What Drives Your Child? Understand, Motivate, & Communicate Better with Your Kids with guest Gail Swift

On this episode of Brainy Moms, Dr. Amy Moore and Teri Miller interview Gail Swift, Kolbe Youth Advocate and expert in measuring a part of the mind called conation, or how a person acts on their thoughts and feelings and their natural and unchanging instinct to approach problems in particular ways. Join us to learn how to discover what drives your children, how to motivate them, and how to overcome the communication roadblocks we face by learning how your kids are naturally wired. 

Read the transcript and show notes for this episode:

What Drives Your Child? Understand, Motivate, & Communicate Better with Your Kids
with guest Gail Swift

Dr. Amy Moore:

Hi, and welcome to this episode of Brainy Moms. I’m Dr. Amy Moore here with my co-host, Teri Miller, coming to you today from a very sunny Colorado Springs, Colorado. Our guest today is Kolbe youth advocate, Gail Swift. Gail is fiercely committed to guiding students and families to take action in their natural abilities.

Dr. Amy Moore:

What really excites Gail about her work is knowing that every single student is created with a pattern of taking action that doesn’t change over time. That pattern predicts their path, which leads to their purpose. Her expertise has been honored by being in the first group of Kolbe youth advocates in the world, appearances on podcasts, television segments, educational stages, and college open houses.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Three unique things about Gail that might surprise you include she loves watching her kids dance in the rain, taking hikes with her husband most Saturday mornings, and snuggling with her Rhodesian Ridgeback, Jax.

Teri Miller:

So sweet. Gail, we are so glad to have you here. Welcome.

Gail Swift:

Thank you so much. I’m super excited to be with you ladies today. It’s great.

Teri Miller:

So, before we launch into this really, really fascinating topic, I want to just hear your story, how you ended up where you are right now becoming a Kolbe youth advocate.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And what that is?

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Gail Swift:

And what that is. Yes. All right. Briefly, when I was five, I was diagnosed with Tourette syndrome, a neurological disorder, and I was put on Haldol and dopamine when I was five years old. And I was very all over the place. So, couldn’t really focus. The neurological disorder is a cognitive issue. And my mom obviously put me… my parents put me on medication to try and calm me down.

Well, it didn’t work. It didn’t work. And years later, I actually abused my pills and take the medication at 15. I was still super hyper. So, when my mom was at a national network of women in sales meeting in Chicago, Illinois, she heard this woman talking about conation. She’s like, “What is that?” And she learned through that meeting that conation is how someone is wired to take action.

And people are wired to take action differently. And this opportunity, to know this will provide focus and clarity. And my gosh, are my parents eager to hear that about me. Because I was all over the place. So, they’re like, “We’re going to sign her up for this thing. And she’s going to get clarity and focus.” So, I did and I think it was a graduation present.

And I went, and I heard for the first time in my life that I was born with a need to have a lot of things going on at one time. I was born to be last minute. I was born to need choices, to need freedom. And the reason that this was so evident, ladies, was my parents were so different. They were so different from me. And so, it showed up, because no one had heard of this before.

So, it showed up as a negative, and something to be controlled, something to be changed. And so, in 1991 was the first time that I’ve actually heard about conation.

Dr. Amy Moore:

All right. And so, then, how did you make the jump then to advocating for other children and family?

Gail Swift:

Right. So, even though I knew how I worked, it was hard for me to articulate because conative stress is a sneaky stress. It’s not like when you meet someone, and it’s obvious that their personality is way different than yours, or IQ. It’s not a cognitive thing. It’s sneaky. So, when I would have regular meetings over and over again, I would start to get stressed out because I was like, “Why are we in these meetings?”

Gail Swift:

So, I was in the meeting, and I just started to get up, and walk out of the meeting. Because no one told me I had to sit through a meeting. So, when I was done with the information, I got up, and I walked out. And I guess that wasn’t normal. And one day, my boss slammed his fist on the table. He’s like, “God bless Mahoney, sit your butt down, we are not done.”

Gail Swift:

And I was like, “What is wrong? I got everything I needed.” And I kept trying to live my way. I kept trying to do things my way. And it seemed like I was at a tug of war with the world. Because the world was telling me I needed more information, or I needed a system to follow, I need a format to follow. And I would push back on that, and wonder what was wrong with me.

Gail Swift:

But to answer your question directly, it wasn’t until I had kids of my own, and I started looking at them, and realizing I was going to be with these little people for a long time. I started telling them how to do things. And I got pushed back. And I was like, “Okay, is this a defiant, disobedient kid? Or does he have another way that he wants to get done what I’m asking him to do?”

Gail Swift:

So, one and three years old, I wanted to know how my kids worked. So, I could go with their grain, instead of against their grain to get things done. That was the first time that I was really interested in seeing how other people solve problems, because it made my job as a mom easier. I had to wait until they were in fourth grade at the time. Now, I work with three-year-olds. So, it wasn’t until legally, 2016 when I was certified to do this, that I obviously have been in it ever since.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay, fascinating.

Teri Miller:

Amy, I know you’ve got another question. Before we even get into that other question, I just want to clarify and explore for our listeners. This entire topic and that terminology, because I went back to school as an adult, just a decade ago to get my Master’s in Psychology. And somehow, I missed this concept. I am not familiar with this concept.

