For Parents Who Believe Your Kids Are Your Bosses — You Are Right
It is about the best getting better. Based on a true story.
This is a true story.
Israeli army hired an American psychologist to help train cadets. At the start of the year, the psychologist made a claim — He could predict which cadets would be in the top 20% at the end of the year. He added a tick mark before the names and shared it with his superiors.
At the end of the year, he was right on target on the top 20%. His superiors were amazed. They sought him out to learn more about his secret sauce.
They were stunned when he shared his secret — he had picked the list of names at random.
Ouch! Think of the ramifications of this real story [from the book Give and Take by Professor Adam Grant].
Luck plays a role in life — there is an impact even before we get the chance to make a first impression! How people are treated has a big impact on their success — a self fulfilling prophecy on how the “best” get better.
The human mind is far more gullible than we are consciously aware of.
Yet, the not so obvious astounded me.
At first blush, it is very tempting to position ourselves in the shoes of a cadet and dwell on the irony of our success hinging on elements beyond our control. Our abilities and our work ethic [that our supervisor observes] are worthy ingredients but not all ingredients. The takeaway from this study is that we need to be aware of the equivalent of the American psychologist in our work life.
Up to this point, it is fairly conventional.
What happens if we do something different — put our child in the supervisor/boss shoes? Suddenly, the story in this study becomes very personal — way beyond the boundaries of work.
Connecting the Dots
First why would I do that? Conventional wisdom is to think of children in cadet’s shoes and parents in supervisor’s shoes. Yet, a relationship, whether it is at work or at home, is a two way street. This simple, “why not?” opened up vistas.
Like the cadets, I may spend the best time with my kids (“supervisors”)- with the best attention that I can marshal.
A lot is in my hands — putting the time and effort. Yet, the story made me conscious of the people around us who make my daughters more receptive to my warmth and vice versa. The people who would ink the tickmarks with flourish that made incredible impression in the kid supervisors.
When I started to observe the world around my two daughters beyond my one on one, I started to notice innocent, simple tick marks. Tick marks that propel the dalliance between the cadet parent earnestness and the subtle, positive nods from our children.
Indelible Tick Marks
I became acutely aware of the random, often innocuous statements grandparents (my mom and my parent in laws) often shared with my two young daughters — “hold your parent’s hands while you cross the street”, “your mom and dad have your interest at heart” and many more. These words are often interspersed within the Skype calls with the kids. And more pronounced when they interact in person.
I was equally amazed with the heartfelt random nothings we (my wife and I) share with our kids–“your grandparents give you a lot of their time dwelling on all your small details. Sometimes I wonder if it is the same person [busy mom] from my young days.”
The weight of those innocent lines are an outpouring of love and regard in the most sublime ways. Yet, those lines have the hallmark of those tick marks by the American psychologist- subtle in effort, massive in impact.
Who doesn’t delight in being in the top 20% especially on the relationships that matter? Our parents, as grandparents, help us in being better parents in understated ways we take for granted.
In the subtleties of those innocuous, simple words of care, I found the most meaningful self-fulfilling stories life can offer us. Stories that make the most meaningful relationships get better.
What more can we ask for in life?
Interested in your thoughts in the comments section.