Stop saying, “They’re only…”
Start saying, “They could be…”
Don’t expect less of people. Expect more.
Stop keeping Mike pigeonholed as the guy who peed his pants in first grade or Suzie labeled as the perpetual teacher’s pet.
Quit dwelling on that time Danny missed his deadline or all those times last year when Wanda couldn’t decide in time to seize huge opportunities.
There’s a Goethe quote that goes something like,
Treat people as they are and they’ll stay that way. Treat them as the could be and they’ll become greater.”
I’m not saying to pretend people are something they’re not. I’m asking you to acknowledge the skills, knowledge or abilities they have today and then aim them toward something higher. Aim them toward their “could be.”
For the high school football team who’s never been state champions; teach them a drill they can run to perfection, improving their game and their confidence. Maybe they’ll win.
For the work group that’s never met a deadline; implement a work flow process that frees the group from bad behaviors and helps them ship on time. Maybe they’ll meet their deadlines.
For the managers that never seem to decide in time; create a meeting dedicated to making the decision and make clear the potential consequences of not deciding: loss of future business, or credibility, or something else that matters to them. Maybe they’ll decide.
They won’t win every time, ship every time or decide every time, but you didn’t say, “They will be…”
You said, “They could be…”
That’s a lot more than “they’re only…”
Why not try?