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When what you believe is not true

Updated: Dec 29, 2020

Having tired of watching webinars on every conceivable topic (and making some myself – I’ll own my FOMO) I used this weekend to sort through my boxes in storage. Now that both my children are teens I had to let the baby stuff go.

I am embarrassed to admit that I own the entire Baby Einstein series (“Baby Mozart,” “Baby Galileo,” “Baby Van Gogh,” and “Baby Shakespeare”). I cringe a little at how naïve and desperate the young mother version of me use to be.

Remember Baby Einstein

The videos were based on the premise that puppets and simple shapes set to snippets of music and poetry were meant to expose children as young as six months to high culture and foreign language, stimulating their minds and expanding their vocabulary.

According to one study cited by the New York Times, there was a time when a third of American babies between 6 months old and 2 years old had at least one of the company’s videos.

Founder Julie Aigner-Clark appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, and President Bush praised her in a State of the Union address. She sold the company to Disney for a reported $25 million.

For me, it felt like a Godsend. I could cook dinner or take shower while my babies were doing something that was making them smarter!

Turns out the videos didn’t work – in fact, they had the opposite effect.

For every hour a day that babies watched Baby Einstein videos, they knew 6–8 fewer words than their peers. How many other things do we spend time and money on, that we believe to be true, that should be true, but in fact, do the opposite of what we want them to?

Here is a list of three truths that run contrary to popular practice:

Training makes us feel better without changing anything

Sounds reasonable - if we increase awareness and share information people would be motivated to change and things would be different.

We are currently seeing an explosion of anti-racism training. Makes sense. Awareness is important. Signaling something matters is important. We feel better. We are responsible. Something has been done. The problem is now that we feel like we did something the story ends.

Courageous conversations are not about access to information. Buying broccoli and putting it in the fridge doesn’t make you healthier (trust me I’ve tried).

You have to eat the broccoli.

The human brain is an integrated web of connections between neurons. Some connections are wider and more entrenched making it more likely that new information will be filtered through existing connections creating near-automatic responses reinforcing and entrenching the pathway even more.)

To modify a neural pathway, we have to engage in a repetitive practice that aligns with our desired change. Continuing to do more of what doesn't work usually doesn’t work, even if people are more informed. Something more tangible is needed.

Transformation requires action and repetition.

Too many cooks will forget to buy the ingredients

Sounds reasonable - the more people involved, the better the outcome. With bigger teams, we increase the chance that someone will ask the right question, make the missing connection, catch the issue, or come up with the solution. Right?

Unfortunately, the opposite is true – for horses, for dogs, and for people. When people work together individual performances decrease.

In meetings the larger the team, the weaker our individual participation. In groups, we tend to hold back in terms of both participation and accountability.

Teams also tend to take bigger risks than individual members would take on their own. We hide behind group decisions – there is a “diffusion of responsibility”. Teams are less effective than individuals when there is no clear accountability and individual performance blends into a group performance.

Teams function best when they are small, consist of diverse specialists, and individual performance is visible.

Stress should be pursued not avoided

A few decades ago, we waged a war on fats. Now it turns out that there are good fats like avocado nuts and fish that actually decrease the risk of stroke, heart disease, and cancer, improve cognitive functioning and mental health, and help in maintaining healthy body weight. Stress is similar. There is good stress.

Stress is a stimulus for growth.

Columbia’s Alia Crumm studied employees in the financial sector during a financial crisis. Standford Professor Kelly McGonical conducted an eight-year study with over 182,000 participants. They found stress can improve focus, boost energy levels, and strengthen resilience.

The real enemy of performance and health is the lack of disciplined, intermittent recovery. Muscles tear when in movement and grow when at rest. Both are needed for us to expand our capabilities. your posts

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