The Simple Phrase that Increases Effort 40%

From New York Times bestselling author Daniel Coyle’s Talent Code Blog

“To their surprise, researchers discovered that there was one particular type of teacher feedback that improved student effort and performance so much that they deemed it “magical.” Students who received this feedback chose to revise their paper far more often that students who did not (a 40 percent increase among white students; 320 percent boost among black students) and improved their performance significantly. (See the study here.)

What was the magical feedback?

Just one phrase:

I’m giving you these comments because I have very high expectations and I know that you can reach them.

That’s it. Just 19 words. But they’re powerful because they are not really feedback. They’re a signal that creates something more powerful: a sense of belonging and connection.

Looking closer, the phrase contains several distinct signals:

1) You are part of this group.
2) This group is special; we have higher standards here.
3) I believe you can reach those standards.”

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Losing Is Good for You

By Ashley Merryman, the co-author of the book “Top Dog: The Science of Winning and Losing,” and author of a recent NY Times Opinion piece “Losing is Good For You

“In life, “you’re going to lose more often than you win, even if you’re good at something,” Ms. Twenge told me. “You’ve got to get used to that to keep going.”

“our job should not be to spin those losses into decorated victories. Instead, our job is to help kids overcome setbacks, to help them see that progress over time is more important than a particular win or loss”

You have to appreciate the gifts that every day of your life will bring: Your family. Your friends. A beautiful sky at sunset. A perfect ear of corn in August. The first snowfall of the year. A baby’s tiny hand. Be grateful for the time you have and savor the joy that comes your way.

Katie Couric, TV Journalist …

“The losses I’ve experienced have taught me something else: We are all terminal. You have to appreciate the gifts that every day of your life will bring: Your family. Your friends. A beautiful sky at sunset. A perfect ear of corn in August. The first snowfall of the year. A baby’s tiny hand. Be grateful for the time you have and savor the joy that comes your way.

The more a person is committed to a goal … the more negative compared with positive feedback will be efficient.

From a post titled “When Is a Negative a Positive?” on Freakonomics.com.

Ayelet Fishbach of the University of Chicago …

The more a person is committed to a goal — and by that I mean the more someone thinks that they absolutely have to do it, they like doing it, it’s important for them to do it — the more negative compared with positive feedback will be efficient”

Heidi Grant Halvorson, associate director of the Motivation Science Center at the Columbia Business School …

“Look, doling out negative feedback is not fun. It’s embarrassing. We feel terrible. We feel guilty.  So we love hearing, ‘Hey, maybe I don’t have to give negative feedback,’ ‘Maybe I can just say positive things!’  ‘If I just keep saying positive things, then somehow this person will work to their fullest potential and everything will turn out fine.’ And that just turns out to not be the case.”

These people love what they do, but they didn’t follow their passion down the road to job satisfaction — they brought it with them.

From Mike Rowe, host of “Dirty Jobs” from The Best (and Worst) Graduation Advice You Never Heard

“That earlier bit about ‘not following your passion’ doesn’t mean that you should take a job you’re not passionate about. It means you should be passionate about whatever job you take. And if you aren’t, act like you are anyway. Get in early. Stay late. Always volunteer for the skut work. If I’ve learned anything from Dirty Jobs, it’s that meaningful work can be found anywhere — sewers, maggot farms, funeral homes, oil rigs. I’ve met hundreds of very successful entrepreneurs who go home every day covered in crap. Literal, actual crap. These people love what they do, but they didn’t follow their passion down the road to job satisfaction — they brought it with them.”

“Sometimes quitting is strategic, and sometimes it can be your best possible plan”

From the a podcast titled “The Upside of Quitting” on Freakononmics.com

“To help us understand quitting, we look at a couple of key economic concepts in this episode: sunk cost and opportunity cost. Sunk cost is about the past – it’s the time or money or sweat equity you’ve put into a job or relationship or a project, and which makes quitting hard. Opportunity cost is about the future. It means that for every hour or dollar you spend on one thing, you’re giving up the opportunity to spend that hour or dollar on something else – something that might make your life better. If only you weren’t so worried about the sunk cost. If only you could …. quit.”

‘If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?’ And whenever the answer has been “no” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.”

From a commencement address delivered by Steve Jobs, CEO of Apple Computer and of Pixar Animation Studios, on June 12, 2005 …

When I was 17, I read a quote that went something like: “If you live each day as if it was your last, someday you’ll most certainly be right.” It made an impression on me, and since then, for the past 33 years, I have looked in the mirror every morning and asked myself: “If today were the last day of my life, would I want to do what I am about to do today?” And whenever the answer has been “No” for too many days in a row, I know I need to change something.

Remembering that I’ll be dead soon is the most important tool I’ve ever encountered to help me make the big choices in life. Because almost everything — all external expectations, all pride, all fear of embarrassment or failure – these things just fall away in the face of death, leaving only what is truly important. Remembering that you are going to die is the best way I know to avoid the trap of thinking you have something to lose. You are already naked. There is no reason not to follow your heart.