Absolutes vs. ProgressJune 20, 2021
Notice the difference the between these 2 questions:
- Would you like to become smart?
- Would you like to become smarter?
The difference is two letters. But the significance is enormous. Ask someone the first question and you might get smacked in the face. Ask someone the 2nd question and the response will probably be much more receptive: “definitely, what do you have in mind?”
It’s easy to judge or glorify ourselves and others by focusing on the label, the black & white, the absolute level:
- Being a good parent (or bad)
- Being accomplished (or not)
- Being assertive (or not)
- Being disciplined (or not)
But focusing on the absolute level tends to be fear-inducing, while focusing on the progress you want tends to be inspiring. That’s why most people perceive question #1 as an insult, and question #2 as a call-to-action.
So. Consider adjusting your perspective and your language to focus more on the progress you want, and less on judging the absolute level:
- I am the parent that I am, and I’m trying to be better!
- I’ve accomplished exactly the amount that I have, and I want to accomplish even more.
- Sometimes I express myself assertively, and I’m trying to do it more often.
- Sometimes I’m disciplined, and I’m trying to be that way more consistently.
The point is not to ignore the absolute level. It’s good to know your ability, even measure it, and confront reality. But recognize that focusing on the progress is likely to be far more inspiring and motivating, to yourself and others.