Saturday, September 18, 2010


How you frame a problem or activity to school kids determines which kids will excel. We all know the academic high-achievers, arms waving, butts lifting out of their chairs, ready to tackle the problem while the rest of us are slumped in our chairs waiting for the whole thing to be over. 
            Which are you, a high-achiever or a slumper? What about your partner, or your kids?
            It’s important to know. When researchers posed the problem as being challenging, requiring mastery, and a way to demonstrate excellence, the high-achievers kicked butt.
And the slumpers? Well, they slumped.
Surprisingly—or maybe not so surprisingly—when the very same problem was posed as being fun and exciting, the high-achievers slumped and the slumpers ruled.
Overall, the slumpers kicked butt. They were even more successful than the successful high-achievers. But only if the problem was posed as being fun. 
            The words you use to think about or describe the things you want to do in your life will influence how successful you are. The same is true for your kids, or your partner.
            Decide if you, or they, respond more to fun and exciting, or to challenge and mastery. Then use your words carefully. As we explained last time, questions are often a more powerful motivator than statements. So, though it might feel strange at first, experiment with one of the following, putting in, of course, whatever it is you want to have fun with, or want to master.
             “Will I go to the gym this week and have a great time spinning my butt off while singing old disco songs at the top of my lungs?”
            “Will I go the gym and meet the challenge of lifting x amount of weight y amount of times showing that I am master of my universe?”   
             If you're like school kids and research participants, though it may seem odd, asking yourself the right questions each day using words that work for you will help land you in the gym and wherever else you want to be in your life more often than simply bossing yourself around with statements that start with, "I will."
             'May I', is also a good way of beginning to ask for what you want.
             Try it and let me know what you think.

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