Dear Educators:

Dr. John C. Maxwell, who has authored several books on leadership, has said, “The way you think will have a profound impact on your life.” At Top 20 Training, we have operated on this principle since our beginning. We would translate Dr. Maxwell’s phrase to our thinking governs our experience.

The concept we have used to teach this is Above and Below the Line. We are Above the Line when our thinking is working in our best interest. We are Below the Line when our thinking is not working in our best interest.

We have made this a central principle in our training, student retreats, books, and curriculum from kindergarten through high school for three reasons:

1. Mental habits develop based on whether we are living Above or Below the Line. If students are normally Above the Line, they will develop positive mental habits: confidence, curiosity, responsibility, patience, and others. If students are chronically Below the Line, they will develop negative mental habits: self-doubt, blame, procrastination, boredom, and others.

2. Life looks different whether we are Above or Below the Line. If our students’ thinking is Above the Line, they will see school and homework in a more positive way. If they are Below the Line, they will have a more negative view of school and homework. We will even see a problem differently from Above or Below the Line.

3. We use our thinking to make decisions. When we are Below the Line, decisions we make often result in a mess.

As we go from day to day, conditions or situations come up in our lives that invite us to sink Below the Line. These can range from our toast being burnt to a driver cutting us off on the highway to a student not doing his/her homework to school being closed because of COVID-19 to a serious health condition.

Click the short video HERE to hear Top 20 Training’s Kevin Brennan explain Invitations. 

Invitations will come. Even though we may not be able to control these conditions, we do have control of our thinking…and we will respond to these invitations more effectively if we are Above the Line.

Attached is a chapter on Above and Below the Line from our Top 20 Teens book. Next week we will consider Indicators (how do we know when our thinking is Below the Line) and Trampolines (what can we do when we are Below the Line to get back Above the Line).

For now, reflect on:

·      How someone or something in your personal or professional life looks different when you are Above or Below the Line.

·      A decision you made while Below the Line and how that would have been different had you been Above the Line.

·      Invitations you are experiencing to go Below the Line.

Please let us know if there is anything we can do to support you during this challenging time.

Best wishes from our Top 20 team…Kevin Brennan, Willow Sweeney, and Tom Cody.

Paul Bernabei


Top 20 Training