We take chances, we fail, we learn, we grow,
and we move forward.
Listening to a TED Radio Hour (June 24, 2016 show) piece reminded me of the power of words and self-talk. The theme of the show was that to change habits or make changes sometimes all we need is a gentle nudge in the correct direction. The form of that nudge is critical. More specifically, how the nudge is presented will have an impact on results.
One of the interview guests, Carol Dweck, noted researcher and Stanford University psychologist, pointed to her research on mindsets. She emphasized that when we want to encourage (nudge) people to improve and continue to grow we need to pay attention to our words and actions. Sounds simple but the subtleties are immense. Leaders, parents, and teachers would do well to remember that everything we say and do sends a message.
For instance, she cautions that we need to praise the effort not the intellect of a student or employee. Praising the intellect can (according to her research) cause a person to avoid risks. Why? Because if I fail then what does that say about my intellect that I’ve been praised for? So, I take the less vulnerable route and listen to that little voice on my shoulder that advises me to remain perfect and not bring question to my intellect. This, Dweck says, is the stuff of “fixed mindsets.”
She found that when we praise the process (the strategy, the grit, or the progress) that nurtures growth mindsets. We take chances, we fail, we learn, we grow, and we move forward.
Early this week I was speaking to a community activist who shared her dismay with the obsession in Florida with testing school children. Everything is about the test and getting the right answers to the test. Either your right or your wrong—and the consequences can be immense for our children.
Rather than marking something “wrong,” Dweck suggested using the words “Not Yet.” It does not excuse the error. It actually points out the error—but with hope for a better future the next time the problem or task is attempted. Positive and powerful rather than demoralizing and demeaning.
Think of the impact on leaders and employees when we focus on a “Not Yet” as opposed to a dismissive response to an error. Such a mindful approach helps our capabilities to grow. This is not fuzzy talk saying we have unlimited capabilities. Rather, this approach helps us to better know our capabilities.
Video recommendation of the week. In this short clip, Professor and Author, Richard Thaler, connect the notion of the nudge with being a “choice architect.”
Don’t forget the power of words—to others and to yourself. Everything sends a message. What message do we send ourselves….and what messages do we accept from others? How can you be a choice architect in your life and the lives of others?
Make it an inspiring week and H.T.R.B. as needed.
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My books Choices for College Success (3rd edition) and Study Skills: Do I Really Need This Stuff? (3rd edition) are published by Pearson Education.
(c) 2016. Steve Piscitelli. All rights reserved.