This week I created a guest blogpost for another blog and realized that I really needed to share it here. After all, it is about the power of a nudge!
So, here it goes!
Have you ever had a family member, a friend, a co-worker or even someone you barely know make a suggestion or comment that made a huge difference in your life? It may have been a simple remark, but it had a lasting impact on choices you made going forward?
We call these “nudges.” These little ideas, comments, and suggestions have the power to increase our self-confidence, encourage us to change direction in our lives, educate us on new possibilities, and instigate a new business, adventure or idea. Unfortunately, some nudges can have a negative impact – lead us away from generally accepted moral and ethical behavior or cause us to lose confidence in our own capabilities and gifts.
How can small, seemingly unimportant interactions hold this much power in our lives?
Over 10 years ago I decided to quit my job and go back to school. Why? A friend suggested that I should get a masters degree. I had not thought about getting a masters degree, but I had made it a goal to take a few courses in web design. The power of the suggestion made me re-think my plan. I decided to enroll in an online MBA program through the University of Maryland. I was accepted and started my first course – accounting. It wasn’t my best subject and it wasn’t very motivating. A few months into it I received an email from a former co-worker who excitedly shared that she thought I should go to graduate school and that she had found a program just for me at George Mason University. Her email contained all the right words to peak my interest – training, education, HTML, and adult learning. So, I signed up. Seriously, I went to the website, found out the requirements for applying, took the proper steps and I walked into my first class on campus less than four months later.
Why would I start a graduate program based upon a suggestion from a friend? Why would I drop out of an MBA and start a new program based upon a simple email communication?
I still don’t know why, but I acted on their suggestions. Perhaps I trusted their opinions. Perhaps I trusted that they knew my desires, talents and skills. Perhaps I felt inspiration at the moment the suggestions were given. Though I’m still not sure why I accepted those “nudges” and took action, I can look back and see the amazing change they made in my life. I did well in the program and went on to progressively more interesting and higher paying jobs. I also gained a lot of confidence in myself.
The act of accepting a nudge is important. But, what may be even more important is taking the time to become “a nudger.” Sharing small tips that might help a friend, suggesting that someone ask for that raise, and expressing confidence that a person will be able to attempt and achieve a goal. Sometimes it is just to be helpful and sometimes we will truly be inspired to say something that will help someone completely change direction in their job, their friendships, and life goals.
We all have the power to nudge and be nudged. It gets easier with practice and as we become more aware of these interactions, we also start to notice when we might be unintentionally nudging people in the wrong direction or becoming a detriment to their growth. But, those moments will be rare.
Try nudging someone today. You’ll see. It might change you too.