And so, preparing for this interview, I really dug into what is conation? I thought it was conation there for a bit, I heard one YouTube video describing it as conation. So, conation, but it’s like there’s three different ways that the brain functions, and we think of as intelligence in our brain. And I had heard, obviously, of our cognitive intelligence, IQ. That’s an easy one.

We’ve all heard of emotional intelligence. Again, that’s an easy one. It’s how we relate to people. It’s how our emotions guide, how we think and what we do. But this one is different, conation is your brain’s ability to motivate, and drive what you do, and how you do what you do. And a word that made a lot of sense to me was volition.

It’s what motivates you, or how you are motivated, how you are driven to behave, to work, to act, to function. And so, this is an entirely new concept to me. And I imagine for many listeners, it is too, but you might be having that like, boom, lightbulb moment of, “Oh, my goodness, this is so important, because this is an aspect that it colors everything about who I am, and what I do, and how I live, and interact.” So, this is really huge. Listeners, I hope you’re getting this new concept.

Gail Swift:

It is. Yeah, I know, it’s right, volition, your will. Correct, yeah. How you solve problems. It’s the how, it’s not the what or the why. It’s the how. It’s not that you can or can’t do any… you can do it all. You can’t do it all. It’s your will and will not do naturally, what you are naturally wired to do. So, we can do all things. But what we will and won’t do naturally, that’s exactly what it is.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. And I told Gail when we talked about having her as a guest that the only reason that I was even familiar with the concept is because I had a professor in my PhD program, who specifically focused on conation. That was his research focus. And I hadn’t heard anyone else talk about it since. And so, I was super excited to be able to revisit that concept.

And to know that it serves as the foundation for this entire assessment process that can help us become better parents. When you said you were diagnosed with Tourette’s, actually, two of my children were also diagnosed with Tourette’s. And so, I understand the plight, the struggle of having to navigate those differences, and having to meet them where they were.

And if I had had this type of tool when they were diagnosed in kindergarten, wow, just think of how much better of a parent I might have been at the time, rather than trial and error, and guinea pigging them, and everything else, even as a shrink. All right. So, you say that you help parents understand their children. So, do they not already understand their children? What do you know that we don’t know?

Gail Swift:

All right. I’m going to answer that twofold, Dr. Amy. I’m going to answer that twofold. So, I think it’s important. And Teri, you’re skating around this. And I think it’s important to know something that’s a big, it’s a missing piece. The third part of the mind has been around ever since Aristotle, and Socrates, and Plato, it’s always been there, it was called the moral compass.

So, it’s always existed. It’s been there. It’s not like it’s invented out of nothing. So, it’s been there, it’s called the moral compass a long time ago. And so, what happened is Kathy Kolbe’s dad developed the Wonderlic IQ test. So, her dad developed a mental ability test. And before she could drive, on the bus when she was doing paperwork for her dad’s cognitive assessment that is still used today, and she’s dyslexic. She’s dyslexic. So, she’s like, “Dad, I’m noticing that there are other strengths besides grades, and athleticism, or outgoingness that people are good at. I’m noticing that they do things, like when they’re really putting forth effort, it’s not just about the grades. There’s more to it than that.” And as a researcher, he said, “Figure it out. What are you observing? What are you looking at?”

So, from the time before she could drive, she started noticing, and writing down these patterns of taking action. That’s how it all started. She didn’t know at the time that she was making the development of an algorithm to measure people’s instincts. So, the conation, the third part of the mind has always been there. She is the first person that has developed a way to test and measure instincts.

And the only way they can be measured, because they’re a subconscious force, the only way they can be measured is striving, trying, putting forth mental effort into doing something. So, what do I know that you don’t know? I know how my family works. I know that when someone is not into the details of a child, doesn’t need the details, they’re not going to read books for hours at a time, unless it’s for leisure.

I know that when someone doesn’t need to put their socks on that match, or put things away in the appropriate folder, that they may have piles all over the room, and they’ll skip steps and shortcut. And I think that’s fantastic. As a matter of fact, Dr. Amy, your son is a lot like that. He may have piles everywhere, because he needs things out to see it. I can go on to the other form of-

Dr. Amy Moore:

And how do you know that?

Gail Swift:

Right. I know because you showed me his results. But the point is, is that people aren’t made with gaps. They’re not made with holes to be changed or filled with something else. They’re not less than. They’re perfectly hold. So, you know they’re blueprints of how they’re created. I don’t try and make it different because I’d be hitting my head against the wall because it’s not going to change.

So, getting your son, now that I know his MO, to pick up his room to someone else’s specifications, in my opinion, is a waste of time. You’re going to have your work cut out for you for the rest of your life.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I gave up. I gave up.

Gail Swift:

There you go. There you go.

Dr. Amy Moore:

You have to live in your room. Live in your room, just throw the food away.

Gail Swift:

And go. That’s it. Right. That’s a choice. If you would have known that when he was two, I don’t know if you’re like now everything goes in this bin or this bin. But if he has one big tub or basket to put all his stuff, that’s better for that student. So, there’s nothing wrong, or nothing judgmental, or a character issue. Because you’re not going to make your bed every day, or you’re not going to have a clean room. That’s not a judgment character issue. If you’re born that way, it’s not decency. It’s just innate.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah, I love it.

Gail Swift:

Thank you for the rant.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love it.

Teri Miller:

This is so good. Amy, it reminds me of the conversation we had earlier today when you were talking about Evan making a switch. He’s going to shift to a homeschooling, a more piles, and free, and open opportunity for him to finish his high school education. And he is so bright, he’s so gifted, Amy’s son that we’re talking about.

