Category Archives for "Blog"

The Outward Spiral of Success

How about a little honesty: We all want to succeed, true?

Success just means that we get the end result we want. If you want to graduate college and don't, you just can't call that success. You might be successful, but not on that point because you didn't successfully complete college (what you wanted). Of course, there's nothing necessarily special about having to complete college (ask Bill Gates and Mark Zuckerberg); but if it is your aim, then success means finishing.

Even spiritual goals like peace and joy and kindness can only be considered successful for us when we get them. The challenging thing about success is that it REQUIRES FAILURE. I developed the diagram below a few weeks ago after finishing our Mastering Goals Course (especially for kids). When I showed it to Jody she said, "You came up with that?" I said, "Yep, I did just now." She said again, "You did that?" Now, that's one of her best compliments (and I am grateful) because she instantly got the point...which, on occasion, she misses because I can get a little complicated if I don't watch myself. Apparently I passed the keep-it-simple-silly test this time!

OK, so there's not much to it. It kind of sounds like "If at first you don't succeed, try try again." And, while that's OK, it doesn't really grasp the important fact that FAILURE is a necessary step in the process. Moreover, LEARNING is also a required step toward success. The idea is that you are in a not-yet-successful box that you must break out of by outwardly moving from trying, to failing, to learning, to Trying again.

This is exactly how it works...we all, who can, learned to walk this way. We tried and failed and learned and EVENTUALLY walked! Aren't you glad the first time you plopped down on your bottom no one said, "You failure, you'll never learn to walk!" and left it at that?

All of us need to be cheered on, and we must learn that failing is a part of learning. I know it's simple, but most miss it. In preparing our kids to leave home and impact the world (or at least survive / thrive), we simply must get them to value failing and learning and trying again.

We have a great course that can help you make this real in their lives. Check it out by clicking on Mastering Goals.

Off to fail,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand​

​P.S. Okay, sometimes there are one-hit-wonders...but it only happens rarely and NEVER in multiple areas for anyone's life. Best to get used to The Outward Spiral of Success!

Can You Really Socialize a Homeschooler? (Video)

So, don’t we hear this all the time?  How are you going to socialize your child if you homeschool?  What about socializing homeschoolers when they are isolated from others?

These kinds of jabs are a bit frustrating, but I’m sure jabs go in the other direction.  Often people are asked, “Aren’t you afraid for your child’s safety in public school (implied: since you don’t home school)?

So what about socialization?  What happens to human beings to become socially mal-adjusted?  Can homeschoolers really figure out the socialization question?  Is it legitimate?  Do private school and public school kids face a guarantee about socialization themselves.

Here are a few thoughts…hope they help!

Can You Socialize a Homeschooler? 


If you find this helpful, would you please send it along by re-tweeting it or sharing it on facebook or your site?  Also, as always, leave a comment and we’ll talk about it!


Fred Lybrand


3 Important Facts About Slow-Readers

Everything I'm about to say will seem ridiculously absurd to a lot of people, especially those in education who honestly aren't that smart (or educated). Home educators have a decided advantage since they are not interested in a 'percentage' of students graduating from home college and life ready. For most homeschool families it's 100%...we just aim for every student to succeed.

​So, seriously?...

Half of Florida’s high school grads can’t read at grade level

The Literacy Project Foundation says…

  • In a study of literacy among 20 ‘high income’ countries; US ranked 12th
  • Illiteracy has become such a serious problem in our country that 44 million adults are now unable to read a simple story to their children
  • 50% of adults cannot read a book written at an eighth grade level
  • 45 million are functionally illiterate and read below a 5th grade level
  • 44% of the American adults do not read a book in a year
  • 6 out of 10 households do not buy a single book in a year

Even if these statistics are dated, we know that things aren't any better. The simple fact is that educators either don't know what they are doing OR they are unable to do what they need to do because of the constraints in the system.

My simple premise as an educator and the father of 5 Fine Readers is that we have missed the point that COMPREHENSION is actually all that matters. Take a moment and ponder: Does it really matter how fast or slow your child reads if she can't understand the content?


