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Even if we can’t carry the load all the way, we’re going to take our crack at picking up the heavy end.

Ryan Holiday

Sean was one of the first people I interviewed for My Bad. At the time, I barely knew him. We had shared a few voxes and I had read a few of his blog pieces. Right about the time that I was interviewing him he was invited to blog for Edwords, the blogging platform on the Bam Radio Network. And so, I asked him, because I truly wanted to know. “Now that you’ve got a larger platform and you’re going to have more readers, are you going to be as transparent as you have been with past pieces?”

Without hesitation, he replied, “Honestly. I don’t think I’m going to be as transparent as I was before. I think I’m going to be even more transparent.” And true to his word, he has been. Sean does not shy away from the tough issues. I’m sure that he wouldn’t mind me sharing that since the recent election, he has been livid. Then again, if you read any of his pieces immediately following the election, you already know this.

Sean is one of those rare beasts that competes in Spartan Races. If you’re not sure what these are just Google them and be prepared to be amazed. I knew going into this interview that Sean was/is a bad-ass. What I also knew was that Sean had many self-doubts. In the interview, he admitted that he failed to share with his staff his own struggles with self-doubt and second guessing. And he knew that that was a mistake.

Sean’s admission surprised me at first. I mean here’s a guy who became a principal before he was thirty, jumps over fire in competitions and has like zero percent body fat. What does he have to doubt? I am a gray-bearded forty-six-year-old assistant principal who couldn’t run a mile without having to check himself into the Emergency Room immediately afterwards.

But herein lies the gift that has been bestowed upon me since the very first episode of My Bad. I have been fortunate to have amazing educators come on and openly and honestly, share their mistakes with me as if we were just having a private conversation. All the while, knowing that thousands of people are going to be listening to what it is they have to say. It has been one of the greatest honors of my life to get to share this sacred space with such amazing individuals.

During the interview, Sean shared that one of his biggest weaknesses was that he felt as if he always had to handle his mistakes on his own. He realized that when he did this it became much easier to second guess and beat himself up over the results. After much reflection and soul-searching, he came to realize that the way to handle mistakes is to involve others. And he did. And he does.

Since we conducted the interview, Sean has taken on a new role that has him passionately attacking each day much like he would any Spartan Race Course that is put before him. Presently Sean is in the classroom in a new school district. And not a week goes by when Sean doesn’t tell, no brag, to me about how amazing his students are.

The same person who once was reluctant to share his mistakes and concerns with his staff, now openly and honestly shares them with his students. Lucky for the rest of us that he often blogs about these conversations. And they are just that. Conversations. Because Sean wants to hear from his students. He’ll often tell me that the lesson that he had planned for the day just didn’t get taught because his students had so much to say. And Sean is always there to listen.

Here are the titles of some of Sean’s most recent pieces; The Grumpy Teacher, Get Up! Stand Up!, I Choose Love, Breaking the Silence and Skin Deep. Do you see what I mean by passionate? If you have a few minutes, take the time to read just one of these pieces. I promise you, you’ll read a second and third and…

Back to the mistake that Sean shared in his interview. Do I think he still has self-doubts? Absolutely! I think we all do. It’s human nature. But now the difference is that he shares them. With his colleagues, with his students and with us. And in doing so he inspires those around him to do the same.

What Sean is creating in his classroom is a virtual safe-haven. Just recently Sean shared with me how he took on the taboo topic of suicide with his students. He told me that it was one of the most powerful days of his life. His students finally felt as if they had a place where they could share their concerns. Sean went on to tell me how, on this day, he felt the need to invite his students to eat lunch with him in his classroom. To keep the conversation going. He didn’t have enough chairs in his room to fit those that took him up on his offer! He also shared with me that he plans on doing this several times a week. Chairs or not.

I can’t tell you what Sean’s going to take on next because I am quite certain he doesn’t even know. Actually, I have an idea but that is his news to share. What I know for certain is that he will take it on with passion and intensity, like he does all things in life. Remember, we’re talking about a guy who wakes up before 4 AM each morning, just so he can work out. How do I know this? Because he tells me. He posts it. And I hate it when he does this because it makes me feel like a lazy bum. But deep down, if I am being honest. He also inspires me. Just like he does his students.

Some might read his posts or see workout photos that he posts and think that Sean is an overzealous lunatic. Maybe they’re right. I haven’t quite figured Sean out yet. And I hope that I never do. Where would the fun be in that? While I’m a bit worried that his head will swell up a bit when he reads the following paragraph, I feel compelled to write it.

Like Steve Jobs, Sean has a fire inside him that can not be extinguished. It was reported that Jobs ran on little sleep and I know for a fact that Sean does too. Heck, while most of us are asleep in our beds, Sean is putting his body and mind through some Hellish workout that I can’t even imagine. And like Jobs, Sean can fly off at the handle. Not at me and not at his students. Let’s just say that what he voxes me in the morning on his commute to work wouldn’t be suitable for children’s ears.

Therefore, I feel it is appropriate to close with my favorite Steve Jobs quote of all time. One that not only epitomizes the former CEO of Apple but also does a pretty good job of describing Sean.


Hopefully students everywhere, of all ages, will begin sharing their mistakes without fear and without repercussions. Together we can do this. I am and will be speaking with kids and adults all over the country to show them that we will make this happen. It has become my personal mission.


“The sooner we begin to share our mistakes with the people we serve and the people we love, the sooner they will stop thinking that they have to be perfect.”

In case I’ve peeked your interest and you’d like to give the episode a listen, I’ve included the link below.

Sean Thom


* This is the fourth in a series of 10 pieces I’ll be publishing weekly in which I highlight a past My Bad guest. I hope you enjoy them. And if you do, please pass them on.


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