Ep 117: The Warrior Challenge For Kinder, More Courageous Teens

John Beede, author of The Warrior Challenge, sheds light on how to help instill values of kindness, courage, and grit in our young people. Plus, how to approach masculinity in a healthy way that benefits everyone.

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Full show notes

When your kids have moved out and are facing the world every day on their own, you won’t be there to tell them how to act–they’ll have to rely on their values. As a parent, leaving your kid with principles to live by can be a critical part of raising decent, self sufficient individuals! If we can help kids prioritize kindness, respect, responsibility and honesty, we give them the key to a bright future.

But how do we teach values to our kids in a way that sticks? Even when we know what exactly we want to teach to them, how can we get them to listen? Teens might not want to hear your opinion, and even if they do, it can be difficult to really show them how positive values create a better life. When it really comes down to it, imparting the right principles on kids feels just about as hard as making it to the top of Mount Everest!

Luckily, today we’re talking to somebody who has made it to the top of Everest. He’s also been struck by lightning, swam with great white sharks, survived an attack from a five foot iguana...and has a lot of insight when it comes to raising resilient teens with strong values. His name is John Beede, and he’s the author of The Warrior Challenge: 8 Quests for Boys to Grow Up With Kindness, Courage and Grit.

John speaks to share how his character and values have allowed him to accomplish amazing things–and teach how teens that they can do the same. In our interview we’re talking about how teenagers can be more comfortable being vulnerable, shed toxic friendships in favor of healthy ones, and harness the power of grit to accomplish anything they set their minds to.

The Value of Vulnerability

It can be tough for anyone to talk about their feelings, especially young people and especially young men. In our society, there’s often a pervading mentality that we need to power through hard times on our own without accepting help. However, if we want to raise kids who can be happy and healthy on their own, John stresses how important it is to encourage kids to be vulnerable about their feelings–and value their own mental health

To demonstrate what he means, John shares a story in our interview about a deeply disturbing encounter he had while climbing Mount Everest. The incident left him with trauma, which he buried deep down in order to be “strong”. Over time, however, he began to feel haunted by the experience despite his repeated attempts to suppress it. In the episode, he shares the powerful moment that made him realize that it was time for him to seek some therapy.

Once he was able to get the help he needed, John realized how important it was to incorporate the value of vulnerability to his teachings. It takes a lot of courage, he says, but it can do wonders for teens to speak about how they feel. This can include sharing more of their emotions with friends and family or in a more serious case, speaking to a trained professional.

This idea can bleed into things like conflict resolution; if teens are able to express their feelings, they’ll be better off when it comes to things like setting boundaries. In the episode, John and I talk more about how teens can learn to express when they’re feeling sad, mad, or scared to create healthier relationships.

This isn’t all John has to say about how practicing the right values can lead to more fulfilling relationships, however. There’s lots more in the episode about ditching toxic friendships to make room for positive, gainful ones.

Cutting Ties to Toxic People

When it comes to helping your kid develop strong values, there’s a lot of power in who they align themselves with. If they surround themselves with those who lift them up and help them become their best selves, they’ll be able to take on the world with confidence in who they are and what they believe in.

In our interview, John shares the three part checklist every teen should use when deciding whether or not to allow someone into their inner circle. This includes picking people who push them to reach their full potential, making sure friends have their back through thick and thin, and rejecting anyone who doesn’t respect whatever boundaries your teen chooses to set.

John also speaks extensively on how teens can detect and eject toxic individuals from their lives to create a happier existence. To do this, John suggests teens embark on some personal reflection to consider how friends or significant others make them feel. Does your teen feel like they’ve changed for the worse as a result of being friends with this person? Is your teen no longer interested in things they used to love since they began allowing this person to take up significant amounts of time in their life?

When teens are able to ask these questions, they can make progress towards surrounding themselves only with people who make them feel great. And when they feel great, they’ll become stronger, more capable people–people who embody John’s definition of grit.

What “Grit” Really Means

The word “grit” appears in the title of John’s book, so it’s clearly an important value he hopes to impart on the youth. However, when it comes to defining what grit actually means, John’s opinion differs from some. While others might see it as continuously (and stubbornly) pursuing the same method until they succeed at the task at hand, John believes grit comes down thinking outside the box and stepping outside of what’s comfortable.

As Einstein once said, repeating the same thing over and over and expecting different results is the definition of insanity! Instead, John says grit comes down to knowing when it's time to switch things up and try something new. If you’ve been trying to confront your teen about a specific topic to no avail, it might be time to go to a teacher, therapist, or other mentor. If your teen is struggling to pass their history class, don’t give up! Maybe there’s a tutor or an online resource out there for them you may not be considering.

John explains that another valuable component of grit is remaining present. It’s so easy to backtrack and waste energy thinking about the past or analyzing the future, but if your teen really wants to battle their demons and accomplish their wildest dreams, they’ll have to first take on what’s right in front of them.

In our interview, John shares some stories from real life heroes who exemplified the true meaning of grit to embrace seemingly insurmountable odds and come out on top. When it comes to values, teens might not know who they are yet. By listening to positive voices like John’s (and their parents, of course), they can become stronger individuals who live by their own principles.

In the episode…

John’s brilliant, adventurous spirit shines through this week as he shares his advice for imparting values on teens. On top of the ideas mentioned above, we discuss
  • Why it’s important to talk to teens about pornography
  • How you can help your teen develop “infinity muscles”
  • What to do when teens express toxic masculinity
  • Why it’s valuable for teens to have role models
While it can be tricky to get teens to adopt the right principles for living life, John is here to help. And what better time to start than the coming new year! We’ll see you next week...

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Creators and Guests

Andy Earle
Andy Earle
Host of the Talking to Teens Podcast and founder of Write It Great
John Beede
John Beede
7 Summits Climber. Author. Keynote Speaker.
Ep 117: The Warrior Challenge For Kinder, More Courageous Teens
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