And Amy, we talked about this, and I said, “Yes, go, yahoo,” because I have so many regrets about my daughter, Autumn, who it’s interesting as we’re talking about this, she’s like that. Gail, she’s the piles. Now, she’s created amazing coping mechanisms to have. Everything has a spot, even though it wouldn’t be in its file like I would tend to do.

But she had that propensity, and just hear me listeners, I failed her as a mom. And I mean, failed her, I wounded her. Because I said, “You need to fit into my box, you need to fit into my filing cabinets, and you need to do your schoolwork like this.” I didn’t just fail her, the school system failed her.

We homeschooled for a while, but then when she did start getting into a regular school program, I venture to say that regular public school system, charter schools, whatever, regular classroom settings do not work very well for kids that need to have piles. Because no, everything has to go tidy in your desk, in your file folders, in your notebooks. And if we can learn, if I could go back in time, Gail, take me back in time.

Gail Swift:

It hurts my heart. It hurts my heart to hear you say that.

Teri Miller:

It hurts my heart now, but I want to be able to have her listen to this interview and say, “Autumn, Autumn, hi honey, I know, I know, I failed you. But we can move forward.” And I can learn with my other kids. And Amy, you’re learning right now with Evan, you’re making beautiful choices.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Well, and I think that it’s very difficult to explain to someone with traditional thinking that it’s okay to not try to force a square peg into a round hole. And so, it’s a matter of getting people to just shift their paradigm about what parenting looks like, about what education looks like, in order to best meet those individual characteristics, and needs, and innate instincts of our children if we want them to be happy and healthy, and if we want ourselves to have strong positive relationships, and not be in a constant battle with our children.

Teri Miller:

Yeah. Because Autumn, she had a really, really hard educational experience. Really hard experience in high school, even though she’s incredibly bright. She’s just so talented, and smart at so many things, such a go getter. But she made her way eventually. And now, she’s 25. And she is doing incredibly, she’s pursuing this advanced degree. She has made her way in her way. And it’s beautiful.

Gail Swift:

It doesn’t sound like you were too unsuccessful then.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right?

Gail Swift:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

I just regret, I regret.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay. So, then, how can you help parents, how can you help moms avoid this type of regret, Gail?

Teri Miller:

Yes, yes.

Gail Swift:

Yeah. If you picture a balloon that is really tight, full of confetti, the kind of confetti your girlfriend might send you in a card, and it comes out all over the place in your birthday, and it’s irritating. That confetti in the balloon, and every time the balloon is swaying to the ground, slowly, and then right when it’s about to hit the ground, the parent reaches out, and protects the balloon from popping.

However, it is only when you let the balloon pop, and see what’s inside that you see what they’re made of. Parents have a hard time letting that balloon pop. And so, what I would suggest is baby steps. Prove me wrong. Prove me wrong because one of the major themes that my husband and I agreed upon when we first had kids, is we wanted to raise contributors to the world, not takers, contributors.

That was very important to us. You cannot have a passive contributor. You need an active contributor. It’s an oxymoron if it’s passive. So, I’m like I hear this about my second son who’s a pioneer, just like Dr. Amy’s is. And I was like, “Oh my goodness, okay, so let me get this straight. This kid is wired to solve problems. I have his blueprint. I’m looking at the material that tells me what’s going to stress him out.

All right, so I have some choices to make as a mom.” So, what’s important? I want a contributor. I want a child with integrity, and respect for himself, and others. I have to start deductive reasoning, what’s important. So, he comes home from third grade, as I’m giving him his freedom, and I noticed he’s not carrying any paperwork home anymore.

And I said, “Hey, Tyler,” I said, “I noticed you’re not carrying your homework home. You’re not getting any more sheets,” which I actually think are ridiculous so I really don’t care. And he’s like, “No, I’ve decided to take the dingy.” “Okay, ding on what?” “Well, I asked my teacher, how much or what it would cost if I didn’t do my homework sheets.”

And she said, “You’re going to have a 10% ding on your grade.” And he said, “I’ll take it.” So, now, we have a third grader who has made a decision. He’s dealing with the consequences. Can I just stop right there? Okay, so-

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love it.

Teri Miller:

I do, too, so good.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love it.

Gail Swift:

And it’s never stopped. So, I’m like, “Okay, now, I’ve got something.” Now, I have the blueprint. And I’ve always been an observer, like you ladies are observers of your kids, too. But I’ve always been like, “Okay, let’s see how far we can go.” So, I started asking questions over suggestions. And I started saying, “What next? What’s your plan?” And I would ask different questions, depending on how my kids are working.

Then, I would see their eyes get bright again. And then, I would see them start to dream. And then, I’d follow the dream. I just follow the dream as a mom. And I recognize that when they do things their way, with motivation, they will get them done. But the path to get there looks different. And who cares how they get there, as long as they get there? Who cares the path?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Preach it, sister, amen.

Teri Miller:

Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I love that.

Teri Miller:

So good.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay.

Gail Swift:

Thanks, ladies.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, what is this blueprint that you keep talking about? Tell our listeners what you’re saying.

Gail Swift:

I’m talking about an MO, a modus operandi of how… that’s the pattern I’m talking about. So, when you take the Student Aptitude Quiz, or you guys took it, you had your kids take it, when you take that, you get a pattern, a four-digit number, that’s what I’m talking about, your pattern for taking action.

