Researching excellence

“a significant part of the competence research base we rely on stems from a then-radical proposal made back in 1973 by the late Harvard professor David McClelland.  Writing in the flagship psychology journal, McClelland proposed that if an organization wanted to hire or promote the best person for a specific job, such as a leadership position, it should discard what were then the standard criteria.  Instead of testing people for their IQ, technical skills, or personality – or just looking at their resumes – McClelland proposed first studying employees who were already outstanding performers in that job and systematically comparing them with those who were just average at it.”

Primal Leadership p35

What an interesting proposal.

What if we studied Montessori guides who are already outstanding performers in the environment and systematically compare them with guides who are presently giving average performance?

What hidden truths about guiding would we discover?

What if we did the same research with assistants or administrators or parents even?

And if you are asking yourself why do this research, here is my answer (though it is a rambling answer)

When I played baseball as an elementary and middle school child I had to hit ground balls and run fast because try as I might, I simply could not hit the ball into the outfield.  I was not a particularly athletic child but mostly I had problems with my stance.   I had good form, meaning I held the bat properly and lifted my arms properly.  In fact I committed to memory and relied upon my coach’s tip that the batter can step with his lead foot in a particular direction (towards left field or right field, etc…) to aim the ball in that direction. Nevertheless, I was an average, maybe less than average batter.

Years later after working for the Quantum Learning Network and picking up a few tips on self-improvement, I played a season of softball with a recreational league.  I studied the best batters on the team and realized my stance needed work; specifically I was standing too close to the plate.  When I took a small step back it allowed the end of my bat (larger and travelling faster) to hit the ball and suddenly, for the first time in my life, I was consistently hitting the ball into the outfield.  I had become a much better batter by observing better players and learning from their success.

I want to be my “best guide”.  I want to learn from exemplary models and would welcome empirical research into best behaviors.  I don’t want to imitate a master, I want to travel the trails of different masters to find my own way.



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