Thursday, 29 September 2011

Social Media Mom Outs Sons

How about the Tennessee mom who posted a scolding on Facebook aimed at her two sloppy sons and in so doing revealed that their residence did not qualify them to play on the high school football team where they had transferred recently?   Regardless what you might think about some of the silly state athletic association rules about students who transfer legitimately (and we have them in New Mexico too) the point here is that social media networking can cause a team to forfeit three games?  C'mon people.  Just because Mom is trying to publicly shame her boys for not cleaning up their rooms?   There are other ways to get boys (and girls) to clean up their rooms or for that matter contribute to the organization and workings of a household by sharing some of the chores.  My hunch is that Mom has been letting these two sluggards get away with stuff for years so it's not all that unusual except that she had probably reached her limit and had enough of their lack of response.  So, to Facebook!  Obviously that was not the right response.  Mom, how about just enforcing your own rules and regulations with some consequences which cause the boys sufficient discomfort and inconvenience that they might reconsider? 
Here's the thing about consequences.  Most kids think consequences can only be negative and I've surveyed enough of them long enough to find that to be true.  What has been missing, over time, is for parents to let their children know that consequence is synomymous with results and that you can actually have good consequences.  Good choice, good consequences.  Bad choice, poor judgment, bad consequence.  I know it sounds oversimplified but find some examples that your children can relate to easily.   Don't brush your teeth, yucky mouth, visit to the dentist.  Brush and floss.  Feels better, looks better, good chance of better teeth.   It gets a little easier when they reach driving age as that is great leverage for a parent.   Good choices, drive the car.  Bad choices, lose the privilege.  And so on.  You can think of others.   Choice/consequence just like the dawn follows night.

Friday, 23 September 2011

"Top Ten Afflictions Among Educators"

10. MABS - Myopic, Apathetic Blame Syndrome.  A dis-ease characterized by lack of vision, indifference and the attempt to shift responsibility to other people as in "that's not my job."
9.  PEST - Plasmapheric Educational System Transference. A condition recognized in those who drain the organism and then because of inactivity offer bureaucracy as a reason for the illness.
8. CRUD - Cholangitis Re-occurrence Under Duress - the inflammation of bile ducts marked by pain in the upper right quadrant of the abdomen, treated by strong drugs or surgery.  Obstruction is a condition occurring when one wishes to block progress.
7. DEAD - Deeply Entrenched Atrophic Dementia. most often seen in those who mistake the edge of the rut for the horizon.  Seen in those in a progressive state of mental decline with memory and judgment beginning to fail.  Can sometimes be reversed. Often not recognized by those who have it.
6. PAIN - Psychogenic Aphakic Intestinal Nonsense. Cannot swallow pride or much else. A purely mental condition afflicting those who are uncomfortable with change, fearful, insecure and may be heard to whine to colleagues.  Radical treatment often consists of removal to a new location.
5. BORE - Big Opthalmic Rectal Enteritis. Crossing of certain ocular and rectal functions affecting one's outlook and in extreme cases can lead to impaction. Treatment includes change of attitude.
4. LAME - Loud Aching Martyred Epicondylitis - those affected often complain about carrying a heavy load and wish others worked as hard as they do. Can be very contagious.
3. GRIPE - Glottic Repetition Instead of Pitching in Energetically - self explanatory but recognized because those so affected would rather talk about it than do something creative to solve it.  Also seem to enjoy hearing themselves rather than listening to others.
2. ARUMP - Arteriosclerosis Revealing Unified Mental Proliferation.  A hardening of the institutional arteries that prevents flow and can spread if not kept in check.  Sometimes used as a prefix to meetings.
1. SOSOB - Same Old Same Old Beliefs or in medical terminolgy Systemic Osteolysis/Schizophrenic Obsessive Burnout. Becoming stuck hard and fast and refusing to consider new paradigms.  Result is often seen in giving up and giving in rather than learning something new and improving both self and the system.

Monday, 19 September 2011

Conscious and Intentional

Years ago I developed a little scheme for helping people to deal with what I called, reactive emotions that usually got them nowhere, except mired in their own misery and instead offered them another option.  Imagine someone making a snide remark or remember the last time someone said something to you that prompted an immediate, spontaneous "flight or fight" response.  For example, someone calls you by name and says, "You know what?  You're a jerk!"   Your immediate, reactive response is often one of two spontaneous emotions. Either you feel hurt, go silent and withdraw, OR you come back with an equal or stronger comment such as "Look who's calling who a jerk, you stupid, silly person!"  Flight or fight.
  There is a third possibility but it has to be conscious and intentional and it's this.  You could respond by saying, "That's interesting. Tell me why you think that."   You might say that's all well and good but it's not in our nature to respond that way and you're right.  It's not.  We have to take control and put it there.  Then both the conversation and the relationship can continue, if that's your desired intention.  If that is not your wish and you want it to end right there,  that's also a choice but we seldom think of this scene involving choices because the emotions rules out conscious and intentional choice.  Albert Ellis, who died in 2007,  developed a school of psychotherapy in 1955 called Rational Emotive Behavioral Therapy based on using rational thought as a mediator to emotional response.  And, it works!  It's probably where I got the idea of giving people a third choice because that was the year I graduated from high school!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

