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I want my children to understand the world, but not just because the world is fascinating and the human mind is curious. I want them to understand it so that they will be positioned to make it a better place.
Knowledge is not the same as morality, but we need to understand if we are to avoid past mistakes and move in productive directions. An important part of that understanding is knowing who we are and what we can do...
Ultimately, we must synthesize our understandings for ourselves. The performance of understanding that try matters are the ones we carry out as human beings in an imperfect world which we can affect for good or for ill. (Howard Gardner 1999: 180-181)
Although fear is usually self-talk, there are times when it is most difficult to think that it is not real. So rather than attempting to eradicate it, warm up to it.
We can learn from our children. Children don't say, "I can't because I'm afraid.³ For example, a youngster will get on a high diving board and dive off even though she has never done it before. She'll run to the parent with a great smile, and the parent will ask, "Weren't you afraid?" She'll respond, "Yes, I was afraid; I was really scared."
But a grown-up won't do the same thing. If you say to a grown-up, "Are you going to dive off the board?³ the adult will say, "No, I'm afraid." The mental talk of the adults is, "If I'm afraid, I can't do it." But the truth of the matter is that you can do it even if you are afraid; it's just less comfortable than doing something you are not afraid to do. But if you do it a couple of times, you won't be afraid to do it anymore, and it will become more and more comfortable.
Rather than saying, "I can't do it,"--whether it is learning a new computer program, get going on the treadmill, or just acknowledging someone instead of evaluating the person²you can do it by easing into the task.
The Japanese have a word for it: kaizen. It comes from the words "kai" meaning school and "zen" meaning wisdom. Its core: Continuous progress comes from making small improvements towards a goal. "SMALL" is the key word. Just take one step at a time when trying something new. This "warming up" to the task will have you feeling competent and successful in a shorter period of time than you would have expected.
When promoting responsibility in ourselves or actuating responsibility in others, take small steps--instead of large leaps.