My big brother was one of my heroes as a little girl. My dad left when I was about five and he was eleven years older. He earnestly tried to step in to make things okay for my mom, my brother and me. He didn't always handle things perfectly, but one thing I remember most is how he taught me to begin to believe in myself --- to see that I had talent --- that I could do almost anything if I put my mind to it.
I remember his first attempt. He had an old camera that his best friend, Andy, had given to him. As I remember, it had a tan leather case and a piece of white bandage tape holding it together on one end. He told me if I came home with straight A's (that would be 12 A's) that I could have the camera as a present. Oh, I immediately dedicated myself to every subject. He cheered when I aced every spelling test or came home with some other good report.
For a whole semester, my big brother was tuned in to me and I really loved it. His acknowledgment motivated me to try even harder. The more I put into my studies, the easier the achievements seemed to come. The better grades I received, the more my confidence seemed to grow too. At the end of the year, I came home with 12 A's on my report card. My big brother was very proud of me!! My mom was too.
The camera? Well, it never really worked. That tape holding it together was because it didn't close right, so it ruined any film put into it. Funny, it never really mattered. I got the reward I wanted most. His love and acknowledgment. I also got a prize that stayed with me for a lifetime --- a belief in what I could do if I truly wanted to do it badly enough.
This story came up for me today, because of an article in TIME, "Should Schools Bribe Kids for Grades?"It carries all kinds of controversy around whether it works or is harmful to kids. I personally thought it was interesting how the word "bribe" was used --- when it might have been incentive, reward, prize, or a number of other more positive words or ways of thinking about it. Bribery seems like a word indicative of these times --- when anything and everything seems to have a negative spin or it doesn't make the news.
With kids living in a world with so much uncertainty, adult violence, lack of attention, and a scarcity of positive influences with increasing demands for them to achieve in school, I think our attention and incentives can have a positive influence. I experienced it. It endured. I would say, it's all in how it is presented.
What are your thoughts?
Would love to hear from you...
Debbefounder, president, and CEO
Global Dialogue Center and Leadership Solutions Companies
Twitter: @debbekennedy @onlinedialogues
author, Putting Our Differences to Work:
The Fastest Way to Innovation, Leadership, and High Performance