[Slow readers are just readers who are subject to the same bits of reality we all must face]

1. Reading Speed is Limited (no matter what)

2. Comprehension Speed is the REAL Issue

3. Once the Brain is 'Hooked Up Right' - Comprehension is a Breeze

Reading Speed is Limited (no matter what)

Having taken over 1/2 dozen speed-reading courses, I can assure you that actual speeds are limited by physiology. Just like talking has limits that run a range between fast-and-slow talkers. You can take a course in talking faster (I guess), but the REAL ISSUE is what you say 😉 This is the same game with speed-reading; as speeds increase then comprehension will diminish. At one time I tested out at 1600 words a minute with an 80% comprehension rate...which means I would barely make a "B" four times faster. Here's a good explanation if you want to learn more:

Comprehension Speed is the REAL Issue

The honest issue is comprehension speed. If your child is reading slow it is most likely because he is not understanding what he is reading. That's where reading things over-and-over comes in to the story. Plus, vocabulary, reading way too slowly, learning challenges, lack of focus, etc., come into play. The real focus every home educator should have (and public/private educator as well) is, "Do you understand what you are reading?" If they don't understand it, then they are just swooshing their eyes over the words.

Once the Brain is 'Hooked Up Right' - Comprehension is a Breeze

While we all have an instinct for language, it is rather easy to not understand what's going on. Haven't you misunderstood someone's point (or a joke's punchline) before? The reason we often miss these things is that we have some other story line bumping along in our heads. We mistake words and then create some other story about what was said. Usually this is about poor habits or skills in putting together the information.

We have found that there are Three Stages in Comprehension:

1. The Pieces of Information

2. The Connections Between the Pieces of Information

3. The Logic of How the Pieces Fit Together as a Whole

Our Mastering Reading Course (see above menu) provides a very specific series of exercises designed to "Hook Up" almost anyone's brain for reading. Frankly, it is exactly what happens naturally when a fine reader develops.


Outside of our comprehensive approach to learning how to Understand without having to Read Every Word (crazy idea, huh?). The best place to start is with these simple steps:

1. Have your student read to you out loud for 10 minutes

2. Ask your student to explain what she read in her own words

3. If it isn't clear and detailed enough, re-read the passages and repeat step #2​ until you are satisfied

I dare you to try this for 5 days in a row! I also dare you to see what an amazing course of study we've developed to give all students the gift of UNDERSTANDING what they read.

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand Jr.​

College Ready Reader

Writing Fiction in 3 Steps

In creating fiction, all we have to do is think of a bag lady and a computer salesman, and immediately a thousand questions come up, which lead to answers, which then lead to more questions, and so on.

Stephen Nachmanovitch

In a way, that really is all there is to it! Fiction sort of writes itself sometimes.

The challenge we often see in our students around the globe is that they 'don't know what to write about' (or some other such hogwash). The challenge is that kids don't realize some basic things about writing:

A. With fiction, you really just make it up (which is why it is easier than other kinds of writing).

B. You can't really know what you are going to write until you start writing. In this way, writing is really about discovering as you write how you are going to say something.

So, as a matter of practice, if you can simply get your child to do the following, then anything can happen---

STEP 1: Pick out two things in the world somewhere. They can be anything. If your child gets stumped here, she probably has a phobia in place ;-(  In that case, just go get a nearby book and turned to page 32. Start reading until she picks two items that are mentioned.

STEP 2: Write down 3 Questions that someone could ask about the two items.

STEP 3: Start writing!

EXAMPLE: Lizard & Coffee Cup

Why is the lizard in the coffee cup?
Why does this lizard like to drink coffee?
Why is the coffee cup afraid of the lizard?
Can a coffee cup be a new house for a lizard?

"It's a fine cup. Yessir, a very fine cup indeed."

Gormit, an American Chameleon, was so excited he blushed bright red even though he was sitting on a deep green leaf of Mrs. Snooley's gardenia bush.

"I'll have it for my house," he said to Clappity-Clack, his really big grasshopper friend.

"Who needs a house?," CC (short for Clappity-Clack) said as he chewed down the grass-blade he was holding with his four hands.

Gormit was a little surprised but he politely asked CC, "How can you have friends over to visit if you don't have a house?"

-Fred Ray Lybrand Jr., 2015

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

P.S. More help here:


10 Reasons to Read Better (& How to Start)

It is striking sometimes how little we realize SKILL DEVELOPMENT is more important than content. As Covey pointed out, the person who sharpens his saw can cut way more wood than the person who just keep sawing! I might add that a chainsaw is even better 😉

I get it--- you are busy doing life and doing work, but you probably don't realize how much time and impact it can have just to move your reading skill up a notch or two. It's even more profound with students...staying weak at reading means staying weak in both college and career.

Often we just need some motivation to start working on improving, so here are 10 Reasons improving your ability to read and comprehend is worth it. There are stories that you'll know which prove each of these points...just think a little.