Teri Miller:

And that’s the Kolbe Index.

Gail Swift:

Correct.

Teri Miller:

K-O-L-B-E. And so, listeners, you can check that out at home, kolbe.com. But of course, the first place you want to start is Gail’s website. But in general, if you want to… what we’re talking about.

Gail Swift:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Gail Swift:

It is a bigger dream of mine. It’s definitely not the Gail show. It is, know the pattern if you want help with what it means. That’s where I come in. Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay. So, what does that look like?

Gail Swift:

Knowing the pattern or knowing what it means? Both?

Dr. Amy Moore:

What does it look like to work with… yeah, both. Walk us through what listeners need to do to find out this information about their child, and then what do they do with the information?

Gail Swift:

Yeah. So, you can take the test online, or you can take it through me, I don’t charge you any more or less. It’s in the interpretation, or the explaining of what this means for your child, and why it’s his path. So, why is this four-digit number my kid’s path? What does that mean? Well, that means that when you innately know how they work, so for example, your son, I’m just going to take one line of the Kolbe.

Gail Swift:

There are four different lines, the red is the details and information. The blue, the second line is the systems and organization. The green is risk and uncertainty. And the yellow is hands-on are called implementer. Those are the forms-

Dr. Amy Moore:

Say that-

Gail Swift:

Yeah, go.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Say that again, repeat it so that listeners really get in their heads, say that again.

Gail Swift:

Okay. So, the red, the first line of the report deals with your need for information. So, at the top, if you’re at the top, you’ll have a need for very little information to make your best decision. At the bottom, you will need a lot of information to make your best decision. The second line is the blue. And this deals with systems and organization.

At the top, you need very little structure to make your best decision. And at the bottom of the blue, you need a lot of structure and systems to make your best decision. The green is risk and uncertainty. At the top of the green, you work to stabilize and minimize risk. You don’t need surprises, or things changing all the time. At the bottom of the green, you need a lot of change. You need a lot of freedom to do things your way.

And then, the yellow is your need to get your hands on the environment. So, at the top of the yellow, you do not need to touch to believe it’s there. You can envision in your mind, imagine how something physical will look. If you were at the bottom of the yellow, you need to get your hands on the environment.

Circle time for these kids is very excruciating, because they need to touch their neighbor, and they’re told not to. So, now, you have a bad child with an innate strength to touch the world. But you’ve just made a bad child out of that. Do you understand that?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

Yes. Ouch, yeah.

Gail Swift:

Okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Well, right, as a former pre-K teacher, I was a teacher before I was a psychologist. So, yes, there’s always that one or two children who cannot keep their hands to themselves, where you’re asking them to sit on their hands.

Teri Miller:

Yup.

Gail Swift:

Yeah. That’s excruciating.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes.

Gail Swift:

That’s my son. That’s my son. And Teri, I get it, I did wrong by him until he was nine or 10. So, I get it, I get it, I cried when I heard this, and found this out about him. And I made him a bad kid, because he’d go into stores, and he’d touch stuff. And that was one of my five store rules, you don’t touch the stuff. And if I would have known this, I would have given him something to touch.

That would have made all the difference in the world. He’s not a bad child. It’s not a bad thing. So, here’s where it connects to the path, ladies. If you have a child, we’re going to go with this theme, that needs to get their hands on the environment, and needs to be outside. He needs to be moving. What kind of work do you think that child is going to do?

Do you think they’re going to be an accountant in an office with no windows? That’s a no. Here’s what they’re going to do naturally. So, if you take that, and you can know that three years old. If you know a child needs to get their hands on the environment, as a parent, get their hands on the environment. Get them in situations to garden, to cook, to weld, to build, to create, to use your hands.

That’s how the MO creates your pattern, your path. It doesn’t change. So, my son welds. Is that a surprise? No. Do you see what I mean? It’s not a far jump. Is he going to make money sporadically, and be his own boss? Absolutely. Absolutely. He’s going to make money on his creativity. And the more he gets his hands on the environment, ladies, the better the world is.

In my opinion, it’s a crime to stifle that, and make it something bad, or something it shouldn’t be. Thank you for… I’m so ranting today. You guys are getting me fired up. I got to calm down.

Teri Miller:

It’s so good. I’m thinking, I have kids that are all over the map with different… I can see the different vents in them just imagining, and I’ve only had my one son, my son, [Nakota 00:27:10], did the Kolbe Index, the student assessment. But yeah, my oldest is 27. My youngest is nine.

Dr. Amy Moore:

She has nine kids, by the way.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Gail Swift:

You have nine?

Teri Miller:

Yes.

Gail Swift:

Wow, that’s awesome.

Teri Miller:

I know, it’s so cool.

Gail Swift:

Way to go. Really cool. That’s awesome.

Teri Miller:

So, I have regrets for the older ones. And yet, I know that I am… someday they’re going to all get together. And the older ones, they’re going to all be at a family reunion, the older ones are going to be like, “Who was your mom?” Like, “That was not my mom. My mom was a different mom than your mom of the youngest,” that we’re learning and growing all the time.

And so, even what you’re talking about, I want to encourage listeners, as I’m feeling encouraged that even if, like you said, you did wrong by your kid up to a certain age, but it’s never too late-

Gail Swift:

Really good point.

