When a surfer paddles out on the ocean, they spend a lot of time sitting there bobbing on the little waves while they wait for a nice big one to come along. But big waves are not created equally, and some are better targets for surfers than others. If the surfer gets impatient and takes the first wave that comes along, they can get into trouble pretty quickly. Patience is key to being able to ride the waves. The same is true of the waves of life. Without patience, instead of riding the wave, we can be crushed by it.

Key Topics: Hawaii, surfing, surfer, paddleboard, patience, impatience, long-term goals
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Mountain biking teaches cyclists how to be self-reliant. On the trail, there's no telling what they might meet. They need to be able to fix a flat tire or complete some other repairs. They need to be able to carry their own water and food. Of course, mountain biking isn't necessarily a solo sport. But whether cycling alone or with friends, the cyclists need to trust in their own effort and ability. In other words, they need to have self-reliance.

Key Topics:
self-reliance, growth mindset, learning process, count on yourself, self-confidence, cycling, bike riding, mountain biking, Utah


Whether or not we are punctual, or on time, affects ourselves and others. When we're late, we miss out on things, and we make other people wait for us. Right now, they are guided by parents and teachers for how to get to where they need to be at the right time. But if we explicitly teach them the value of punctuality, as well as methods for helping themselves to be on time for things, then we can set them up for success when they have to be self-reliant about their punctuality.

Key Topics:
punctuality, being on time, time management, respect for others, reliability, trustworthiness, mountaineering, the Alps, Mont Blanc


Resiliency is the character trait that helps athletes, like cricket players, to bounce back even when they are losing by a large amount. Resiliency also is what helps our students bounce back when they make a mistake or have a bad day. Whether the stakes are high or low, resiliency matters. It matters because resiliency determines whether or not we overcome obstacles on the path to our goals.

Key Topics:
resilience, resiliency, grit, growth mindset, bounce back, grief, tragedy, loss, overcoming adversity, Australia, cricket


Cheerleaders don't just do cool tricks and lead chants at football games. They help others to get excited about and to be proud of their school. They help others find school spirit. School spirit is important because:
-The more you care about your school, the more you take care of it.
-The more you love your school, the better you do in school.
-The more school spirit you have, the more you encourage others.

Key Topics:
cheerleading, school spirit, united states, sports, pride, community, citizenship, civic duty, patriotism, concern for the common good, enthusiasm, excitement, school pride


Skiing is a really good example of consistency paying off. With skiing, the way down the mountain is simple, you just have to take it one turn at a time. But, the way that you turn is very important. If you have one good turn, followed by a couple sloppy turns, and then maybe another good turn, well, you're more likely to fall over your skis or run into a tree. Skiers must give their best the turn that is right in front of them. Each turn needs them to be consistent: to give their best one moment at a time. Some of our students will never strap on a pair of skis. But in their everyday lives, consistency matters.

Key Topics:
Skiing, alpine skiing, Canada, British Columbia, Whistler Mountain, consistency, giving your best, long-term goals, being consistent, practice


Weightlifters are constantly reminded to be humble. Without great inner strength, they cannot achieve great outer strength. Humility is often confused with modesty. Being humble can look like being modest, but they aren't quite the same thing. Modesty involves withdrawing from the spotlight or not allowing others to overblow our accomplishments. Humility involves developing the inner strength needed to value ourselves and to put others first, at the same time.

Key Topics:
weightlifting, Iran, Persia, humility, modesty, inner strength, personal strengths, putting others first, service, selflessness, serving others, servant leadership, generosity, consideration, caring


In the 1980 Winter Olympics, the U.S.S.R. was expected to beat the U.S.A. in hockey. But Team U.S.A. had hope. They were the underdog, but they believed they could do the impossible. And in what became known as the "Miracle on Ice," Team U.S.A. beat the Soviet team.

Hope allows us to do amazing things. In fact, without hope, most people won't do much of anything. After all, if you think something is impossible, what's the point in trying to do it? Hope matters because how and what we believe determines what we do. Hope helps us do things that seem impossible.

Key Topics:
hockey, New York, Lake Placid, Adirondack Mountains, winter Olympics, hope, belief, anything is possible, breaking records, long-term goals, perseverance, self-awareness


There's a time for doing things alone and a time for doing things together. When it's easier to do things together, we need unity, or to act together instead of apart. Rowers must row in unity, or the boat won't go where they want it to, or at least, it won't get there very fast. Teams of all varieties benefit from unity.

Key Topics:
rowing, Egypt, the pyramids, the Nile, unity, togetherness, working together, common goal, common good, social awareness, caring, citizenship, better together



What a castle is made of matters. If it’s built from sand, then it’s not going to last very long. But if it’s built from stone, then it’s made to endure. A sandcastle is easy to build, but also easy to destroy. But a stone castle takes a long time to build, along with a lot of hard work and perseverance.
In the same way, we want our students to be built to last. That comes from putting in the time and effort to become their best over time, so they can stand the tests of time.

