You Can Give Me a Strawberry…


Just for today, let’s use the word ‘strawberry’  to mean a solution, an answer, an idea, or a bit of advice.

If the object of our work is to come up  with strawberries, we as leaders tend to jump in and give people strawberries. Strange as it may sound, people would rather we didn’t. It turns out that it is far better to help them discover how to produce strawberries on their own. This relieves us of the burden and they’d much, much rather do it themselves anyway.


In your corner,


PS: Why strawberries? I like them better than fish.


Today’s photo credit: BioDivLibrary via photopin cc

2 thoughts on “You Can Give Me a Strawberry…

  1. Good one Mike – it started my day wIth a good laugh (strawberry vs fish). But so true… I wonder why people love to give advice and instructions so much, when nobody really wants to hear this stuff? Maybe it has something to so with the urge to prove they are better, know more, etc. – like the tendency to use the time when someone is talking to think about what they themselves will say next, raher then listening to what is being said .

    1. Hi Jay,

      I bet you’re right: we have the desire to be right and avoid being wrong. Similarly, we tend to want to dominate or avoid domination, be better than, be separate. Each of these dynamics are pre-conscious, habitual. We don’t sit there and think, “I’ll ignore what they say and just make my points more loudly.” It just is a habit. The origin and the continuation of these habits come, I think, from what psychologists call “felt minus.” We feel bad and don’t like to feel bad so, from an early age, we develop and hone these habits to get out of or avoid altogether the sensation of “felt minus.”

      The theory goes something like this, “We build these habits as kids when we are decidedly less capable than we are now. We really want to avoid the bad feelings. It is quite threatening. Now we see that the behaviors aren’t very helpful. And if, as adults now, we could catch them in action, we can see that they are not the threats we thought them to be. It takes some focus and effort to catch and re-program ourselves because those habits are deep and were designed, we had thought way back then, to keep us safe and alive.”

      As leaders, parents, friends, we use these habits to jump in, to tell, to advise, to push. We can catch ourselves and replace these habits with listening, coaching, and collaborative problem solving.

      (By the way, I laughed at the strawberry-fish thing, too.)



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