Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Brain Science in Developing Bravehearts

 Edward Hallowell
Telling a child to try harder doesn't help a child try, except briefly.  Getting a child to have the courage to try cannot be forced. In "What Brain Science Tells Us About How to Excel" (Harvard Business Review, December 2010), Dr. Edward M. Hallowell talks about helping a young man using the "Cycle of Excellence."  Hallowell then applies the "Cycle" to business. We will apply it to building bravehearts.

Dr. Hallowell tells about working with a boy who has lost heart.

"As a child psychiatrist, I'm asked every day to help a struggling young person do better.  For example, I recently saw a boy I'll call Tommy, who was floundering in sixth grade in spite of increasingly vehement exhortations from his teachers and parents to try harder.  I could see how down cast he was, so I immediately turned to a process I've developed for kids like him."

"It began with figuring out what he liked to do (build things and play guitar) and what he was good at (math, science, music, and hands-on projects) and urging him to do those things more often."  Hallowell arranged for the boy to switch classes and advised adults to make sure he was "imaginatively engaged" instead of just sitting.  Rather than threatening, he encouraged adults to say, "I'm asking more from you because I know you have it in you."  The boy soon wanted to go to school, worked harder, and began getting positive feedback which encouraged him to try even harder.

Hallowell has five steps he uses in the "Cycle of Excellence."
1. Select the right task.
2. Connect with colleagues.
3. Play with problems.
4. Grapple with and grow from challenges.
5. Shine in the acknowledgment of your achievements.

In future Braveheart posts, we will explore these five steps and how we can use them to build our bravehearts.  In the meantime, we can begin thinking about what our children like to do and are good at.  And, begin finding ways to allow them to spend more time on these passions and strengths.

(For more information on Dr. Hallowell, go to http://www.drhallowell.com/)

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