The I CAN Program
By Bob Alexander
In the mid 1990s I remember reading an article in the Wall Street Journalwith the title: “Let’s Get Rid of Management.” The article claims people don’t want to be managed–they want to be led. My own experience verifies the truth of this idea. I believe the carrot always wins over the stick. Just ask your horse if you happen to own one. You can lead your horse to water, but you can’t manage him to drink. If you want to manage somebody, manage yourself. Do that well and you’ll be ready to stop managing and start leading.
Since 1980 I have spent most of my time traveling and speaking to educators, martial artists, students, businesspeople and leaders all across America as well as abroad. When I work with people in organizations to help them become more successful, the subject of practical leadership always rears its head time and time again. Top executives and policy makers can find whatever they need to help them plan, strategize and lead their businesses into the future. But what about their character? What personal qualities do they need to develop? How will this maximize their opportunities to succeed? What is the “Right Stuff”? The answer is found in two simple words:
I CAN… Two powerful words that inspire our confidence… Serve as a testament to our determination to succeed… And reflect a desire to be our very best.
That’s why so many schools and businesses that serve our youth have chosen I CAN to be used as their foundational leadership program, and that’s also the reason thousands of educators, students, parents, martial artists and other youth-serving organizations are excited about Zig Ziglar’s I CAN Program. Through I CAN, they’re not only learning the ABCs of education, but more importantly the ABCs of life—Attitude, Behavior and Character. These are the fundamentals students need to be taught, and that enable individuals to achieve their fullest potential and bring out the best in others.
What is the I CAN Program?
The I CAN program is based on the foundational principles of honesty, integrity, character, trust, loyalty and love—principles upon which successful lives are built. Once this solid foundation is established, individuals develop a positive attitude and self-image as well as strong, healthy relationships with others. Even more important, they are empowered to achieve their life’s goals and desires. Health, happiness, prosperity, friendship, peace and security are dreams transformed into everyday realities. Isn’t that what we all want for our kids? Isn’t that what parents are looking for in a martial arts school? The answer is a big “YES.”
The principles that we teach children today are the principles that will run our businesses and our country tomorrow. The Secretary of Labor and members of the Secretary’s Commission on Achieving Necessary Skills (SCANS) reported that more than half of our nation’s young people leave school without the knowledge or foundation required to find and hold a good job. This is sobering news for teachers, students, parents and employers. The work force of the 21st century, the SCANS Report further indicated, will not only need to be creative and responsible problem-solvers, but workers must possess the skills and attitudes on which employers can build.
The I CAN program is committed to developing the positive attitudes which will help young people be successful in their personal and academic endeavors now and professionally in the future. I CAN achieves this by not only motivating the students, but by focusing on the attitudes of those who most influence today’s young people—parents, teachers, coaches and martial artists. It is a comprehensive strategy that serves to cement the bond between all of these groups, and is designed to be integrated into any primary, elementary, middle, high school and adult age groups.
Students Learn the Meaning of I CAN
Children are the future. Therefore, it’s absolutely vital that they see value in themselves, their abilities and their opportunities for success in life. Yet, every child needs guidance and a strong helping hand to get them on the right course. This not only applies during the teenage years, but most importantly, for life. The program is a powerful weapon to deter drug and alcohol use, dangerous peer pressure, bullying and rebellion against parents. One former I CAN student said the following: “I cannot express myself enough about how much the I CAN Program has changed my life. I am glad that I attended an I CAN school before I went out into the world. I am now full of positiveness, hope and dreams that I know will come true because I believe in myself, and I know that there is no such thing as failing…there is always next time.”
I CAN Involves Parents and Community Leaders
Parents look to schools to provide their children with the best available education. But there isn’t a school in America that can teach students to be any better than mediocre without the right mental attitude. And since so many of a young person’s attitudes, beliefs and habits are formulated outside school, parents and community leaders must work in tandem with educators. That is the foundation of the I CAN Leadership Program. Successful schools are reaching out to parents to become partners—and reminding them of the vital roles they play in the development of America’s youth. It is a message that has been received with warm hearts. In fact, many parents and community leaders who have heard the I CAN message have voluntarily underwritten the program’s costs in order to make it available to their community’s schools. They know introducing children to the I CAN way of life today will enhance tomorrow’s workplace.
The I CAN Curriculum
Many school districts have invested in their students by implementing both complete curriculums into their classes. The Beginner Program is for students pre-k through 5th grade, and the Achiever Program for those in 6th grade and above. Thousands of public, private and home schools, along with many more martial arts and youth-serving organizations, are currently teaching the I CAN curriculum—touching the lives of over three million children and growing daily. Martial artist Paul Garcia has been using the I CAN curriculum for over 15 years and says, “The I CAN Program isn’t part of my curriculum . . . it IS my curriculum.” There can be no doubt that the I CAN curriculum helps uncover the root causes of bad habits and attitudes and successfully replaces them with the positive attitudes that enable students to enjoy positive relationships with their parents, teachers and classmates.
It’s Easy to Say I CAN!
We all want the best for today’s young people…today and tomorrow. I CAN instills the values which will ensure success in their personal, academic and professional lives. Join the millions of educators, students, parents and business leaders who are leading the I CAN revolution. Kids do not make up 100% of the population, but they do make up 100% of the future. I’m sure you agree the greatest monuments we can build to the future are enthusiastic, motivated and well-rounded children. Thanks for saying I CAN to their future.
By Dan Wilson
When I stepped on the bathroom scales the other day I was confident it would show I had dropped a couple of pounds, but—alas!—the scales tipped in the other direction. I had in fact gained a couple, and that is not good news especially since I am scheduled for a checkup later this week with my doctor. He will not be pleased. What happened, how could I have gained weight? I’ve been exercising regularly and vigorously, and . . . well, yeah, but maybe I’ve been a little over-indulgent with the desserts lately, and enjoying the cuisine from our new kitchen—a little too much. But I deserve that, don’t I? It was a stressful fall. We moved, our new granddaughter was born, and in the midst of all that I experienced a life-threatening medical event. I’ve simply been rewarding myself, that’s all—except that what started out as celebration has drifted off into bad habit. The over-indulging and subsequent weight gain is only the symptom, though, of a more serious issue—complacency. It has crept into my life ever so slowly and quietly. I never even knew it until I stepped on the scales the other day. It slipped up and caught me by surprise, but that’s what complacency does. Complacency may be one of the most dangerous of human conditions. It causes us to fall asleep at the switch, to let our guard down, not pay attention. What’s worse—like what happened to me—complacency is not an obvious condition; it is instead subtle and creeps up on us attacking from behind. It is a silent killer that can cause marriages to fail, businesses to decline or collapse, battles to be lost, countries to become vulnerable to surprise attack, or pounds to accumulate around one’s waistline. As far as I can tell there is only one preventative for complacency and that is accountability. Either we must have enough discipline to hold ourselves accountable or we need another human being to hold us accountable. It is one of the great challenges I struggle with being self-employed after having worked for a boss most of my life. But what do we do when complacency does creep into our lives? There is only one antidote that I know of and that is humility, the type of humility that will issue a wake-up call—like the one I’ll surely receive later this week from my doctor.
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