swirling around the internet right now is a missive from one disappointed pop to his offspring. seems this father believes his children have made one piss-poor decision after another, leaving him and his wife weary, dissatisfied and embarrassed. he can’t quite take it anymore, so he let them know. then one of his piss-poor decision-making children let the world know. (take that, skeletons.)
here’s an excerpt, to give you a taste of the whole:
“Dear All Three:
With last evening’s crop of whinges and tidings of more rotten news for which you seem to treat your mother like a cess-pit, I feel it is time to come off my perch. It is obvious that none of you has the faintest notion of the bitter disappointment each of you has in your own way dished out to us. We are seeing the miserable death throes of the fourth of your collective marriages at the same time we see the advent of the fifth.”
it goes on in similar vein, with the dad, nick crews, sharing the horror of having so little to crow over with friends whose children are seemingly more accomplished and acquitted. (note: his children are all gainfully employed, it turns out, though perhaps not in the high-powered roles he’d find worthy.)
whether crews is to be commended or criticized, i leave to you to decide. commentators have picked clean the carcass of this story, savoring every salacious detail. the new york times editorialist david brooks, however, takes a more measured approach. he chooses to comb the details for its moral center, much like one would with a grimm fairy tale. the lesson he finds is that it’s wiser to alter bad behavior through positive direction:
“People don’t behave badly because they lack information about their shortcomings. They behave badly because they’ve fallen into patterns of destructive behavior.
“Human behavior flows from hidden springs and calls for constant and crafty prodding more than hectoring. The way to get someone out of a negative cascade is not with a ferocious email. It’s to go on offense and try to maximize some good behavior. It’s foolish to imperiously withdraw and say, come back to me when you have a plan. It’s better to pick one area of life at a time (most people don’t have the willpower to change their whole lives all at once) and help a person lay down a pre-emptive set of concrete rules and rewards. Pick out a small goal and lay out measurable steps toward it.
“It’s foolhardy to try to persuade people to see the profound errors of their ways in the hope that mental change will lead to behavioral change. Instead, try to change superficial behavior first and hope that, if they act differently, they’ll eventually think differently. Lure people toward success with the promise of admiration instead of trying to punish failure with criticism. Positive rewards are more powerful.
“I happen to cover a field—politics—in which people are perpetually bellowing at each other to be better. They’re always issuing the political version of the Crews Missile.
“It’s a lousy leadership model. Don’t try to bludgeon bad behavior. Change the underlying context. Change the behavior triggers. Displace bad behavior with different good behavior. Be oblique. Redirect.”
surprise, surprise. out of a tabloid story, we find a lesson for your wellness program.