The magic wand – do overs

Several years ago I taught an undergraduate class in business leadership at Queens College. From the beginning I had, what to the students seemed a revolutionary policy: You always got a chance to re-write your essay. If you didn’t like the grade you got the first time, you could incorporate my suggested changes (or not) and re-submit your essay at least once.

The lesson I tried to teach was that doling out Do Overs was a powerful incentive. It mitigated the fear of failing and, more often than not, brought out the best in the kids.

Many walked away with the notion that they, too, when they ran their own companies (and they all thought they would one day), would hand out Do Overs. Fewer of them, though, walked away with the deepest lesson of all: you’ve got the magic wand in your hand right now. Give yourself a Do Over. Let go of the shame, guilt, anger, fear from eating too many Oreos and try again today.

I really love this post by Jerry.

I was listening to the Philosophers note on Learned Optimism a few weeks ago and Brian / Martin Seligman talk about the difference in perspective between an optimist and a pessimist that is very much in line with what Jerry is saying here. Someone with a more pessimistic perspective tends to see things as permanent, especially their own mistakes, while a more optimistic person sees things as temporary. The optimist, they said, truly believes in the do over. It has taken me a long time to finally start believing this.

The reality is this: There are very few things in life where a do over is not possible. So why, sometimes, do we want to torment ourselves by thinking things are permanent? Do you really want to torment yourself by believing the deal you failed to close was your last shot?

I guess without realizing when it happened, I started giving myself more do overs in the last year, and it’s amazing how different the world looks. It’s so much lighter, I sleep better, and life seems much more playful. When you know you have another chance at something, you’re willing to play. It’s no longer so serious. Why shouldn’t life be more playful?

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