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The Power of Just

Hot Air Balloon
Hot Air Balloon

Image: goldsaint / www.freedigitalphotos.net

 

I’M JUST DOING IT…!

If you have kids, you’ll almost certainly have heard them using the word ‘just’ in the above context – meaning, of course, ‘I’m about to do what you asked me to do <insert your own time period> minutes / hours ago.’

The word ‘just’ is so often used as an excuse – an almost throw-away word that we hope lets us off the hook – that gets us out of a scrape.

But, at the other extreme, it can be incredibly powerful.

 

THE POWER OF JUST

A well-known sportswear manufacturer use the words ‘Just Do It’ along with an affirmational logo that reinforces the motto.

We all know what we need or want to do. But we all also know how not to do it – how to put off doing the do-able.

Why?

What is the enemy of ‘DOING’?

Is it fear? Procrastination? Disbelief? Lack of confidence?

My mind often overflows with ideas of what I want to do and even how to do it – what it looks like. But there is an enemy and its name is ‘fear’. Fear can be paralysing. It invents scenarios that don’t exist in the present and which may never exist in the future. It clouds our vision and limits our perspective. It dents our confidence and squeezes our self-belief.

What if I could just brush aside fear and just do something? What if I just took the first step? What if I just did what I thought I couldn’t do…? What if I just…?

I really believe in ‘the Power of Just’.

Just do it.

And, yes, you will make mistakes – and learn valuable lessons from them. But you will also be wiser – and happier. Because you tried. Because you stepped out. Because you stepped forward.

The following anonymous truism carries a great deal of weight:

Take risks: if you win, you will be happy; if you lose, you will be wise.

 

NOTHING TO LOSE

What could possibly go wrong? Everything!

What is there to lose? Often – nothing!

If your life is only measured by material value, then you could potentially lose everything – but if what you value cannot be seen and is difficult to measure, then it will be very difficult to lose and is worth risking everything for.

So – what are you waiting for? Decide what you want or need to do and take the first step.

Just do it.

Now.

 

 

 

And then, when you’ve started out and scared yourself silly doing it, do it again and JUST KEEP GOING.

 

A friend of mine, Nicola Marshall, espouses the idea of ‘one word’ goals: building your intentions around a single word that encompasses your objectives.

Read her post here: http://www.bravehearteducation.co.uk/looking-forward-to-2015/

If You Don’t Want to Make Any Mistakes, Don’t Take Any Risks

Big Mistakes Rubber
Big Mistakes Rubber

Big Mistakes Rubber – available at most good stationers

You probably have one in a drawer somewhere – one of those ‘Big Mistakes’ rubbers (or erasers, if you’re reading this on the other side of the pond).

Although clearly a joke item, I imagine the ‘Big Mistakes’ rubber to have been created by someone who was tapping into the common acceptance that most of us hate making mistakes – that mistakes are wrong and that the person who makes mistakes is useless. So get the big rubber out, remove all traces of the mistake and pretend it never happened.

How wrong and how mistaken that is.

And how short-sighted we are if we believe that mistakes are to be avoided at all costs.

 

RISK

To my simple mind, there are two types of mistakes (at least in the context of this post).

There is the mistake made through foolish or careless error – such as stepping into the road without looking out for traffic – and there is the mistake made as a result of trying to do something new or difficult. The former should have been anticipated: we learn road safety for a reason. The latter is unavoidable – you cannot know what mistakes you are going to make when you try something new until you try something new.

And that’s where risk comes in: if you don’t want to make mistakes, don’t take any risks. And some people live like that. Pity.

 

DARE

Helen Keller famously said,

‘Life is either a daring adventure or nothing at all.’

And Albert Einstein is supposed to have said words along the line of,

‘The person who never makes mistakes never makes anything.’

I don’t think any of us truly gets rid of the fear and uncertainty we face when taking a risk but we learn to manage it because we know that, given the choice, we’d rather take the risk and hope for success than take no risks and achieve nothing. Risk is something we have to learn to manage – like fear, doubt and disappointment. We learn to take calculated risks – informed by judgement and experience. Blindly taking risks is another thing altogether and best avoided if the consequences are too painful to bear thinking about. Healthy risk is knowing and accepting the consequences of failure.

