"It's amazing how someone's IQ seems to double as soon as you give them responsibility and indicate that you trust them."
~ Timothy Ferriss
Many years ago, at a school camp, our house teacher was looking for students to lead a contest between two pairs of teams. Much to our surprise, he picked someone to captain our team that none of us would have even considered. Most of us thought something like, ‘Rodney, as leader of our team in this contest, you have to be joking’!
Rodney was a quiet average student with large horn-rimmed glasses who was shy and pretty much kept to himself. In fact, none of us knew him very well. The surprising thing was that once he was put in charge he started organising students into sub-teams and designed a game plan to beat our opposition. We all thought ‘hey, this can work’ and it did.
Most of us were shocked, Rodney has hidden talents, but how did the teacher know?
The Hawthorn Effect
We can look for clues in a principle called ‘The Hawthorn Effect’. This refers to a tendency in some individuals to alter their behaviour in response to their awareness of being observed.
In a famous real-life experiment, a school split students into two groups at the start of the year and explained it was on the basis of ability. Group A was described as being the more gifted students whilst group B was described as being average. Could you get away with an experiment like this in 2022? Probably not.
Following that, teachers treated group A as though they were expected to do well and set the expectations high. Group B was given no special attention and treated as though they were going to be average.
At the end of the term, Group A academically outperformed Group B. It was only then the teachers called the students together and explained that there was no difference between the two groups at all. Students for each group were selected at random irrespective of their grades and ability.
This raises the possibility of what we are capable of achieving if someone places their faith and belief in us to rise and excel to a level not previously considered.
Think about it, who do you know in life or business that might have latent talents just waiting to be ignited given the right opportunity?
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