Optimizing Human Performance in Schools with Ford Dyke
April 25, 2023
Optimizing Human Performance in Schools with Ford Dyke

Human performance optimization is how elite athletes hone their crafts, but just about anyone can take these learnings and apply them to their own work.

This week on the podcast I’m talking to Ford Dyke, a human performance coach who is passionate about human performance on the field and court, in the boardroom, and in the classroom. Ford shares his journey from graduate school to becoming a subject matter expert in the field, emphasizing the importance of being open to lifelong learning.

Ford focuses on the human side of optimization, where it’s essential to get to know oneself so you can support others. Ford believes that everyone is connected, and we all have a brain, set of lungs, and heart. Understanding how we’re all connected is one of the keys to growth and optimization. To maintain our energy, we need to stop and return to normalcy, whatever that means for each individual.

Especially in this post-pandemic world, it’s crucial to find what works for us and makes us feel good and work those processes so we can continue to grow and evolve. In K-12 education, the focus should be on reenergizing and moving the education system forward by applying human performance optimization principles.

Join us in this episode to learn more about Ford Dyke’s work and how you can optimize your own performance.

About Ford Dyke:

Human performance optimization subject-matter expert Dr. Ford Dyke delivers his innovation through podcasts, consultations, workshops, webinars, and seminars.

Dr. Dyke collaborates globally with high-level performers such as corporate executives, elite athletes, physicians, academicians, first responders, and military personnel. His methodology integrates components of his Professorship, Team USA Athlete career, and experience as a Performance Coach for the United States Olympic and Paralympic Committee.

Dr. Dyke’s education, professional experience, and personal journey led to the creation of perfor[Hu]mance.® | A multidimensional space for The Human Experience.

As a native of the seaside community of Jupiter Beach, Florida, he remains mindful of an ocean breeze and waves breaking on the sand.

Jump in the Conversation:

[2:08] – How Ford got involved in doing things differently
[3:28] – Life experiences that make him a human performance coach
[5:03] – How have you worked on optimizing your own performance
[7:49] – From psychology to exercise science to psychophysiology
[11:26] – Course for perfor[Hu]mance
[12:56] – The common theme for any performance is the human
[16:31] – Common themes within a wide range of performers
[19:34] – How this is applied to K-12 education
[22:35] – We all have a brain, set of lungs, and heart
[22:34] – What people can do to maintain their own energy
[28:43] – Turbo Time
[37:46] – Ford’s Magic Wand
[39:30] – Maureen’s Takeaways

Links & Resources



Maureen O’Shaughnessy 0:03
Hello fellow parents and educators. Thank you for joining me at Education Evolution, where we are disrupting the status quo in today’s learning models. We talk about present day education, what’s broken, who’s fixing it, and how. I’m Dr. Maureen O’Shaughnessy, your host and founder of education evolution, micro school coalition, and co founder of active, I consult and train with schools and leaders who are fiercely committed to changing the narrative, reimagining the education landscape, and creating learning that serves all children and prepares them to thrive. If you are new, welcome to the podcast. Please subscribe on our website to get it delivered to your inbox weekly. If you’ve been around a while, have you left a review?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:08
Ford, it is so good to have you on Education Evolution.

Ford Dyke 1:12
Maureen, thanks for having me. I’m looking forward to this conversation.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 1:14
Mm hmm. And listeners. today I’m chatting with Dr. Ford Dyke. A human performance optimization expert. Ford is a Team USA athlete who also works with high level performers such as corporate executives, elite athletes, first responders, and military personnel. I know him as a mindfulness expert who works with classes of children, teachers, and his college students at Auburn University. His methodology integrates components of his professorship Team USA athletic career, and experience as a performance coach for the US Olympic and Paralympic committees. Let’s dive in Ford. That’s a lot. But it’s because you do so much cool stuff that doesn’t fit into one little box. This is all about how schools must evolve to serve all learners. How did you get into doing things differently and better for our learners?

