Authors

Bare Knuckle People Management is the top solution for the most common people-management issues. It provides the specific distinctions needed to turn your management into leadership. Read this book and watch your teams succeed!

—Justin Sachs, bestselling author of The Power of Persistence and Your Mailbox Is Full

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Final Exam Season – Battle of Wills

Final ExamWe recently wrapped up final exams in the O’Neil household.

My twin boys, Matt and Ryan, at 14 and on the cusp of high school, are suddenly far more interested in girls and their high school basketball careers than their grade point average. The boys’ mother, my dear wife Erin, has been…um…somewhat slow to embrace this.

This has created a tense dynamic that has captivated the rest of the household. “Grab your notebook, sweetie,” I told my 10-year-old daughter Julia, who delights in contributing to this blog. “We’re going to get some material here.”

Erin runs a tight household – a friend fittingly refers to her as The General. She whips us into shape and we fall in line. When we stray, she batters us – for failing to transfer dishes from sink to dishwasher or leaving towels on the bathroom floor – and we take our medicine, fix our wrongdoings, and move on.

The General repeatedly pestered the boys to study as they faded through exam season, particularly as it lagged over a last-gasp weekend before their Monday Spanish final.

Erin urged them on:

  • This was their last exam.
  • They needed to finish strong.
  • This grade would be on their high school transcript and would follow them for the rest of their lives.

The boys, who unsuccessfully argued that Spanish was easy, that no one else was studying, and that their good grades evidenced their grasp of the subject matter, ultimately relented and vowed to spend the Sunday before the exam studying in Matt’s room.

As the early summer Sunday wore on, not a peep could be heard from upstairs.

The boys ate a quick dinner and hurriedly returned to their study quarters. I nodded appreciatively toward a smug General, who appeared to have gotten her way again. And in an attempt to show her softer side and ease some of the built-up tension, she prepared a dessert tray and marched triumphantly upstairs to surprise them, when the following occurred:

General: Um, what the hell are you two doing?!

Matt: We’re taking a little break.

General: Playing video games and texting your friends? I thought you were up here studying all day.

Ryan: We were, Mom…Estabamos. [That’s my boy. Where did he pull that one from? I could hear him smirking.]

General: Well, I’m very disappointed. You’re not going to do well tomorrow if you’re not prepared.

Matt: We told you all weekend. We’re ready. You just didn’t listen to us when we told you.

General: Well, you’d better be right. I can’t wait to see your grades.

Ryan: Neither can we…Buenas noches. [Fine line between clever and wise ass. Ryan just crossed it.]

The General stormed downstairs. She was pissed, and before I could find cover, she approached me to vent.

General: I can’t believe them.

Me: I know. They’re the worst.

General: They’re in for a big surprise when they get to high school.

Me: Indeed. We can cross Harvard off the list.

General: Harvard?! I just hope they get into college…Ugh!

She stormed off, apparently disgusted by my lack of disgust. I turned to Julia, who often has a better read on these things than I do.

Me: So what do you think?

Julia: Well, the boys are dopes. But Mom should know better.

Me: What do you mean?

Julia: Well she wants them to do better on that test than they do. Even if she sat in Matt’s room the whole day and watched them, they wouldn’t do much studying.

As usual, Julia was right. Erin wanted them to ace their test. They just wanted their summer to begin. If Erin wanted them to really study, they needed to feel compelled to really study. They didn’t.

When the grades came in, Matt did a bit better than Ryan, but neither lit the world on fire or was at risk of summer school. To be sure, neither is headed to Harvard or reform school. But the lesson for me was clear…

In the end, it’s not easy getting someone to do something they don’t really want to do. If they don’t really want it, they’ll probably just go through the motions. And in most cases, going through the motions might not be worth getting all that upset about.

