About a year-and-a-half ago, I was one of twelve students being trained to teach Leadership Communication for the new class of MBAs. As part of training, we were asked to do everything we would be asking our students to do, which included an assignment called “Getting My A.” The assignment is based on a chapter from The Art of Possibility, where each of the author’s students is given an A at the beginning of the semester in order to eliminate any anxiety caused by the fear of being judged/measured and to give students the freedom to take risks necessary for growth. There is only one requirement for earning the A: each student must write a letter from the perspective of her future self at the end of the term, about what she did and accomplished over the course of the term in order to earn an A.
Because I was teaching a communications course in a small-group setting, the assignment was modified to start with “Dear team, I got my A because…” and had to be delivered as a speech. I went home and thought about what to write. I’m a fairly decent public speaker, which is part of the reason I was selected to teach the class. Yet, in order to push the students who were already good public speakers outside of their comfort zones, I wanted to model the kind of growth I expected them to achieve.
I asked myself, what is it that holds me back? What kind of growth would I have to accomplish in order to earn an A?