How Cheap, really, IS talk?
Sunday, December 2, 2012 4 Comments
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Just DO It!?
©Madelyn Griffith-Haynie, CTP, CMC, ACT, MCC, SCAC
Part of the Creativity Series – all rights reserved
Talk is cheap. Words are plentiful.
Deeds are precious. ~ H Ross Perot
Get OVER Yourselves!
There are A LOT of reasons why that ubiquitous advice to “Just DO It” seldom really works, but they’re rarely considered when those “tough love” so-called motivators mount their high horses.
It is a worse than lousy motivator unless it comes at exactly the right moment and for exactly the right reasons to exactly the right person.
- Impulsives won’t be helped by that kind of encouragement.
- Individuals at a crossroad in their lives would benefit more from a bit of that cheap talk before they Just DO anything.
- Teens, already too much under the influence of peer pressure, certainly don’t need that kind of message tossed out like a dare.
There are folks, I suppose, who need that little kick-in-the-butt flavor of encouragement, and rare times when almost all of us could probably use it. Those particular words, however, are more likely to activate our resistance than inspire our action, especially those of us with a higher than average oppositional piece to our make-up.
The Just-DO-It mantra is dismissive. It can be damaging, in fact, to both
self-esteem and self-efficacy. Life’s not much without action, but action is not ALL. Only machines “Just DO It” without contemplation!
- Just-DO-it encourages us to ignore and over-ride our emotions and inner guidance systems
- Just-DO-it puts DOing in an exalted position it doesn’t deserve, black and white thinking, in essence
- It jumps right over any reasons we might be stuck.
[see: If The Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Blame the Foot! for more about this point before you read on]
I’ll grant you that Just-DO-it! could be thought of as good advice when preparation meets inspiration — and all functional stoppers have been removed.
I can’t recall a single time, however, when I heard someone check for any of those items before cranking the Just-DO-It engine.
And BOY do I object to beginning any advice with the word “Just” — as if we were all ninnies who couldn’t figure out what they consider obvious.
That cheap talk they attempt to discourage is actually what supports the first two words in the oft-heard phrase above. Cognitive-behaviorally, we READY ourselves when we gather information, and AIM ourselves when we sift through what we have learned and put it together in an egosyntonic fashion.
From Wiki: “Egosyntonic is a psychological term referring to behaviors, values, feelings that are in harmony with or acceptable to the needs and goals of the ego, or consistent with one’s ideal self-image.”
Said more simply: different strokes for different folks!
We would be well-advised, however, to investigate our particular flavor of folk
before we initiate the stroking.
Upping Talk’s Value
Taken together (in any number of combinations), innovators in the field of Psychology make a pretty darned strong case for NOT “Just DOing it.”
In The Language and Thought of the Child, Jean Piaget underscores the role of language in the development of “perceptual intelligence” (juvenile minds can describe but not analyze). He makes a clear distinction between the “chatter” of young children and the verbal processing of more mature minds solidifying thoughts through spoken language, effectively “analyzing out loud.”
Let’s leave behind Skinner (Beyond Freedom and Dignity) and circle back to Pavlov ‘s thoughts on behaviorism and conditioned response, through the lens of what neuroscience has discovered about the effects of psychological priming on action (briefly, and focused linguistically, prior exposure to words of one type or category increases the likelihood that we will respond from a similar frame).
Those guys seem to counter those “talk is cheap” proponents quite handily!
Adding in Milgram’s startling discoveries of what can happen when we succumb to the urgings of others to “Just-DO-it,” we get glimmers of understanding of the importance of “programming” ourselves to take the intended action: the one that will get us where we say we want to go.
- In Obedience to Authority: An Experimental View (referring to experiments beginning in July 1961, three months after the start of the trial of Nazi war criminal Adolf Eichmann), Stanley Milgram’s work seems to suggest that there might be a natural tendency in most people to prefer to abandon choice, decision and responsibility, willing to Just DO whatever they are told, even in the face of competing moral imperatives.
- He postulates that only maintaining a conscious awareness of this tendency provides a mitigating effect.
Motivation for Action
In A Theory of Human Motivation, an early paper introducing Abraham Maslow‘s ‘general-dynamics’ that evolved into his hierarchy of needs, Maslow indicates the value of consciously striving toward what he observes as our natural progression toward self-actualization.
