Remember Learning to Drive?
Like most of us, I learned to drive in my late teens. I took driver’s education and also learned from my Dad. It was an intimidating process (for both me and my Dad!). While it empowered me to go where I wanted to go, I also had to learn about what I now refer to as “The 4 R’s of Empowerment.”
The 4 R’s of Empowerment
- Readiness– I had to be motivated by the long-term benefits, ready to study the Massachusetts driver’s manual, and willing to accept setbacks. I also had to be mentally alert and focused!
- Risk – My parents and I both knew that there was risk in my learning to drive. I could total my father’s car or injure or kill myself or others. Luckily, that didn’t happen!
- Responsibility – I learned quickly that driving an automobile was a huge responsibility! I had to make sure I had enough gas in the car, be on the alert for poor drivers, and keep an eye on the dashboard for warning lights.
- Restrictions – When I finally got my driver’s license, it was not without restrictions! I had to drive within the speed limit, stop at red lights, and pay attention to traffic alerts. My parents restricted when I could use the car and even how many friends could ride in the car while I was driving!
Learning to Drive – a Metaphor for Empowerment
Learning to drive is super empowering! And it’s not a lot different from many other things we learned to do as teenagers or young adults. Think now about those other accomplishments that empowered you. Perhaps it was learning to cook your own food, manage your own money, do your own laundry, or land your first job. In varying degrees, didn’t all of those things require readiness, some level of risk, stepping up to a new responsibility, and working within boundaries or restrictions?
Think of times when you accepted and completed a new task or assignment at school or in the work setting. Were there any times when you were not ready for the assignment due to your ability, motivation level, or both? How did that affect results?
When taking on a new task, there is always some degree of risk that it will not go well. In addition, there are usually “restrictions” about the “best way” and the “wrong way” to get things done. Can you remember a time when certain restrictions were not made clear to you until after you completed the task? How did that affect results?
Applying the 4 R’s
Whether we are coaching an AD/HD college student on developing a weekly study schedule, helping a leader learn how to delegate assignments, or encouraging parents not to enable their teenagers, we address new learning opportunities in terms of Readiness, Risk, Responsibility and Restrictions.
Readiness is usually the first issue we address. Much like when learning to drive, most of us are more motivated to make changes when we can visualize the long-term payoffs!
When you take on a challenging assignment or commit to developing a new habit, to what extent are Readiness, Risk, Responsibility, and Restrictions involved? What makes you empowered?