Ford Dyke 2:14
It’s a phenomenal question, what is the origin of that epicenter? I’d have to say, started in graduate school, when I came to Auburn, originally about 10 years ago, as a Master’s student and got exposed to various realms within the human performance domain. And as you mentioned in the intro, whether that was going to the local military base and working with their medical units, or their snipers, etcetera, coming over and working with an athletic team, or going and working with corporate execs, it was a very, all of my doors are open, say yes to everything type of mentality that I had, I went from one major to the next in graduate school. And I thought, I’m going to say yes to everything. Now. Over the years, I’ve learned how to say no, and learned how to, you know, work on what’s important now, as opposed to getting too far ahead or too far behind things. But I’d say it definitely started as a graduate student.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 3:10
I like that you kept things open, because how do we know often we don’t even know what we don’t know. So for that period of time, you were exploring and opening and that you’re honing it that makes perfect sense. What life experiences do you think have made you an expert on human performance?

Ford Dyke 3:30
Oh, gosh, well, first of all, let’s back up on the word expert, because I always find that to be interesting, you know, I study human performance, and I work as a performance coach with humans. And yet, in a way, it’s hard to be an expert, with such a moving target. In my personal and professional opinion. Now I understand. People see me as a subject matter expert, I get that. And of course, I’ve put the work and I have the repetition. And there’s a lot of time involved with that. However, from my perspective, as the quote, expert, I don’t think you’re ever really an expert if you’re studying and working with humans. Because again, the name of your podcast is evolution, we’re constantly evolving through education. So how do we then become an expert in something that we can never really put our finger on? I think you’re almost shooting yourself in the foot by calling yourself an expert. I think that closes doors, it closes your mindset and your mentality towards the possibilities of what a human can do. So I don’t know if that really answers your question. But that’s kind of the lens that I looked through within my field like that.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 4:45
I like that because I think yeah, experts like I have arrived. And we need to constantly you know, lifelong learning is huge, and it’s a huge tool that our kids are going to need to deal with the unknown that hasn’t even been invented yet. So I agree, What experiences have you personally had where you’ve been working on optimizing your performance?

Speaker 2 5:08
Yeah. So it’s kind of interesting that the past two questions go together. Because as a grad student, I have the opportunity to try out for team USA. And I was a puppy, I was about 23 years old, I didn’t know anything about team handball, let alone, I didn’t have much care for the Olympics or the Paralympics, at the time, I was more extreme sport athletes, I grew up within the X Games space. And as I go through this trial process, and I end up making this team, and yet I’m still a graduate student, learning about skill acquisition, and motor performance, and cognition, and all these other facets to my degree, and then when school is over, and I go to after, after hours, athletic training, here I am applying these skills that I’m learning in class on a CT. So it was a bit of a unique and yet surreal space to find myself in as a grad student. And then it was even crazier, as I finished my degree. And I was a professor while still training and competing full time as a team, USA athletes. So I’m now retired since 2012, the world shut down, I thought, you know, this is a great time to transition out of elite athletics. But that was an amazing chapter that I think has shaped me and my approaches and my methodologies. And it allowed me to sharpen my tools, and really become not just concise, but precise with how I approach these different types of methodologies and working with these different types of clients.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 6:39
I like that it sounds like you had a chance to kind of practice what you were learning and apply it, hone it, so that it wasn’t just textbook and it wasn’t just experiential, you were able to merge the two, is that kind of how it was?

Speaker 2 6:53
Absolutely. And there’s not something I’ll tell somebody to do without me first trying it. I mean, it’s very, very, very rare, if ever, that I’ll make a suggestion to a performer again, whether they’re an athlete, an executive manager, a pilot, a military personnel, it doesn’t really matter. I see all humans as performers at all levels. It’s all relative. But I will never really suggest anything or prescribe anything. And I don’t subscribe to very many things that I don’t try myself. I’m a huge proponent of not practicing what you preach, but preaching what you practice. Whoo, subtle flip, but powerful, a little reframe.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 7:36
Yes. Before we go into some more questions, just can you explain a little bit about what your degree is and what you teach? I think that’s a big piece of this conversation.

