Plus-One Better

I’ve been back to school for a few weeks now and am already celebrating the small victories that I’m experiencing on a daily basis. These have included:

  • Seeing 3 girls, in Mexico soccer jerseys taking a selfie with a Mexican flag celebrating Mexican Independence Day. A great way to kick off #HispanicHeritageMonth
  • Playing whole body rock-paper-scissors as an ice-breaker on day 1 and having a student declare “This is a great way to get us to exercise without us realizing it”. Aha, there is method in my madness young man.
  • A group of sophomore students saw my #sendateacher t-shirt and asked me to tell them about it. “If we buy one of your shirts, can we wear it instead of our regular PE shirt?”. Erm….YES!
  • But the most powerful small victory? Read on and I’ll share it with you.

I’ve blogged before about the power of celebrating small wins, using micro-actions to enable macro-changes and at that time I was a big fan of the YOU app.

“Small changes, done daily, can lead to big results.

1+1+1+ … = A LOT.”

One year on from my initial blog I find myself reading and listening to SuperBetter from Jane McGonigal and I have my PLN to thank for that. Mary Wentland, Jo Bailey and Andy Horne have all vouched for the power of the book and they were all motivated to purchase it having watched McGonigal’s TED talk.

You can find more about the book and the theory behind it in this Tim Ferris podcast interview with Jane, but in a nutshell, SuperBetter theory illustrates how living a ‘gameful’ life can help you become happier, closer to others, clearer in your mind, more resilient, and a greater hero in your own unfolding life story. The book presents a number of simple, easy to perform ‘quests’, each one designed to improve resilience in some way, allowing you to achieve a small victory that essentially allows you to ‘level-up’ in life by approaching the day ‘gamefully’. I now find myself trying to capture these wins in the same way that I might have tried to capture coins when playing Super Mario Brothers.

Here is the SuperBetter quest that I have immediately adopted, that has provided impressive results EVERY time that I have used it. Are you ready to play?

QUEST: Plus-One Better

I’m presenting this in a simple form and I encourage to to read more about this quest here.

For this quest you will ask someone the following simple question:

“On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your day going?”

This simple question works on a number of levels. It lets that person know that you are thinking of them, and prompts them to reflect before selecting a number.

Then you wait for the response before replying with:

“Is there anything I could do to help move it from a 6 to a 7?” (or . . . “from a 3 to a 4” or “from a 10 to an 11”–you get the idea).

I promise you, you will be warmed by their response to your offer to help them make their day plus-one better. I tried this 3 times last week and each time I deepened my connection with the person to whom I asked the question, and the effects of the interaction continued to shine for the next 24 hours.

I asked it of a co-worker who I don’t often to speak to. She was walking hurriedly along the hallway looking flustered. My question made her flush, she stopped, we talked about how her day wasn’t going so great and we had a nice conversation that ended with a comforting embrace.

I texted the question to my wife, who revealed that she was having a 6. Taking the family out to a restaurant after work was her response when asked what would make the day plus-one better. Now, I ALWAYS baulk at the idea of eating out during the week….but the quest encouraged me to agree to the suggestion. And you know what, we all had a great time and had the opportunity to talk in depth about what was causing each of us stress that week.

But here was my favorite plus-one better experience from this week. I walked my class of junior and senior students to Lake Michigan, one block away from school. We discussed the value of being by water and the effect it can have on reducing stress, mild anxiety and depression, improved sleep and other benefits. Read Blue Mind by Wallace J. Nichols for more on this. Having sat and contemplated by the lake we reconvened before heading back to school and I told my students about the plus-one better quest.

As we walked back to school one student texted their girlfriend, who was home sick in bed “On a scale of 1 to 10, how is your day going?” He got excited as his phone showed that a response was being typed. She was having a 6. With a smile on his face he typed “Is there anything I could do to help move it from a 6 to a 7?” He shared her quite sweet response with me (but I’ll leave that between the two students, you don’t need to know what it was…but it was really quite sweet). 30 seconds later she typed again “That would take me from a 6 to an 8”. That exchange caused quite a stir among the students. Everyone thought it was an awesome interaction. One girl declared that it had just made her day. I agreed with her, it had my day too!

I promise you, this simple check-in with someone will elicit a level of warmth that, if you are like me, you’ll get a kick out of! And don’t do this just once. Do it often. It’s easy, it’s fun, and it’s a great way to add to your daily victories.

Copy of SuperHero shirt.jpg

I urge you to check out the SuperBetter book, the app, and why not purchase a limited edition SuperBetter inspired #sendateacher shirt and help send a teacher to the #SHAPETampa conference next year.

If you like this post, you’ll also like Water On My Mind in which I share more about #BlueMind theory and how I use it with my students.

6 thoughts on “Plus-One Better

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