Sunday, March 23, 2014

Quote-A-Day: Day 82

and should never be allowed to drown. But they must be made to swim.

One of the worst things we can do for a leader or learner is provide them with an answer.

Life isn't meant to be easy, and the process of leading and learning shouldn't be either.  Too often, we so want people to succeed that we are too quick to end the necessary struggle that leads to elation, once people get to where they want to go.

As a parent, I experience this daily with my two kids.  Internally, I don't want them to struggle, and it sometimes pains me to see the look of frustration on their faces when they don't have the patience, grit, or perseverance to complete the task they're working on.  However, I do my best to put the control in their hands by letting them know how much I believe in them, and that I'm here if they want to take a break and come back to whatever it is they are doing (of course, this type of support/feedback doesn't have much impact on my infant :) ).

The struggle to succeed is a necessary one.  If we want the learners and leaders in our lives to see success as a series of failures strung together, then we need to make sure we provide the necessary opportunities for this realization to happen.

This means structured struggle, where we hang around in the "background" to prevent learners from falling hard, but give them plenty of room to slip, slide, and trip.  In order for this to truly work, however, there has to be a culture of "failure as being good" in one's professional and personal life.  Leaders need to be willing to fail and exhibit their failures regularly.  Learners need to support each other as they fail and encourage each other to keep going.  As a colleague of mine told me, "I want to leave an impression on the work my students do, but avoid leaving any of my fingerprints on it."  That makes perfect sense to me.

Many are quick to lament the fact that, "today" learners seem a lot less intrinsically motivated and less capable of individual work then they were in the "past."  This may or may not be true, but if it is, the solution rests in our hands.  We must let others struggle before they encounter success.

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