Speaker 2 7:47
Absolutely. So as I mentioned before, I came from a different degree than I have now as a graduate student. So I was in psychology as an undergraduate student. And I was interested in more or less sports psychology, for lack of better terms. The institution I was at didn’t have sports psychology. So during my gap year, I ended up taking some courses within the sports, Psych realm, anatomy, physiology, and started to really hone my interest in on working with humans specifically, that brought me to Auburn. I have a master’s in exercise science. So I went from studying the brain. Okay, now I’m going to study the body. And then I realized at the end of my master’s degree, well, heck, these things don’t happen in isolation. They’re not mutually exclusive. We’re human beings, our brains are attached to our bodies and vice versa. So I was crazy enough to go into the Ph. D. program. And that program was within psychophysiology. So a really fancy word or mind body body mind connection, essentially. And I worked in a performance lab, we utilized electroencephalography, EEG, functional magnetic resonance imaging, fMRI, skin conductance, heart rate, variability, breath rate, all the different psycho physiological measures. So we’re assessing questions that I was exposed to as an undergraduate student at a subjective level. And now as a PhD student, we’re looking at these things at the physiological, anatomical and objective level. So it was really just a true stepping stone process for me. Looking back, you know, when you think about my curriculum Vita or my resume, it looks very sequential looks very thought out and planned. It wasn’t that at all. This closure, I was really just taking one step at a time and putting one foot in front of the other and enjoying the process. And whatever felt good, I kept gravitating towards that. So that brought me into professorship and now I’m an associate professor at Auburn University. I’m a clinical professor. So I teach a high load of classes, motor learning and performance, which is a skill acquisition. Of course, How do humans learn different things metaphorically, whether it’s picking up a cup to take a sip of coffee, all the way to something as extreme as becoming a neurosurgeon, and the fine motor torque skills that are required for that individual to perform in their expertise. I also teach a performance and exercise psychology course, to pay homage a little bit to my undergraduate studies. And I also teach a performance and health style course. So it’s pillars of performance and health. Those are really the foundational components of what I think it means to be a human. So respiration, hydration, nutrition, movement and recovery, you can think of recovery as napping or sleeping, for example. And within that course, I also serve as the director of a large skill, mindfulness initiative here at Auburn University. Oh, yeah, talk about taking a breath.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 11:03
And then on top of that, I know that you are out and about, and I actually have connected with you twice when we’ve been at the inclusion schools conference, in Ecuador presenting, you’ve created your own business per for humans. So your performance with human inter interjected, talk to us about your creation.

Speaker 2 11:27
So that all started, I would say, as a grad student, it was kind of this thought I was having of being exposed to these various performance realms, as I mentioned earlier, you know, 20, something years old when you are sent to a army base, one of the largest bases in our country is Fort Benning, which is about 30 minutes away from us here at Auburn, in Columbus, Georgia. And I show up there and I don’t really Maureen, like, I don’t really know what I’m doing, right. I mean, I’m a grad student, first second year grad student. And my supervisor said, what’s the Hey, it’s great opportunity, you know, check it out, see what’s going on. So I started meeting these chiefs and commanders and lieutenants all these things. I don’t know what these people do. I’m just a grad student. And before I know it, I’ve got the lead snipers asking me questions about respiration and what they should use to hydrate and move. But I never acted like I didn’t know what I was talking about. Because I felt like I knew what I was talking about. Because my program provided me with the education I needed to be out there in the field. And then you turn around and I’d be pulled into the Auburn abductive athletics department, you know, working with Auburn, wheelchair basketball is a strength coach. And I’ve got players and coaches asking me to build out strength conditioning routines, and again, I’ve never worked with an adaptive athlete. But I felt like I always knew what I could do and adapt myself to the athletes and vice versa. So all the while getting to your question of how did I come up with her for humans? I was just realizing through grad school, the one common theme throughout all these really, really different performance sectors is the human. That’s the common theme. That’s the common element really. And I started thinking about the periodic table and how much of a challenge it was for me in high school and a little bit in college. And I thought, Well, what about the human element? You know, I think maybe the human element is overlooked within the performance optimization realm. And so I was just kind of doodling on a paper on air, forget, I still have this notebook. And I was reading performance. And I was reading human. And I thought, well, human performance optimization is a cool way to approach these different realms. And I thought, I love that feeling of optimization. I love being dialed in, I love helping people get focused and build out their strength and their nutritional plans and sleep protocols. I think I’m gonna be going down this road. You know, once I leave my graduate program, I had no real plans to be a professor. And I thought, okay, how do I integrate the human element into performance? And so I’m looking at the word, and I’m seeing her for and then maths. And I thought, well, I could just put the human element in the middle of this and use the brackets of Hu. As you do you insert something into a quote, I thought for for humans. There you go. And so this was probably back in like 2015 When these dogs were first coming around, and 2018 registered trademarks on the board itself, the logo itself. And since that point on marine, it’s just been my little brainchild and a little nucleus, you know, it’s kind of my baby, and it’s ever evolving. Again, back to your earlier question. It’s always going to be finding its next dimension. And it’s always a work in progress. And it really is just an extension of myself. And thankfully, my mother, she works with me with the platform as well. She’s my CFO. She’s, for about 30 years. So yeah, so I’m really lucky to have that opportunity and access to that knowledge, she hits the business performance realm, and I hit more or less the human performance realm. So together, we’re the lead consultants with that platform. So it’s a ton of fun, and who knows where it’ll go. You know, it’s a, it’s right now, a consulting platform that continually brings a new challenge to my table, which is a lot of fun. But it also can be a bit overwhelming, when you start to think about, I mean, I’ve had contacts with various companies and collaborators and partnerships and people wanting to buy it out. And I’m thinking No, no, no, you know, so it’s, you don’t want to lose sleep over it. But you also want to make sure that it’s headed in the right direction. So like I said, before, with graduate school, I’m very careful with before humans, and I really tried to slow walk it and play the long game.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 16:16
Nice. And it does. It sounds like these transferrable skills, keep working and all these varied communities. And it makes me wonder, because it is such a variety of populations that you serve. Within this wide range of performers. It seems to me there have to be some common themes, whether it’s Paralympics or military, or executives, do you see some common themes as you work with these different populations?