About Sean O’Neil

Sean O’Neil is a workplace and team dynamics expert. He is also Principal and CEO of Bare Knuckle People Management (www.bareknucklepeoplemanagement.com), a sales and management training firm with clients that include the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer, News Corporation, First Data, ADP, Royal Bank of Scotland, and the Oakland Raiders. Sean and John Kulisek co-authored Bare Knuckle People Management: Creating Success with the Team You Have – Winners, Losers, Misfits and All, which was published in May 2011. Sean has contributed to or been featured in, among others, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Selling Power Magazine, CNBC.com, HR Morning Magazine, Leadership Excellence Magazine, Training Magazine, the Dallas Morning News, the Sports Business Journal, and Incentive Magazine. Sean appears regularly on radio and television programs, including Fox Business Network and Imus in the Morning , mostly about workplace communications and management issues. Sean is a nationally-recognized speaker on everything concerning people and the way they interact with each other. He can also frequently be seen pacing the sidelines of a youth team he’s coaching.

General:

 

Um, what the hell are you two doing?!

 

Matt:

 

We’re taking a little break.

 

General:

 

Playing video games and texting your friends? I thought you were up here studying all day.

 

Ryan:

 

We were, Mom…Estabamos. [That’s my boy. Where did he pull that one from? I could hear him smirking.]

 

General:

 

Well, I’m very disappointed. You’re not going to do well tomorrow if you’re not prepared.

 

Matt:

 

We told you all weekend. We’re ready. You just didn’t listen to us when we told you.

 

General:

 

Well, you’d better be right. I can’t wait to see your grades.

 

Ryan:

 

Neither can we…Buenas noches. [Fine line between clever and wise ass. Ryan just crossed it.]

 

The General stormed downstairs. She was pissed, and before I could find cover, she approached me to vent.

General:

 

I can’t believe them.

 

Me:

 

I know. They’re the worst.

 

General:

 

They’re in for a big surprise when they get to high school.

 

Me:

 

Indeed. We can cross Harvard off the list.

 

General:

 

Harvard?! I just hope they get into college…Ugh!

 

She stormed off, apparently disgusted by my lack of disgust. I turned to Julia, who often has a better read on these things than I do.

Me:

 

So what do you think?

 

Julia:

 

Well, the boys are dopes. But Mom should know better.

 

Me:

 

What do you mean?

 

Julia:

 

Well she wants them to do better on that test than they do. Even if she sat in Matt’s room the whole day and watched them, they wouldn’t do much studying.

 

As usual, Julia was right. Erin wanted them to ace their test. They just wanted their summer to begin. If Erin wanted them to really study, they needed to feel compelled to really study. They didn’t.

When the grades came in, Matt did a bit better than Ryan, but neither lit the world on fire or was at risk of summer school. To be sure, neither is headed to Harvard or reform school. But the lesson for me was clear…

In the end, it’s not easy getting someone to do something they don’t really want to do. If they don’t really want it, they’ll probably just go through the motions. And in most cases, going through the motions might not be worth getting too upset about.

About Sean O’Neil

Sean O’Neil is a workplace and team dynamics expert. He is also Principal and CEO of Bare Knuckle People Management (www.bareknucklepeoplemanagement.com), a sales and management training firm with clients that include the National Basketball Association, Major League Soccer, News Corporation, First Data, ADP, Royal Bank of Scotland, and the Oakland Raiders. Sean and John Kulisek co-authored Bare Knuckle People Management: Creating Success with the Team You Have – Winners, Losers, Misfits and All, which was published in May 2011. Sean has contributed to or been featured in, among others, The New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, Selling Power Magazine, CNBC.com, HR Morning Magazine, Leadership Excellence Magazine, Training Magazine, the Dallas Morning News, the Sports Business Journal, and Incentive Magazine. Sean appears regularly on radio and television programs, including Fox Business Network and Imus in the Morning , mostly about workplace communications and management issues. Sean is a nationally-recognized speaker on everything concerning people and the way they interact with each other. He can also frequently be seen pacing the sidelines of a youth team he’s coaching.

(Visited 1 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Comment





* Required