John Maxwell in his book Your Road Map For Success, refers to a report published in 1986 about a research experiment in a San Francisco school. The Principal called in 3 teachers and said: “because you three teachers are the finest in the system and you have the greatest expertise, we’re going to give you ninety selected high-IQ students and we’re going to let you move these students through this next year at their pace to see how much they can learn.”
The teachers, the students and their parents understandably thought it was a great idea. By the end of the year the students had achieved from 20 to 30 percent better than the other students in the entire San Francisco Bay area! Everyone was delighted. However, the Principal called in the teachers and said: “I have a confession to make. You did not have ninety of the most intellectually prominent students. They were run-of-the-mill students. We took ninety students at random from the system and gave them to you.”
The teachers concluded that their exceptional teaching skill was therefore responsible for the students’ outstanding progress until the Principal said “I have another confession. You’re not the brightest of the teachers. Your names were drawn out of a hat.”
The researcher concluded that the reason both the students and their teachers performed at an exceptional level is the attitude they each embraced. They had an attitude of positive expectation and confidence in each other. They performed well because they believed they could!
I wonder how much of our own under-performance can be attributed to our failure to believe in ourselves and our colleagues. Henry Ford’s statement: “If you believe you can or you believe you can’t you’re probably right” has become cliche but I think it’s a natural law. I’d be interested in what you think.