January 21, 2018

Aiming for less to get more

GatheringIt’s a funny thing…

Sometimes we need to aim for less, to get more.

In leadership and management, it’s tempting to demand a great deal from another person in the hope of getting some of it. Actually, we risk getting none at all if they are demoralised by the seeming impossibility of the expectation, or if trying to meet it makes things impossibly complicated.

That’s not to say that we should accept only what the other person thinks is possible.


We can push for them to exceed their own expectations, just not in such a way that our vision is wholly out of sight. And we need to know they can do it.

In my view, we’ll do better if we stay within reach of what they think is possible.

It’s like towing a ship: Pull too hard and the tow line will break. And forward movement will stop.

All of this is brought home to me with my son with special needs… We realise that learning sometimes needs to proceed in tiny steps, matched to his pace, otherwise we don’t move forward at all: The flow of knowledge stops, he disengages, and we end up with nothing.

The principle is the same with the rest of us: The steps might be bigger, but the need to preserve the connection remains.

Going into their world to make the relationship

Barry Neil KaufmanSometimes dealing with the extremes brings the mainstream into sharp focus…

I’m watching an interview with the creator of a well-known intervention program for children with Autism. As he puts it, such children find “our” world a bewildering place. His philosophy for beginning to help them is clear…

Go into their world to make the relationship. Nothing else will work.

I’m struck by how relevant that is, in every way.

Moreover, to stand any chance of success with the child with special needs, you must take 100% responsibility, because the child isn’t going to take any at all.

Now, with people in general, you might hope the other person would be prepared to come into your world a little, and to take some responsibility.

But if you want certain success with everyone you meet, do as Barry Kaufman says and…

Go into their world to make the relationship.

It’s not about you.

Make it about them.