The Psyche of the Leader

Psyche was the youngest of the three daughters of some king, her beauty prompted the jealousy and envy of Venus (Aphrodite). In order to avenge herself, the goddess ordered Amor (Eros) to inspire Psyche with a love for the most contemptible of all men, but Amor was so stricken with her beauty that he fell in love with her. He accordingly conveyed her to some charming place, where, unseen and unknown, he visited her every night, and left her as soon as the day began to dawn. Psyche might have continued to enjoy this state of happiness, if she had attended to the advice of her beloved, never to give way to her curiosity, or to inquire who he was. But her jealous sisters made her believe that in the darkness of night she was embracing some hideous monster, and once, while Amor was asleep, she approached him with a lamp, and, to her amazement, she beheld the most handsome of the gods. In her excitement of joy and fear, a drop of hot oil fell from her lamp upon his shoulder. This awoke Amor, who censured her for her mistrust, and escaped. Psyche's peace was now gone, and after attempting in vain to throw herself into a river, she wandered about from temple to temple, inquiring after her beloved, and at length came to the palace of Venus. There her real sufferings began, for Venus retained her, treated her as a slave, and imposed upon her the hardest and most humiliating labors. Psyche would have perished under the weight of her sufferings, had not Amor, who still loved her in secret, invisibly comforted and assisted her in her labors. With his aid she at last succeeded in overcoming the jealousy and hatred of Venus; she became immortal, and was united with him forever. It is not difficult to recognize in this lovely story the idea of which it is merely the mythical embodiment, for Psyche is evidently the human soul, which is purified by passions and misfortunes, and is thus prepared for the enjoyment of true and pure happiness.
Leaders whose souls are “purified by passions and misfortunes” really do have a much better chance to enjoy happiness in their work, with their colleagues and with the community at large.  While the end goal of most leaders may not be mere happiness, it’s a fairly good barometer of the state of one’s spirit which is the accurate translation of the Greek word psyche . 
Karl Menninger, the founder and director for many years of the Menninger Clinic in Topeka, Kansas, used to ask patients upon their discharge from the clinic, “How’s your spirit?”  In fact the psychiatric definition of psyche is “ the mind functioning as the center of thought, emotion, and behavior and consciously or unconsciously adjusting or mediating the body's responses to the social and physical environment.”   This is why psyche is most often misunderstood as “mind” as opposed to “spirit” or “soul.”
I believe the “spirit” of the outstanding leaders I have known can be seen, heard and felt in at least the following ten ways.  These are not in any order of priority.
1 - Enthusiastic and energetic - There are many different ways of expressing one’s spirit of enthusiasm, whether overtly or more quietly, but we most often characterize this contagious quality as passion, thus strong feelings that are shared.
2.  Positive and optimistic - While best balanced with a heavy dose of realism, the expression of hope in the present and for the future is a quality of spirit that any good leader is well-advised to have in his or her repertoire of attitudes.
3.  Caring and compassionate - A spirit of genuine concern for others and their well-being goes a long way toward helping a community to develop an ethos of mutual support and collegiality.
4.  Inquiring and curious - The leader who asks thoughtful questions and demonstrates the spirit of an inquiring mind helps to further the conversations to a deeper level of understanding.
5.  Conscientious and intentional – Designing change requires a spirit that is transparent so that others may see how seriousness of purpose pervades the leader.
6.  Pleasant, friendly and joyful  - As one friend and colleague puts it, “be kind, tell the truth and say thank you.”   Good manners, social grace and comfort in a crowd contribute significantly to the perception of one who is “at home” easily and genuinely.
7.  Confident and courageous – Unafraid to make hard decisions, even unpopular at times, the leader is able to take a stand, express convictions and move forward, even in the face of opposition.  It helps to take others along on this often perilous journey.
8.   Humble and modest – Without any need to be boastful, arrogant or prideful, the leader allows his or her deeds to speak for themselves.  Such a spirit speaks volumes without having to say a word.
9.  Creative and open - The leader exhibits a mind that seeks and welcomes new ideas.  This is the mind that works like the proverbial parachute, best when open.   However it is not change for the sake of something new.
10.  Fair and firm -  These qualities speak of a balanced response, an attitude that knows how to assess and when to draw the line.   This works with both individuals and groups and the leader’s spirit sets the stage, the tone and the process.
Many of these qualities of spirit overlap and are part of a larger dimension of one’s personality, having to do with attitudes and behaviors, as defined earlier.  The  point of all of this is that being aware of how these play in the environment in which one works can really make a big difference in the outcomes of so much that you want to accomplish and these make it easier to get a lot done without caring who gets the credit.  Most importantly, these are qualities for good mental and physical well-being.