Teri Miller:

… to dig into these things that can help us as a parent. If I had been able to dig into this with my daughter, Autumn, when she was 15, well, maybe she would never had rough of the last two years of high school. You know what I mean? And even now, she’s an adult, I can learn how to be a better mom and granny, eventually, to her as a mom that we can always learn and grow. Always be getting better by our kids.

Gail Swift:

Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

One of the benefits I see to this, too. And Gail, you and I talked about this prior, is there is this resurgence of apprenticeships right now. And there is a trend towards saying, “Look, there are alternatives to going to a four-year university right after high school.” And there are so many different paths that are available out there that we need to change our thinking that that’s the path for every child.

They go to middle school, high school, and then automatically go to a four-year university. Well, if that’s not what drives our child, like you were saying, the child who needs to touch and feel the world, then maybe that type of classroom environment as an adult is not going to work for them. Hands-on careers can be trained for through apprenticeships and other ways. And we need to be open to that as parents.

Gail Swift:

I’ve had people say I can’t believe you’re allowing your son not to go to, and of course, you got to remember the theme. If you have a big picture theme, it makes all the answer is easier and the efforts on the ground. So, if you want to raise a contributor, that’s our goal. And you keep going back to that, does this action match the goal? Does it match the goal?

And if it doesn’t match the goal, it’s not worth your time. So, is a four-year education going to make my son a better or worse contributor? That would be a no. It’s not necessarily going to make him a better contributor. Since third grade, since he took the ding, and since then, he’s made decisions and dealt with the consequences. I actually, as a mom, I did a really scary thing, and I took high school off the table.

Because if the want or desire isn’t there, it’s not going to work. It’s not going to work. It’s borrowed desire from your parents. You’re borrowing what someone else wants you to do. In my opinion, it works when it comes from within. So, he had to want to go to high school, and he actually has an MO that’s the opposite of teachers. Seventy percent of teachers work one way, 70%.

And if you are a child who works differently, then that way, Teri, as you’re aware, Dr. Amy, you’re aware, I’m aware, life will be difficult in school. So, I have a son that is the opposite of the teachers. And so, if he doesn’t have desire to go to school on his own, along with an MO that’s as difficult as it is, it’s not going to work. He took college off the table himself, but isn’t it interesting?

Now that he has the freedom, he’s coming around to make decisions about 18-month degrees on his own, and he’s looking into them on his own. I can get this degree, I can get this degree, and make myself… so you see how it’s adding on, adding on. The more freedom he has, the more he’s willing to do. And I see that, and you foster it, and I just go with it.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah. Because you’re following his particular blueprint.

Gail Swift:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. We’re not saying to listeners that that’s every child’s blueprint. There are children out there that are going to have a profile that says yes, four-year degree and graduate school is going to be best path for that child.

Gail Swift:

Yeah, my other son is that way. He is going to go to college. He is cybersecurity. He actually is like your son, Teri. He initiates in that blue line. So, he is going to school, and he’s figuring out how to get scholarships, and do it right now. So, yes, Dr. Amy, you’re right. He is going to go to a four-year school, and he may go on for continuing education after that. You’re absolutely right.

Teri Miller:

I’m so curious. I’m definitely going to do this. I’m going to be following up with you. I’m definitely going to do this, thinking about over the Thanksgiving holidays with all of my family. When all the kids get together, I just imagine us sitting around the living room, and everyone has there, an iPad, a computer or what, and we’re going to be like, “Okay, we are getting… do not talk about this amongst yourselves people.

Do not try to should on each other. Don’t should on what the answer should be. But just be free. Be yourself.” And I’m really curious, my high school sons. One of them is a student at Colorado Early Colleges. Well, with Amy’s son, as a sophomore in high school, he is basically a sophomore in college. Because he’s so advanced. He’s such a go getter. He likes to get knowledge to plan, to analyze, dig in.

His brother, just 16, 15 months older than my just older son, who’s a junior in high school. He is social. He’s in all the different clubs at school. He’s in the Bible Study Club, and the small group, and this and that, cross country, and madrigals, and all these things. And he’s just about failing out of high school academically. But he is so happy. He’s a socialite. They are going to have completely different paths.

Gail Swift:

Probably.

Teri Miller:

And I need to know that, and embrace that as a mother, instead of being like, “Oh, Kenyon is my good son. He’s smart and good. And Ian, he’s my flighty son. He’s failing out. He’s not smart and good.” Oh, yeah, he is. It’s just different.

Gail Swift:

Right, exactly.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, how does knowing your child’s blueprint, how does that change the family dynamic? And while you’re speaking on that, talk a little bit about what happens if mom and dad don’t agree on following this? What if one is traditional and not as flexible?

Gail Swift:

Absolutely. And that’s normal, and that’s common. So, a lot of people don’t like to see the balloon pop under their roof.

Dr. Amy Moore:

It’s messy, right? Messy.

Gail Swift:

Yeah, it is. It’s messy. And conative, how they’re wired is stronger than cognitive and affective. So, it will always come out. It’ll come out under their roof, or it will come out outside of their roof. One way or the other, it’s going to rise to the surface.

I’ve talked to 60-year-old millionaires who are divorced, or stroke, or health issues, and they wish they would have known this because they have physical repercussions from going against the grain for so long. It can cause health issues. But to your first question of how I use this in the family, is that like-

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah, how does knowing this information change the family dynamic?

