Not long ago a study was released explaining kids are negatively affected when we tell them they’re good at something. It sounds crazy, I know, but the article said if we say to our kids they’re good musicians or good athletes, they feel an enormous amount of pressure to live up to the expectations we’ve unknowingly set. The study found kids are much better off if we say great job scoring that goal or you sounded really good in practice today. The difference, the study suggested, is we’re praising what a kid did rather than praising his or her identity based on select criteria. In other words, when we say you’re a good musician what the kid hears is you only matter if you’re a good musician and you should fear losing that status but when we say you sounded great in practice today what the kid hears is you sounded great in practice today, nothing more and nothing less. Their identity has nothing to do with whether they’re a good musician or not.
A few times each year, it happens. I go into a funk. I’ve learned from experience it only lasts a few days but it’s ugly when it happens. What it looks like is this: I don’t want to work because nothing really matters anyway. We all die in the end.
Of course, my normal brain would never get tripped by such a silly thought. Of course the work we do matters. And all that we say and do matter, too. If one thing matters, everything matters I suppose.
I recently met a local Portland politician for lunch whom I’ve respected for a long time. I went into the meeting planning on asking him about his political career and to get some tips on a few communication questions I had. Basically, I was planning on talking about him for an hour.
Then something incredible happened […]
My friend Pete recently let me in on a paradigm shift I found helpful. He was talking about a friend of his who, for some reason, was taking up a bit too much of his mental space. He was beginning to feel responsible for a friend’s bad decisions. Another friend of Pete’s said that Pete needed to be responsible TO his friend, not FOR his friend.
Pete explained this meant he was responsible to be kind to […]