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A Matter of Perspective

I want to tell you a story...

One day a math professor wrote the following on the board:

1x9=9, 2x9=18, 3x9=27, 4x9=36, 5x9=45, 6x9=54, 7x9=63, 8x9=72, 9x9=81, 10x9=91

At first, there was a low giggle, and then many of the students laughed because the professor had obviously miscalculated. 10x9 = 91!?

The professor waited until everyone was silent again. Then he said: “I made this mistake on purpose to demonstrate something to you. I solved nine problems correctly and made only one mistake. Instead of congratulating me on correctly solving nine out of 10 problems, you laughed at my mistake. And so you show clearly how our education system works. And that’s very sad, but unfortunately true.”

He paused before he continued.

“We live in a culture of error that leads to people being injured and sometimes even humiliated just because they are wrong. We have to learn to praise people for their successes and also to appreciate them for their small mistakes. Believe me, most people do a lot more right than wrong, and yet they are judged by the few mistakes they make. I want to suggest to you that it is good to praise more and criticize less because that results in so much more: more affection, more cooperation, and less negative senses.”

Quite a few of the students understood that the lesson they had just learned was far more important than the result of 10x9.

Isn’t that a good lesson for all of us?

I often find myself critical of a person’s mistake when they have done so much more correctly.

We laugh at them. We tease them. While it may be “all in fun,” we are slowly eroding that person’s confidence.

How many people have been “eroded” to the point that they no longer even try?

Today, instead of picking out a person’s mistake and embarrassing or humiliating them for it, try instead to praise them for what they got right.

If the cashier gives you back the wrong change, it is very easy to point that out. But when the cashier gives you back the right change, we don’t point that out, do we?

I wonder what the world would look like if we became people who praised instead of criticized, thanked instead of feeling entitled, and prayed instead of cursing?


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