I’m getting terribly bored of lockdown now.
Whilst I am very lucky to live in a reasonably sized house with a garden in the countryside, I am tired of my own company (not surprising I hear you cry). Gyms shut, sports club shut and only so many dog walks you can take.
But an upside for me has been the discovery of the Podcast.
I was listening to one yesterday that I really enjoyed. Jeremy Paxman has just released a series called the Lock-In. Ostensibly Paxman, the aggressive no-nonsense star of TV’s Newsnight and University Challenge, talks to guests in a pub. Which of course he cannot do, so he calls them instead.
Yesterday I was enthralled and impressed by an interview he conducted with Katherine Birbalsingh, the Headmistress of a school in London that was failing and in special measures before she took over in 2014. After that the Michaela Community School in North London has been praised by the Office of Standards in Education, as outstanding.
How did she turn it around (not on her own, I am sure, but certainly under her direction)?.
Ms Birbalsingh said it was all down to setting and demanding high expectations of her charges. Not for her is it acceptable, as if often the case, to cut the kids some slack because of a tough home life. Or allow them to not hand homework because they are from a housing estate. Silence in corridors, stand up when a teacher enters the room are mandatory. Her assertion is that life is hard, get over it. It’s not being knocked down in any aspect of life that’s the problem, it is failing to get up.
Not very PC with the liberal elites. But that is her opinion and she seems to be backing it with exceptional results.
Anyone in education may not be that surprised, to be honest.
The classic old experiment was when psychologists in the '80s gave teachers classes to look after, telling them that the children in the class had been tested and shown to be highly gifted children.
At the end of the school year, the children were tested again and their results demonstrated just how clever they were. What was then revealed was the children had not been exceptional at all, but that the way they had been treated as if they had been, had shifted their scores dramatically.
This very afternoon I was working with a client preparing for a negotiation with one of her suppliers. I felt that she had not been assertive enough in her objectives and asked why she felt she could not get a better deal for such an increase in potential volumes she could offer.
Her expectations were that it would be easier to get it through without such a challenging target. Essentially, she was getting in her own way, the block to a better deal were her own beliefs.
The first person we negotiate with is ourselves, try not to disappoint yourself. Set your expectations high. Don’t worry about No, like the kids in the above story, getting past No is what life is all about.