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Creative Learning Director of
The Flirefly Group.
© 2013 Brian Remer
Updated Apr. 2013
99's on the 9th
Ideas based on 99-Word Stories that
come to you on the 9th of every month.
Here is a
comment about 99's on the 9th for November 2012
The thing that struck me was that oftentimes what we say and do as a positive intention is misread by the receiver in a way that was not intended. Perhaps this holiday season we need to give our family the benefit of a doubtů.everything everyone does is done with a loving intention. (And, no, that doesn't mean you can say hurtful, unkind things and say it was for "their" good.) Just a thought. Happy, happy! -- Susan Gamel Otto
At three and a half, my daughter was a pacifier junkie. She only popped it in her mouth after daycare, yet no amount of encouragement could induce her to kick the habit.
One day, my wife and I were discussing a report that the chemical softener in pacifiers could be carcinogenic. Our daughter interrupted to ask what we were talking about. We explained, in simple terms, that her pacifier might be dangerous for her long-term health. Without a word, she took it out of her mouth. Cold turkey.
We never really know how much a person comprehends!
You can build upon the theme of this 99-Word Story by using some of the following questions for your own reflection or to spark a discssion within your team or organization.
There are many ways to understand this story as the discussion questions suggest. If you or your group would like to compare or contrast your interpretation with an outside viewpoint, consider this analysis:
"You can't teach old dogs new tricks." So the saying goes - until suddenly one day ol' Rover is jumping through a new hoop!
Some changes evolve slowly over time. Increasing proficiency in a new skill or gaining strength after an illness are similar to the gradual changes of growth. You would need a time-laps camera to capture the subtle alterations occurring in some aspects of our lives. They happen with long-term sustained effort.
But then there are the other changes that happen all at once. What would motivate someone to change long-standing behavior in the blink of an eye? When an idea has been around for a long time, what makes a person jump through that new hoop now instead of at any point previously? The 99-Word Story suggests some ideas.
- When the issue is relevant. Make it about me and I'll take action. As soon as my daughter learned we were talking about her pacifier, she was immediately focused on our adult conversation. That pacifier was her business and no one else's.
- When there is new evidence. Here was information she could not have heard before. It provided a fresh perspective and revised data for decision-making. All at once there was another world view to incorporate into her thinking. Obviously a mental model overhaul was in order.
- When the evidence is believable. The information my daughter learned was credible. Even though she heard it second hand, this revelation was backed by the media. It came from an outside source, not just from her parents - who probably had a reputation for making statements and demands based on unreliable evidence and faulty, self-serving logic!
- When the change fits with long-term goals. Though it certainly was unstated, my daughter must have had a desire to care for herself. She knew what it was like to be sick and she knew it was good to be healthy. That desire enabled her to commit to a new path. It helped her overcome the short-term comfort of her pacifier for the long-term achievement of sustainable health.
- When there is support. My wife and I had expressed our willingness to help our daughter make a transition to pacifier-abstinence for quite a while. Once we realized she was serious, we did not keep a pacifier in our pocket for emergencies. We did not tempt her with alternative teething toys or reward her with a new stuffed animal. Instead, we backed her decision with caring and love.
- When we can act autonomously. Sometimes we don't think we can influence the world around us. But we all have a desire to take charge and be in control. The ability to act independently and affect our environment is a powerful intrinsic motivator. Perhaps that's why our daughter had kept the pacifier so long. This was one thing she could control; one way to express her selfhood.
- When there is celebration. The story doesn't mention it, but my daughter would want you to know that we celebrated her independent decision. The incident happened during the Christmas season so we tied a bow to her pacifier and hung it on the tree. Every year it reappears along with the holiday as a reminder of her ability to stick to a goal.
Review these factors and you'll see the effects of logic, emotion, social support, and long-term goals at work. Our tendency is to focus on just one factor. We make a logical argument or an emotional appeal. But this story suggests that when we can bring these many factors together with autonomy, support, and celebration, that new trick suddenly becomes doable.
Did you use this 99-Word Story and the discussion questions or interpretation in your work or personal life? If so, about your experience! If you would like help using 99-Word Stories in your organization, please me.
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