Among other things, a self-actualized individual is aware of life as a series of choices toward or away from personal growth, opines he — which, to my way of thinking, necessitates a curiosity-driven exploration impossible in a don’t think, just DO-compliant individual.
As he says in this paper, “It is far easier to perceive and to criticize the aspects in motivation theory than to remedy them,” — and I offer no remedies here.
I would go so far as to suggest that any theory anyone might develop would have to start with dumping that “Just-DO-it” advice in the garbage, however.
UNTIL you have examined yourself, your abilities and your options, I believe that Just DOing is premature in a manner that is anti-actualization, not to mention a straight-jacket for creativity.
Our brains are designed to reality-test, testing for congruence with the items already stored away in those black boxes of our databanks. They are also designed to resolve anxiety-producing cognitive dissonance as rapidly as possible.
Kinda’ hard to be out-of-the-box creative, huh, when your brain is racing your mind to insist on something from inside your box?!
Spoken language – TALK! – slows down that “knee-jerk” impulse and allows us to reframe unrealistic expectations and rethink our reactions in a manner that facilitates effective (and creative) decision-making.
Dialoguing, as I mentioned in a comment to the first creativity article, provides “fresh fodder” that changes our nutrient balance in beneficial ways.
(THAT, IMHO, is the value of discussions in the comment section, and why I’m BRIBING contribution – it works even better, sometimes, when we write it!)
Now, for the bad news
As coaching mentor (and coaching field founder), the late Thomas J. Leonard, was fond of saying,
“Information is the Booby Prize.”
Although many coaches use that saying to discount the information-gathering phase as less important than the action phase, that is a misunderstanding of T’s intent: it takes action to actualize.
All the creativity in the world languishes until ACTION calls it into being.
Without action, our creativity is no more useful than those brilliant inventions that never see the light of day until somebody else grabs the patent and manufactures the product.
Ultimately you really must jump out of the intellectual and into the physical if you expect to accomplish anything in your life, good, bad or indifferent.
I disagree, however, with those who believe that urging anyone to Just DO it! will encourage that jump!
What do YOU think?
Ring in with your thoughts and experience in the comments section below, and in new articles to come as this particular series unfolds. I really want to get a dialogue going that underscores and expands upon the POSITIVE effects of the ways that those of us with seemingly kludgy brains actually operate.
BIGTIME BRIBE: I’m also in the process of developing the beta version of a “creativity seminar” of a very different [brain-based] sort.
EVERYONE who contributes his or her thoughts on the matter in the comments section of the posts in this series, helping me out as I run a few ideas up the flagpole, will be invited as my guests — and acknowledged as contributors to any course materials, eBooks or books I develop on this topic (in whatever manner you are comfortable), in addition to links to your content, for those of you with websites and blogs. [Click on Of Bribery and Labels for my thoughts about the value of bribery]
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Related content here on ADDandSoMuchMore.com
- Shifting Our Come-From (changing where we stand to view our situation)
- Escaping the Frame Changes the View (what it will take to allow us to reach different conclusions from the same set of facts)
- Changing our Rules of Engagement (naming and renaming our objectives)
Links to articles mentioned above, adding background
- Is Creativity like a Sense of Humor? (#1 in the Creativity Series)
- Oppositional Rising
- ABOUT Black and White Thinking
- If The Shoe Doesn’t Fit, Don’t Blame the Foot!
- Of Bribery and Labels
Related Content ’round the ‘net
- Why Wednesdays? – Why Creativity Counts #4: It’s Handy When You’re Cheap and Broke. Oh wait – Frugal! I meant Frugal! (moveeatcreate.wordpress.com) – another Series on Creativity you might want to investigate
- Creativity (kalaonfire.wordpress.com)
- Creative Thinking (celebrationofnow.com)
- 3 Ways to Recharge Your Business Creativity (successful-blog.com)
- Apes, Play & Sticky Stuff (artipeeps.wordpress.com) – includes an imbed of a very cool TED talk on Creativity and an interactive poem to play with – DO check it out!
- 8 Perks of Coworking Spaces for Savvy Entrepreneurs (grasshopper.com)
- Creative and Innovative Breakthroughs are Merely Great Metaphors and Analogies (backwardstimemachine.wordpress.com) –– another who values communication – includes some great quotes on Creativity