The Evil Word That Kills Improvement

The Evil Word That Kills Improvement

Feb. 28, 2020

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At every lesson, there’s a psychotically evil person skulking in the shadows.

In theory, a learning session should be a happy place where improvement is the only goal.

A student shows up to learn.

A teacher shows up to instruct.

Everything is perfect.

Except for the evil person.

That person wants to ruin everything. That person can’t wait.

Almost every lesson begins with a student trying to address a problem.

In tennis, the problem might be a running forehand or a low approach shot.

The teacher then asks some questions in an attempt to fix the problem. For this example, let’s say it was the low approach shot.

“What happens on your approaches?” says the instructor.

“Every time I get a low, short ball, I miss it in the net,” says the student.

In the corner, the evil person starts giggling. The trap has been set.

The teacher then starts a drill to address the problem. He goes over the form that will solve the low approach problem and then feeds her that low, short ball.

Whack, right into the net.

For the evil person, everything has gone to plan. Any hope of improvement is almost gone.

All the evil one needs is one little word, and he whispers it in the student’s ear.

The word comes out…


Think about what’s happened.

A student has a problem. She supposedly wants it fixed.

The teacher has solutions. He would like to fix it.

So why does the student yell, “See?!?”

What are we supposed to see?

Are we supposed to see the student’s failure?

“See, I knew I would miss it into the net. I was right!”

The student’s desire to be right –in a self-defeating way– is more important than getting the problem fixed.

The student’s negative vindication is stronger than the desire to get better.

And, as long as that’s true, improvement is impossible.

Because improvement isn’t the goal.

Failure is.

See the evil?

Anyone can improve.

There’s no age, gender, time, intelligence, or genetic limits. Improvement, drastic improvement, is there for us all the time.

But the evil one must be banished.

And it’s done by never saying the word.

Keep it locked up and anything is possible.



My book is called The Inevitability of Becoming Rich, and you can find that here.