WrightNow, to explore our array of online coursework. These courses will help you achieve your personal goals, get ahead in your career, and strengthen your relationships by unlocking your full potential. Don’t miss out on the chance to live a life of more!

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.

Photo by Ruslan Zh on Unsplash.

What is the Purpose of College: Prestige or Experience?

The recent college admissions scandal that erupted in the news has many people thinking about the true purpose of college.

With the recent college admission scandals, many people are wondering what is the purpose of college? Is it about getting prestige or experience?

What is the purpose of college? Of course, we all think of college as an important step in education. It’s part of the learning process, and it sets students up for success later in life.

But for some, it’s not just about the college experience; it’s about bragging rights. What’s the purpose of a college education? Is it about the prestige of getting a liberal arts degree from a big-name school, like some celebrity parents were willing to pay so dearly to obtain?

Or is the point of college to gain experience and education? If that’s the case, then is a state school as good as an elite university? What about a trade school? Is a college education really as critical as we may think?

Why Would Celebrities Pay So Much for College Admission?

If we analyze the recent college admissions scandal, where celebrity parents got in legal hot water overpaying to get their kids into elite schools, it becomes truly absurd. These parents were lying, paying tons of money, and doing all kinds of questionable tricks, telling themselves it was all for their children’s future in higher education. It cost many of them their jobs, fines, and a great deal of public embarrassment.

The recent scandals weren’t the only case of college admissions scams, either. It was only the latest, featuring high-profile celebrities that caught peoples’ attention. Many well-to-do parents have been buying their kids’ way into college, using their power and privilege to ensure access to higher education and guarantee a liberal arts degree.

But we can learn a lot by looking at the parents’ motives. Were the actions of these celebrity parents simply based on a desire to “help” their children? Is an elite or Ivy League college the real answer to a good life? And does it make such a difference that it’s worth lying, cheating, and bribing to secure a spot? Is that teaching kids any life lesson, preparing students for a career, or giving them skills and knowledge to achieve success in life?

It really comes down to a mistaken view of prestige versus what constitutes a truly remarkable life full of purpose. These parents were deluding themselves into believing that cheating their way into a special spot in line would give their kids a leg up in their future. Whereas, truly, it was doing precisely the opposite and sending their kids a dangerous message that they could cheat or buy their way into an authentic college experience.

One of the kids had even posted a video online saying she didn’t care about getting an education at all. She wanted to party. What benefit were her parents’ dishonest actions to her? Her parents seemed to want to help her get in because they wanted to hand over anything she demanded, including college admission.

Where is the more important lesson in all of college admission scandal business?

The truth is, we all assign a certain value to a Harvard education or a Ph.D. from Columbia. How many of us brag or boast about our friends who attended an elite school? How many of us look at where someone received their higher education? When we go into a business meeting, how many of us cite that education as proof of their expertise?

The chances are high that these parents wanted to secure a spot for their children at an elite school because they believed it would set their kids up for later success in life. They hoped they were putting their kids on a path toward the future they wanted. But buying their way into school does the opposite. Instead of setting them up for success, they took away their ability to adapt, learn, grow, and build grit.

What is grit? As researcher and psychologist Angela Duckworth explains in her book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance, it’s not talent, luck, or simply “wanting something bad enough.” Grit is having a goal that brings us meaning and working towards that goal, even when it’s slow or painful. Grit is being resilient and learning to get back up when you make a mistake, and for many kids, that skill is built during the college experience.

What is the Purpose of College?

So, what is the purpose or the point of college anyway? If it’s to build experience or gain skills and knowledge, why do we all value elite degrees?

At the end of the day, college is about learning to think. It’s about seeing yourself as part of the world, learning a deeper understanding, and connecting to the world around you.

It’s not simply about fast-tracking your way to a career, learning a marketable skill, or even earning a great liberal arts degree. College is about gaining valuable life experience and building connections. It’s about learning how to learn—which is the most critical component of the college experience.