Speaker 2 16:46
I do, it’s interesting, because I kind of live this A B life. And it’s a as in Auburn, and B as in business. It’s kind of weird. It’s also a as an Auburn, and B as in beach, like I always find myself, in my mind on beaches, that’s just where I grew up. And that’s my general cognitive mode. But for example, at Auburn, I work with a lot of laymen within the mindfulness at Auburn initiative. So I’m working with HR departments, I’m working with staff and faculty, I’m working with various student populations, presenting at conferences, reading articles and papers. That’s one sector, still performance optimization. But for laymen, if that makes sense. And then you pivot over here to the beside, and per for humans is that 1% of the 1%. These are really not normal humans. And I really love working with the not normal humans. They’re a lot of fun, I think the through line is they know they’re different. They know they’re not the norm. And with that awareness, that’s what separates them, from the average human is the level of awareness, they have both of themselves internally and externally, but also of their environments, and how their environments, whether it’s a physical aspect, or component of the environment, or a nother person, place thing, object animal, it could be anything. They are hyper aware. And they have full control. But I use air quotes around control, because we’re really not ever in control. If you think about it, get too philosophical, but they are hyper aware, and therefore in control of both their internal physiology as well as their external environments. It’s kind of hard to explain, but that’s kind of what I noticed as the main through line, and the main commonality within the 1% of the 1%.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:01
Wow, I can picture that. Yeah. And it is I like working with outliers in the world of students. I know, there’s a lot of resources for the middle of the bell curve. I love those two ends of it. It’s just sighs Yeah, challenging and cool.

Speaker 2 19:19
Very cool. Yeah, it’s fun. It kind of, you know, charges your battery keeps you, keeps you young and keeps you excited. So it’s fun. Absolutely.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 19:29
So I want to talk a little more about K 12. And I’ve loved what I’ve experienced when you’ve been in Ecuador or your work with kids. I’ve gotten to sit in some of your sessions and work on mindfulness. And you definitely apply your skills to the K 12 environment. I’ve seen it and appreciated it right now in the US in K 12. And I’m sure it’s pretty global. It seems like everybody is overloaded, not feeling energetic as a result of the pandemic and living demands, too. Teachers and students worn down. Do you have a few steps you could recommend to help folks re energize and ultimately get back to moving our educational system forward?

