The words we use have power. The power rests in the “frames” they create in the minds of people who use and hear the words. So, each of us needs to be mindful of the choices we make when we express ourselves. Stanford psychologist Lee Ross found this to be true in a study he conducted.
Stanfords subjects played a game in which they could either cooperate or compete. In each round, subjects had to decide whether to share money with others or keep it for themselves. Half of the subjects were told it was the “Community Game”. It was introduced to the other half as the “Wall Street Game”. Both groups played exactly the same game, but the second group was far more likely to steal, lie, and cheat. By connecting their actions to their image of “Wall Street,” subjects (and this is true truly unfortunate) felt more comfortable behaving like scoundrels and feeling good about it. In contrast those who use the word “community” felt fine about winding up with less money because they were sacrificing for the “common good.” From Change Anything: The New Science of Personal Success by Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillian and Al Switzler, 2011 page 58.
It makes me wonder if one of the draws of the current protests isn’t capitalizing on the connotations people have of the words “Wall Street.”
The words we choose do help set “frames” in our minds. Here some words I would like to leave you with to help set your frame of mind: dream, positive future, possibility, hope, collaboration, interdependent thinking, potential, appreciation, and forward development!
In the 1840’s Dr. Ignatz Semmelweiss found that deaths in maternity wards dropped to near zero when all when all medical personal washed their hands. Yet, it took 30 for the medical community to take note, by responding to Louis Pasteur’s endorsement of the hand washing procedure. And even after his endorsement it took anther thirty years for the practice to become widespread.
Change can be (and often is) very slow. Even with science on your side. Change threathens the status quo. That means it threatens the “power, habits and values” of the current reality and all of the people that are benefiting form that reality.
Being will to innovate and strive for new beginnings means there will be resistance. There will be a status quo that is threatened. Thus, the innovation must be of greater over all and over time impact than the status quo, or the status quo will be maintained.
A major reality for those challenging the status quo is the potential lack of receptivity toward new beginnings.
All of this is true; it doesn’t change the NEED for change. Hands needed to be washed in the maternity wards. It was a life and death issue. Yet, it took a lot of time to happen.
Change isn’t easy. But, it is worth working toward!
PS: Once the medical community got its arms around the need for hand washing in the maternity ward, thus, started to apply that knowledge in other medical settings. So, thank goodness for Semmelweiss and Pasteur for hanging in there and for finally getting the practice accepted.
Note: The information regarding Semmelweiss and Pastuer can be found on page 120 of The Innonvator’s Way by Peter J. Denning and Rovert Dunham (2010) the MIT Press
We are in a time that requires transformative change in many ways. In our state, Michigan, we: need education, the economy, the business climate, issues of equity, much of our infrastructure and many more things – to be significantly (tranformaitively) better.
There is no absolute PATH to better. But, there is a direction. We need to be willing to move in the direction of transformative change and accept that we will be leaving the status quo. Yes, the future will be complex! Yes, the outcomes we will be working toward are uncertain!
But, together (Yes! this is going to happen with people working together) we can build new beginnings and we can face the uncertainty and complexity and act. By doing so, we can and will make things better for our children and grand children.
Bring your energy, intellect, relationship skills, and your positive ‘frame’ and share in the transformational work ahead.
Sometimes it is hard to commit, to become part of the brighter future. I think we want to be sure of ourselves. We want to avoid the messiness of any change (positive or negative) because there are no guarantees. I am thinking the time is now. Our kids and grand kids deserve a better world to inherit.
There are many ways to help make that “better world”. We can put our energy into developing a system of a more equitable distribution of wealth, working toward clean air and water, ensuring a safe and plentiful food supply that can feed the world, creating and supporting an array of wonderful and effective educational opportunities for each and every child, creating good jobs with meaningful work and of course, much more. We each have something we can do today that can lead to that better tomorrow.
I think the words of Marianne Williamson, from her book Return to Love (1992) help to get at the message I am sharing today.
Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us . . . Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you . . . As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.
We all need to be players in the important work of building a better tomorrow! If you haven’t yet, get involved.
The status quo in America is something that may surprise you. This video is very informative. You may find it slow moving. Hang in there – your four minutes will be invested well. Knowledge is a good thing!
The number of children living in poverty in our nation is an embarrassment. We, together, need to turn this around!
The findings of this Report Card: An overview of child well-being in rich countries
A comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and adolescents in the economically advanced nation
This Report Card provides a comprehensive assessment of the lives and well-being of children and young people in 21 nations of the industrialized world. Its purpose is to encourage monitoring, to permit comparison, and to stimulate the discussion and development of policies to improve children’s lives.
The report represents a significant advance on previous titles in this UNICEF series, which have used income poverty as a proxy measure for overall child well-being in the OECD countries. Specifically, it attempts to measure and compare child well-being under six different headings or dimensions – material well-being, health and safety, education, peer and family relationships, behaviors and risks, and young people’s own subjective sense of well-being. In all, it draws upon 40 separate indicators relevant to children’s lives and children’s rights.
To read more about these findings, read the full report, please click here – see the full report.
The brothers, Chip and Dan Heath wrote the book: Switch – How To Change Things When Change Is Hard.
Jonathan Haidt, came up with the Elephant/Rider analogy that the brothers, Chip and Dan Heath use in Switch. Haidt is a psychologist and wrote the book: The Happiness Hypothesis (2006).
Haidt says that our emotional side is an Elephant; the Rider holds the reins and seems to be the leader. But the Rider’s control is precarious because the Rider is so small relative to the Elephant. Anytime the six-ton Elephant and the Rider disagrees about which direction to go, the Rider is going to lose. He’s completely overmatched. The Heath brothers have added the concept of a ‘path’ to the Elephant/Rider/Path analogy they use throughout the book.
A way to order the book.
A 9 page synposis of The Happiness Hypothesis