Interesting and Inspiring Others
to Make Breakthroughs
Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit,
but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.
Let each of you look out not only for his own interests,
but also for the interests of others.
Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God,
but made Himself of no reputation,
taking the form of a bondservant,
and coming in the likeness of men.
— Philippians 2:3-7 (NKJV)
Whenever Peter Drucker and I discussed making exponential breakthroughs, he would calmly observe that most people wouldn’t be interested. Why? “People have no imagination,” the famous management guru would sagely opine. Having spent decades helping people appreciate the potential to make breakthroughs, I would add a second observation to his: “People have little ambition.”
No value judgments are intended in making such observations. Instead, these comments about imagination and ambition are merely perspectives to help tutors learn how to better interest and inspire others to find out how to make breakthroughs and to put in the time and effort to apply what the learners have studied.
Let me pose and discuss two scenarios to add depth to the two observations. Imagine first that you and your family of five are returning home on a Sunday from a long-planned vacation, in the middle of taking several plane flights on a busy holiday weekend. You spent months planning the vacation and used a combination of careful preparation and making practical tradeoffs to squeeze the most vacation into your budget and available time. You have all had a great vacation. Your next flight takes you to a stop where you will need to change planes one last time. Do you feel as if you are living in the middle of that scenario? Good.
While waiting for your plane to board, airline personnel announce that the flight is oversold and offer a $200 flight voucher toward a future ticket purchase for anyone who gives up his or her seat and agrees to be booked with a guaranteed seat on a flight leaving in four hours.
What will you do? If you are like most people, you won’t budge from your plans. You bought the tickets, you planned a “perfect” trip, and you intend to experience exactly what you planned …even if something better might be available.
Looking at the decision objectively, you can see that your family just discarded $1,000 that you could have used on your next vacation. In practical terms, that’s as if you had tossed ten $100 bills out the window of a speeding car.
You wouldn’t just throw money away, but you will do the equivalent. What’s up? Well, you probably ran an imaginary sequence in your mind of what the family’s reactions would be if you took the offer and the others didn’t want to stay behind. You may have imagined an unhappy spouse, grumpy children, and a lousy rest of the day … and perhaps several days ahead. If you had more imagination, you could have instead envisioned taking the deal, hiring a limousine to drive your family around to do fun things for three of the next four hours before returning to the airport, and being seen as a heroine or hero.
Even if you imagined spending part of the $1,000 in ways that would please everyone (such as by providing material benefits that each person in the family has been deferring due to income limits), you probably didn’t bother to go ahead because it seemed like just too much trouble and effort to organize. Now, how much trouble would you take and effort would you put into earning $1,000 after taxes in some other context? For most people, it’s quite a lot. That’s a lot of coupons to clip and to redeem. But because this is “vacation” time, you may feel that you shouldn’t have to take any extra trouble or to make any unusual effort. So you sluggishly pass up the opportunity and trudge down the ramp to take your cramped coach seat and pray that someone will serve you some peanuts and a diet soda. How’s that for ambition?
Are you normally so lethargic? Probably not. But you are treating yourself as if you are a pampered child rather than a rational adult seeking to make good decisions and to take reasonable efforts on behalf of your family. Anticipating that such an opportunity was likely to arise, an imaginative, ambitious parent could have discussed the possibility with the family in advance and agreed how to handle it so that any potential economic gain could be grasped and shared in agreeable, appropriate ways. Now, that’s practical ambition.
Let’s consider a second scenario. You are on a different vacation and notice an injured animal in an isolated area. Your heart is touched. Your children immediately start asking you what can be done. Your spouse looks stricken. You aren’t likely to walk away without doing something.
Since you have a clean beach towel and a nice large box, you wrap the little animal in the towel, place it in the box, and head for the nearest veterinarian’s office. Soon after showing the animal to the receptionist and telling your story, you find yourself taken in to see the doctor. The vet tells you that there’s only one possible treatment and it will cost $300. Realizing that the animal would have cost at most $20 if purchased in a pet store, you gulp and nod affirmatively. “Go ahead,” you say.
Explaining that you are on vacation and about to fly home, the veterinarian kindly offers to nurse the animal back to health and to advertise for its possible owner. Two months later, you get a note from the vet telling you the animal is perfectly healed, but no owner appeared. The vet has adopted the animal. You feel good about what you did.
What’s the difference between the two cases that caused you to be passive in the first scenario (costing you a missed $1,000 opportunity) and active in the second one (costing you out-of-pocket $300)? I can’t speak for you, but since both scenarios are similar to ones that I’ve encountered, I can describe the differences in my own reactions. Let’s look at the thoughts I might have during the first scenario:
• This scenario appears at first glance to be about merely gaining money, at an apparent cost in inconvenience to people I care about. It makes me feel cheap to even consider doing that.
• Sometimes I do remember to discuss the opportunity to take advantage of such voucher offers in advance, but I often don’t. It usually slips my mind. I’m just human, after all, as are you. I feel that it’s my fault if we aren’t prepared.
• I imagine that someone else will claim all the vouchers before my family could decide to take the offer. We’re not very quick at coming to agreement.
• A flight voucher to be used for a future purchase doesn’t feel like “real” money. It seems instead like something that has little value because I don’t have any firm plans for taking my family on another vacation … even though I surely will.
• My pride is threatened. I think I’ll look like someone who is a money grubber if I publicly focus on the monetary benefit in front of the passengers who ignore the offer.