Speaker 2 20:12
Oh, Maureen, that’s a that’s a good one. That’s a loaded question. I love it. Yes, it is bringing in another three lawn. And you may not even realize that you’re doing it. And I’ve been talking about this a lot lately with friends and colleagues and family. I think, you know, in my field, and human performance optimization, as I mentioned at the outset, I work with humans. And when you work with humans, you have to well, at least you don’t have to. But I suggest that you take the time to get to know humans. And the only way to get to know humans, other humans, is to take the time to get to know yourself. And that’s what this next through line that you mentioned, afforded me the opportunity to do and that was COVID. The pandemic, the global shutdown, gave me the opportunity to retire from elite athletics after competing for seven years and going nonstop 567 days a week, and traveling to 20 something countries and playing in 50, international matches. And it was just it was just a lot right on top of grad school on top professorship on top of research, our each teaching coaching me is just wow. So once the world stopped, the physical planet kept rolling, obviously. But the societal world was put on pause. And I thought, here’s a great opportunity to dive deeper into my own personal practices and get to know myself a little bit more. And I think that really opened the door to understand others, whether they are my clients, my students, research participants, audiences, whatever it is, children at the K 12 level doesn’t necessarily matter. And I think we all experienced the pandemic, in a unique fashion, it was different for everyone. Kind of like when you ask somebody Where were you on 911? You always remember that moment, you can now ask people where were you? When World Health Organization, declared it a pandemic and shut the planet down? Where were you and everyone has their own story? And then you can ask, Well, how was the last three years for you? In Ecuador? During the keynote, I said, we all have one thing in common. And that’s we all have a brain. We all have a set of lungs, and we all have a heart. And those three organs are vital. If one shuts down, or we’re in trouble if they all shut down. Adios, you’re transitioning into a different space. And the last three years have taught us that we’re connected. Every single one of us is connected by wave our brains, we think, by way of our lungs, we breathe, we all breathe oxygen. And by way of our hearts, we all have that feeling. If I walk into a room, or we’re on zoom right now, Maureen, I could tell through this screen, whether you’re having a good good vibe, a good day, or something’s up, something’s a little off. How do I know that? Well, maybe you’re sending frequencies that my physiology is picking up as well. So to get to your question of what can people do to maintain their batteries and maintain their level of energy and focus and concentration? I think we all have to stop. Just like the pandemic stopped us. We all try to get back on that treadmill pretty quickly. Right? It was this. It was this idea of let’s return to normalcy, whatever that means I don’t let’s return to normalcy without understanding that the pandemic for a lot of people is a traumatic event. And if you don’t have the right amount of therapy, or the right amount of treatment, or that amount of affordances, or access to work through that trauma, well, you’re just getting back on a treadmill. And now you have a lot of holes in your wheel. So you become compromised. And look at the children. I mean, we have what we call them now. COVID kids that children at certain ages, miss certain grades and their linguistic competency and their arithmetic competency and their social awareness is and their emotional EQs. I mean, it’s it’s just, I mean, it’s, it’s crazy when you start thinking about the ramifications of a global shutdown. I agree. It’s wild, but I really do believe in my heart. If you’re able to build a practice because I don’t think routine is a good word. I don’t think it sets people up for success. I think it sets people up for failure. But if you’re able to build a practice, whatever that practice looks like for you, I’m not advocating for any specific methodology or technique, or concepts or constructs, I’m just saying, find what works for you. What makes you feel good? What keeps you energized and focus? I have some suggestions, and work through those processes such that you’re consistent, and you’re disciplined. And you’re motivated to continue to grow and evolve to come back to the name of this podcast, how do you pull forth from within the true definition of education? And how do you continue to grow? The idea behind evolution?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 25:36
Right answer. And I think you’re right, I really like that you talk about build a practice, and talk about using our own intuition is there are times I can listen to an audiobook and Zen color. And ah, and that’s going to be far different than an elite athlete might do, just to kind of get some space and reground. So right, there isn’t a formula just like there’s not a formula with our learners. And what you’re saying is, remember our commonalities. Remember, we’ve all been through a trauma, and especially our kids, these COVID kids have missed, ginormous milestones, and how do you as a culture, you can’t put the toothpaste back in the tube. So we’re gonna, it’s not gonna be back to normal or the past, we’re gonna have to keep grappling with this and, and keep adjusting to accommodate and to deal with the trauma. So it’s a complex question and your answer unpacked a lot of the different layers.

