Changing the status quo
We’re always looking for the easy way out. Looking for a shortcut to our problem, to our homework, to our tasks. We start doing this from a young age, with chores, and then, we try to get better at it as we age. How can I get out of this? How can I skip it? The majority of us anyways. What happened to the challenge?
Babies like figuring stuff out, they like the challenge and the work required to solve a puzzle, riddle, or game. But for some reason we train our children to stop doing that once they start first grade. From that moment on, its all about obedience and completing tasks that are assigned to you. By the time we reach our teens, we’ve developed a fixed mind-set, one that says I’m either smart or dumb, and that means that if we can’t do something we say it’s boring, or a waste of time, pointless. That’s garbage and that is the opposite of what we should be doing, all of us.
Seek out the challenges
Challenges are what we need. They are what we love. If you are playing a video game and you beat it on the first try is that a fun game? Nope. That game sucks. Think about it. We want the video game that’s tough, the one where we die hundreds of times trying to get to the next level and after constant perseverance and countless attempts we make a breakthrough. This is related to failure being a learning experience, which I’ve mentioned in an earlier post. Now we just got to apply that to real life, as we grow and become adults we need to be doing that all the freaking time. We have to look at stuff as a challenge and take it head on, only then, are we actually moving in the right direction. Only then, are we making progress, growing, and fulfilling our potential.
Inevitably, we have to change the status quo and stop accepting mediocrity and shortcuts. It means seeking out the challenges we crave, because deep down that’s what we want, a challenge. If it’s not difficult then it ain’t worth doing is it? That’s all I’m saying. As teachers we need to challenge our students in the classroom, it’s a delicate balance between easy and too hard. Some teachers try too hard to make it insurmountable. Others will simply not care and just give them something simple to do. Well, that’s simply not good enough. Sure at first you’ll have to gauge what your students can do and what is too difficult, but once you’ve identified the sweet spot you take action and serve ‘em up the goods! In language learning it’s presenting them with communicative tasks that forces them to communicate with their classmates and use the language they know to complete the aim of the activity. A key ingredient is to explain to your students the point of this and demonstrate that there is value in it. Students need to know that there is value in what they are doing otherwise they will switch off and so it is our duty as teachers to enlighten them on the objective of the activity.
The same applies to anyone who is in a leadership role and is responsible for managing adults in a business or work setting. Instill the value of their work and after instructions are given let them get on with it. Adults and teens will feel empowered if they are given the chance to take control of their work or learning, that is what it’s all about, right?
There’s no better time than the present
We change the status quo by challenging ourselves to do something difficult and then guiding others to do the same. Easy is boring, repetitive, unoriginal, and sucks the energy out of us. Don’t settle for mediocrity and shortcuts, set the bar high and do so slowly at first and then build on it. Basically, if it’s easy, it’s a waste of your precious time. It’s something I’ve only learned to appreciate now that I am older. Time. It’s become so limited since I became a dad and self-employed. It has become my most precious resource and consequently what I now truly value more than anything. When we are young we have this sense that time is infinite and we got too much of it. Once you start valuing your time, you realize how much of it we waste on passive tasks that don’t help us grow or make progress. I’m talking about too much TV, movies and long commutes. We can challenge the status quo by becoming more efficient with our time and how we spend it, it’s our starting point and then we build the foundation to more challenges. I’ve become a firm believer in that. It’s an important realization I had when I got close to my thirties. I said: ‘How many more times do I need to go out and party with my friends? How many more times do I need to make plans for a Friday and Saturday night out? When is enough, enough?’ I used to do that a lot, well not anymore! Time to be productive. Time to make things tougher and take action. Time for a growth mind-set: To learn, to put in some effort, to take on challenges, to face your fears. It’s a process though, it doesn’t happen overnight. It’s a process, never forget that.
You won’t see the results right away, it’s not an overnight makeover. Think of it like brushing your teeth. You don’t see the results every day, you see them over time, years down the road when you got no cavities and healthy gums. That all came from your twice a day ritual. That’s it, a process. Be patient and keep toughening out. Now, let’s get to work.