Giving an A

About a month ago, I posted a blog about being a “goodfinder”, you know, looking for people doing good. And the challenge was to catch 3 people doing right for 30 days and hopefully adopt a great, new habit.

I admit, I have struggled. Blame it on a long year, my patience wearing thin, everyone running around just thinking about themselves (yours truly included) or myriad other reasons. MaybeI have been too “authentic” – read strict – in my “goodfinding” efforts, or perhaps there is even more incompetence than I expected?

Surely finding 3 people doing right for 30 days couldn’t be that hard? Why was it so hard? Why did it feel so hard? Or was this a case of “it’s not you, it’s me?”

Thinking about it, I realised that every time I had an interaction with someone, I was looking for a mediocre interaction at best. Not deliberately, but subconsciously. Why was I doing this? There was nothing that warranted me to behave this way.

In their book The Art of Possibility, Rosamund and Ben Zander write about the concept of “giving an A” – as in what you hope to get at school or university. Unfortunately, our logic for grades is to compare students to each other and this measurement bias creates a large expectation for us to live up to.

So the Zanders argue that we should get into the habit of “giving an A” to anyone and for that matter, everyone if we so choose to. When we do this, we move to an interaction that lives in a place of “respect that gives them room to realise themselves” and not from a place of “measuring how they stack up against [our] standards.” Giving an A allows people the opportunity to develop, grow, master and express themselves. And both giving and receiving an A makes our lives and relationships richer, no measurement, just possibility.

Think about the times when you got an A in school. Face it, you were chuffed, felt a little bit important, in the know and your world was full of possibility. And the teacher? Wow! He was now pretty engaged whenever he spoke with me. He no longer saw me as a student who needed help but as someone whose mind could be challenged to the occasion. Our interactions were now different, full of possibility. 

My “goodfinding” efforts probably came unstuck because whenever I had an interaction, I pre-empted dealing with a C, D or F student. You know, you care a little bit because you have to but realistically, you do not spend a lot of time worrying about them. They did not deserve that. I should have given them all an A.

So today I have given everyone I have dealt with an A. And that felt good. Not only for me, but I found our interaction was more authentic, more open, more engaging, full of more possibility. I suspect the other person probably felt better as well. Mind you, I have only ended up with two “goodfinds” (a barista and a bartender – it has been a liquid kind of day) but my approach has certainly helped.

Let me ask you – when was the last time you gave someone an A? Your partner, son, daughter, father, mother, business partner, employee, petrol station attendant? And importantly, when was the last time you gave yourself an A? Just think of the tremendous possibility when you do!

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