When it comes to the turning point in how we explain human behaviour – i.e., environment instead of character – Martin Seligman identifies the following marks: people no longer are responsible for their actions; situations must be isolated and corrected (money being the primary intervention); the focus of inquiry is on bad events, not good ones; and, ‘we are driven by the past rather than drawn by the future.’*
There’s no denying environments are important, but when people no longer have to take responsibility for their actions they are robbed of choice and growth and creativity which emerge from growing their character and their Strengths.
The best intentioned environments can be disabling, rather than re-enabling and awakening people’s dreams – essential if people art to identify and delight in that thing they alone can do, which they can push further and further through deep practice.
‘When you practice deliberately, you intensify the tasks or knowledge that are just outside your reach, strive to upgrade your performance, monitor your progress, and revise accordingly.’**
When we learn something by doing we’re increasing personal choice. When we learn skills – whether relational, actioning, or cognitive – we are developing speed.
And when we develop speed, we create time.
We make more time to develop the special skills and focus which bring something very unique into the world. More of the right kind of environments are springing up: ‘makeshift classrooms, often held in “maker” or “hacker” spaces where people come together to build and create.’^ You become ‘The only person on earth who could do what you just did.’^^
When the Nobel laureate Isidor Isaac Rabi came home from school, his mother did not ask “What have your learned today?” She asked, “Izzy, did you ask a good question today?”^
A question emerges from choice. Learning, though an environment of improvement, may not be about choice.