Speaker 2 26:37
I recently returned from an event called adapt and thrive. It was an adaptive athletics event out at the Chula Vista elite athlete training center and had the opportunity to work with us power soccer. And this is an adaptive sports program under US Soccer Federation. We won’t go into that, because that’s a whole nother wormhole. But I want to focus on the name of the event, adapt and thrive. And I was thinking about this the other day, in Ecuador, you have a very close proximity to the Galapagos Islands. And there’s a lot of conversations around those islands, right. And Darwin’s theory of evolution and how the human has to adapt, and the animal has to adapt in order to survive. And I thought, well, that’s kind of interesting that I’m coming back from this conference. And I’m literally jumping on a jet headed to California, it’s called adapt and thrive. And here I was thinking, adaptation is the notion towards survival. And yet, it really is the adaptation towards thrive. How do we adapt pivot, like you said, in order to regroup regather ourselves and thrive, evolve, push ourselves to the next level, as opposed to adapt and hey, survive, survive. To me, it’s just another word for complacency. I’m just out here surviving. Thrive is that optimization is how do we excel through performance, productivity, health, well being etc.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:09
Agreed. And I love the word Thrive it it’s vibrant. It’s dynamic. It’s, it’s ongoing. It’s not a static place to be. Yeah, survive. Yeah, you’re breathing. You’re getting up every morning. Your existing. Yeah, not a word. That’s very energizing, is it?

Ford Dyke 28:26
Yes. survives like, copy paste. That gets boring.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:31
Yeah, absolutely. Well I could go on for hours, but I am going to pivot. And I would like to ask you a few turbo time questions because I love unpacking who the person is, and not just the amazing work they’re doing. So may I fire a few questions at you?

Ford Dyke 28:51
Yeah, let’s do that. Sounds fun.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 28:52
Awesome. What’s the last book you read?

Speaker 2 28:56
Kobe Bryant’s the mama mentality. The mama lot of picture mama bomba the mama Ma Ba bomb. That was his. That was his persona as an elite athlete. He was the mamba. That’s what he went by. Rest in the stars. Kobe Bryant.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:13
Yes. And his daughter Gianna. I have a daughter Gianna. So it’s like,

Ford Dyke 29:18
yeah, that’s still a heavy one on. Yeah, that’s

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:21
so many people. Yeah,

Ford Dyke 29:23
your listeners should check that book out. It’s pretty phenomenal.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 29:26
Love it. How about two inspirational folks throughout history, it can even be in fiction that you’d love to meet.

Ford Dyke 29:35
I want to be able to talk to Abraham Lincoln. Again, again, as an I’ve never met the guy but you know, if I were able to time travel, I just want to pick his brain a little bit over a cup of coffee. And I also want to have a conversation as an adult that has finished graduate school with my grandfather that passed. When I was I want to say gosh 14 years old. He was just the OG you know, he’s, he’s got 10 Kids, my mom is one of them, just a different type of human. And there’s questions I have for him now that 1410 And five, he didn’t really have the frontal lobe space for yet. So those would be the two inspirational people that I would love to have a conversation with.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:19
Wow, neat. How about the biggest thing you wish folks knew about optimization,

Speaker 2 30:27
it takes time. And I know time is relative. I’m just saying, instead of focusing on the goal, try to trust the process, and enjoy the changes that occur as a function of being in the moment.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 30:44
very zen like, and extra important. Because when you think of the 1% of the 1%, you know, it’s like achieve achieve achieve, and you’re saying, or you could also remember the process the time it takes and enjoying the steps along the way. So that’s a beautiful counterbalance.

Ford Dyke 31:02
Thank you appreciate it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:04
How about a pet peeve of yours.

Ford Dyke 31:07
I was thinking about this earlier, because I know you sent those questions on. And I was leaving the fitness facility. And I thought, if we haven’t learned anything in the last three years, why haven’t we learned that washing your hands when you leave the restroom is a vital piece to not only hygiene, but I don’t know public health in general. And that just kind of got under my skin, the amount of people I see in and out of restroom facilities without washing their hands is kind of mind blowing to me. So that’s definitely one of my pet peeves.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 31:39
Yep. How about one passion you bring to human optimization,