Establishing the skills to learn is one of the many reasons why liberal education matters so much. Students need to know history to understand where they fit within the thread of humankind. They need science. They need math, so they understand quantum mechanics and emerging physics. They need sociology, so they understand the movements happening in the world. They need psychology, so they begin to understand themselves and each other. Then they can dig deeper into the subjects that interest them, with dedicated professors to challenge and guide them further along the path.

College is important because it opens our eyes to the world around us. Not everyone’s higher education path looks the same, but everyone of every age should be on an educational path.

It’s important we’re all learning throughout our lives. College is a meaningful way to build up our love of learning and teach young adults how to learn. It opens their eyes to the bigger picture and gives them many options to explore.

Does this mean college is the only path for learning and understanding? No, of course not. But it’s certainly a direct path that opens a world of possibilities.

We worked with a gentleman who invested in financial corporations, turning around institutions and flipping them for a lot of money. Eventually, he reached a stuck point in his career. He’d stopped pulling the trigger on sales. He was going into his fourth marriage. His kids weren’t speaking to him even though he’d given them everything money could provide. The time had come for him to do some self-examination.

During our work, he had a significant turnaround. He realized money and prestige were traps—a big distortion of the American dream. Many people want to live the American dream, but the reality is, it looks different for each of us. It doesn’t mean having the most money, a big house, or a fancy car. The true American dream is living a life of purpose and fulfillment.

We’re entering a time where kids are earning much more than their parents ever did. We have the opportunity to personalize our education and higher learning, choosing what we want to learn and from whom we want to learn it. The downside of this is many of us avoid encountering diverse attitudes or life lessons because it may upset our view. We prefer to exist in an echo chamber, but that’s not conducive to pushing ourselves toward new points of view and new lessons.

Living a Great Life Doesn’t Start with an Ivy League Admission

Living a great life doesn’t begin by getting into a top school or an expensive college. Living a great life is about understanding and following your yearnings. It’s about living a life of new explorations and assignments each day. It’s about taking on new endeavors and continuing to grow.

Education isn’t about getting our diploma. It’s not about following a formula or even completing a goal. Our education isn’t something prescribed. It’s a continuous journey we should follow throughout our lives every day. In many ways, the purpose of college is the experience.

The parents in the college admissions scandal didn’t realize that prestige isn’t what will make life great for their kids. Prestige has nothing to do with what really matters. Prestige isn’t the real point of a college education.

Yes, there are advantages to attending an elite school, but in many ways, the benefits are simply based on the fact these institutions are built for learning (and they’re well-funded to do so). When students attend, they’re encompassed in a total learning environment, which helps them learn how to become better students. But an elite college or ivy league school isn’t the only way to get that experience, and in many ways, it may be easier to get when it’s not as easily attained.

At the end of the day, the purpose of college is about gaining whatever experience you can explore. The point is to really allow yourself to learn, think, grow, and discover. It’s about learning how others think and learning from great thinkers throughout history.

There are many schools out there. The essential part of education is having quality teachers and professors who are dedicated. It’s also important to be surrounded by bright, interested, and engaged peers who continue to push students to keep learning and exploring. The additional networking and community that comes as a college alumnus or alumna are valuable and nice, but it’s not the complete answer.

When people come out of an elite (or any) school, it doesn’t mean they’re imbued with creativity, originality, or an ability to interact with others. The quality of a person is much more important than prestige, wealth, or an elite education.

Quality education can come from many places and many sources. The importance is in the pursuit of continued education and learning throughout our lives. It doesn’t end with graduation—in fact, that’s usually the beginning.

Students who haven’t faced adversity and struggle on their path to receiving an education may be ill-prepared to deal with the challenges of life once they emerge from the school doors and enter the real world. Growth is built from experience and, yes, even struggle. By eliminating the challenges from their kids’ paths to admission, these celebrity parents robbed them of the real purpose of college: an opportunity to grow.

For more on learning and growing throughout your life, please explore our courses on WrightNow. We offer many exciting ways to help you open new doors to a life filled with your greatest potential.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Living performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.


How to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Rock the Boat!

