Lately, I’ve noticed a trend. I often interact with very smart people that have completely underestimated their capabilities. I typically resort to the tactic of telling them how great they are and how much more they could do if they didn’t have this self-limiting belief. Unfortunately, that doesn’t typically do more than give them a short-term ego boost.
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Focus on the yellow, not the red.
If you are in the construction industry, you already know where I’m going here. If not, let me clarify. In the business where I’ve spent nearly 15 years, yellow and red make all the difference. Specifically, in steel construction, checkers use those two colors to identify mistakes from non-mistakes (yellow = good & red = bad). Checkers look over a drawing to insure it’s accuracy, so it’s their job to make it right.
The major problem here is that the “non-mistakes” are not identified as successes because there is so much emphasis on what is wrong; for good reason. Use the wrong dimension on a beam and someone could get seriously hurt! That’s not to mention the actual cost for replacing the beam and the cost of the site work to be ground to a halt.
Technically, there isn’t much you can do about this. It’s part of doing business. Everything that’s right is highlighted yellow and everything that’s red is a mistake. However, after a while this becomes part of the culture. Identifying mistakes rapidly becomes so ingrained that people really have a hard time recognizing the good things that are being done around them. They literally tune them out!