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Saturday, January 22, 2011

Framing Setbacks

First - about last week's post. 

I was very pleased and encouraged by the response received from last week's post on "Not Yet Successful" and the video about "Teen Brains on Technology".  Regarding the latter, technology has certainly had an impact on how (and how long) and what we read these days.  In fact, it's kind of called into question what constitutes real reading.

You may have missed a previous post on "Reading at Risk" (a couple of weeks ago - you can click on it to the left if you're interested).  And you may, if you haven't done so already, take a look at the article on the right entitled "Is Google Making Us Stupid".  In the meantime, even though the post was a summary of the published report gleaned from the Executive Summary, what follows is a summary of the summary in (almost) twitter form.

We're not reading much of anything these days...rate of reading is declining rapidly for both men & women...across all ethnic & racial groups...across all ages...steepest decline is among teenagers...decline relates to increase in use of electronic devices, video games, & portable digital devices.

That's the summary, although not in 140 characters.  So, you might be asking - "Why, then, should we even read the summary, never mind the report?"  I get the sense that kids are asking questions like this, too, when it comes to reading assignments.

On another note...  let's continue this conversation about the word "yet".  In reality, sometimes the right choice to make when pursuing a goal is to say "Not now, and - you know what? -  not ever".  This is not an easy decision to make because one never knows how close s/he may be to achieving the desired goal.  But here's another spin on it.  "Stuff" happens and we have to learn how to deal with it.  RESILIENCE.  Framing setbacks in a way that provides constructive feedback is an immensely important skill to acquire in life.  Sometimes stuff happens that seems devastating at the time but later on may evolve into a blessing.  Take a moment to read the SHORT story below;

There was an old man and is son who worked a small farm with only one horse to pull the plow.  One day, the horse ran away.  "How terrible," sympathized the neighbors, "What bad luck."
But the farmer replied, "Who knows whether it's bad luck or good luck."  

A week later, out of nowhere, the horse returned from the mountains, leading five wild mares into the barn.  The neighbors heard about this and exclaimed, "What wonderful luck!"  "Good luck? Bad luck? Who knows?" answered the old man.  

A couple of days later, the son, trying to tame one of the wild horses, fell and broke his leg.  "How terrible.  What bad luck!" cried the neighbors.  "Bad luck?  Good luck?  Who knows?" said the farmer.  

Ten days later, the army came to all the farms to take the young men for war.  The farmer's son - with his broken leg -  was of no use to them, so he was spared.  Good luck? Bad luck?

Retrospect offers us what no moment, in the present, is capable of doing.  Time will reveal the reason for the baffling or troubling situations that have dogged our paths along the way.  Whenever the road feels rocky or we are confused, we need to trust.  Our lives are not happenstances.  There is a performance being staged.  (From a Promise of a New Day).

In one sense, then, nothing really matters in and of itself because the importance of things lies in the ways we have learned to think about them.It's really all about framing your experiences, and this includes "setbacks" along the way.  Experience isn't what happens to you so much as it is how you interpret what happens to you.

Check out the one-minute video interview (posted above and to the right) with Bill Bradley, the former basketball player who starred at Princeton in the 1960s and later on with NY Knicks in the NBA, but not before taking two years to study at Oxford as a Rhodes Scholar in between.  Later on, he had a long career in politics as a US Senator from NJ and made an unsuccessful run (not yet - not ever) for the presidency.

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