Ford Dyke 31:45
a passion that I bring to it. I think it’s just an extension of who I am as a person outside of all these other roles and responsibilities and titles. And, you know, I have a performance coach title, I have a professor ship. And I’ve got like all these other things that some people use to identify me. But aside from all of that stuff, I’m a human, just like my client, just like my student, just like my athlete, just like whomever I’m working with. And so the passion that I bring is I always try to put myself in that space of that individual. And let them know back what I said earlier, Hey, I’ve done this and it works, or, Hey, I’ve done this, and it doesn’t work very well. Let’s try it and see if it works for you. And instead of focusing on the research as the dogma, it’s used the research as the foundation to Then prove it to yourself and make the decisions that can help you elevate as opposed to someone else. That was a part of a research project X amount of years ago, if that makes sense.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 32:56
It absolutely does. How about your favorite thing or fun fact about Alabama? Or Auburn University?

Speaker 2 33:04
It’s kind of a, I don’t want to say pessimistic thing about it. Okay, is probably not what people would expect. A. And it’s super, there’s a lot of irony, I’ll say, with this fun fact, if you will, the state of Alabama, from one to 50 on the obesity scale is very high up there, near and around Louisiana, and Mississippi. I mean, we’re in that sector of the country have really, really high BMI is on average and obesity. And there’s numerous reasons for that, that we don’t, we won’t get into right now. The second piece to it is one to 50, Alabama, from educational standpoint, is very low, as well. And the irony that I find with this is I’m a professor in the health sciences in Alabama. But I use that as motivation to continue to provide my students, by audiences, extension projects, outreach initiatives, an opportunity to take the knowledge to take the education to take the skills that I learned at Auburn University, awesome institution, and give back to this state to say we can do better. We don’t have to be on these high end scales of obesity. And we also don’t have to be on these low end skills of education. So it’s really, in my opinion, taking my PhD outside of the institution, outside of those four walls and putting my PhD to work.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 34:48
I love that that you see a need and it is ironic that your life’s work ties into the two areas that are Alabama needs the most come

Speaker 2 35:00
Something that never was kinda weird. But you know, here we are. Yep.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 35:05
What is something about you Most people don’t know?

Speaker 2 35:08
So I’m going to bring it back to that conference, you and I were just had I met not in K 12. Right. I’m a, I’m a college professor. Being around k 12. Educators, I realized how much I don’t know, number one. Number two, being around k 12. educators that are so passionate and so good at what they do, also makes me realize how poor my K 12 education was, how bad it was. And that’s what most people don’t realize about me. They think, okay, he’s got his PhD. He’s highly educated, quote, unquote, right? He’s gone through higher education. My foundation is not great. I would say Montessori, and elementary school, pretty strong. Middle School, not so great. High School. Pretty bad. And so it wasn’t until college. But really, it wasn’t until upper levels of college junior senior, especially into gap year. And then masters and of course, PhD, where I found myself having the opportunity to become more educated. But I always come back to it’s hard to build a house without a strong foundation. Yeah, so that’s one thing that people typically don’t know about me is the foundation of education is, is quite weak, when you start breaking it down, putting those onion layers back.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 36:30
Interesting. And how cool one that you overcame that. And I’m sure you do a lot of filling in along the way to have a better foundation, and that you share it so others don’t think oh, yeah, well, yeah, he can do that, because he had this, but I could never go that direction and have my own business have a doctorate. So I think you are also inspiring others to not let a weak background or foundation deter them from their dreams.

Speaker 2 36:57
I try to share that with my students all the time, you know, they see you as an authoritative figure at the front of the classroom with the letters after the last name, they think, gosh, you know, never get there. And it’s, uh, well, you know, you probably have a stronger background and foundation than I do. And here’s my approach towards things. And here’s skill sets and different personality traits that I have, that have led me to this moment. So we’re all unique, and we’re all going to have our own trajectory. It’s just a matter of what do you want to get out of it? And do you want to enjoy the process? Or do you only want to look at the goal?

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 37:34
Yes. Lots to ponder. Thank you for it. We always end with a magic wand moment. So I’m taking out the education evolution, I should get a real magic one’s really nice. I actually have one somewhere because they’re fun. Handing over the education evolution magic wand. What would you wish our schools would implement to help our learners maximize their performance and potential?

