Subtitled: A Promise Kept.
In a recent installment of The Big-Brained Superheroes’ Handbook, we briefly discussed how the Big-Brained Superheroes Club economy works. Basically, big-brained superheroes (yes, we’re moving beyond proper noun status—Oxford English Dictionary, here we come!) get rewarded for exercising their superpowers, such as Empathy, Kindness, Persistence, Sense of Adventure, etc. Or, as we sometimes simplistically put it: We essentially created an economy based on being a nice person. But our goals are quite a bit loftier than that. We don’t want to just meet expectations as far as these skills are concerned. We want to exceed expectations. That’s why, when choosing a name for ourselves, we eschewed The Averagely Nice Person’s Club for something a bit more in line with our expectations and abilities.
However, one thing a big-brained superhero understands is that expectations and abilities aren’t enough to achieve our goals. Another essential is motivation. And while we’d all love to feel that the act of becoming a big-brained superhero is its own reward, inertia ain’t just a central rudiment of Newton’s First Law of Motion, if you know what we mean. OK, what we mean is that getting from here to there takes work—both mental and physical. It’s the mental work that we needed to jumpstart.
If you’ve read about Who we are…, you have a very general sense of how we’ve evolved as a club thus far. However, there’s a muddle in the middle about how our reward system evolved*. First, we tried various combinations of stickers and raffle tickets. Over the summer, we moved to “powerbadges” (which were also stickers). And, finally, The Big-Brained Superheroes Club mercantile is in effect. And while the mercantile has only been in operation for a little over a month, it’s a clear winner in terms of both motivation and capacity building.
The motivational benefits of the BBSC mercantile (BBSmart?) are similar to those of the raffle system we were previously using in that both the bank and the raffle tickets enable real-time, rapid rewarding (essential for our young BBSes, we’ve found) and even provide a springboard for negotiation (sometimes, BBSes will engage us on how much they think their work is worth; we frequently encourage these discussions). However, there are several benefits of the mercantile over the raffle. First, the raffle outcome would sometimes feel unfair (to all parties), and as a result, it would actually demotivate. We have much more control over how our current market system works. Second, BBSes like to see their bank accounts grow day after day, so it’s got longer term motivation-driving potential. In that respect, the market can do more to exercise our Persistence and Willpower superpowers than our raffle could. Finally, as we mentioned in the handbook appendix, the market gives us a chance to price store items at the beginning of a club meeting, providing both a quick hit of motivation early on and a chance to do some negotiation and consensus-building.
As far as capacity building goes, the underlying philosophy of the BBSC is oriented toward helping us all help ourselves. The finding and exercising of our superpowers is one aspect of that. However, the BBS market system enables us to learn about other fundamental aspects of our current daily lives. Money, math, interest, savings…those are useful things for us all to understand in today’s America. But beyond that, we want our market to provide a basic intellectual foundation for some more direct entrepreneurial activities we are working toward. Our nice-person-based economy knows no bounds!
* We should note, emphatically, that The Big-Brained Superheroes Club also evolved from rewarding general work to rewarding specific work, as we briefly address here.