1. Builds confidence intellectually and academically

2. Opens your world up to new information and new possibilities

3. Empowers you to find better answers

4. Improves your writing

5. Makes any kind of reading more enjoyable

6. Leads to more enriching friendships with others who read

7. Makes you smarter and your brain more efficient

8. Makes you more articulate

9. Makes you more interesting as a person

10. Means doing better in college because you are simply a better student

On balance, all this means is that it's more strategic to read better than to read more. Think about it: If you can't comprehend what you are reading, then it doesn't matter how much you read. Like typing, working on your speed can save you a massive amount of accumulated time. However, reading more effectively does even more. It isn't speed-reading that you need, it's speed-understanding. When you read effectively you can access the knowledge to change your world (and you'll have a ready-cure for all boredom in life).

There's more to it, but this is exactly why we emphasized (and taught) reading skill development to our kids. Even without a course or book you can do a couple of things that will make a huge difference:

1. Start reading and discussing the same book with a friend or group of friends.

2. Practice: Stop every 5 pages when you read and repeat the basic points you just covered out loud (this part is important). Just a few times a day will make a difference.

Just those two things will change your reading life (or that of your students). I dare you to try them. If you homeschool like we did, then you already have the ingredients for better reading right in front of you! So, get cookin'...

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand Jr.

How to Cure Anger at Any Age


Even for my upset little 6 year old child/grandchild?

Well, sure (but...).

Cure implies disease (or dis-ease), so off the bat you really need to notice that if you misdiagnose the problem then your odds of finding a 'cure' diminish greatly.

What causes ANGER? If we can get that down then we can start thinking about the cure. Of course, I'm talking about the wisdom level on this topic, so especially spiritual issues will need to be discussed separately. 

Anger is basically generated by at least one of two things:

1. A Perceived Injustice
2. A Perceived Lack of Control/Power

Justice is simply about right and wrong. When you see anger in yourself or others then first ask, "How has this person (or you) been wronged?" In the old days we called this righteous indignation, but now we'd just call it 'no fair'. It also makes sense that if someone thinks they've been wronged then it is clearly frustrating (frustrated = nice word for ANGRY), doesn't it? It's mistreatment and a violation of what we value in the world. Politics is full of this kind of anger as people take up causes for themselves and others.

Control is about our ability to influence, or we might say 'do something' about a situation or need we care about. Face it, if you could do something you'd do it instead of being angry (unless an injustice is mixed in!). So, when we are in circumstances where we are trapped, then frustration (ANGER) is an only natural outcome. Children in particular who are stripped of all choice tend to develop an angry orientation. 


Knowing this actually helps us a lot if we can realize that there is a more essential cause of our perception of injustice or loss of control. The essential cause is THE RULES we have in our heads. Anytime we think SHOULD, MUST, or HAVE TO, then we can rest assured we are only a circumstance away from anger.

For example, take a young boy who believes the RULE that "I should get my way." What will happen when he doesn't get his way? It will be both a violation of his sense of right-and-wrong AND a loss of control (no ability to get his way). Anger is an expression of how this RULE contradicts his situation, kind of like when a cold front hits warm/moist air! Sadly, this can result in 'getting his way' so the anger also becomes a habitual strategy for control in most situations.

Or, think about a teenage girl who has a RULE that "Sally Bae should be nice to me." If Sally Bae is nice, no problem. However, if Sally Bae is a 'mean girl' then ANGER is bound to join the party.

​Making a RULE that you or others 'shouldn't be angry' only multiplies the problem because you'll get angry about being angry. Even the Bible knows that getting angry isn't evil all by itself (Ephesians 4:26 says, "Be angry, but do not sin.").

The cure is profoundly simple, but it takes a little work sometimes. 

If ANGER is caused by RULES, then the ANGER will disappear when the RULE is changed, true?

Yes, ANGER really works that way, but maybe you don't want the rule to change. If murder is an injustice and someone you loved was murdered, then it is going to be a no-go to simply drop the murder-is-wrong RULE.

On the other hand, whenever you can adjust the RULE in your head or someone else's, then the anger will drop off.

Ecclesiastes 3 tells us that God will deal with all the wrongs, so if you have that orientation you can get off the anger train by letting God handle it. If this isn't your view, then you might want to hold on for an anger filled life in this often unjust world. The next best option is to choose to limit the number of causes that will torque your jaw.

When working with kids it's really all about the RULES. Getting them to think through the truth/error of something like "I should always get my way," or "____________ must be be friend," is an important step. 