Wondering how to stop being a people pleaser? It’s okay to rock the boat, especially if it means more satisfaction.

A young woman in ripped jeans jumps for joy. How to Stop Being a People Pleaser and Rock the Boat!


We’ve all heard the admonition, “don’t rock the boat.” (In fact, it’s even a great 70’s R&B song.) But what happens when we stop being a people pleaser and start trying to please ourselves instead?

Now, to some of us, this may sound pretty frightening—if we stop being a people pleaser, what will happen to our relationships? Our friendships? Our work connections? Will everyone decide they don’t like us? Will we disappoint others?

If you’re guilty of being a chronic pleaser, to the point that you’re holding back from what you want, then it might be time to learn to “displease with ease” and rock the boat. Here’s how to stop being a people pleaser, so you can get what YOU want!

People Pleasing Comes from Our Fear of Rejection

If we’re used to always making others happy, we might not know how to stop being a people pleaser. We might not even be sure we WANT to stop pleasing others. After all, isn’t it a good thing to make others happy?

Of course, there’s nothing wrong with cheering up those around you, sharing positive thoughts, compliments, and affirmations. Learning to be more optimistic, joyful, and playful is an integral part of living a full and happy life. The problem comes from when we’re so afraid of rocking the boat or upsetting someone else that we’re disempowered—we hold back from what we really want, we avoid conflict, or suppress our innermost longings.

The fear of displeasing or disappointing others can be powerful in our personal relationships. How many of us avoid conflict to a fault? Or how many of us worry about going to bed angry? How many of us worry about confrontation? How often do we tell ourselves to let something go that bothers us rather than addressing it? We fear bringing up frustrations in our relationship may cause our boyfriend, girlfriend, or spouse to reject us, so we avoid conflict at all costs.

That’s a big fear, isn’t it, the fear of rejection?  We all have a fear of displeasing others and causing them to end the relationship, walk away, or withdraw their affection.

In fact, this fear permeates our other relationships, too (not just our romantic ones). It zaps us of our time and energy. We may fail to set boundaries because we don’t want to say no.

We worry about telling friends how we feel, expressing strong opinions, or saying when we don’t like something. We worry about expressing our frustrations at work and upsetting our boss or coworkers. Many of us would rather keep the status quo so we can belong.

The sense of belonging to something—avoiding rejection—speaks to one of our common deeper yearnings as human beings. We all experience yearnings, in other words, spiritual hungers or deep wants. These aren’t the same as wanting a new car, a million dollars, or a hot date. These are deeper human desires: to be loved, to be accepted, or to belong.

We Can Learn to Set Boundaries and Still Get What We Want

When we displease others, it seems diametrically opposed to meeting our important yearnings, doesn’t it? It seems as though we’ll do something wrong, fight, or argue with someone, and they’ll throw up their hands and throw in the towel. They’ll take away the possibility of giving us the connection we’re longing for. They’ll reject us.

But consider that when we hold back our feelings, avoid conflict, and don’t express how we really feel, we’re not truly meeting our yearnings either. We’re not being true to our authentic selves.

Kahneman and Tversky’s Nobel Prize-winning research on Loss Aversion states we are more aware of the pain of loss than the pleasure of potential gain. In other words, we fear the upset of displeasing others so much we avoid the joy of pleasing ourselves.

Many of us work to please others at the expense of our own opinions, judgments, and desires. We strive so hard to get others to like us, approve of us, and minimize the discomfort of rejection we sacrifice our own feelings and preferences. But we have to ask ourselves if we’re really being authentic. If we aren’t being true to what we want, are we really connecting and engaging with those closest to us?

The result is, we become less of “who we really are.” If we want to be more of who we are, we can’t sacrifice our feelings and preferences. We have to learn how to stop being a people pleaser and start pleasing ourselves. Ignoring or suppressing our yearnings will lead to dissatisfaction, not only externally in our relationships but within ourselves.