Key Topics:
endurance, France, Europe, Tour de France, bike racing, bicycles, yellow jersey, perseverance, hard work, effort, durable, self management, responsibility


Problem-solving can be as simple as using an escalator like stairs when it stops working, or it can be as complex as fixing a bug in a software program. Problem-solving is a skill that can be applied to any situation. It involves learning how to analyze available information and then think about how a decision could impact others.

Key Topics:
problem-solving, responsible decision-making, making good choices, Colorado, Boulder, bouldering, perseverance, responsibility, caring, consideration, citizenship


Some fears are silly and some are serious. Some fears we just learn to deal with, but others require that we develop courage to overcome them. Courage isn’t a pill that we take to become instantly unafraid. It’s more like a muscle that we build a little at a time. Courage helps us overcome our fears by giving us the strength to do what we’re scared to do.

Key Topics:
courage, Italy, bravery, preparation, fear, overcoming fears, facing fears, cliff diving, building courage


Playing catch is the ultimate friendship sport. You can play catch with a frisbee, a football, a paper airplane… on and on! Catching is a fundamental movement skill. But more than that, it requires two people–just like friendship does. Friendship isn’t just about having friends; it’s also about being a friend. When you have friends, you are known by others. And when you are a friend, you know others. That mutual knowing, or acknowledgment, is the foundation of all relationships.

Key Topics:
friendship, friends, making friends, relationship skills, philadelphia, pennsylvania, communication, talking to others, social skills, love, family, playing catch


Communication is how we share information, no matter how big or small. We communicate through talking and writing, of course, but we also communicate through listening. Communication requires two people: a sender and a receiver. If the sender isn’t clear or the receiver isn’t listening well, then the information gets lost or twisted. Think about the Indy 500. If the pit crew didn’t listen to what the driver needed, or if the driver wasn’t clear about the state of the car, then they could lose the race or even cause an accident. For communication to work, we have to be good at both sending and receiving messages.

Key Topics:
communication skills, speaking skills, writing, talking, listening, messages, communicating, relationship skills, indy car racing, indianapolis


From speaking in the classroom to cleaning our bedroom, there are a lot of hard things that we need to do. Sometimes, like when we’re trying to hit a 70 mph softball, it’s so hard that we just want to give up. That’s why we need to give and receive encouragement. Encouragement helps us to give our best when we want to give up. When someone else tells us “You can do it!” that helps us to realize that we CAN do it, so we keep trying. The same is true when we encourage others.

Key Topics:
softball, Oklahoma City, encouragement, encouraging others, give your best, adversity, challenges, never give up, grit, relationship skills, social awareness


If we don’t pay attention to what’s in front of us, we can end up in embarrassing (or dangerous) situations. There are a lot of things that try to grab our attention, and that’s where focus comes in. Focus is a skill that we sharpen with practice. With enough practice at paying attention to what’s in front of us, we can learn to focus when it matters–like while performing a figure-skating routine in front of thousands of people or while listening to a teacher’s instructions.

Key Topics:
figure skating, Norway, focus, paying attention, multitasking, listening, practice


People are kind to us everyday in ways big and small. Sometimes kindness is when Mom makes a great lunch for the day. Sometimes it’s when a city like Portland decides to build skate parks so skateboarders have a place to do their thing without potentially hurting others. Kindness is important for building and maintaining strong relationships, as well as for getting along with complete strangers. When we see and meet the needs of others, they are more likely to see and meet our needs, too. We are stronger together.

Key Topics:
kindness, be kind, thinking of others, skateboarding, skate parks, Portland, Oregon, social awareness, helping others, caring, compassion


Every sport has rules, so every sport needs officials. Whether they are called referees or umpires, officials are on the field to ensure that everyone respects the rules and the rights of others. They make sure that everyone plays fair. When people don’t play fair, there are consequences (penalties). This is true in sports and in life. Life isn’t always fair, but we can always strive to treat others with fairness.

Key Topics:
officials, referee, umpire, mediator, rules, laws, fairness, penalties, respect, washington d.c., sports



Stephen Mackey, CEO & Founder

Stephen Mackey is a player development coach, keynote speaker, Wall Street Journal best-selling author, and founder of 2Words Character Development, one of the top Leadership and character curriculums in the country. Building on the Six Pillars of a Championship Character – Toughness, Integrity, Belief, Excellence, Effort, and Service – Mackey equips teams and organizations to elevate their performance by building a culture of character.
Patrick Jones - Course author