  • Why should you always get your way?
  • Where is it written that you should always get your way?
  • Are there any other children who always get their way?

These kinds of questions don't look like much, but even children can wake up and notice that their thinking doesn't make sense. Furthermore, once they understand that life doesn't match a particular rule (and never will), then they can more easily give it up along with their anger.

  • Where is it written that _____________ must be your friend?
  • What if someone you don't like that much insisted that you be their friend? How would that work?
  • Why would you want to be friends with someone who doesn't like you that much?

These kinds of questions also don't look like much, but they can go a long way in helping deal with anger. 


1. "Wishing something" were true is different than having a RULE about it. Wishing Sally Bae was your friend is different than demanding it (She MUST BE my friend). The result is being disappointed, but it isn't being ANGRY.

2. Most anger issues can only be dealt with one-at-a-time. A habit of anger is a different problem, but dealing with the RULES behind anger because you understand about Justice & Control can make a terrific difference for you and you family/friends.

3. Back off control where you can. Give choices if possible. If you want someone to clean their room, then don't ask them if they are going to or not...but you can give them a choice about timing. Even better, something like, "Do you want to clean your room alone or would you like my help?" can do the trick. Especially as children age, your external control needs to go away if they are going to ever learn to avoid anger and be responsible for their own choices. Giving choice can be quite calming and quite empowering...but you have to mean it! If it isn't a real choice, then don't ever (ever) call it one.

So, go play around with it. I bet you'll see some noticeable improvement; but please, don't make it a RULE that others SHOULDN'T have rules...then a new mess will be spawned in your world!

Off to learn,

Fred Ray Lybrand
Check out Mastering Emotions if you want to learn more (Menu Above)

Talk to everyone below...

The 4 Words That Help Us Focus

There are four words that help us focus, but it's so obvious that you may miss it. As Churchill observed:

“Men occasionally stumble over the truth, but most of them pick themselves up and hurry off as if nothing ever happened.”

Winston Churchhill

It's funny about that focus alludes us all. We are a medicated society and everyone is concerned about their ability to multi-task, etc.

As I said to someone I was coaching today, "I don't multi-task, I multi-obsess." That's closer to what we all mean; focus is concentration and obsession. Never-mind our fundamental mistake on that point, the real issues is our challenge with WHAT we are focusing upon.

Even if you think you are excellent at focus (I haven't met that person...except in my dad and Harry Truman, of whom it was said he could easily read a paper with such intensity that a train / train wreck would not interrupt him), you are probably missing the fact that it is more important to know WHAT is the object of your focus than the ability to focus is by itself.

There are 4 WORDS that are more important than the skill of focusing, and yet, they are the keys to success:


Let's count them:

1. What
          2. Do
                    3. You
                              4. Want

In my consulting and coaching practice I find that most people have never clarified the answer to these four words formed as a question. In fact, usually people are talking about what they don't want.

Just think about the problem with this approach:

1. I don't want to go hungry.
2. I don't want to be abandoned.
3. I don't want my children to be dysfunctional.
4. I don't want Billy to hit Sally Jesse.

Frankly, it's really hard to organize focus or actions around those items. What you WANT is the touchstone for success in both focus and actions. So, it should look more like this---

1. I want to provide well for my family and my retirement.
2. I want to be loved and connected to the friends and family I care about.
3. I want my children to have great values and lives as they serve the Lord.
4. I want Billy and Sally Jesse to treat each other with kindness and respect.

Isn't that profoundly different?

If you have and employee, what are you wanting them to focus upon?
If you have a child, what are you wanting them to focus upon?

It's all about 4 Words--- WHAT DO YOU WANT?

"Do your math" is not the same as "Complete Lesson 17" --- is it?

"I want an Excel Spreadsheet on the monthly total sales" is different than "just work hard."

So, do you want focus? Well, it starts with the OBJECT of your focus. Do you want someone else to focus, then tell them what you REALLY WANT.

Honestly, this may seem obvious; however, I promise, you are probably violating this simple principle every single day in multiple ways.

As Bob Newhart stated it in the Mad TV skit, "STOP IT."

Off to learn,

Dr. Fred Ray Lybrand

Relationship Quiz: Is this the Right Person?

Relationship Quiz: Is this the Right Person?