• We still have to make one more connection from the next airport. I’ve taken such voucher offers in the past, and the results were often less desirable than what the airlines promised. In one case, the replacement flight was canceled and the delay was very extensive. The airline didn’t do anything to make the problem less severe.
In the second scenario, I’m operating totally in accord with my heart and my feelings.
• I immediately perceive that my family is watching me closely to see if I will do the “right” thing or act like Ebenezer Scrooge before the three spirits visited him. (I have a reputation in my family for being very careful with a dollar in some circumstances, such as in saving money on airline tickets, hotel rooms, and rental cars.)
• From the expressions on my family’s faces, it’s clear what they want done. There’s no need to have a discussion.
• While at the veterinarian’s office, I feel as if I should be guided by the vet’s obvious desire to do something helpful.
• I also suspect that the animal is someone’s pet, and that there might be a child or lonely adult who will be crushed by the animal’s loss.
• I say “yes” before spending any money, so I don’t feel $300 poorer until I’m paying the billing clerk outside. Putting the charge on my credit card, I rationalize that I’ll find the money somehow before the next bill arrives.
Okay, so what does all that have to do with interesting and inspiring others to make breakthroughs? I believe that important motivational lessons are presented there. Let me explain.
When a decision engages my core values, interests, and concerns, I will go well beyond the extra mile to accomplish something constructive or to avoid causing harm. Why? Such decisions and actions make me feel great, and I also find my heart strongly directing me in ways that provide much more peace and joy. The second scenario is just such an instance. Although it’s not the same as the parable that Jesus told about the Good Samaritan, it’s close enough to make me realize what my Savior would do (except that He could also heal the animal supernaturally while I can only pray that result will occur). The first scenario, by contrast, appeals to my preference for saving money on travel expenses, but potentially puts me in conflict with my core values, interests, and concerns about my family.
Let me take that observation about my motives one step further by proposing a third scenario that is a variation on the first one. If the airline instead offered a voucher worth $1,000 to fly a poor, dying child to receive life-saving surgery, I would race up to the desk and be sure that our five seats were made available.
Think about the implications of my reaction for a minute. I could create the same result by simply taking the $1,000 that I would save on the next family vacation and donating it to fly a poor, dying child to receive life-saving surgery. The result would be the same. But the way the offer is presented causes me to either quickly connect with or not to connect with affirming my core values, interests, and concerns.
I draw two lessons from studying my reactions to these scenarios:
1. I should find out what a potential student’s core values, interests, and concerns are.
2. I should frame the opportunity and desirability of learning how to create a breakthrough in positive terms determined by what’s possible and the potential student’s core values, interests, and concerns.
Let’s consider how to accomplish each of the two lessons, beginning with learning about a potential student’s core values, interests, and concerns.
Identify a Potential Student’s Core Values, Interests, and Concerns.
“May the LORD repay every man for his righteousness and his faithfulness;
for the LORD delivered you into my hand today,
but I would not stretch out my hand against the LORD’s anointed.
And indeed, as your life was valued much this day in my eyes,
so let my life be valued much in the eyes of the LORD,
and let Him deliver me out of all tribulation.”
Then Saul said to David, “May you be blessed, my son David!
You shall both do great things and also still prevail.”
So David went on his way, and Saul returned to his place.
— 1 Samuel 26:23-25 (NKJV)
Before Saul became king of Israel, the Hebrews had no human kings of their own after leaving Egypt. God was their spiritual and secular leader. But the Israelites cried out to Samuel that they wanted a king like other nations had. Even after Samuel warned them that kings would abuse them, the Israelites could not be moved from their determination. So God chose Saul to be their king. But Saul was disobedient to God, and God decided that he would have to be replaced. As a result, God directed Samuel to anoint David to replace Saul while Saul was still king. That action made Saul angry, and he sought to harm David for many years. David had to run for his life. During those years, David had opportunities to kill Saul, but David knew that doing so was wrong. At the cost of staying on the run and being in danger, David did not kill Saul. In his restraint, David showed that his core values, interests, and concerns were defined by obeying God.
As David’s example shows, actions speak louder than words in describing what someone’s foundation values, interests, and concerns are. Tutors can learn from this example that they should always seek to know how potential students have acted in the past and why various opportunities were or were not taken.
My experience has been that you can quickly find out potential students’ values, interests, and concerns by asking them to share some background information about their lives. This can be done formally by providing a questionnaire or informally in conversation. Here is a list of questions that I used with a recent class of breakthrough tutors as background for helping them to create a 2,000 percent solution:
1. What is your name?
2. Where were you born?
3. What was your family like when you were growing up?
4. What education have you received?
5. What do you like best about learning?
6. What do you like least about learning?
7. What kind of work do you do now?
8. What kind of work have you done in the past?
9. Where do you live now?
10. What is your life like now?
11. Remember the best day you ever had. What happened?
12. Remember the best day you ever had at work. What happened?
13. How would you like to help others after becoming a certified 2,000 percent solution tutor?
14. What are your concerns (if any) about succeeding in this course?
15. What can I do to help you the most?
16. What else should I know about you?
Let me explain a little about why I asked each question and how I interpreted the answers to help me determine a student’s values, interests, and concerns.
How a person chooses to share his or her name tells me a lot about how formal, informal, traditional, untraditional, open, closed, self-impressed, or humble a person is. If someone tells you his name is Mr. John C. Smith, III, what image that does conjure up? Contrast that impression with someone who calls himself Johnny Smith. If the person is also from a country that I don’t know well, the structure of the name may also reveal important identity clues (such as references to the maternal and paternal family lines, tribal affiliation, and an honorific that’s new to me). From such clues about self-perception, I attempt to adopt a communication style that will feel comfortable for the learner.
