by ANTHONY on MARCH 3, 2010
Jacob sat in his chair quietly next to his mom and dad as his grade 3 teacher Mrs. Carter gave them an update on his progress at school.
“Jacob is what we call a slow learner” said Mrs. Carter quietly.
Jacob held his breath and sank a little lower into his chair. He looked up at his dad to see if he was in trouble. His father glanced down, smiled and gave him a quick wink.
In the car on the way home from the Parent-Teacher night, Jacob thought about what Mrs. Carter had called him – ‘Slow Learner’. Deep down Jacob knew that what she really meant was that he was dumb.
Later that evening, Jacob’s dad came into his room carrying a piece of paper and a pen.
He sat down on the side of the bed and said, “Hey Jake, I wanted to talk to you about what Mrs. Carter said today.”
Jacob thought he might still be in trouble for being a slow learner so he didn’t say anything.
“Mrs. Carter called you something today Jake, do you know what it was?”
“A Slow Learner” replied Jake who had already taken the words to heart.
“That’s right” said his dad as he wrote the words ‘Slow Learner’ on the piece of paper.
“Do you know what this says?”
“Slow Learner” replied Jacob nodding sadly.
Jacob’s dad then held up the piece of paper in front of his son and purposefully tore it into two.
Jacob’s eyes widened in surprise.
“Mrs. Carter was wrong Jake” said Jacob’s dad as he continued to tear the paper into smaller and smaller pieces.
“You’re not a slow learner.”
“No, and starting tomorrow, you and I are going to show that Mrs. Carter she was wrong, OK?”
“OK” Jacob hugged his dad, snuggled down into his pillow and fell asleep with a smile on his face and a warm glow in his heart.
From that day on, Jacob’s dad spent one hour per day helping Jacob with his reading and writing. By the end of the year, Jacob was doing much better at school and interestingly no-one ever labeled him a ‘Slow Learner’ again.
Jacob’s dad knew that when a child receives a label from a person in authority such as a teacher or parent, they often take that label to heart and it becomes a part of their self identity for the rest of their lives.
To avoid this from happening to his son, Jacob’s dad created a tangible representation of the ‘Slow Learner’ label and tore it up it in front of Jacob so that the label would not become a part of his child’s self concept.
Today I’d like to invite you to do the same exercise. To begin, find a quiet spot where you won’t be disturbed and think about the labels that people have given to you in the past.
Perhaps you were given a label by one of your parents, your teacher or your spouse. What is the label that resonates in your mind? Is there a label that has become part of your self identity because it was given to you by a person in a position of authority?
If so, write this label down on a blank sheet of paper and hold it up to see it for what it really is – A Label.
It is a label – nothing more. It is not part of you and you do not have to accept it as part of your self identity any longer.
As you begin to see the label for what it really is – Rip it in half and enjoy the feeling of destroying the label once and for all.
When you do this exercise you will feel a surge of motivation to take action to ensure that no one attempts to give you this label again in the future.
Just as Jacob’s dad took action and helped his son with his school work, make sure you follow through and do whatever you need to do to eliminate the remnants of the label from your life forever.
Until next time,
Dare To Dream