Live lousily.

A school culture of innovation and insight might best come from a culture that is comfortable doing things that we're, simply, lousy at.

Photo of Richard Lapidus
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I had a powerful conversation with a friend/colleague this summer in which he convinced me, perhaps somewhat unintentionally, that I've spent way too much of my life focused on doing things that I'm good at and that give me pleasure, as a result. In other words, trite as it sounds, I've spent 99% of my life in my comfort zone. What if a class took time to do things that they aren't good at? Not with the goal of getting better, but with the goal being to get comfortable at doing something that one isn't good at doing. I put up a (random) picture of someone else drawing because drawing is one of those things that I don't do well (there are myriad). Because I'm lousy at it, I don't draw. Well, I should. There are things I can learn from sketching that I can't learn from writing or running or playing tennis or watching television - and I might get better, but even if I don't, I'll learn something. 

The conversation with my friend was about playwriting. He's a "real" playwright. I'm writing a play. My dialogue is good. My outlining is non-existent so, consequently, the play isn't good. I need to make an outline but it's hard for me because I like the sound of words, I like the rhythm of speech. I'm not very interested in listing how A will lead to B and then to C (though I want the end result that the outline will produce). I'm just not all that interested in slogging through the thing that I'm bad at. But that's precisely why I need to do so. 

If the goal is a culture of innovation in schools, we may need to create a culture of comfort with struggle first (and not just "academic" struggle).  Can we embrace our weaknesses in the way that we do our strengths? We all want certainties - I know I'll be good at such-and-such. But innovation stems from the opposite of knowing what will happen and real risk comes not just from trying something new but from re-trying something old, something that you know you're lousy at. 

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Hi Ricky, how are you? I really love the idea of embracing weaknesses in the same way we embrace our strengths. In fact, today at our design session I did improv, one of my biggest fears! Guess what, it was pretty fun!

I think you are onto a great idea here and the comments below have really started to frame it out in more detail. We would love for you to share it in the ideate phase.

 A couple of questions that might help frame out this idea:
 What’s this idea about?
Why is this an idea that creates a culture of innovation?
How would you pitch this to other teachers in your school? Your principal?
How’d you get this idea off the ground?

Please don't hesitate to reach out if you have any questions or want to talk the idea out in more detail!

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