Leaner Kids

You can only bring out in others what you have in yourself

“You can only bring out in others what you have in yourself”

-James Sarvis

Through the years of coaching, I have learned that whenever a parent comes to me about the behavior of their child, I know to look first at the behavior of the parent. Ive never had to work with the child directly. I’ve seen amazing results, but it was the parent that had to change first. You can only bring out in others what you have in yourself.

I stayed in Tennessee several years ago at a beauiful log home, ran as a bed and breakfast overlooking Pigeon Forge. When I brought my bag in and got ready to settle in, everything appeared fairly normal. As I was getting to know the woman who ran the place, I couldn’t help but notice a beautiful little girl absolutely bouncing off the walls. The woman told me she was her grandchild, and to just ignore her. She said that she was kind of a troubled child.

As the woman made conversation, it wasnt long before she began to tell me about her situation. People always interest me, so I was glad to listen. She seemed intelligent, and told me her estranged husband was a professor at the university of SC. She told me about how she was left to raise her 4 year-old granddaughter, and that she didnt have a way to travel right now because her son, the father of the child, had stolen her truck. During our conversation the child would interrupt with fits of anger and yelling, and the grandmother would respond in the same way. At one point that evening, a couple of rough looking characters stopped in, she introduced as her friends. After they left, she said that one of them had just gotten out of prison, and they would be back later to spend the night. The more she talked, and the more I witnessed, a picture was painted of the nuttiest life I had ever seen. I made sure my bedroom door was locked that night, but sleep still didnt come easy. The door separated me from the other occupants, but not from the negative energy. It got me thinking, if it made me feel this bad being in this crazy home, how did it effect her little granddaughter?
Before I left, I noticed the little girl sitting on the couch, and I asked the grandmother if she minded if I sat beside her and talked to her. The grandmother said sure! So, I sat down and leaned to her and asked her about her coloring books in front of her. She was so calm as she showed me her books, talking to me like what you would expect from a normal child, and she remained peaceful the whole time we were connected. For me, it was an experiment to see how that little girl would react with a peaceful person. As I expected, I was able to bring out the peace in her. I still wonder what became of that beautiful little girl.

Through this experience and many more, I have learned to focus on the parent rather than the child. Before you have your child examined, I strongly recommend you examine yourself. You can only bring out in others what you have in yourself. Look around and you will notice this to be true in many areas of life, whether it’s a parent, spouse, grandparent, friend, coach, teacher, or even pets. 

So, be the Leaner that you wish to bring out in others.



These articles are co-written by James and Elisha, based on the books and work created and founded by James.


Recognizing Leaner Kids

Recognizing Leaner Kids

What is a Leaner Kid? In this story we have two young men, Riley Howell and Kendrick Castillo, who have risen to national prominence because of their heroic acts to save others, and who had real power and strength on the inside. Then, we have two young men who we villainize because of their cowardly acts, who were weak on the inside, and tried to gain instant, external power using guns.

I call those first two young men, Leaner kids. I didn’t know either one of them, but when you read news accounts, pay attention to the image that people are painting. What they had in common were that they leaned to others, they had strength on the inside, and when faced with a problem, they leaned towards it, they both were in college, leaning forward towards a goal, and they had Leaner parents. Leaner kids, as I call them, are only produced by Leaners, and that never just happens. A Leaner can always go back to a mom, dad, or someone in their life that made them who they are, in a positive way. A Leaner.

The Shooters were the opposite of a Leaner. 

I spoke with a woman recently who counseled kids from elementary age to high-school, and she said that the troubled kids always had the same story; no encouragement at home, no goals and feeling like life is meaningless. And, just as sure as Leaners produce Leaners, Non-Leaners produce Non-Leaners. This also never just happens.

The Leaning Institute is about developing and sharing ways to create strength on the inside. It almost never works out well when a weak person has access to instant power on the outside, whether it be a gun, winning the lottery, or any other power.

In my work I describe a balanced life as, our spirit being charged from Leaning Moments first, then having our basic needs met, like food and shelter, and lastly, having that feeling of moving forward (nobody likes feeling stuck).

We should all stop and think about those 2 Leaners. This is a real loss to everybody. We didn’t just lose 2 young men, we lost two assets to the country, and our communities. If one believes that Leaners produce Leaners, think how many potential Leaners could have been created by these two outstanding people. Where as these non-Leaner kids have produced hurt, and very likely will produce more non-Leaners. People will have to guard these kids for the rest of their lives in a dark place where darkness creates more darkness. Instead of what could of been positive money going to the Leaner boys, we are having to invest in the shooters forever.

Through my travels and research, I realized that I had given a name to an endangered species. The mission of the Leaning Institute is to recognize Leaners, like these heroic young men, preserve the Leaners that we have, and foster new Leaners. In our society we’ve lost much of the habitat where Leaners can thrive, and have a healthy balance that produces more Leaners. I guess we could all take some blame for the destruction of the habitat.  Much like our daily habits affect the earth, our daily habits are those moments that produce Leaners or non-Leaners, as well. As I said before, your Leaner may not be mom or dad, but grandma, grandpa, or someone not related at all. So, what we are trying to call attention to is that Leaners should step up and realize their internal power to create more Leaners.  We think of conversion or redemption all the time, and changing direction of lives for the better.  When a Leaner steps up and Leans to a non-Leaner, they are giving that person a chance to live a whole new life. In America, I worry that we are creating more non-Leaners than Leaners. By having a name to identify the most important people in the world, I am hoping we can tip the scale back to having more Leaners.

The shooters were described as being disconnected from the people around them.

Leaning moments connect us to each other.



These articles are co-written by James and Elisha, based on the books and work created and founded by James.