If you’re like me -ambitious yet, admittedly, occasionally lost- you likely remember the song lyrics from the play Annie Get Your Gun that read “Anything you can do I can do better, I can do anything better than you!”
I tend to live my life by this saying, or at least a less arrogant version such as, “if they can do it, so can I!” Considering this is a mantra that I live my life by, I find it ironic that I don’t remember where or when I ever heard those lyrics and had to Google it to identify the song’s origination.
Yet, these lyrics replay in my head daily. It is a positive thinking tool that I have used to develop a mindset that allows me to Overcome Adversities and Never Give Up. I first initiated a positive thinking mindset through Ekhart Tolle’s A New Earth – Awakening Your Life’s Purpose.
I truly believe that if someone of a similar ability and intelligence level has achieved something, I can do it too. The same goes for you and even that under-achieving client, friend or acquaintance; no matter how hopeless they appear.
I was not always such a positive-minded person. Having experienced life as a child in the system and now as a professional and advocate, I have had a unique opportunity to study the shifts in my own mind-set – as well as others. I often refer to it as the difference between having a “Poverty-Mindset” versus a “Middle Class-Mindset.” The “getting by and having everything I need” mindset associated with the middle-class is a great example of the resourcefulness that it takes to always have “enough” and be able to progress. There is a stark difference between the resourcefulness that it takes to have enough and that which the poverty-minded individual utilizes to simply survive. There is also a commonality among the two. If you find yourself seeking more from your financial situation, improve your financial intelligence here.
Each level of resourcefulness is the result of learned behaviors. Someone mentored, taught, or otherwise demonstrated poor resourcefulness to the poverty-minded individual, while the middle-class minded individual observed middle-class behaviors. Each becomes proficient in their respected lifestyles. Their proficiency comes from practicing demonstrated behavior. Which is why it absolutely blows my mind that when we as professionals offer an idea or resource we expect those who need it to already know how and why they should utilize that resource.
All-too-often we give information to people who don’t know what to do with it and expect them to “get it” just like we did. We fail to remember that prior to “getting it” someone demonstrated how to properly utilize that information as it applies to our individual needs. As mental health professionals, social workers, or even simply as a friend we need to remember the importance of mentoring during our interactions rather than strictly assessing.
Mentoring can take place in many ways. In situations where we impact a life for a very short amount of time, we can still offer a mentoring relationship. This can be established through being a good listener and taking the time to walk someone through a process step-by-step and then ensuring retention of that experience.
Take a few minutes and help them write a goal list; heck, even write it for them. Maybe they have never written a goal list before and you demonstrating what it looks like will help them get started rather than feel stifled and overwhelmed with the task of creating a list. Instead of handing a referral card to someone, offer to make the call. Maybe the reason they have not followed up with any of their referrals is because they are not sure what to say when they call, or even why they are calling, so they simply do not call.
The difference between learning and implementing the idea of “if they can do it, so can I” is having the opportunity to observe the “how”. Even when things seem to be “common sense” it is never a good idea to assume that it is for someone else. I challenge you to make it your common practice to demonstrate the “common sense” for those who may need a little boost in the right direction.