This blog was inspired by a couple of events, brought together after listening to the Radio 2 Thought for the Day slot last Friday – this was centred on ‘catch people doing it well’. The presenter asked the question – how often do we ask people “what is right with you?” rather than the usual “what is wrong with you?” We are conditioned, I believe, in modern society to focus on the negatives, the problems and the challenges and as a result often fail to reward others good joband more importantly ourselves when we do things right!  To challenge the status quo, to try new things, to succeed and make progress requires two key ingredients – energy and confidence.  What is more likely to give you energy and confidence – a berating when you miss the mark or a celebratory Congratulations when you make progress in the right direction.

This concept of ‘catch them doing it well’ has come sharply into focus as we are now 4 weeks into a new puppy and what a 4 weeks it has been! 🙂 I had certainly forgot about the sleepless nights and the disturbance when making that decision! Tiggy (the naming process was a trial in its own right), the Hungarian Wirehaired Viszla, has become part of the family, settling in well and beginning to learn how to behave in the way we want her to. Now puppies are the most adorable and most frustrating of creatures – they do not understand plain English and clearly have no concept of IMG_2235anything other than play, eat and sleep! Therefore training a puppy is a challenge, but one that can be effective and rewarding if it is based on ‘catching them doing it well’! I use a clicker, a small device that makes a click which you help the dog associate with a reward and good behaviour. You then click when you get the behaviour you are after, so when Tiggy sits in front of me – click, lots of praise and a reward! When she comes running towards me when I call – click and treat. When she stops trying to bite me and mouth me – click and treat. You can’t tell her to stop being bouncy, to stop whining, to stop chewing the sofa leg etc because she doesn’t understand – you can only encourage her when she does the right thing.  I want a confident and happy puppy and positive reinforcement is the best way of creating that in Tiggy!

This was even more sharply brought into focus for me personally when I snuck off to Old Trafford Cricket Ground for a batting lesson. I play regularly but have never had a lesson, but thought it would be an interesting thing to have a go at!  It was a great hour, was really helpful and this concept of ‘catch them doing it well’ was really highlighted.  I started off facing a bucket of balls out of the bowling machine and my instructor just watched – I thought I did ok and wasn’t bowled once. 🙂  However, at the end of the bucket the instructor did not have one positive or celebratory thing to say.  He wasn’t negative – he just focussed on the things I could do differently or improve.  Now I am a confident and happycricket nets go lucky chap as well as being self-aware enough to recognise the impact that had on me – I could feel energy and confidence dissipating out of me.  I therefore asked him what was good….. that stumped him (pun intended)…… no seriously he was able to compliment my timing and my eye for the ball.  Buoyed by that feedback and the improvement opportunities we went at the next bucket – more compliments, more well dones and more encouragement really helped me.  He ignored the shots that were poor and celebrated the ones that I had changed my approach – the hour whizzed along and was really productive.

Unlike puppies, people know pretty quickly when they are making progress or not and are their own worse critics on the whole, so it adds very little value to continue to point out mistakes and failings. Can you think of someone who is struggling to grasp something or do something, frustrating you as a consequence?  Think about how or what you could catch them doing well – sometimes it feels counter intuitive, slow and ineffective, but it will give them a greater chance of staying focussed, energised and confident to succeed.

If you want to see improved performance in yourself, your team or family members – consciously and deliberately strive hard to catch them doing things well and you will see the difference much quicker.

Tiggy!!!!!!!……… put that bloody shoe down!!!! 🙂 Doesn’t always work lol 🙂