Gail Swift:

Right. Okay. So, my husband is not like me at all. He’s very into the details. And so, in college, when I met him, I decided it would be fun to rapid fire a lot of questions at him. And I would ask him all sorts of questions as fast as possible like we’re running out of time, because I need a sense of urgency to get things done, remember? He does not.

So, before I knew and was trained about this, I used to equate a negative connotation to slow thinkers. I used to place a judgment on people that needed time. And that was arrogance and immaturity on my part, but I did it. I would do it to people all the time, and think that it was less than. So, he kept saying things to me like, it depends, it depends.

I would say, “On what? Make a decision. I don’t understand. Why does it depend?” Until I know his Kolbe, and until I realized that he needed time to decide, and make the most appropriate, precise, thorough decision. Twenty-four years later, I’ve used this gift since we’ve been married since 1997. He’s the detail guy. He’s the research guy.

He’s the guy that when I say the dishwasher broke, let’s get a top of the line and be done with it. He said, “Let’s see what consumer reports says.” And I’ll say, “I’m bored. It’s up to you. Tell me when you’re done.” So, we use his gift for the details, because he’s a detail guy. My oldest son, Noah, has the strength like Teri’s son, the long blue line with systems and organization.

This is how we use this strength. When the gas grill came to the house, he was 11. I knew how he worked. He was the only one in the house that will finish what he starts. Everyone else doesn’t need to finish what they start. And he said, “Can I put the gas grill together?” My husband is like, “Like come on. What’s the worst thing that could happen? Let’s let him do it.”

It’s like a big Lego. He’s like, “It’s $1,000 gas grill, Gail. It’s not a big Lego.” And I said, “But he’ll finish it.” I know it because I know how he works. And I’m trusting it. And from one to five hot nits, it was 100, and who cares, he put the whole thing together. Did he make a mistake? Did he make a mistake? Absolutely. But what did he do? He’s like I went back a page just like a Lego.

If it didn’t fit, he went back a page. If it were not for his Kolbe, I would have never ever let an 11-year-old put together a gas grill. My second son is a pioneer. We’re at the top of a mountain, we’re kind of lost. He’s nine. I said, “Tyler, got to get us off this mountain, buddy.” His parents and his older brother were all lost. And he’s nine years old. And he gets us off the mountain.

Because he has the only conative gifts with the need for space and tangibles out of the whole family. So, if we’re ever in a situation physically, he’ll know how to get us out of it. That’s how I’ve used their strengths in the family.

Teri Miller:

I just got chills. That’s just so beautiful.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Love it. So, my child is also a pioneer. He’s a competitive rock climber, and has been climbing things since he was two years old. His nickname has been Monkey since he was old enough to… on everything. I came home one day, and my husband had tied the dining room chairs to the center of the table. Because Evan was using the chairs as a ladder when he was two years old to propel himself up onto high things.

We came home one day, and he had unscrewed the handrail from the wall going down the stairs, and removed every cabinet door from the entertainment center in the basement with a screwdriver when he was two, because he had to touch everything.

Gail Swift:

Pattern predicts your path. You get it. You see where this is going. He’s in it. That’s awesome, Dr. Amy.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Right. And he’s also an elite musician, because he can use his fingers. He is the piccolo player in the city’s youth symphony. Yeah.

Teri Miller:

That’s so cool.

Gail Swift:

You went with it. You went with it.

Dr. Amy Moore:

But he hates school, hates school.

Gail Swift:

Yeah. Yeah. School is not made for him.

Dr. Amy Moore:

No.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, I love it. Okay. So, we were going to-

Teri Miller:

Wait, you just said something. Hold up. I hope everyone heard that. You just said something so profound. School is not made for him. You didn’t say he’s not made for school. You didn’t say he’s no good in school. You said school is not made for him.

Gail Swift:

It’s not.

Teri Miller:

That is a really beautiful, big distinction that separates what you were talking about that our kids’ vents, their different conative abilities do not make them good or bad for school, it may mean that school is not good for them.

Gail Swift:

Right.

Teri Miller:

Love it.

Gail Swift:

Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, back to the second half of my question, what happens when both parents don’t agree on using the blueprint in decision making for raising their kids? What is your advice to them?

Gail Swift:

So, my parents, and I was older when I had it done, but when they saw it, they were like ant. You still need to do things. And so, it wasn’t until I left the house that I was able to use my gifts. And I’ve been leaning into them ever since. That’s fine. You don’t have to pay attention to it. You don’t have to pay attention to it at all.

If you believe what you believe, and you believe that it’s the right way to do things, and your relationship is succeeding, then, obviously, keep doing what you’re doing. I don’t make anyone, obviously, do anything they’re not meant to do. People don’t call me to not pay attention to the results. They may be surprised by them. They may be scared to release the grip.

They might find some self-realizations about their way of parenting that they’re not ready to come to terms with. But that child is perfectly capable of solving problems. I recognize that when they’re in houses where the parents are doing a lot for them, it’s comfortable. And then, I come in. They don’t want to change. They don’t want to be held responsible for their decisions.

Because if they’re 16, and they haven’t been so far, why would they start until they had to? Does that make sense?

Dr. Amy Moore:

Sure.

Gail Swift:

Yeah. So, some parents, even though that child has an MO that says college, four-year college will be very, very difficult. They’ve said, “Well, I may adjust where they go to school, but they’re still going to school.” And that is a win, in my opinion, because that’s a slow turn to even acknowledge that this person might be different than you are. And I take that as a win.

