Some changes are better attempted in an instant. Jumping into a cold swimming pool instead of wading in, for example. Or ripping a band-aid off rather than enduring the pain of a slow removal.
Other times, a more incremental approach is better. I failed posting to my blog every day because I couldn’t keep up. I then learned publishing once a week was sustainable. After a year, I’m upped that to twice a week.
Sometimes it’s hard to know from the get-go whether a radical or gradual change will be more effective. If one doesn’t work, be sure to try the other instead of simply giving up.
Most parents wouldn’t let their two-year-old walk alone across a busy street just because the child threw a fit about holding hands. Clearly there are cases where parents have to use their position of power to achieve compliance, even if their children prefer otherwise.
But authority can also be a crutch. Demanding obedience without justification may get immediate results, but at the risk of damaging the parent-child relationship.
I know I can do better with my own kids. I try to remind myself that making them take action against their will should only be a last resort. And I try to be transparent whenever possible, by sharing my reasoning as a parent while acknowledging (what I believe) is their perspective.
There’s no doubt, however, in my mind: parenting through buy-in is much more satisfying than through force.
A thought, not necessarily fully formed, but interesting and different. Not bulletproof, not even correct, but something not considered before.
Unexpected perspectives are gateways to untapped possibilities. They help us imagine. They help us think. They help us create.
We need more imperfect ideas, and more people with the courage to share them.
Immediately changing someone’s mind with just a few persuasive words is not easy, and yet, for some reason I attempt this far more often than I care to admit.
Why? I’m not really sure. Maybe it’s because that as long as the odds are non-zero, there’s always a chance if I take a shot.
What’s more effective? Seeking gradual change over time.
The idea is simple: show up, every day, to tell a consistent story that resonates with those I’m trying to influence. But instead of urgency and aggression, the approach requires patience and encouragement.
Little by little, day by day, I’m just trying to make incremental progress. Over the long haul, the cumulative effect can be immense.
(Good teachers and parents are persuasive in this way.)
The images and words float across my mind. I’m immersed in another world. With each click I receive another wave of pleasure as I encounter something new. Repeat.
When I finally check the time, I’m surprised how many minutes have passed. Once again, I’m disappointed in myself.
Avoiding the internet vortex is a daily struggle.
Part of my day job involves creating presentations made up of analysis and visuals, then sharing them online. Through digital media, I package knowledge and insight that can be consumed asynchronously.
You do this too when you explain a point-of-view on social media, or document the steps of how to fix something in a video. Part of the skill comes from mastering the technical nuances of the media you’re using, but mostly it’s about clear communication for an intended audience.
Want to increase your ability to influence or educate? Get better at making digestible online content.
Recently, I was about to give some advice to one of my kids when I realized that if I had done a better job following the advice myself, I wouldn’t have to say anything.
We all know that what we do is far more impactful than what we say. And since we’re around our children than just about anyone else in their lives, our behavior and actions influence them than just about anything else.
I used to think of parenting in terms of taking this action or that. Now, I’m more mindful that everything I do can matter, not just the moments of my choosing.
This much is clear to me: By being the person I want to be, I’m being a better parent too.
One of my big frustrations is sending someone multiple questions, but only getting responses to some of them. Which means more time following up instead of moving forward.
My tactic? I use a bulleted list, one bullet per question.
I can’t remember a time when I’ve had a person reply to my message but only answering some questions from a bulleted list. The format forces the reader to address each one.
I just emailed my son’s school today with three questions in a bulleted list. Got all three answered. 🙂
Failure is always a possibility. Courage means moving forward despite one’s fear.
Improvement is always a possibility. Humility means looking for growth opportunities despite one’s ego.
If you have both courage and humility in spades, you’ll probably be successful in whatever you do.
Translation: “My questionable behavior should be excused, because I got the result I wanted.”
The thing is, the end and the means aren’t two separate entities. They’re connected, because everything we do has consequences.
I think the saying should be: “The means is always part of the end.”