By Fred Lybrand, author of Glaen


Mark your answers from 1 to 10, with 1 being “No Way” and 10 being “I Think So”

1.     I can easily picture being with this person 10 years from now.

2.     We agree on everything that is really important to me.

3.     We finally solve our conflicts, even if it takes a while.

4.     If this person stays just the same forever, I’ll be pretty happy.

5.     I feel good chemistry with this person at least once a week.

6.     Our closest friends have good relationships.

7.     I believe growing a soul mate is as right as finding a soul mate.

8.     We always give each other the freedom to say “No” without getting in trouble.

9.     I’ve read or listened to a talk to help my relating to others within the past year.

10.    I am sure I would not be the one to call it quits in this relationship.

Add up you points and consider this common sense scale:

90-100   Fantasy Land (please re-take the Quiz with a little less pretending)

75-90     You are as close to a sure bet as it gets in a world without guarantees

55-75     You have a good relationship that would likely blossom with a little work

40-55     You probably need to find some outside help from some wise friends or mentors

25-40     The relationship needs professional help (pastor, counselor, etc.)

<25        The relationship has almost no chance until you change your mind


The 3 Must Haves for Successful Relationships

Friends who won’t speak. A husband and wife who are ‘done’ with the whole thing. Co-workers who no longer look each other in the eye. These three have far more in common than you might think.

Every year around Valentine’s Day, we all elevate our thinking about love and friendship to the sublime idea of Romantic Love. More than affection, this kind of love makes are hearts skip and keep our minds distracted. Surely all of us experience this kind of fantastic imaginary ideal at least once in our lives, if not again and again from time to time.   While romance has been romanticized, it is still the fondness and commitment that makes relationships really feel like what they are—a deep connection between two persons. All of these relationships can run aground in the sea of life. The reason for a shipwreck, however, is that what really works in a relationship is neglected.

It isn’t about love languages, or fresh ideas, or even listening (though all of these are fine). Instead, it is at the heart of Glaen’s message and it can be describe by three simple ideas.

At its core, every successful relationship has three essential elements.

1.     The Point

2.     The People

3.     The Price

The Point simply refers to what a relationship is about at its core. It is not about what you can get, what you can give, or how well two people can change one another. The point of a relationship is relating…which means connecting. We use words like bonding and being on the same wave length. In a romantic context it has as its aim a more intense version of connection called oneness. Honestly, the names don’t matter, but the point does. Relationships that work stay on point and they keep connecting together. Fights are division, coolness is distance, and silence is death. The point of connecting together can only happen in real time (that means, right now). Connecting again and again in real time is what builds strength in the bond; be it friendship, romantic love, or to team members pitching in together at work.

The People are the second essential and refers to the influence those around us wield on our lives. Glaen says, “You’ll never be like the people you don’t hang around.” The truth is that you will drift toward the character and interests (on some level) of the people you are in the greatest connection with. This explains why getting new friends distances you from old ones. It also explains why there is a repetition of connecting with one failure after another (sorry for the bluntness). A failure to recognize this plain fact is a step toward the destruction of the relationships you have or want. Sometimes it is uncomfortable because we really need to change, but in fact, starting with a vision for the kind of person you want to be can lead you to find, keep, and grow the relationships you long to have.

The Price for successful relationships is Truth. Yes, it is telling and living the truth. “But the truth about what?” you might ask. The question itself already says you are in trouble! It is the truth as anything (and everything) comes to the forefront. It is the truth about beliefs, and goals, and faith, and politics. Why does Truth matter? Well, the simple fact is that a successful relationship is an authentic connection with another person you’d like to be like (more or less). For that connection to happen, it is absolutely necessary that you are the ‘real you’ and the other person is the ‘real them’ in the relationship. This truth-based being real means that you and they are connecting and relating and growing together as the real thing. As soon as a mask goes up, the game’s afoot. The best you can hope for without truth is a good relationship with someone you don’t really know…which, of course, isn’t a success by any measure.

For more information about Glaen:

A Novel Message on Romance, Love & Relating, visit

Friendships, dating, romance, and marriage—it’s all confusing to college grad-student Annie until the day a white-haired stranger appears in her life. Glaen is an unusual professor and unconventional mentor who guides Annie on a path of discovery that unlocks the secrets of real relationships. Annie discovers the mystifying affect of how learning to tell the truth changes everything in friendship, family, and love.   The solutions Dr. Fred Lybrand offers in Glaen book will astound and free you to quit doing the very things that take away your ability to find the love and friendship you want. More importantly, you’ll discover a fresh path to the possibility of greater connections with those you care most about.



Fred R. Lybrand


The Barnabas Agency

February 2010

ISBN: 978-0-578-04652-5

Softcover/171 pages/



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