Warning – this quiz has a punchline that stings!
This exercise hurts.
Maybe you won’t be affected in the same way.
Let’s find out.
Imagine you are attending a “relationship building” workshop.
Not a marriage or emotional touchie-feelie one.
But rather one geared toward “customer retention” for organizations.
(Yeah, I know I need both… and many others as well… but YOU’RE at this workshop, not me.)
The workshop leader has passed out a blank sheet of paper.
She asks everyone to write down the names of their three favorite people on TV at the top.
You can choose TV characters from a sitcom, drama, or from actual “real people” news-based or reality-type programs.
What three names would you write down?
Feel free to hum the infamous Jeopardy bumper music for 15 seconds while you mentally make your choices.
After you have selected your three TV characters, the workshop leader asks you to apply the following eight questions to each character and write down your responses, beyond just basic “yes” or “no” answers.
• Could you describe your character’s family dynamics?
• Could you describe who your character hangs out with – and why?
• Could you your character’s general view of the world – and why?
• Do you have a sense about what your character values?
• Do you have an idea about what would frustrate them or set them off?
• Do you know what kind of music or food your character likes?
• Do you know how you could make them happy or help them out if you were in their circle?
• Do you think you could successfully predict how they’d react in certain situations?
If you were physically attending this workshop, the workshop leader would then ask you to fill up your sheet of paper by writing down your answers to these questions and (for fun!) pull together in small groups for 5-7 minutes and share.
I heard the originator of this exercise say participants love this part of the activity; as it’s incredibly easy, everyone has something different to share, and the small group format helps everyone get to know each other a little better.
So after you’ve yakked it up for a bit about your favorite TV characters in your small group, imagine the workshop leader calling you all back together for another assignment, the Part 2 of the exercise.
She wants you to turn your sheet of paper over to the blank side.
At the top she asks you to write down the names of three of your current school parents.
You have been instructed not to choose parents who are also your best friends, or who are fellow school employees, or are parents you and your team (from great experience) consider “high maintenance.”
The task is to write down the names of three of your typical school parents.
Now given these parameters, it’s likely the workshop leader will see you and everyone else in the room squirm.
So she’ll ask if coming up with the names of three TV characters was easier than coming up with the names of three current parents who aren’t typically on your radar.
She’ll note that for most of us it is.
You’re not alone.
Next, after everyone has struggled with writing down the names of three parents, the workshop leader will ask you to apply the same eight questions to your parents that you did with your three TV characters.
And now is when many of us will feel the pointed jab of a double-whammy sting!
When we were thinking about our favorite TV characters, this exercise was delightfully easy and fun.
When we were then asked to name three of our parents (sting #1) and apply the eight questions to them (sting #2), it took effort!
The workshop leader concludes by challenging you to wonder if this exercise might be beneficial for your leadership team or a group of principals and teachers.
It’s something worth considering, don’tcha think?
I just pray this exercise never pops up at home.
If I had to truly think about those eight questions relative to my three daughters and their lives instead of my three favorite TV characters, I could be in deep trouble.
So it looks like I’ve got some work to do – especially with Father’s Day on the horizon.
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