Describing where someone is born tells me a lot about what a person thinks is significant about the circumstances of birth. One individual may relate a dramatic depiction that’s worthy of the seven o’clock network television news. Another individual may simply state the country where she or he was born. A terse answer may mean childhood problems or at least a large desire for privacy. If lots of details are provided, I look for clues in the other answers about why sharing those details was important for the learner. From a combination of such perspectives, I begin to appreciate the mental lenses through which the potential student interprets the world.
Describing family life allows people to let you know how important their families are to them, their roles in those families, and what they like and don’t like about those roles. If you ask the potential student to take on learning and implementation roles that are too different from what he or she is used to, you can assume that extreme discomfort will follow. If you encourage the student to play roles in which she or he has been very successful in navigating through past family politics, you will bring out the best in the person who will make the activity seem relatively effortless.
Asking about past education provides a lot of perspective on the academic subjects the potential student is familiar with, the level of knowledge and skill the person probably has, and the paradigms that the potential student has learned to use in acquiring and applying information. With a follow-up question or two, you can also gain a sense of what the person’s preferred learning methods and styles are.
The question about what is liked best about learning allows you to find out if the person prefers to learn through independent work or through highly structured course assignments. You don’t want to hem in free spirits, and you don’t want to leave those who love structure feeling lost without a star to guide them. In the process, you will probably also gain some insights into the person’s values. Without being asked, potential students will probably tell you why the preferred way of learning is more desirable to them.
What is liked least about learning is critical in avoiding turnoffs that will discourage and drive away a potential student. Expect a wide range of answers. Many people have had painful learning experiences that are difficult to consider experiencing again. You will gain a lot more interest if you make it clear that those circumstances will not recur while learning how to make breakthroughs. You will probably also gain insights into preferred learning styles and strategies. Some people like to converse about work while others would rather read something to learn what to do. Hardly anyone likes taking tests, while most people feel more comfortable when given the opportunity to take their time and to consult any resources they find to be helpful.
Asking about a person’s current job will almost always elicit unsolicited comments about what aspects of that work are viewed positively and negatively. Those who are interested in making breakthroughs are often interested in finding more interesting and rewarding work. Adding this skill may be seen as a key that unlocks closed doors to desired opportunities. If you are familiar with the kind of work, you will also appreciate the kinds of tasks the person probably does every day and can assess what knowledge, skills, and other resources will be easiest for the person to use in creating a breakthrough. These perspectives are very helpful in guiding someone to choose a breakthrough goal and to organize work for creating and implementing the breakthrough.
The question about past work amplifies what you learn from comments about current work. People will often tell you why they changed fields, jobs, and job locations in ways that reveal a lot about their values, interests, and concerns. If you aren’t gaining as much insight as you would like, it’s natural to ask a follow-up question or two about some shift that is hard to understand in terms of what the motives might have been. In many cases, you’ll find that the interests of some family member played a big role in those changes.
“Where do you live now?” is deliberately vague so that the potential learner has a chance to describe the location in a variety of ways. A few people will just say the name of the city or town where their residence is. Most will tell you something about how that locale is positioned relative to better known places in the same country or continent. Quite a few will begin to tell you what the area is like and what they like and don’t like about it. Those who provide little information are displaying less connection to their locales. Those who describe a lot in positive terms are quite attached and want you to like the place, too. People who tell you a lot and make negative comments are very dissatisfied and want to move. Creating a breakthrough solution can assist in strengthening any of these views as well as in opening doors to constructive change, when that’s appropriate.
The question about what life is like now is intended to encourage sharing a lot of information. If people say very little in this regard, you can assume that they are either compulsively private in not sharing information or that they are unhappy in ways they don’t want to think about. It’s good to find out which by gently probing. Naturally, if they go on and on in responding, you’ve found someone who likes to connect to others by sharing information concerning their philosophies of life and experiences. Such people will be easier to interest and to encourage. They will quickly imagine and be encouraged by the thought of sharing the experience of making a breakthrough with others throughout the rest of their lives.
Learning about the best day someone ever experienced is often the most helpful topic for appreciating their values, interests, and concerns. Most people cannot wait to tell you. The answer is on the top of their thoughts and close to their hearts. Although few will tell you what the specific values, interests, and concerns are that made this the best day, you’ll be able to read between the lines without any problems. For instance, a mother may describe the day her oldest child was born and how she marveled at the experience of giving birth. A father may relate some touching experience of being recognized for having unselfishly done the right thing, despite encountering great difficulties. In a high percentage of the cases, the individual is describing an experience that validated them as a significant person to others and to themselves.
Information about the best day someone experienced at work is generally more accomplishment oriented. One person may describe finishing a difficult project. Another person may talk about a great professional coup of some sort. A third person may relate a sense of personal satisfaction about how a difficult situation turned out. All of these answers are very helpful for understanding how the person sees him- or herself and the personal scorecard used to evaluate performance. Directing learning about making breakthroughs so that progress is perceived along these dimensions is very helpful for providing encouragement. If there is a common theme between the best day ever and the best day at work, it’s essential to connect the purpose of making a breakthrough to accomplishing something related to the theme.