One of the major rules about fighting fair in relationships is remembering: We are each 100% responsible for our own happiness. This means it’s not our significant other’s responsibility to “make us happy.”  But relationships don’t exist to fix us or take away our dissatisfaction.

Similarly, it takes two to tango: no one gets more than 50% of the blame in an argument. Each party is equal, and each is responsible for their happiness. We all have to go for what we want, even if it might not align with others.

This may sound a little frightening, right? Especially if we’ve been a long-term people pleaser. Maybe we’ve blamed our partner for our unhappiness, or we’ve thought if we could just please our partner a little more, everything would be okay. But it’s not our responsibility to please someone else—we need to please ourselves.

We can take comfort in knowing that relationships aren’t nearly as fragile as we think. In fact, the more we stretch, push, and grow within our relationships, the stronger they become. Conflict doesn’t actually tear us apart—it breaks down our barriers to bring us closer together. When we experience conflict, we’re being truthful, and that leads to greater intimacy.

How Conflict Helps Us Grow

Now, not every fight in a relationship is equal, of course, and everyone has spats. In our book, The Heart of the Fight, we identify the common fights many couples have: Dueling over Dollars, Sexual Dissatisfaction, the Hidden Middle Finger (passive-aggressive behavior), Family Feuds, and many others. If these arguments sound familiar, it’s no surprise. Most fights boil down to a few key issues.

At the heart of these issues is a common thread: unmet yearnings, those longings we wish our relationship would give us. We harbor the fantasy our prince or princess charming will swoop in and fix it all.

Now, remember, if everyone is 100% responsible for their own happiness—even in a relationship—this shifts the dynamic, doesn’t it? Suddenly, those unmet yearnings shift from our partner’s responsibility to a responsibility we have to ourselves. The blame can’t be more than half on either party. So we can examine how we’re affecting the situation. Are we being honest about our dislikes? Are we to stop being a people pleaser? Do we feel we’re constantly trying to smooth things over or defuse the situation by tamping down our feeling?

What happens when we start taking responsibility for our happiness? Do we stop fighting with our significant other? No!

Your partner will tick you off. They’ll do little irritating actions that get under your skin, and they’ll say words that hurt your feelings. Relationships are messy. Love is messy…but it’s also beautiful and nourishing.

What happens when we take responsibility for our happiness? We start fighting FOR the relationship. We start fighting FOR our yearnings to be met. We also begin to realize most of what our partner does isn’t malicious or meant to hurt our feelings. We start assuming positive intent, and our relationship and connection become stronger and more authentic.

Even better, when we practice learning how to stop being a people pleaser with our partner, we also learn to apply it to other relationships and areas of our lives. Many times, our relationships at work and our friendships mirror our lives at home. We may find ourselves learning to set boundaries, and we may get back some of that time and energy lost from trying not to rock the boat.

You see, when we allow ourselves to stop pleasing others (whether it’s our spouse, our kids, our boss, or our friends), we start prioritizing our own happiness. We examine what fills our heart and learn to prioritize our satisfaction. At first blush, we may worry this is selfish. But when we avoid the tension and compromise, we’re actually compromising our own happiness. We’re compromising the intimacy and closeness we could gain from greater honesty and authenticity in our relationship.

If you acquiesce and compromise on something you really care about—if you haven’t gotten to the heart of the issue—you aren’t going to meet those powerful yearnings: to love and be loved, to be seen for who you really are, to matter, and to be accepted. You will miss out on the intimacy you could be having.

The intimacy we get by sharing our hearts and feelings—that’s the real beauty of relationships. Even if the other person doesn’t want to hear them, those honest expressions will ultimately bring us closer. So, learn to stop being a people pleaser! Rock the boat and rock your relationship into a stronger connection!

For more on strengthening your relationships, fighting fair, and getting MORE of what you want, please explore our relationship courses at Wright Now. We have many resources to help you get deeper connections, more intimacy, and unlock your fullest potential.

The Wright Foundation for the Realization of Human Potential is a leadership institute located in Chicago, Illinois. Wright Foundation performative learning programs are integrated into the curriculum at Wright Graduate University.