I recently got back from a 4 day training put together by The Boomerang Project (http://www.boomerangproject.com/) and felt compelled to share some of the things I learned. The training was for a middle school program called WEB (Where Everybody Belongs) which is a program that teams 8th grade students with incoming 6th graders to help with the transition to middle school. It encourages friendship, role modeling, compassion, empathy and seeks to increase self-esteem and positive decision making. Of all the trainings I have attended (and believe me, I attend ALOT!) this was the most creative and inspiring and a few important thing have really stuck with me.
The Boomerang Project and WEB have three principles that guide their work: 1. “Yes, and” 2. “GO BIG!” and 3. “Total Support”.
I find myself thinking about these three ideas in the days since the training and attempting to incorporate them into my daily life – both personally and professionally.
The principles are this:
(1) “Yes, and” — we negate good things we say to others and to ourselves when we use the word “but”. For example, when we think to ourselves “this dress looks great on me but I could still stand to lose 5 pounds” or “I really felt like I nailed that presentation but I still need to work on my pitch”. Worse, when we say to a friend “I love your new boyfriend/dog/coworker/outfit but are you sure it is right for you?” We essentially erase everything we said before the but in all of these statements. The idea of “yes, and” is that we can always answer yes to someone – we can validate their opinions or emotions (even if we disagree!) and then respond with something that is empathetic or understanding. For example, if a friend says “I feel like I look fat in this outfit” you can say “yes, and I think you look beautiful”. Or, if a coworker, or in my case a middle school student, says “This class/program/task sucks”, the response can be “Yes, and you are doing a great job of following through.” I struggle with ways to always find a “Yes, and” but the theory is a good one — we have a choice in how we respond to the things people say to us and we might as well find a way that makes ourselves and others feel better instead of worse.
(2) GO BIG! – This one I like the most – the idea of putting it out there, going for it, making it happen. Go Big implies taking the chance on whatever it is you like, you want, you are participating in and not doing things half-assed. If you are going to throw a gathering for friends, go all out. If you are going to splurge on dessert, make sure it is exactly the dessert that makes you happy. If you are going to choose a day to play hooky and enjoy the spring sunshine, spend that day doing whatever it is that epitomizes the perfect spring day to you. Take a chance, be passionate and dream big!
(3) Total support – I love this idea too. Give unconditional and total support to the people in your life that matter to you. If someone else is “going big” on an idea, initiative or activity that is important to them, show them your total support – be their cheerleader, their sounding board, their whatever they need to make things possible. If you are taking a chance on something, make it count and ask for total support from the people that matter to you.
Obviously, these are my interpretations – my definitions — of these principles based on the training and on my thoughts since. I think they are a pretty good representation of real life applications of the ideas. I wish all of you good luck going big and I offer all of you my total support!