How someone would like to help others by becoming a certified 2,000 percent solution tutor provides pure insight into values and motivation. Ignore what is said here at your peril. Because so many other friendly questions have preceded this one, you will probably receive a pretty long and detailed answer. If you don’t, you should assume that the person hasn’t yet really committed to making breakthroughs. Much like my second and third scenarios, the potential student is probably seeking to play out a heroine or hero role in terms of long-established values, interests, and concerns. If you are receiving that kind of answer, you are working with someone who will probably stick with the task. You will probably find that the person is also very willing to answer questions designed to amplify the answers that were given.
Normally, it’s a bad idea to ask people directly about their concerns. If they didn’t have any, they may feel compelled to think of some so that they can impress you with their thoughtfulness. I take some of the risk out of this question by inserting “if any” in parenthesis to indicate that it’s reasonably likely that the respondent has no concerns. If you are speaking with someone, it’s very important that you keep the tone and interaction light and matter-of-fact at this point. Otherwise, you run the risk of stirring up deep fears and causing the person to attach those fears to learning about making breakthroughs. That consequence would be most unfortunate. Whatever answer you receive to this question, I encourage you to volunteer how you will make sure that no such issues arise. Then, the person can relax and forget about whatever may have just caused a rise in blood pressure and the rate of breathing.
Asking what you can do to help the most is very valuable because it puts the relationship in a very positive context. You are serving as a facilitator to what is being described as an undoubtedly successful endeavor, with you as an agreeable tour conductor leading the person through new mental territory with confidence and a friendly determination to make the trip pleasant, interesting, and satisfying.
Many people won’t answer the question about what else you should know about them. Such a lack of response is usually an indication that they have considered all of the questions and found a way to reveal elsewhere whatever they wanted you to know. Someone who is more spontaneous and superficial in responding may reach this question and realize that some important personal characteristics haven’t yet been revealed. When that’s the case, you can expect to receive some helpful directions for how to work effectively with the person. In a high percentage of such cases, important personal philosophies will be revealed.
If you have had a conversation with a potential learner about these questions, write down as much as you can remember just as soon as you are no longer together. Taking a lot of notes while you talk will simply slow you down and distract the person from revealing any inner thoughts that are not often shared. You want as much free flow from mind to lips as possible.
If you receive written answers, thank God and keep a copy handy. Review the answers every time you work with the person until you seem to reach a way of communicating that feels comfortable for the potential student. You’ll know that you have it right when the person responds in ways that suggest she or he feels understood and appreciated by you.
I make it a point to touch on what I believe are the potential learner’s most important values, issues, and concerns in every conversation and written communication. If the potential student doesn’t respond to my references to certain areas, I drop those topics after a while. The subjects that the potential student communicates most about become where I focus my attention, as well. After a few interactions, the ebb and flow of sharing information and encouragement become quite easy and natural. At some point, I don’t need to double check my work. I just keep doing what I’ve been doing.
An exception to that observation about becoming less studied in my responses occurs whenever a potential student or student requests something new in a way that suggests that the subject is very important to him or her. The request will often be an unexpected, formal one that’s quite brief. I’ve found that the best way to respond is to encourage the person to draft what it is he or she would like to see from me with an eye to my merely changing the end result to reflect my personal style. This approach leaves the person who needs something feeling very relaxed and well supported. Such requests often relate to helping someone obtain a job, gain a promotion, impress someone else, or receive recognition.
Whenever possible, it’s highly desirable to make any test assignments require more writing or oral communications from the potential student. Reviewing what is shared in the context of the answers to the background questions quite often reveals stalled thinking, mental blinders, wrong perceptions of what to do, and other serious misunderstandings that can lead to less than optimal results. Immediately begin to head off those potential problems by redirecting the person onto a more fruitful path through sharing a large bouquet of praise for making it easier for you to help her or him.
Even though you should seek to pin down a potential student’s core values, interests, and concerns before starting to work with her or him, it’s good to keep an eye open for values, interests, and concerns that you may have missed. I do that by keeping a mental image of what I expect that the student will do next. Whenever the work takes off in an unexpected direction, I review my notes about what I have learned about the person to see what I might have missed.
Such surprises are most likely to occur if the person is from a country and culture that are not well known to you. Even though you appear to be sharing the same language in communications, there may well be cultural habits of reticence or ways of expressing disagreement that are misleading to you. Focus on what the person’s most painful and most pleasurable experiences have been to see what other attitudes and preferences may have been affected. You’ll probably find the clues quickly enough. Seldom have I found surprises about values, interests, and concerns due to a learner’s observations of others, rather than his or her intense personal experiences.
Let’s assume that you have done as much as you can to identify the core values, interests, and concerns. It’s time to address how to apply that information to frame the opportunity and desirability of learning how to create a breakthrough in positive terms determined by what’s possible and the potential student’s core values, interests, and concerns.
Frame the Opportunity and Desirability of Learning How to Create a Breakthrough in Positive Terms That Are Determined by What’s Possible and the Potential Student’s Core Values, Interests, and Concerns.
Now on the day that the tabernacle was raised up,
the cloud covered the tabernacle, the tent of the Testimony;
from evening until morning it was above the tabernacle like the appearance of fire.
So it was always: the cloud covered it by day, and the appearance of fire by night.
Whenever the cloud was taken up from above the tabernacle,
after that the children of Israel would journey;
and in the place where the cloud settled, there the children of Israel would pitch their tents.
At the command of the LORD the children of Israel would journey,
and at the command of the LORD they would camp;
as long as the cloud stayed above the tabernacle they remained encamped.