Teri Miller:

Yeah.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, we need to take a quick break and let Teri read a word from our sponsor. And when we come back, I’d love it if you would share a couple of success stories with us.

Gail Swift:

Sure.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay.

Teri Miller: Reading sponsor ad from LearningRx)

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Dr. Amy Moore:

And we’re back talking to Gail Swift about using the Kolbe assessment in our parenting decision making, and just being able to recognize our child’s motivations, and volition, and natural instincts. And so, Gail, we would love it if you would just share with our listeners some success stories of using this assessment in raising kids.

Gail Swift:

Yeah, absolutely, absolutely. I’ll give you a success story conatively, but I’m also going to share a little bit of my personal journey that helped this family. Because if I can be of help in any way I can, not just conatively. When I gave a talk about my Tourette’s, and my overdose dealing with that, or my abuse of the medication, a parent came up to me, and said that they think they have a child similar to me with a cognitive disorder.

And they’re going to take him in to get medicine. And they wanted to talk with me about my journey with that, and they conative, and see if there’s any connection. And so, I had a conversation with them. And I said that when I abused the medication, I went back into my neurologist, and he told me something that’s changed my life forever.

I was 17 years old, I was going to college, it was very stressful, my tics were coming back. And so, I went in to get the medication again, and he said, “Gail, you’ve lost your privilege to take it. But here’s how you can handle your tics naturally. Stay away from refined sugar, eat yellow and green vegetables, Vitamin B6 to calm down your nervous system, get exercise, it’s a natural dopamine release, and get plenty of sleep.”

And my first thought was, why didn’t you tell me that 10 years ago, but instead, I use that information to help this third-grade child and the parents sitting in front of me. I told these parents what my doctor said to me way back when. I told them that I had a son that also has Tourette’s. And when I encouraged my son to pay attention to the way he was feeling after certain foods, recognize if he was anxious after eating things, and pay attention to large crowds, or what stressed him out, then he could be ahead of the stress instead of behind it.

I also tested him conatively, and he was in transition. When you’re in transition, that means the algorithm won’t complete itself. The Kolbe will not complete itself because that child is not free to be themselves, which means they’re listening to voices that are louder than their own. And they’re putting what they think their parents want, or their doctors, or their teachers ahead of what they want.

And the test will not be complete. So, this test wasn’t complete. I reviewed that with the parents, and I said in this particular area, he’s thinking or believing that he needs to act this way, and that’s not his natural grain. And the dad is like, “Oh, I know what’s happening.” And it had to do with reading at night. The way that that dad was approaching reading time, after this information changed completely.

It was more of a free time, it was more of a snuggly time, instead of a directive. And after three months, we retested him, and he had a solid Kolbe result. What happened was that child never went on medication. I met with the homeroom teacher, I met with his football coach, I met with the parents. He’s in his lane, and he’s thriving, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with him.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I had chills.

Teri Miller:

Oh, yes. So, great.

Gail Swift:

That was huge. There’s another girl that I worked with. She was 15. She was on anxiety medication, and had a conative score, where I understood where the anxiety was coming from. And after meeting with her about eight times, she went off the medication. And she’s ahead of it. She knows what to expect from herself. She knows where this is coming from, and it’s she’s free.

She’s free to be herself. She’s taking things small and in increments, but it made complete sense to her. And now she can respectfully request what she needs, and not feel bad about it. If she needs order, and if she needs systems, if she needs a theme for a birthday party. And someone poo poos it, or says that’s not necessary, she can say, “It sounds like that’s not necessary for you.

But for me to be my best self, this is what I need. So, may I please proceed with my best self?” That’s awesome. Yeah, those are a couple.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, it’s interesting to me, the application this could have in the counseling environment as well. And so, as a counselor, and I treat predominantly teenagers, and what an amazing tool that I feel motivated to go get certified to use. Because we’re seeing, oh, my goodness, we’re seeing so much depression and anxiety among teenagers right now. And if we could use these insights, wow, we could-

Gail Swift:

There is. There flat out is, and I made a video that I wasn’t expecting to hit home as much as it did. But it was like, your life over grades, happiness over grades is… anyway, I’m not going to get into it. But along the same lines, it is happening, depression is happening, and it’s hard. It’s flat out hard. And what I recognize is that when my kids are in that mode, speaking for myself and my family, acknowledging, allowing, not trying to make difference.

And even when I see them falling in, or I see them not doing what they could, or sitting on the couch too long, in my opinion. There’re several ways to come at that. But I’ve found myself saying, I’ve seen what you are like when you really want something to get done, or you’re really motivated. And I know when you’re ready, you will do it. And this is how you’re going to do it.

And nothing is stopping you. So, I know it’s in you. And I appreciate your couch time right now. It looks like you need it. I’m here when you’re ready to get up.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yeah.

Teri Miller:

That’s so good. Oh, my goodness. Okay. Just a logistical question for listeners, we talked about Kolbe Index, K-O-L-B-E, but for listeners who are like, “Oh, I’m so inspired, I want to understand this, I want to have my kid take this assessment,” where do we go? How to get started?

Gail Swift:

Yeah. They can take it online, or they can go to me. The only benefit with going through me is I’ll have it in my website, I’ll have it on my software, not my website. I have it on my software. So, I’m able to give parent guides, stress tests, test reports, different kinds of things that they may not get. And I can explain it to them in real terms.

