Tuesday, September 17, 2013

The Life of a salesman... that includes You!

Tonight I listened to an interview of Dan Pink about his book, To Sell Is Human (http://www.entheos.com/The-Science-of-Thriving/Play)(9/16/13).  Of course, some major gems from him.  I thoroughly enjoyed and still often revisit his book, Drive.  So this different view on things was quite thought provoking and so many connections are still forming.

The crux of his theory to me seems that we are all salespeople.  Now, salespeople having a pejorative effect on most, is the old way of viewing this.  The current view is we all want to move people.  That's sales.  It is the change from problem-solving to problem-finding that is the greatest shift in the paradigm. This is fascinating!  His example was that there is a lightbulb out in his office.  He needs someone to fix it or he can find the kind of bulb information and fix it himself.  He does not need someone to find out what the problem is.  He already knows that.  And he can gather information readily  to replace it himself.  So then there are the problem-finders.  They think, "What could we do in here to make the lightbulbs work better.  Or maybe they can become obsolete." "How can I illuminate this room without lightbulbs at all?"  The interviewer smartly added, "Half of the innovation is finding the question."

This is such a different mindset.  What an interesting way to view things.  This paradigm shift now reminds me of those students who struggle so in school but see things in a different way.  They are generally the "tinker-ers" - for lack of a better term.  They like to try things out and reconfigure over and over again until it works.  Maybe this is their regular paradigm.  If I try to see things from their problem-finding mindset, they may come up with new learnings for us all.  That seems to be what occurs each time I "grow" an old fixed mindset of mine.

Dan Pink used the term buoyancy.   It seems to me to relate to resilience.  Being able to remain buoyant, one must bounce back from failure and adversity over and over again.  This leads to a person having more resilience and therefore, according to current research, leads to a more fulfilled, inspired life.  Brene Brown calls is Wholeheartedness.  Carol Dweck may refer to this as using a growth mindset.  I think the key to resilience is learning from the experience, whether it be successful or not.  The response to failure, fear, or shame cannot be, "I'm not going there again." It's tempting.  But then the experience merely fixed our mindset and proved we were right.  We say why bother?  But we were wrong!  Bounce back!

Finally, Dan Pink refers to giving people an "off ramp."  He tells the interviewer this means that I say to myself, "What can I do to make it easy for someone to act?"  What context can I create to make this more easily available so that more people "buy in" to my "sales pitch?"  How can I move them.  Move people by giving them an off ramp.  This way we are not using the traditional methods of trying to convert the individual.  Rather, we are changing the situation or the context instead.  

In my teaching career, maybe an example of an off ramp for my students is when I ask a student to do me a favor which really is an assignment or enrichment or even social skills/character education lesson.  Then whatever it is, most are happy to volunteer, being elementary students.  Then, all of a sudden, others want to do it, too.  I have created a situation where students willingly volunteer for work/tasks with zeal.  As this concept still confuses yet fascinates me, I will continue to research the meaning of this further. 

As educators, as Dan Pink concurs, we are constantly selling ourselves, our knowledge, and our wares all day, every day. We sell not only to our students, but to our colleagues, our administrators, our families, and friends, too.  Just think of how many opportunities we have to "move" people?  Wow, what a gift!