Even when the cloud continued long, many days above the tabernacle,
the children of Israel kept the charge of the LORD and did not journey.
So it was, when the cloud was above the tabernacle a few days:
according to the command of the LORD they would remain encamped,
and according to the command of the LORD they would journey.
— Numbers 9:15-20 (NKJV)
God perfectly understood the limits to His people’s faith at the time of the Exodus from Pharaoh’s oppression. Even after the miracles that led up to escaping from slavery in Egypt and the crossing of the Red Sea, He knew that it would be easy for the Hebrews and those who left Egypt with them to stop focusing on Him and where He wanted them to go. The ever-present cloud by day and appearance of fire by night commanded obedience by providing an unmistakable Presence and unambiguous directions to all those who were headed toward the Promised Land. In our work as breakthrough tutors, we must seek to be as clear in gaining and keeping our learners’ attention on making breakthroughs and helping others to do so.
Most people sensitively respond to various forms of encouragement and fear. My suggestion is that you avoid touching on the fears (which shut down creativity and aren’t consistent with God’s love), focusing instead on providing more heart-warming encouragement. While it’s easy for me to propose that approach, you may be wondering how to accomplish such a desirable result in positive ways.
Let me provide you with a hypothetical example that may help you understand how to gather the information you need and to draw the right conclusions about what to say and to do. First, I’m going to share background questions and some brief responses (in bold) from a fictional person to help demonstrate how you can identify opportunities for effective encouraging words and actions:
1. What is your name? Joe Humble
2. Where were you born? Evansville, Indiana, USA
3. What was your family like when you were growing up? My parents were always very busy working so I mostly related to my older sister who always took time to be kind and to help me. We loved to ride horses on our farm.
4. What education have you received? I started college, but dropped out to join the U.S. Army at 19.
5. What do you like best about learning? Gaining confidence I can handle things on my own
6. What do you like least about learning? Writing papers and taking tests
7. What kind of work do you do now? I run a crane on a construction site.
8. What kind of work have you done in the past? I have worked at dozens of different jobs related to construction.
9. Where do you live now? Evansville
10. What is your life like now? I work too hard and don’t have enough time to be with my family. But I’m worried that I will lose my job because the economy is so bad right now.
11. Remember the best day you ever had. What happened? It was my tenth birthday. I got out of school at 2 p.m. and was delighted to find my mom and dad and my sister picking me up to celebrate my birthday. I got my own pony, and I was thrilled.
12. Remember the best day you ever had at work. What happened? The crane I was operating started to malfunction, causing the dangling gear to veer dangerously toward the men working on the high iron. Somehow I got the crane back under control, and no one was hurt. Everyone came over to find out what happened, and they were amazed that I had been able to avoid a terrible accident. One of the men held a party to celebrate that weekend at his house.
13. How would you like to help others after becoming a certified 2,000 percent solution tutor? I want to give people a way to help others and to connect with more people in kind, loving ways.
14. What are your concerns (if any) about succeeding in this course? I’m not sure I know enough or am a good enough student to succeed.
15. What can I do to help you the most? Keep encouraging me.
16. What else should I know about you? Nothing
Before reading further, I suggest you use these fictional responses to draw your own conclusions about the answers to the following three questions:
1. What are Joe Humble’s core values?
2. What are his interests?
3. What are his concerns?
Now, let me share with you what I concluded directly from his answers and indirectly by looking between the lines of what he wrote to gain other perspectives about Joe.
1. What are Joe Humble’s core values? I noticed that he didn’t provide very much information. When I respond to the answers he sent, I would give him some reactions to what he wrote and watch to see how he replied to my comments. In that way, I could elicit more information without seeming to be criticizing his brevity or to be prying. I suspect that Joe doesn’t expect that people will be very interested in his background and views.
He seems to be very family oriented. His best day ever involved lots of attention from the other members of his immediate family on his birthday. He also mentions time spent with family twice, first in the context of his parents not spending much time with him while he was growing up, and later in reference to not being present often enough with his own family as a husband and a parent. His connection to his sister was very important while he was growing up.
Joe indicates a desire to help other people. That’s his reason for wanting to become a tutor. It’s a common pattern among those who are attracted to tutoring. Note that he also wants his learners to be able to help others. Part of his satisfaction in the best day at work was that he avoided a dangerous accident, a way of helping others.
Joe also seems to view what others say and do as more reliable and satisfying evidence about how he is doing than his self-assessment. As a youngster, he felt validated by his sister’s attention. He wants his tutor to keep encouraging him. Being feted at a birthday party, receiving a pony, having a coworker honor him with a party, and comments by coworkers about avoiding an accident are prominent in his answers.
Joe believes that showing kindness and love are important ways to relate to other people. That’s how he describes what he wants his learners to do. His examples of receiving good experiences involve others showing kindness and love to him. He may relate not spending much time with family as evidence of not being kind and loving.
Joe sees learning as a way to connect to more people in desirable ways. While many people seek knowledge for its own sake, the pleasure of learning, or for the status it gives them, Joe sees learning as extending his connections (both with his family and his students), as well as extending his students to make more connections.
Joe’s performance is an important part of his self-image. He worries that he might lose his job, rather than seeing that possibility as a potential blessing that would allow him to spend more time with his family while unemployed and to ultimately find a new job that won’t conflict so much with family life. His dislike of tests and writing papers may be related to not measuring up while he was in college. We don’t know why he dropped out, but that interpretation is consistent with not staying in college long and doubting that he is a good enough student to become a successful tutor.
