Let me share another true story with you. I went to a public high school that was located in an urban area in the city’s downtown district. The high school campus included 2 very old buildings, one building built in 1890 and the other built in the 1920’s. Neither included any modern athletic facilities.
I was on the track team and since the high school did not have a field house with an indoor track or an outdoor track that was close to the school. Therefore, we ran our track workouts by circling the city blocks around the high school.
On the block adjacent to the high school was a Catholic Church that was over 100 years old and included a grade school. At that time, all the classes at the grade school were taught by nuns.
The property of the grade school was surrounded by the fence enclosing a yard with grass. As we ran our track workouts around the city blocks we would use the fence around the grade school as a steeple chase hurdle and jump over it every time we circled that block.
Jumping over the fence on a daily basis really annoyed the Mother Superior of the nuns who was also the principal of the grade school. She warned us numerous times not to jump the fence and even called the principal of our high school to complain.
Of course we did not listen to the Mother Superior or our high school principal to stop jumping over the fence during track practice.
One spring day when it was raining we began circling the block and jumping over the fence at the grade school during our track work out. On our second pass around the block, Mother Superior was standing there in her full nun uniform, her habit, with a pair of running shoes on, and carrying a yard stick with a metal edge.
It was a common practice to those days for the nuns to routinely discipline their students with rulers and yardsticks in the grade school.
As we came around the corner to jump over the fence, Mother Superior started chasing us with the yardstick with the metal edge. Since it was raining that spring day, the grass around the fence was slippery.
All of my fellow runners and myself successfully jumped over the fence and outran Mother Superior, excpet for one of runners named Sammy (not his real name).
Sammy slipped and fall on the wet grass and immediately the Mother Superior pounced upon Sammy and began to pummel him with the yardstick with the metal edge.
Sammy ended up with many large welts on his body as he was being pummeled by the Mother Superior before he was able to regain his footing and then outrun Mother Superior as she chased him down the block, still wildly swinging her yardstick with the metal edge at him.
If you want to see a funny visual depiction what this may have looked like that day, watch the beginning of the Blue’s Brother Movie from 1980 where Jake and Elwood go back to visit the Mother Superior of the orphanage they grew up in and get wacked by a yardstick in her office.
Now, I realize this sounds crazy and understand this type of behavior by the Mother Superior would not be allowed in today’s world, even by a nun. Her behavior could have resulted in the Mother Superior being arrested for assault, battery and possibly some other crimes. However, in those days, this type of behavior was tolerated.
For the next week or so, when it was time for track practice, Mother Superior stood outside the grade school with her yardstick with the metal edge. Her physical presence with the yardstick with the metal edge was enough to prevent us from jumping over the fence during our daily runs.
That is, the physical presence of Mother Superior with the yard stick with the metal edge directly caused us to modify our behavior and not jump over the fence during track practice.
Behavior modification is defined as “a process of changing patterns of human behavior over a period of time using motivational techniques.”
Behavior modification techniques typically include positive punishment, negative punishment, positive reinforcement, and negative reinforcement.
The Mother Superior of the grade school with her yardstick with the metal edge was a deterrent to us jumping over the fence and became something that was a behavior modifying technique including negative punishment (i.e., the possibility of being hit by the yard stick with the metal edge) and negative reinforcement (i.e., avoid making the choice of jumping over the fence because of the negative punishment, the yard stick with the metal edge associated with that choice).
If there is some undesired behavior pattern in your own life you need to change, do it with positive reinforcement.
Positive reinforcement includes introducing a desirable response to encourage a new behavior pattern.
In this case, the desirable response is ICE.
How do you ICE out your old undesirable behavior patterns?
Putting your old undesirable behavior patterns on ICE allows you to create a positive impact into your life.
Out There on the Edge of Everything® …
Stephen Lesavich, PhD
Copyright © 2022, by Stephen Lesavich, PhD. All rights reserved.
Certified solution-focused life coach and experienced business coach.
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