He’s Not an A+ Boyfriend? Try This…

If you have a guy in your life right now, what grade would you give him?

Is he an A+ boyfriend?

Or maybe a B+…

Or even a C?

Think about the reasons you assigned him this grade.

Maybe you gave him an A+ because he goes above and beyond for you. He takes you to the airport every time you need a ride. He shows up at your doorstep with chicken soup when you’re sick. He’s a truly good guy.

But maybe your guy is coasting along at a solid C. He’s doing the bare minimum. He only shows up when he wants something from you. He doesn’t go out of his way.

Now I’d like you to think about this…

Does your guy know that this is the grade you’d assign him?

Is he fully aware that his efforts are barely above failing?

Or does he realize how much you appreciate the work he puts into being an A+ boyfriend?

Once you have your answer, make a note of it. We’ll come back to it in a moment.

But first I want to tell you a story…

What It Takes To Earn an A

Benjamin Zander is the conductor of the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra.

He’s also a master teacher of music.

He taught at the New England Conservatory of Music for nearly 50 years.

For 25 of those years, he came up against the same problem.

His graduate students wouldn’t take risks in their playing.

They were too concerned about delivering a technically perfect performance to push boundaries.

They were so focused on being good that they missed the opportunity to be great.

Zander wanted to release these students from the fear of making a mistake.

He suspected—rightly so—that it was their fear of getting a B or a C holding them back.

An idea occurred to him…

What if he told every student at the start of the course that they would receive an A?

No matter how much they messed up, no matter how many risks they took that didn’t pay off, they would still get the highest grade.

But there was one condition.

Each student had to write a letter to him, pretending that it was now May and the course was winding to a close. From this future perspective, what had they done over the term to merit an A?

He cautioned students to write the letter in the past tense. Not “I hope to,” or “I will,” but “I did” and “I achieved.”

Lo and behold…

Freed from the pressure of earning a perfect grade, the students flourished.

They set personal goals. They pushed themselves. They felt free to try new things.

Zander’s classroom became a place where each student participated fully, motivated by their vision of who they wanted to become.

Giving An A

Today, Zander teaches this practice of “giving an A” to leadership groups and companies all over the world.

When you lead with the assumption that this person is capable of the highest achievement, you stop picking apart their faults. You stop comparing them against others. You rein in your tendency to judge.

Instead, you look for ways you can be generous.

You see that perhaps this person is doing the best they can in the situation they’re in. You see that perhaps there are blocks or obstacles to this person’s full engagement.

You see that your own actions might be playing a role in encouraging or discouraging this person’s participation.

And when it comes time for a conversation about how things are going, you don’t lead with criticism.

You don’t list all the ways in which this person’s performance is lackluster or they’re failing to measure up.

Instead you say something like:

“I appreciate what you do here and here. I am grateful for you. Something I would love to see is X (e.g., for us to spend more time together, or feel even closer, or develop our connection more deeply). Is that something you would like, too? How might we do that?”

The Chance to Be An A+ Boyfriend

If your boyfriend is currently earning a C grade…

And he knows you’re unhappy with his performance…

What do you think might happen if you took a more generous perspective?

Perhaps he is earning a C because you haven’t talked about your vision for your relationship. You haven’t shown him your excitement for the kind of couple you could become.

Or perhaps he feels like you’re disappointed in him anyway, so why bother trying.

Or perhaps he is being an A+ boyfriend in his mind, because what he expects from the relationship is much different from what you expect.

Giving him an A isn’t a way to change him. It won’t magically make him want to be the boyfriend of your dreams.

In fact, it’s possible that he won’t share your vision of what a good relationship looks like.

If that’s the case, you can still give him an A but be honest with yourself. You are looking for something different.

You can then release the relationship with blaming him or considering him a failure as a boyfriend, which will help you immensely in attracting a new and more compatible love.

Cultivating a generosity of spirit is something you do for you.

Your willingness to see the best in people frees you from carrying around judgment and criticism. It keeps you open to possibilities and potential.

It doesn’t make you a pushover, either.

You can see the best in someone AND decide that a relationship with them isn’t in your best interests.

How do you feel about the idea of giving your boyfriend an A?

Can you see how it might change your relationship, or does it feel like giving him a pat on the back that he hasn’t earned?

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