2. What are Joe Humble’s interests? He doesn’t share much information in this regard. We can only draw some tentative conclusions from what he tells us and look for confirmation through future communications and actions.
Joe is probably interested in learning because success in this activity boosts his self-image and helps him to connect to more people in the ways he prefers. Not many college dropouts who have mostly worked in construction would seek to take a course such as this one. Whatever his reasons are, they are strong motives.
Joe probably wants to spend more time connecting with others, both in his family and through his work. A crane operator works hard, but alone in terms of moment-to-moment communications. During long hours of construction work beginning early in the morning, Joe is away from his family. His interest in being a tutor may indicate that he sees a possibility of working at home, where he would see more of his family, while being engaged in communications with learners throughout the day … in person, by telephone, and over the Internet. In his background, he refers to his sister and his preferences for riding. Presumably they did this together.
Joe probably likes being physically active. He liked riding as a youngster. He has done lots of different construction jobs, rather than seeking employment in work where physical activity isn’t as important.
Joe probably prefers being outdoors to being indoors during the day. A farm boy would have grown up with many outside chores. He liked to ride. He works on construction projects in a way that puts him outdoors, even if he is sitting in the cab of a crane.
Joe probably feels that adding interpersonal skills would help him connect to more people. He gives the impression of being a person who doesn’t take much initiative with others, preferring to receive whatever unbidden attention they send his way.
Joe may feel that he would like to be viewed as an authority. He may believe that being a tutor will cause more people to seek him out and draw much closer to him, in the way that he drew nearer to his sister as a youngster due to the care and attention she provided. She may be his partial role model of what a tutor does.
Joe probably sees learning how to do new things as a way to increase his income, another way that he can arrange to spend more time with his family. He is worried about losing his job. He may believe that the income prospects for breakthrough tutors are better than for crane operators (a highly paid, skilled position that’s vulnerable to downturns in construction activity). Because Joe has done a lot of different construction jobs in the past, we can expect that he has been seeking to gain more job security and pay through learning. Going from being an unskilled laborer (where he probably began his career in construction) to being a crane operator requires a lot of ambition, effort, and ability.
3. What are Joe Humble’s concerns? Here we have a lot more information, and he is more explicit in sharing concerns than in describing core values and interests. It’s unusual for someone to be so much more open about concerns at the start of a new relationship than in describing interests. To share concerns requires revealing more of yourself than describing interests, and many people don’t want to reveal much early in a relationship. It’s important for Joe’s tutor to act in trustworthy ways so that Joe doesn’t become discouraged because the tutor isn’t drawing closer to him and isn’t equally open with Joe about the tutor’s concerns. Joe may be quick to pick up on any comments that seem false to him such as general assurances that Joe will do well in the course before his tutor has seen any of Joe’s work.
Joe isn’t sure that he is good enough as a student to succeed. If Joe acts on that assumption, it can become a self-fulfilling negative prophecy that would help lead him to procrastinate and to not make his best efforts, seeing dropping out as an option to giving the course his very best. That thought path could be part of what happened to him during his college studies. I view Joe’s candor on this point as being, in essence, a cry for help. I will gently ask him to tell me more about why he is concerned so that I can be of greater assistance to him. After he tells me what his assumptions and beliefs are that underlie the concern, I’ll check out those dimensions of his capabilities in some simple ways so that I can diagnose what kinds of support and new information will help him the most.
Joe fears that he will lose his job as a crane operator. Having worked in construction for many years, Joe should be in a good position to know what his employment risks are. This is probably a valid concern. A lot of Joe’s willingness to learn how to become a tutor may relate to his justified concern that he’s going to be unemployed for a long time and that being a tutor will provide better income prospects.
Joe is probably worried about how his family will be affected by any major curtailment in hours worked or by unemployment. He may see himself being put in a position similar to his parents because he would then have to work all the time at various low-paying jobs just to try to keep some money coming in to supplement the meager unemployment checks. He may also imagine losing his home, whether he owns or rents, and having to live in worse circumstances. If the place where he lives now provides lots of outdoor opportunities for his family, he may be concerned that a new place may not offer the same advantages.
Joe may fear falling behind what his parents accomplished in their lives. Children of hard-working parents often receive some validation of their lives through having accomplished more than their parents did in some ways. If Joe becomes unemployed or underemployed, has to live in unpleasant circumstances, and cannot help his children even start college, he may feel like a failure for not having stuck with farming or his earlier attempt at college.
Joe may believe that he will have fewer valuable connections to other people after losing his job. Looking for a job can be a lonely, discouraging process … particularly if the search continues for some time. If he has to cut back on spending, he may not be able to provide physical comforts (such as the pony he received as a youngster) that he may associate with showing his love for his family. His connections with fellow construction workers may also wither if they aren’t together for lunch and coffee breaks on the work site five days a week. He may even be afraid of feeling more alone, even though he will still have his family, because he may be unwilling to burden his family with his concerns and feelings.
I’m sure that you noticed other core values, interests, and concerns than I did. Good for you! If you will send me an e-mail to tell me what you came up with that’s different, I would be ever so grateful (firstname.lastname@example.org). Your reactions and reasons for those reactions will help me to become a better tutor, something I am very interested in becoming.
