Learnings from Pygmalion

In his book, The Happiness Advantage, Shawn Achor reminds great leaders of the great learnings from the Roman poet, Ovid, in his story about Pygmalion. Pygmalion had the gift of looking at a piece of marble and seeing the sculpture it held. Pygmalion’s story tells of his vision of his ideal and how the power of his gift made it a reality.

Pygmalion had a vision of his ideal, the zenith of all of his hopes and desires – a woman he named Galatea. One day he began to chisel the marble, crafting it to his vision. When he was finished, he stepped back and looked at his work. It was beautiful. Galatea was more than just a woman: The statue represented every hope, every dream, every possibility, every meaning – beauty itself. Inevitably Pygmalion fell in love.

He realized that he could not love a stone, and asked the goddess Venus to grant him a wish to bring the stone to life. And she did. His vision became reality. The lesson of this story, today, is known as the Pygmalion Effect: “when our belief in another person’s potential brings that potential to life.”

May you always be someone’s magical Pygmalion, seeing in others their magnificent and unique gifts and treasures, and helping them see it in themselves. May you remember Albert Einstein’s wise counsel, “There are only two ways to live your life: one is as though nothing is a miracle. The other is as though everything is a miracle.” Fill your life with making miracles, and help others in making theirs. Your expectations, the priceless keys to those you serve, are magnificent catalysts to their growth.

Have a beautiful day and a magnificent week!!!

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2 Responses to Learnings from Pygmalion

  1. Jack Beach says:

    “[O]ur belief in another person’s potential brings that potential to life.” Yes, great leaders are optimistic and have high expectation of others. It is important to note that those expectations change the leaders’ behaviors as well as those in their charge. Leaders treat people they believe are capable and have potential differently than those they believe do not possess these attributes. In doing so, for better or for worse, they bring those expectations to life. As Eliza Doolittle, in the musical My Fair Lady asserts, “the difference between a lady and a flower girl is not how she behaves, but how she is treated.”

  2. Lisa Hanson | Seton Hall says:

    Hello Mike!
    I hope that you are well. Miss seeing you so very much at Seton Hall. If you are able, please contact me, as I’d love to keep in touch with you, but don’t know how to contact you. Thanks! Lisa Hanson

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