Giving an A

“We don’t give children a name as an expectation to live up to. No, we give children a name as a possibility to live into.”

Labels are a human invention. When one label is not working, we can simply pick a new one.

Roz and Ben Zander have an interesting take on this. The idea is that you can give anyone in your life an A.

You can give your boss an A, your mother-in-law an A, the police officer that is writing you a ticket, you can give him an A too.

If we are going to label someone we might as well give them a label that makes them better. Better labels open the door for more possibilities.

Here’s the thing:

If I’ve accepted the label that I’m a bad public speaker, then I won’t see myself as someone who gives a TED talk. So, why would I ever apply?

If the school administrator has listed me as a troubled student, there are teachers that will treat me differently.

If no one in my neighborhood goes to college, why try to graduate high school?

In contrast, if people see me as an A student then my A work begins to shine.

Labels matter. As Jerry Cologna has pointed out, over time, we become complicit in the conditions that we constantly recreate.

This is not to suggest that we want a doctor to perform open-heart surgery who didn’t pass med school. No, this is about shedding judgments and strangleholds that grades hold in our culture.

Because once we give someone less than an A, then we won’t see or hear them. We close the door to possibility. We put them in a box and now only see the characteristics that make the person less than an A.