While it’s very helpful to perform this kind of analysis, it’s far more important to apply what is learned to encouraging learners. In answering the next discussion question, I share some thoughts about how to communicate with Joe. Before you read that section, I encourage you to draw your own conclusions. In fact, you will learn the most if you write some e-mails that you might send Joe to encourage him. You can also create some e-mails from Joe in response to your e-mails so that you can test out how you might address his amplified issues. Feel free to inject major new issues to make the challenges more interesting to you.
How should I begin to communicate with Joe? First, I want Joe to know that I have read what he sent to me and that his answers affected me. In that way, he can tell that I’m interested in him and am paying attention to meeting his needs. I could just say that, of course, but it’s better to both say it and to demonstrate it. Here’s an example of how I might do both:
Many thanks for taking the time so soon to consider my questions and to share your answers. I was especially glad you let me know that you are concerned that you may not be a good enough student to succeed and that you want me to encourage you. I like to encourage people, so accomplishing that part will be fun for me.
I don’t want to comment on how well you will do the course work until I’ve seen more of your thinking and writing, but I can certainly commit to you that I will do my best to help in any way I can. In the meantime, I want you to keep in mind that many people who dropped out of school during the primary grades have done just fine in creating 2,000 percent solutions. None of those people who succeeded ever gained as much responsibility as you already have as a crane operator.
Working one-on-one with a tutor is different from being part of a large classroom with just one teacher for everyone. You can ask me questions whenever you want, and I’m glad to comment on drafts of what you are working on. My main job is to facilitate your learning so it goes faster and easier for you. By contrast, in most other learning situations instructors are there in part to be objective testers. I suspect you’ll find that having a tutor is a better way to learn and doesn’t put as much pressure on you as traditional learning environments.
If you have specific concerns about aspects of learning and applying what you learn, please share them with me so that I can begin to appreciate more ways to encourage and support you. I’ll focus on having you do some work in those aspects early on so that improvements can begin sooner.
I was touched by your desire that those who learn to become tutors from you will connect with more people and serve them in kind, loving ways. That’s a great objective! I suspect you’ll show lots of patience with your learners and be quite beloved by them as they build their skills and confidence with your help. A big heart counts for a lot in tutoring others.
Second, I want Joe to feel that there’s not as much physical and experience distance between us as he may perceive in an Internet-based tutorial. In that way, he’ll be more comfortable sharing his questions and concerns and will sooner feel validated that he has what it takes to succeed. I find the best way to reduce the perceived distance is to respond to the information he sent by sharing some things we have in common. Here’s an example of how I might reduce the perceived distance in a continuation of the opening e-mail that precedes this paragraph:
Reading about your experiences growing up reminded me of my youth. My dad grew up on a farm not far from Evansville, and one of my favorite things to do as a youngster was visiting my grandfather to help him farm. When our family couldn’t do that, my dad would take me to a nearby stable for pony rides. I never had a pony of my own, but I sure loved those rides.
My dad worked all the time, too. He sometimes held down two full-time jobs and one part-time job simultaneously. He never seemed to stop. The only way we could spend much time together was when I helped him with his gardening business.
You are lucky to have an older sister. My sister is much younger than I am, and we couldn’t do very many things together until long after we were both grown.
I also enjoy learning much more than I do taking tests or writing papers. When I learn to do something, I feel encouraged to try more. It boosts my confidence, and I accomplish more.
I know how scary a bad economy can be. When I was finishing school, there were very few jobs available. Months went by and I got no job offers, right up until just before graduation. What a relief it was to gain a start in a new profession after not finding a job in the field I had trained for.
I was doubly blessed by my first job. It was a good change for me to become a management consultant because I have enjoyed many more opportunities to help others in kind ways than I would in most other kinds of work. While many consultants want to speak to and have impact on large groups, I prefer to work with just one person at a time … and being thrilled by each person’s successes. I look forward to having such experiences with you.
Third, I want Joe to see what we are about to do as being very simple and straightforward. If it seems that way, his fears won’t become as involved, potentially stalling his progress. I also want him to feel that he brings a lot of relevant knowledge and experience to the course work. Rather than seeing his lack of formal postsecondary studies as a drawback, I would like him to think of having had lots of practical experience as an advantage. Here’s an example of how I might accomplish that perceptual shift in a few more paragraphs that continue the e-mail example I’ve been sharing with you:
In creating 2,000 percent solutions, you will be drawing on your own observations of what works and what doesn’t in the everyday world. I find that this perspective is easier for people to grasp who have lots of practical experience in making things, so I believe that you have a valuable advantage in taking this course. By comparison, those who have only book-based learning often have trouble shifting into such practical thinking.
Accomplishing breakthroughs is actually pretty simple: Find the beliefs and attitudes that keep people from accomplishing more, determine ways to overcome those beliefs and attitudes, and follow a simple eight-step process to locate the best possible ways to operate. The 2,000 Percent Solution and The 2,000 Percent Solution Workbook break those tasks into even smaller, simpler steps and suggest questions to find helpful answers. The books are written in simple language and have lots of solution examples.
To make the work even easier, I will provide you with instructions for how to have more time to work on 2,000 percent solutions, ways to accomplish more while you are developing the solutions, and even more detailed directions for how to succeed in the most valuable parts of the work.
In addition, I will check your work at each stage to see how you are doing. In that way, I can keep you from wandering off in the wrong direction or spending too much time on something that’s not very important.
I intend for your learning experience to be a lot like taking a deluxe tour of a country you have not previously visited. My role is to be your tour guide, translating any foreign language into ordinary English, looking out for any hazards that you might not notice, having a nice hotel room ready for you every night, taking you to great tourist sites and restaurants that you will enjoy, and helping you to meet interesting people and have a great time during your travels. Your job is to persist with the program and to enjoy what you are doing, while being sure to let me know whenever you need special assistance or encouragement.