 

LEARN

A child climbing on an adventure playground is taking a risk: he or she could fall but the anticipation of enjoyment through play far outweighs any notion of the likelihood of falling. If children considered every risk not worth taking, we’d have a lot of unused playgrounds around the country. Children learn risk naturally and its associated fear through play.

A fellow blogger describes his young daughter’s experience:

Amélie recently started French lessons. There is no trace of fear about this new activity. She does not seem worried at the prospect of not being good at languages, or getting it wrong. In all other aspects of her day to day life, if she makes a mistake and it is pointed out to her, she simply notes the error, correction and moves on. It is really simple. Making a mistake does not make her feel stupid or less happy, she just learns.

Coming from an education background and having watched many children learn, I know full well that this is not always the case and, in some instances, it is more the experience of the minority. Many children (and adults) are appalled at the idea of making mistakes and have not yet learnt that some of the biggest lessons in life come from the biggest mistakes we make.

 

EXPLORE

I was laughing with my teenage daughter the other day as she was recounting the crazy things she and her friend do on the way to and from school just because… it’s fun. Our conversation moved on to the experimental behaviour of teenagers and young adults exploring their world as if it is one big adventure and the risks they take in the process. Although it is entirely natural to explore and I encourage risk-taking, some of these young people get themselves into serious trouble – not because they aren’t aware of the risks but because they’ve not received or taken advice on ‘educated risk’.

 

SUCCESS

I applaud risk-taking – but not at the expense of safety. As a teenager myself, I took what I consider now to be huge risks, often embarrassing myself in the process, but I had been sufficiently well-educated to know which risks just weren’t worth taking.  I probably wouldn’t take those kinds of risks today but young people learn about their world, other people in it, their limitations and the limitations of others when they take risks. Risk-taking is essential to growth, development and success.

In fact, someone even suggested that ‘success’ is spelt R-I-S-K.

So let’s encourage our children and young people to take healthy risks but to prep them beforehand – not with fear, but with knowledge – and then trust in their capacity to apply common sense and learn from their mistakes.

The world will be all the better for the mistakes they make in their youth that help them to apply the lessons learned when they enter adulthood.

First Post

2013-01-12-First-Post-word-cloud-PNG

As I edit this first post, ThinQ Education is barely four months old but the growth in learning and experience in that period has been exponential. I won’t go as far as saying that the growth in business has matched that, but interest and uptake has certainly been encouraging.

Several key words have characterised the journey for me as I have steered a course of exploration and discovery in my attempts to make ThinQ Education a going concern and a profitable business. Words like doubt, risk, mistakes, uncertainty and discouragement. Not the kind of words you want on sandwich boards around your neck!

However, if it was not for the reality of living those words as I bounced around trying to run a new start-up, I would not have learnt the important lessons that will enable ThinQ Education to become the success I hope it will be.

A butterfly emerging from its cocoon undergoes a fierce struggle before it is free and is allowed to let its wings spread and its colours shine – but that struggle is necessary for its survival. I believe that, as learners, we all have to learn important lessons if we are to fully appreciate the benefits of our learning. Learning to walk – and falling over in the process – is an early example of this, followed by learning to ride a bike – and more falling. In a school context, we often find that children are averse to making mistakes in their learning and do not realise just how important making and recognising mistakes is to the depth and strength of their learning.

Growing resilient learners is a key driver for ThinQ Education but, far from it being a pink and fluffy concept, resilience in thought (what I call ‘intellectual resilience’) is essential to successful learning and living. As educators, we must create opportunities for children to develop as resilient thinkers. This doesn’t require bolt-on strategies – just a climate of promoting, encouraging and validating independent thinking.

As resilient thinkers, children will learn to manage doubt, risk, mistakes, uncertainty and discouragement, rather than feel like they are walking through life with sandwich boards bearing the word, ‘failure’.