Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Little lessons learned

You haven't heard from me because I am working on the design for my major research paper that is due at the end of my two-year masters extravaganza. Despite the fact that I have been completely relishing in the theory I am proving/disproving/exploring, I have found out some pretty interesting things about myself.

1. I like to plan. I already knew this about myself...but I never knew why it was such a big deal. I have been reading some pretty interesting research about motivation lately. Intended specifically for what I am trying to define in my studies, I found it very useful when defining myself.

In a research paper, Motivation When Optimism Declines: Data on Temporal Dynamics, by Wicker et al., I found this very interesting: "People set goals to maximize probabilities of success, and chances of felt success may be greater if goal levels are lowered whenever likelihoods of success appear lower." Very interesting...I can relate to this. I like to plan to MAXIMIZE success.

But, I think one thing I discovered about my fanatic 'planning' is taken from Dr. Gary Chapman's book: The Five Love Languages.

One of the five love languages is quality time. Here is what the book says about it:

"Quality activities are a very important part of quality time. Many mates feel most loved when they spend physical time together, doing activities that they love to do. Spending time together will bring a couple closer, and, in the years to come, will fill up a memory bank that you can reminisce about in the future.

Whether it’s sitting on the couch and having a brief conversation or playing together in a tennis league, quality time is a love language that is shared by many. Setting aside focused time with your mate will ensure a happy marriage."

What I realized about myself is I LOVE focused time. Focused time is quality time. This is why I plan...to make the most out of my time that I can. Does it mean that I can't be spontaneous? No, certainly not....but it means that I have ability to focus my attention on things without distraction! I love not being distracted, so I can more fully appreciate and focus my attention on those I love, or the activities that I love.

2. I hate failing. I always knew this about myself too. BUT not to the extent that I have experienced lately. I am dating. Yes, I am. It is new, fun, adventurous and totally stressful. This time, I realized that my dumb insecurities of failure are what generally keep me from progressing. I blame my education ;)

In the article, Hypocrisy in College Grading Yields a Flood of Mediocrity by Judith Schlesinger that talks about student motivation decline and increase depending on the 'mood' of the student. She mentions two dismaying realities about education now including "
... a generation of students taught to believe that self-esteem is more important than real achievement."

My dad and I had a conversation once about entitlement. I can't remember the situation, but I remember telling my dad about how I felt in the workplace. Not out of inconsideration for my feelings, but to make a point, my dad said, "Lindsey, if you are expecting people to pat you on the back the whole time because you did your job, you are going to be thoroughly disappointed. You have to learn to fail, and fail well."

Even though his opinion in this matter could have been misconstrued as 'mean', he had a point. Our world has a huge sense of entitlement that prevents us from progressing. I think this in part has to do with our unwillingness to fail.

(On a tangent...this is also true of communications skills. We have not been taught how to work through problems. When in a relationship, the biggest 'out' for couples is when they don't know how to effectively communicate and work through their problems. I see this a lot with people dating and have noticed it in myself as well. Learning to communicate and realizing that setting unreal expectations prevents growth. Setting goals is part of growth, but unreal goals....hinders.)

Schlesinger had a very poignant theory (in talking about students): "With so little experience at surviving failure, they come to dread it."

This is also part of the article:

"In fact, Miles [researcher mentioned earlier in article] blames the lack of failure experience for the decline in curiosity, which he defines as "the willingness to learn despite the risk of embarrassment.

In the feel-good model that has dominated American education for the past 30 years, all efforts were equally worthy, and grading was either meaningless or eliminated altogether. This stunted students' ability to differentiate quality from sham, making them more vulnerable to every shiny come-on the world can throw at them.

And learners protected from honest judgment never learn to, as Miles says, 'recognize, accept, understand and learn from mistakes," critical abilities in our fast-changing world.'

Afraid to stretch and dare, many become passive and bored, doing just enough to get by and wheedling through when they haven't."

Lately, I realized that I fit into this mold a little bit. I hate failing because I don't know how to fail well.

I have had to break free of this mentality that I 'deserve' certain things. I am not saying that I don't have goals, and I know that I have to break free of unreasonable expectations. I have to learn how to fail well and pull back up again, learning from my failures and realizing that growth happens when we take our failures and turn them into something positive. I know I will probably have to work on this a little bit... it is not going to come easily for me ;)

Who knew that researching for my major research paper could be so AWESOME. These are some great insights....! I love school!



Very insightful. Thanks for sharing.

V.I.C.K.I. said...

I am glad you love school. I miss it sometimes. But then I remember I don't mind failing that much and I am okay with mediocrity. Hmm.

Globe Trecker said...

Linds, I love your thoughtful posts. They are great because I have a lot of the same thoughts sometimes.