So, when you get the report, it may or may not be easy for you to understand. You can try it. But then, I can explain how it would apply to chores, friends, school, social, family, all aspects of life. And then, I can also, I give you questions, how to encourage and inspire when they’re not feeling motivated. So, gail@planstoprospercoaching.com, that’s my email. That’s the best way to get ahold of me.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And that’s your website as well. Plans-

Gail Swift:

planstoprospercoaching.com, yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

I’ll add that in the show notes.

Teri Miller:

Yeah, that’s what I was asking. That’s where parents could go to get a kid assessment. And then, another logistical question. Okay, so when I was going over this with my 11-year-old son, like Amy said with her son, Evan, that it was just look and he split. He just went through it, but getting split, anyway.

Gail Swift:

Mine would.

Teri Miller:

And my 11-old-year son, it was so long and slow, because he would say, “What does that mean? I don’t understand that.” So, talk to me about age range.

Gail Swift:

Talk to you about age?

Teri Miller:

Age range, how you-

Gail Swift:

Okay. So, from three to nine, there’s a nonverbal assessment. So, nonverbal, meaning, obviously, no language is involved from three years old to nine. That is a bag of toys. It’s called brainy act. So, I use that. And then, we can identify striving behavior in kids from three years old to about nine. When they have a fourth-grade reading level, strong fourth-grade reading level, they’re able to do the student aptitude quiz or SAQ for shorts.

Gail Swift:

And that is from age nine or 10, depending on the reading level, until 22, 23. And then, the last one is a Kolbe A Index. A stands for adults, that is for 18 and up. So, that’s an adult index. Those are the age ranges.

Teri Miller:

So, the Kolbe A index, say if yeah, I was gathering family together, and my husband and I were going to do that, we would each do the Kolbe A Index?

Gail Swift:

Correct.

Teri Miller:

Okay.

Gail Swift:

Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

And then, is that the same four pillars that-

Gail Swift:

It is.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Okay.

Gail Swift:

It is. The only differences in the three to nine years old, they’re not numbers. They’re just segments or blocks. Because when kids, they think that a high or a low, the only difference between a one and a 10 is time spent in that area. Time is the only differentiator. It has nothing to do with good or bad, but kids, I would say between five and nine, will see a higher number is better than a lower number. So, we leave them numbers off of that test for that reason.

Dr. Amy Moore:

That’s more insightful.

Gail Swift:

They’re all strengths. Yes.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Excellent. So, for those of you who are watching on YouTube, I’m going to share my screen really quickly, just so that you can see what those pillars look like. This is Evan’s, my almost 17-year-old. I took it for him, by the way, and then had him take it. And we scored almost identically. But that’s probably-

Teri Miller:

That’s just crazy.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes. That’s probably not common. But as a psychologist, I’m constantly testing Evan on lots of things. So, I know him pretty well, anyway. Gail, is there anything that you haven’t gotten to say that you still want to leave our listeners with?

Gail Swift:

No, there isn’t. You guys have been so fun. I feel like this could last a long time. I’ve just really enjoyed my time with you, and your questions, and your interest. And I’m so glad that your kids took it. And you know what, Teri, you’re right. Your son needs a system and format to follow, for sure. And Dr. Amy’s doesn’t.

And so, some kids will obviously sail through this in 10 minutes, and others will take 30. That’s great, either way. You’ll get it done, and it’ll be fine. And if there’s a transition result, that just means you need a little time. You need to back up a little freedom to be you. And I can work through that with you. And then, you can take it again, whenever that transitions out.

Teri Miller:

What does that look like, the transition results? Tell us [crosstalk 00:56:35].

Gail Swift:

It’ll have a little asterisk where the number is. So, for example, if you have an asterisk in either maybe the red, that means that you’re not free to… you either need more or less information, and you’re taking someone else’s thoughts, or words more important than your own. So, you’re like, “Well, my dad said I needed to have five sources cited, and I only really want one, but I’m going to put down what I think should be the answer.”

And it’ll flag it. It’s not congruent with the rest of the questions. And so, it will be incomplete. And then, when that happens, I will pull the student or person aside and say, “Tell me about this. Tell me about this experience. Where is this coming from?” And then, we’ll get to it. And then, I will let anyone else know, if the parent needs to know. And then, in a matter of weeks or months, depending on what’s going on in their life, then we’ll back up, and then take it again, a couple weeks or months later.

Teri Miller:

So interesting. Okay.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Absolutely.

Gail Swift:

But thank you, thank you for the opportunity.

Teri Miller:

Thank you. This is great.

Dr. Amy Moore:

Yes. So, we are out of time and need to wrap up. But we want to thank our guest today, Gail Swift, for sharing this really valuable information with our listeners. I’m so excited that we were able to bring them this information. As moms ourselves, we know how valuable it is, and wanted to bring awareness to this aspect of our minds that is so often neglected, and has so much influence on behavior, for sure.

Dr. Amy Moore:

So, if you want to connect with Gail, again, her website is planstoprospercoaching.com, you can email her at gail@planstoprospercoaching.com, and we will put that mouthful in the show notes. So, thank you so much for listening today.

If you liked our show, we would love it if you would leave us a five-star rating and review on Apple Podcasts. We are on YouTube, if you’d like to watch us instead of listen. You can follow us on social media, on every channel @TheBrainyMoms. So, look, until next time, we know that you’re busy moms, and we’re busy moms, so we’re out.

Teri Miller:

See ya!

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