|Casey Featon – Bold, Brave and Happy|
Imagine with me right now, you work as a financial advisor in different high schools, where you go and talk to students about how they can manage their money later in life. You go to boys only school, girls only schools, and mixed schools, and just try to help those teenagers navigate the scary word of adult money.
It sounds like a pretty good scenario, right? And this is exactly what coach and Happiness Facilitator Casey Featon used to do. And she noticed something weird that happened a lot: when she was in boys only schools, the boys were just as loud as they were in mixed schools, while things were different for girls; in girls only schools, they would have interesting, intimate conversations together, while they shrunk back a little bit and talked less when they were in mixed schools.
So, she asked herself a question: Why do we, women, do this? Why do we, as women, shrink in the face of men? Why do we become cowardly and not trust ourselves in the presence of men?
One of the explanations of this behaviour was all about labels and identity. A study by Stanford professor Carol Dweck, where they talked to over 400 fifth grade students across the United States, broke them into two separate groups, and gave them a standard test. One group was first praised for being intelligent and smart, while the other group was praised for their effort and hard work. This was a subtle difference, but it made a big impact.
Then, they gave them a second test, but with a choice: they could choose a test similar to the first one they took while telling them that they’ll “surely do well in this test” or they could choose a more challenging test which is “harder, but will give you opportunity for growth”.
The result? 67% of the students who were praised for being smart opted to do the easier test, while 91% of the student who were praised for their hard work chose the more challenging test.
The learning from this study was that once we, human beings, are given a label, we will do anything to protect that label. Those who were told they were smart wanted to protect that label by playing small and taking the easier test.
This is exactly what a lot of women do: they play small to protect the labels they have been given. So the question is: what can we do about this?
First, we have to understand that all of this is a passive process, where someone gives us a label and we just live up to it. What we need to do then is to turn it into an active process, because labels themselves aren’t a bad thing. So, let’s be active about it, and choose our own labels!
Here is a framework that coach Featon developed, and that will definitely help us look at labels and develop the characteristics that we really want for ourselves. It goes this way:
Firstly, it’s about picking a label or the characteristics of something you want to be identified with.
Look for a plan that will help you achieve that label, without shrinking yourself. Ask yourself: “what would someone who has that label do, feel, and say to themselves?” It’s all about looking at the specifics.
For example, you would really like to associated with being a go-getter. So, ask yourself:
What would a go-getter do? They would focus, network, and set goals.
What would a go-getter feel? They would feel motivated, energized, and confident.
What would a go-getter say to themselves? They would say things such as: “You’re doing great!”, “I can achieve this!”, “It’s possible” etc…
Finally, you should know that everything comes with practice. This means that as long as you work through your plan, you will practice being that label you want to become.
Choose your labels, because if you don’t, someone else is going to do it for you.