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The well read book

Posted by: Joyce Matthews   |   No Comments   |  Posted on: Feb 20, 2016

AQ is another measure of success – apparently.

I logged on to WeChat this week (the Chinese mobile messaging app), to see what my friends in China had been up to over the Chinese New Year, only to find Sherry Chen, my trusty interpreter, had posted this link to calculating your AQ – Adversity Quotient. It’s a measure of personal resilience or ‘grit’.

Reading the article made me think. There’s always something new when it comes to defining success for individuals or organisations. Once upon a time it was IQ, then it was EQ, or EI, and now apparently it’s AQ as well. People always want to know what the secret is, the key to achievement, the tools and techniques others use, the habits of the highly effective. And there seems to be a ready market of ‘gurus’ out there always inventing the latest theory, or measurement. There’s always someone ready with a vowel followed by a Q.

It reminded me of teachers who attended the PE courses I used to deliver. Most only wanted the answers, “Just give me the worksheets, the book or the CD, and I can get back to my class.” They didn’t feel they could spend the time to learn, or find out for themselves. They wanted to watch other’s best practice, to see the demonstration lessons, to use another’s resources. And there was always someone ready to devise a new scheme of work, glitzy workbooks and lesson plans, and brightly coloured must have, cannot do without equipment for their pupils.

Is it the case that as long as there are people looking for the answer from someone else, there will always be ‘experts’ ready to supply it? Whether it’s in the form of a leadership theory, or a measurement of success or even a technique for making us better at what we do or who we are?

Maggie, the leader of our creative writing group told us a story this week about how she learned to paint. As a child she’d believed she wasn’t arty, couldn’t draw and couldn’t paint pictures. As an adult she decided to learn. Her teacher told her it was easy to copy other artists. Van Gogh, Turner, Picasso, anyone could copy their technique, their style, their colours. What was much harder was to discover your own way, to focus on your uniqueness and notice what makes you different. She likened it to a well-read book. Picking up one to demonstrate, she showed us all its faults, it’s scratches, its folded back pages, it’s ripped dust cover. “This is what makes it different and unique”, she explained. “It’s flaws are what makes it unlike all the rest, and when you can notice them, wonder about them, and concentrate on using them as the best bits, that’s when your art will become really interesting, truly successful and not a copy of someone else’s.”

This made me think about leadership development. What if the answer isn’t someone else’s theory, or resources or style? What if it’s simply YOU Q?

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