With April upon us, we focus at BCS on our next habit of empathy, Think Us, Not Them, from Michelle Borba’s book Unselfie: Why Empathetic Kids Success in Our All-About-Me World. In a Your Teen magazine interview, Borba shares, “The bottom line is empathy is lying dormant. Empathy can be cultivated, but we aren’t doing that intentionally enough as parents. Our definition of success has become IQ, grades, and SATs, with less focus on kindness. What we are doing is raising our kids to stay in the ‘me’ stage, and we need to start helping them think ‘we’ not ‘me.’” To do this, she suggests, we have to redirect kids away from all the negative media and “Start showing them the good part of the world. They need to hear elevating experiences, like kids on the back page of a newspaper who are making a difference.” We need to expose the world of kindness more broadly, intentially and intensely to our kids.
In an article from Medium entitled Think Us, not Them: A Useful Belief for First Time Managers, Narayan Kamath, this us vs. them mentality often times in naturally-formed in organizations. Human beings naturally categorize, group, compare and separate. Kamath writes, “Group identity is an innate part of being human and is indeed at the very foundation of people coming together as families, communities, societies and even nations. This shared sense of belonging is what makes organisations feasible and successful. However, group identity operates at several levels, and in organisations this can lead to several dysfunctional behaviours.” These dysfunctions that move us away from thinking us, not them and my take on them include:
- Blaming management – Other groups naturally will blame the management for the problems. In a teacher’s case, students will blame the teacher for their problem be it a poor grade or missing work. As leaders and teachers, we must ask for feedback and suggestions to those we serve so that we create an “us” mentality, we are in this together.
- Blaming other groups – like blaming management, naturally one group will blame another for the problems they are facing be it on an adult team or with a classroom. As leaders and teachers, we need to help students see their value as part of the community and empower them to be part of the solution influencing positive change.
- Withholding information and resources – this creates a competitive culture rather than a collaborative one. At BCS we ought to be enormously proud of the collaborative culture we have created where adults and students share information and resources for self improvement, team improvement and school improvement.
For Kamath, Think Us, Not Them is about “genuine collaboration across the organisation.” As one of our BCS belief statements reads, “people learn best in an atmosphere of curiosity, high expectations, collaboration and diversity.” BCS is a great Place to Be!
Finally, if you need more evidence on the importance of collaboration and thinking us , not them, check out the below video and remember these five“Lessons from Geese.” Check out how geese think us, not them / we, not me!
- Lesson 1 – The Importance of Achieving Goals
- As each goose flaps its wings it creates an UPLIFT for the birds that follow. By flying in a ‘V’ formation the whole flock adds 71 percent extra to the flying range.
- Outcome: When we have a sense of community and focus, we create trust and can help each other to achieve our goals.
- Lesson 2 – The Importance of Team Work
- When a goose falls out of formation it suddenly feels the drag and resistance of flying alone. It quickly moves back to take advantage of the lifting power of the birds in front.
- Outcome: If we had as much sense as geese we would stay in formation with those headed where we want to go. We are willing to accept their help and give our help to others.
- Lesson 3 – The Importance of Sharing
- When a goose tires of flying up front it drops back into formation and another goose flies to the point position.
- Outcome: It pays to take turns doing the hard tasks. We should respect and protect each other’s unique arrangement of skills, capabilities, talents and resources.
- Lesson 4 – The Importance of Empathy and Understanding
- When a goose gets sick, two geese drop out of formation and follow it down to the ground to help and protect it.
- Outcome: If we have as much sense as geese we will stand by each other in difficult times, as well as when we are strong.
- Lesson 5 – The Importance of Encouragement
- Geese flying in formation ‘HONK’ to encourage those up front to keep up with their speed.
- Outcome: We need to make sure our honking is encouraging. In groups and teams where there is encouragement, production is much greater. ‘Individual empowerment results from quality honking’