Teaching soft skills means being “hands off”
I watched my daughter lead with trepidatious hands as she attempted to flip the pancakes this morning. Which side do I flip from?, how fast do I flip? Do I use the whole flipper? Watch the hot pan!! She was slow and calculated, afraid for her breakfast and messing them up, she half flips, and the pancake splits in two, with half on the counter half on the pan. She is disappointed, but takes out two forks, scrapes up the batter, throws it back on the pan to create a new masterpiece. Experience has taught us that fast and confident wins the pancake flip, but we didn’t start there. Can you imagine if we allowed ourselves to make unjudged errors until we found our way? What if we didn’t carry around the weight of a thousand voices telling us the “right way”, always taking away the flipper to do it fast and efficiently? We might not hold back great ideas; we might try new ways, and we might look outside the obvious. What if we could try something new without the burden of being “wrong.”? We need to allow people to scrape it up and create something new. We take the flipper out of the inexperienced hand more often than we leave it because we are impatient, want it done “right,” know the “right” and more efficient way. Executive functions include impulse control, flexible thinking, memory, planning, task initiation, and organization requires practice. Allowing people to try and fail is part of learning to succeed. Handing over the flipper without instruction and judgment tells people we trust them and that they can trust themselves. This week catch yourself before you take the flipper and do it yourself; remind yourself that the skills you know and have learned did not grow from having had the flipper taken away. We will drop many pancakes, and experience reminds us that they often taste the same no matter how they look. We create more inclusive spaces when we make room for the growth of others.
Next week's discussion spatula or flipper…why function trumps labels every time.