Monday, January 5, 2015

There is no wrong answer

I am inherently optimistic.  Some people, my sister in particular, find this annoying.  I work with teenagers.  Sometimes they are grateful for my rosy outlook and other times they find it hard to swallow.  My own children are both teenagers, so they can be fairly skeptical of my optimism as well.

As an optimist, I like to recruit people to play on the team.  This can be difficult as the aforementioned teenagers don't always want to join.  Sometimes (and this is true for all of us), it is just easier to wallow in the moment of icky feeling or frustration.  I get it, because I have been there.  But I also know that wallowing is rarely a good idea.

In an effort to help someone (student? child? I honestly don't remember) out of a funk, I presented them with some options.  After reviewing the list of possibilities I said, "just choose the best one for you.  There is no wrong answer."  That did the trick and the person in question was able to move beyond the sadness, woe and negative feelings.

Since that time, I have found myself using this phrase often.  A student has something to say in class, but is reluctant to be "wrong" - there is no wrong answer, I assure him.  What ever you have to add, we can use.  The class has to select a task or assignment that is best for them - there is no wrong answer.  Pick the best one and we can make it work.

The message is subtle, but effective.  We have to choose something, because we can't just sit here feeling negative.  Just choose.  Whatever you pick will be right.  It is empowering, but also demands a response.  Safe, but places ownership for the change on the chooser.

Tennyson said to "cleave ever to the sunnier side of doubt."  More often than not, that means choosing something.  Anything but sitting there.  Choose.  There is no wrong answer.


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