Finally, I want to conclude the e-mail with encouragement that’s framed in terms of the core values, interests, and concerns that Joe has shared with me. I do that in the following section that concludes the hypothetical e-mail example:
As you work on making your first 2,000 percent solution, I pray that you will think about the joy the improvement will bring to all those who benefit, as well as the recognition that you will gain from your family from helping others in such a kind, loving way to do something important that otherwise might not have occurred. I hope you will also experience drawing closer to those who benefit as you consider their needs and share what you have learned with them.
I also believe that you will have the experience of opening doors to meet people and to gain experiences that would not have otherwise occurred as you become recognized as an authority in making breakthroughs through 2,000 percent solutions and helping others to do the same. As the number of your successful learners grows, you’ll feel as though you have created a family of learners who love to help one another and to celebrate one another’s successes.
As a result, you will gain confidence and mastery over your future that will enable you to do well regardless of what circumstances and challenges occur. You’ll be creating your own opportunities. It’s a great way to live!
Please let me know how I can help at any time. What may seem like a big issue to you will probably be something I’ve helped dozens of people easily overcome before. Even if something seems minor, but you are concerned, let me know. Let’s carry the load together. Sharing resources with one another will make progress easier and more fun.
May God bless you, your family, and all you do in the name of Jesus!
With best regards, much appreciation, and all good wishes,
Some people may wonder why I insert a reference to my faith in such a communication. I find that many people would like to discuss their faith, but they are too shy to bring up the subject. Almost everyone I come into contact with who wants to learn how to make 2,000 percent solutions will eventually share something about their faith with me. Our relationships are always strengthened when that occurs. Even among born-again believers, many people are looking for guidance from more mature Christians.
Joe didn’t mention anything about faith in God, and my reference is one way to indicate that the door is open for him to share his beliefs, questions, and doubts with me. If I can also help him with spiritual issues, that will be a wonderful added opportunity to be of assistance. If Joe’s soul isn’t yet saved, then my references to Jesus may also help Joe to appreciate that the Holy Spirit is trying to attract his attention. In that case, I may have a role in helping Joe to accept Jesus as his Lord and Savior. When that happens, the rewards are eternal for Joe, and may also develop to the same degree for his family, his friends, his neighbors, and his acquaintances.
I don’t want to make this section any longer by expanding the hypothetical example to include more e-mail exchanges. Rather, I would like to explain what I will be doing during any future communications.
I will attempt to use each e-mail or telephone call to learn more about Joe, to deepen our relationship, to encourage him, to understand what is bothering him, and to provide practical assistance. I’ll also keep track of when I last heard from him so that I will touch base if too much time as passed since I last heard from him. Such delays usually mean that a learner is having some personal problems, is struggling with some aspect of the course, or has misunderstood what needs to be done next. Alternatively, the e-mail may not have been received.
If I don’t know how to help with a given problem, I’ll ask Joe more questions to be sure that I accurately understand what is going on. In particular, I want to know what Joe has tried that didn’t work. I want to be sure that whatever I suggest is something different from those approaches and a method that fits his circumstances and skills to create a high likelihood of success. Once I believe I understand the issue, I’ll check in with people who know more about the subject than I do. If I cannot add much to the interchange, I’ll put the two people directly in touch with one another.
How will I gauge progress in increasing Joe’s interest and inspiration? I’ll be on the look out for any changed behavior that indicates that Joe’s attention and excitement are growing. As an example of what I mean, many learners who are gaining interest and inspiration report having more ideas and energy. Until I see such improvements, I’ll try encouraging in new ways while continuing to apply the old ways unless Joe tells me I’m on the wrong track.
Invariably, some communication will eventually make a big difference. Often it’s as simple as genuinely praising some very fine work or recognizing lots of sincere effort. In the early days of making breakthroughs, most learners won’t have a very good sense of the quality they are creating. My pointing out what’s very fine can make a big difference. In the future, I can remind the learner of such a success as a way to express my confidence that even bigger successes are ahead.
In encouraging people, there’s a limit to how much confidence-building is helpful. Here’s an example. Some learners decide to set what are clearly impossible goals for themselves. Some want to set world records for speed in making breakthroughs when they haven’t yet made a first one. In such instances, my job is to scale back their expectations of themselves to set goals that they can easily exceed. I also try to help people realize that it’s normal for them to experience some false starts, to waste time, and to get stuck for a while. I emphasize that such occurrences are normal, much as exhaling stale air is needed in order to take in a full breath of fresh air. I encourage learners to evaluate how they do by the end results of the breakthrough’s implementation being the sole standard, and I remind them that perseverance is all that’s required to succeed.
After the pool of highly self-motivated potential learners eventually declines, new skills will be needed to attract learners who can become interested in making breakthroughs, but who haven’t yet considered working in this area. At this time, my judgment is that teaching you such skills may only serve to distract you from focusing on helping your learners gain the best results from the interest and skills they already have.
Let’s assume that your learner’s experience has been a success and that your learner is now ready to begin helping others to learn how to make breakthroughs. To support you in transforming your learner from a newly minted breakthrough creator into a successful breakthrough tutor, I next share Help Wanted’s third blueprint: teaching breakthrough makers to successfully tutor breakthrough learners.
Copyright © 2011 by Donald W. Mitchell. All rights reserved.