Reality Check: More Alike Than Different

In his bestseller, “All Things Being Equal,” author John Mighton proposes that widespread math competence could be the key to a better, more just world. What’s your reaction to that? I’m guessing that it might be anywhere from, “Yes, obviously!” to “You have to be kidding me!”
The question of whether math is, or is not, the route to making everything better may have never crossed your mind, nor might it seem relevant to our everyday lives. But there’s a comment in Mighton’s book that I found particularly thought-provoking and I think that you might find it interesting too.
On the topic of learning styles—that is, whether different people need to be taught in different ways—Mighton refers to a guiding principle by Daniel Willingham. The principle is: “Students are more alike than different.” Continue reading

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Reality Check: A New Year; A New System

It’s understandable that New Year’s resolutions get a bad rap. The inevitable February stories of people who’ve abandoned their resolutions sends a message of, “Why bother?”
Regardless of the time of year, however, it’s worthwhile to think about what you want and then do the work required to achieve it. Accomplishment feels good. It helps to give us a sense of purpose and autonomy. We’re more satisfied if we have some control over our destiny rather than believing we are at the mercy of events and other people.
Plus, a goal (or resolution, if you prefer) is usually something positive. Few people set resolutions of, “I resolve to be a less healthy, lazier and more unpleasant person.” Goals tend to be something to aspire to; they build rather than tear down. Continue reading

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Reality Check: A Spirit of Hope

“Work without Hope draws nectar in a sieve.” If you are a poetry fan, then you may know this poem by Samuel Taylor Coleridge entitled, “Work without Hope.”
Work is more satisfying when it comes with the hope that you are working toward a valuable result. When you know that the product you are making or the services that you are providing have value, it’s easier to be enthusiastic and engaged.
A friend had recently reminded me of the poem and extended the sentiment to “Life without hope…” To thrive, we seem to need a sense of hope. That includes work but it’s not limited to work. Continue reading

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Reality Check: The Pep Talk

Could you use a pep talk? When you look around, does it seem that everyone is in festive spirits but you?
Whether you are having life-changing struggles or just feeling vaguely uneasy, you may have days when it’s hard to pick ourselves up, deliberately put on a smile and face the world with positivity. When we’re in that down state, it could be helpful to hear a “pep talk.” Continue reading

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Reality Check: A Real Gift

Gift-giving is top of mind for many people at this time of year. While the unusual circumstances of the last two years may have changed some perspectives about what is important, gift purchases are still common. We buy products or services to show that we care.
The past few years have also brought disputes for some people. I know that we will always have conflicts, but it seems to me that some conflicts have taken on a sharper edge since the pandemic. (Please let me know if you think that I am mistaken.) There are disputes over real science vs. mistaken science, over safety, over freedom, and especially over, “Where is this all leading us?” Continue reading

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Reality Check: Finding the Courage to Compliment

Do you feel weird when giving someone a compliment? If so, you’re not alone. I know this because Dan Pink, best-selling motivational author, created a short video on “How to compliment people without feeling like a weasel.”
This sounds a trifle uncomplimentary about weasels, but it does suggest that some people are uncomfortable about giving compliments. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Other People’s Choices

We make decisions—big and small—throughout our lives. Ideally, we would weigh pros and cons and choose the perfect win-win solution. Reality, however, often presents us with situations that offer no perfect option, yet we must still decide!
If you’ve been in the position of having only imperfect options, you know it can be a struggle. Often, we’d like to get results that conflict with each other. As an example, many seniors would like to be close to a medical centre, but would also like the neighbourhood feeling of a small community. Those interests can conflict. The reality may be that there is no perfect option. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Grumbling and Gratitudes

Has anyone done you wrong at any point in your life? I suspect that it’s a rare person who could answer, “No.” For most, at some point, someone did not treat us well.
Have you also noticed that many grievances are being aired? There’s blaming, criticizing, finger-pointing, all pointing toward the reality that current conditions are far from perfect.
Of course current conditions are far from perfect. Some grievances are undoubtedly justified. However, conditions have always been imperfect and no matter what new policies are implemented, I don’t think utopia will come any time soon. For one thing, my utopia and your utopia likely look different, so one of us is bound to miss out.
Where we focus has an effect on us. If we look for opportunities for grievance, we can find them. When we focus on grievance, our outlook becomes grievance-centred. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Do You Feel Appreciated?

Knowing that we are genuinely appreciated is satisfying. From a choice theory perspective, we might say that appreciation satisfies our need for power, recognition, esteem.
Regardless of how we analyze it, appreciation feels good. I sincerely hope that you have personal experience of this.
However, you may also be familiar with the other side of the coin. That is, you go out of your way to do good but you perceive that it’s not appreciated. While you may not be doing it for the “glory,” it’s still more encouraging to have your efforts acknowledged rather than ignored. Continue reading

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Reality Check: Urgency and Importance

As we approach the end of a second unusual year, people are making plans for the holidays. So much is so different now. There are decisions to make about gatherings, purchases, and traditions. How do you decide what to do?
This seems like an appropriate time to look at a tool by Dr. Stephen Covey from his book, First Things First. He calls it the Time Management Matrix, which is a rather fancy name for a table with two columns and two rows.
Its purpose? To help us organize activities based on urgency and importance. Ask, “Is this task urgent or not urgent?” And, “Is the task important or not important?” Continue reading

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