Discipline, Simplicity, and Awareness

Teachers often tell me that even though the Raise Responsibility System discipline approach is referred to as simple-to-implement, they find that they continually have to be aware of being positive, offering choices, and asking reflective-type questions. When I hear this I always reply: “SIMPLE does not mean EASY.”

The system is simple in that ONLY THREE principles—not a dozen or so—need to be practiced. In addition, the Raise Responsibility System (RRS) has only three parts: TEACHING the concepts, ASKING reflective questions, and ELICITING a procedure to redirect impulses.

For example, learning how to drive an automobile is SIMPLE, but it only becomes EASY after you have driven for awhile. Likewise, deciding ahead of time not to eat dessert at a banquet may be SIMPLE. But when the plates from the main course are removed and the cheesecake is placed in front of you, your original decision may not be so EASY to implement.

When I first decided to run in the mornings rather than in the evenings, I found the decision quite SIMPLE. I set the alarm for an early morning rise. As I had expected, the alarm rang early the next morning and I heard my self-talk say: “Getting up this early is crazy.” I went back to sleep.

At the time, I was a high school assistant principal with a student body of 3,200. Since I was in charge of all student discipline as well as all co-curricular activities, I would arrive home at various late hours. Knowing that if I were to continue running regularly I would have to do so in the mornings, I again set my alarm for an early morning rise. The next day I awoke and ran. That was years ago. I have never returned to running in the evenings. My original decision was SIMPLE. Getting up earlier than I was accustomed to was not EASY. Still today, I would not have it any other way.

At the end of a personal presentation of the RRS to a school or district, people leave with three simple practices to implement and a simple system to use. The implementation is up to them. I never say it is EASY. But I do emphasize that the more they practice the principles and implement the system, the easier it becomes, the more responsibility they will promote, the more effective they will be, the more improved their relationships will become, and the less stress they will feel. And, they WILL see success from the beginning.

However, there must be conscious awareness in implementing the approaches (3 principles to practice and the 3 parts of the RRS). They ARE SIMPLE; but it’s just not EASY to change approaches (habits) and always be alert to our options.

In any aspect of life, we don’t practice a set of procedures one time and then expect them to be set in place to run themselves. We’re dealing with humans, not machines, and therefore constant awareness and practice are necessary. As we (or others) practice, new neural connections are made and implementation does become easier AND simpler. Ultimately, people who reflect, evaluate, and are conscious of their practices are engaging in one of life’s greatest joys—striving for improvement and reaping the satisfactions that result.