Tuesday, June 6, 2017

The Power of Not Yet

Have you ever caught a fish? Just now.
Motivation is a tricky sport. Carol Dweck has been studying it for years, and in her TED talk I enjoyed recently on my commute home, what struck me was the idea of the power of "Not yet."

How often do we say "I can't"...
  • dance, sing, play an instrument
  • climb a mountain
  • draw, paint, sculpt
  • race a car
  • ride a horse, or a llama
  • play soccer, basketball or golf
  • grow a garden
  • win a snowball fight or build an igloo
  • run 10k, or wheel 1k
  • snowboard a black diamond run
  • master a paddleboard
  • write a story or even a haiku
  • present to a group, or try improv theatre
  • solve that math problem
What if...
Instead of saying "I can't", we said, "Not yet."
Instead of saying "I failed", we said "I tried."
We remembered that none of us are masters of anything the first time we tried.
We forgave ourselves when things don't go exactly as we had planned.

The power of positive thinking, of reinforcing that learning is a process, and there is more reward in effort put forward than in getting everything right is measurable. It is measurable because when we offer the opportunity to try a little harder and to approach a problem in a different way, and to step up and meet a challenge, we start to see results. We see personal betters, we see organizational improvement. When the lowest ranked schools, the ones with the highest numbers of marginalized students were told, you can do this, just not yet, in the course of a year (one year!) the students believed their efforts could pay off. They wanted to try harder. Time after time, they went from the lowest ranked in a district to the highest.

If we apply this to our own organizations, not just saying "you have to do better" but really looking at how you can apply positive reinforcement for trying, learning, and trying again, you will see innovations and improvements. You will see teams working more collaboratively and you will see individuals keen to rise to new challenges. You will see them enjoying the process.

When we produce events, we have the opportunity to let people try new activities in safe environments. We can provide incubators for ideas and hypotheses to be tested, to see what sticks and to see what may need to be adapted. We can do this in a group of peers who can go from "we're close" to "we got this." 

Let's change our language. As parents, educators, and #eventprofs. We got this.

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