The ESSENTIALS: High Standards & Improvement – Building the Habits for Excellence (Digital Curriculum)


The title of Geoff Colvin’s book says it all: Talent is Overrated. The scientific research makes it clear that stars are made not born, and natural ability is overrated — even though most people still think the best performers are “just born that way.” The Habits for Excellence summarizes three major strategies that contribute to maximizing one’s potential for excellence: seeking capable coaching and constructive feedback, the will to get started and the grit to stick to it, and the importance of deliberate practice. In this module, participants will evaluate their habits for excellence by utilizing the Habits for Excellence Personal Profile and discover strategies to apply the habits to their own life.


No matter what you call them — character skills, SEL skills, positive psychology strengths, employability skills, 21st-century competencies, or even soft skills— these foundational skills are essential in every family, school, extra-curricular, sport, employment/STEM readiness program, community, or workplace.

The ESSENTIALS is a research-based character development and leadership enhancement program designed for educators working with middle and high school-aged youth. The ten focus areas in The ESSENTIALS series represent critical competencies for developing character and culture skills needed for success in school, extra-curricular activities, work, and beyond.

The ESSENTIALS modules draw upon nearly 25 years of applied research and development in K-16 education, workplaces, and sports.

Educators can introduce each ESSENTIALS module as a single experience or break it into several 15-minute lessons. Students can use the module’s core tool or strategies repeatedly to master the competency over time. In addition, each module includes several extension activities and teaching ideas, allowing for extra practice throughout a course, semester, or year.

View all 12 ESSENTIALS modules / topics

The ESSENTIALS – Frequently Asked Questions

Building the Habits for Excellence – Flipbook

Building the Habits for Excellence


The ESSENTIALS: Series Introduction

Introduction to Essentials

CASEL Core Social-Emotional Learning (SEL) Competency Alignment: Self-Management

Six Pillar Alignment: Responsibility