Speaker 2 38:03
we got to get more movement in these classrooms. We have these students from Montessori nursery all the way up to 12k through 12. And now even in college and graduate programs, this notion of having a desk that you sit down in or a floor where you cross your legs and you’re in a circle. I just think we got to have more outside of these classrooms expose ourselves to nature and sunlight, get our hands and feet dirty and outside of the fluorescent bulbs and Wi Fi signals. And you know, it’s like, it’s like we got to break the walls down. We can’t just be sitting around anymore trying to let our brain stretch when the blood has been reallocated to our lower extremities.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 38:46
Amen. In fact, I just came from my Seattle campus, and the humanities teacher, I’d taken the kids out in the morning like, yeah, this we need to move and we’re out walking over to the zoo and back and I am so with you. We have a whole body not just a brain that we bring to school.

Ford Dyke 39:02
Yeah, yeah, definitely. love it.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 39:05
Ford. Thank you. I am, it’s such a pleasure to have met you and to get to overlap in Ecuador. And thank you for being a guest today on the Education Evolution podcast.

Ford Dyke 39:16
Thank you Maureen, I had a lot of fun. I appreciate the invite

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 39:27
I wish all of you listeners could attend a workshop that Ford presents. He sounds almost too good to be true, doesn’t he? grounded, lifelong learner, elite athlete giving back to Alabama and its use the list goes on. But you would even think more of him if you could attend a workshop. His respectful way of valuing humans and pushing folks toward more Mindfulness, more breath, more movement is so impressive. When we were in Ecuador together, he’s like, Hey, I’d love to hop on your podcast. So it was such a blessing to get to have him share with us today, I have to come back to his comment of preaching what you practice. So important. This is a bit of a mind twist, isn’t it? I think a lot of people do do amazing things and have practices that really ground them, and also give back to others. It’s so important that we don’t just walk the talk, but that we talk about what is working for us so that others have a light on their path if they need it. Ford’s recommendation that we all take the time to get to know ourselves and create our personal practice to help us recharge and feel connected to energy and positivity as a foundation to start knowing others is priceless. Self awareness is such a challenge. And it’s like the being the expert that part of our conversation. It is never a destination. It’s an ongoing process.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 41:22
And I really liked that Ford is not giving us a formula for a personal practice. There are no formulas when it comes to humans, there are some good ideas and some common sense things, but no formulas for raising kids for what ninth graders need to be doing in social studies, or for what our personal practices should be. Building a practice and applying it consistently. To give ourselves the self love we need and deserve is like watering our garden and making sure our plants have sunshine or shade, whatever they need to thrive. And thriving is our goal and what we were built for. We need to keep growing and adapting so that we thrive. From that base of self knowledge and exuberant living, we can all be forces for good. And boy does the world need more of that? Ford’s magic one is also very important. I’ve been hearing a lot of the expression that sitting is the new smoking as a culture and possibly as a planet. We are far too sedentary, sitting in school all day sitting in cars or buses to get to and from school or work sitting with our screens in our spare time. This is not creating the healthy humans that we are built to be. Wouldn’t it be great if part of the education evolution were to do away with desks and chairs, or to have it be one option for certain parts of the day, wilderness schools outdoor programs, there are so many options that we can be learning from and those of us that are doing a lot of movement. Please start preaching what you practice helps spread this healthy habit. It was such a pleasure to get to see Ford again and hear more of his powerful ideas. And as always, listeners, thank you for being a part of the education evolution.

Maureen O’Shaughnessy 43:43
I know how challenging it is to make changes inside your own school or community. I’ve spent years working with schools around the world on creating learner centered programs. And it always struck me how much schools were able to get done with the right tools and guidance. If you’re ready to make changes like this in your own school, let’s talk and put together an action plan. Visit educationevolution.org/consult for a free 15 minute call. And let’s see if we’re a good fit for more work together. Thanks again for listening. To support the education evolution. Subscribe so it lands in your podcast app and gets out to more decision makers. Then rate and review it. For more information in shownotes go to educationevolution.org education evolution listeners. You are the ones to ensure we create classrooms where each student is seen heard, valued and thriving. We are in this together and we need you. Let’s go out and reach every student today. Thank you for listening, signing off. I am Maureen O’Shaughnessy your partner in boldly reimagining education.

Transcribed by https://otter.ai

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