Sunday, January 15, 2017

Good, Better, Best

                 Image result for children who are praised best
by The Urban Blabbermouth
At the end of each episode of America's Top Model, Tyra Banks critiques the contestants.  In one episode, the losing person, the one eliminated from the show, lets call her Louise, had only one look.  Whatever the pose, she looked the same.  Tyra explained that Louise needed to have different looks for different poses. As Tyra likes to do, she then flashed off several poses and looks -- sad, sadder, saddest; mysterious, mysterious-er and mysterious-est; sexy, sexier, and sexiest.

As I watched Tyra's amazing performance, the ease that she did her demonstration, I wondered why Louise did not do this in the first place.  Why didn't Louise spend time practicing the poses and facial expressions.  It's not like it was a surprise to her.  After all, America's Top Model has been on television for fourteen years.  They do the same thing every season: select women, put them in curious poses, and photograph them.  Plain as day.  Louise could have binge-watched the episodes until the judging criteria became obvious to her.  Louise could then run out to Home Depot, buy a wall-mounted floor-to-ceiling mirror for her home, stand in front of it and begin to practice, practice, practice her poses and facial expressions.

I know why she did not: Louise was told by friends and family that she was great.  She was indeed great.  She was greater than all her friends and family and did not see the need to practice. But that is not enough.  Louise ended up on America's Top Model, competing with all the other contestants who were told by their friends and family that they are great too.  She was among the best candidates selected.  Louise began to look ordinary.

You can see the opposite side of this phenomenon in women's tennis.  Serena Williams regularly beats her opponents.  All the women that Serena defeats can play tennis better than 99.9 percent of the people in the world.  Sometimes, Serena plays well beyond her opponents' ability and the match is over quickly with a lopsided score.  Yet, Serena goes out and hires a coach to make her tennis game better still.

Have you looked at yourself, at what you do well, and how you may do it better?


Vol-E said...

Poor Louise! Like many children and adults, she is a victim of the Fixed Mindset, explored by UC professor Carol Dweck. Too often, we tell kids that they are "smart" or "gifted," giving them the idea that they are "perfect, right out of the box." This implies that they don't have to work at being great. And the first time they encounter an obstacle, they are terrified that the "smart" badge will be ripped away from them forever. It must be really infuriating to watch the other kids, the ones regarded as "average" or "below average" struggle non-stop and finally achieve, surpassing the "smart" kids and leaving them in the dust, by sheer determination practice. The ones who strive have the Growth Mindset. They regard failure as a building block or stepping stone to mastery. They often don't fear failure because they believe they have nothing to lose. Fixed-mindset people believe they have everything to lose, so they won't try anything challenging.

The Urban Blabbermouth said...

I see the Mindset at work too.

I heard one manager, impressed with an employee's effort, praise the employee. But the employee was not really getting the job done. So when and where do you draw the line?

I will have to read some of Prof. Dweck's work.


The Urban Blabbermouth said...

Stumbled across this article "Managing Oneself" by Peter Drucker. Great read.