The Burnout Vaccine

IT’S COMMON AMONGST HIGH-ACHIEVERS, BUT FEW CAN RECOGNIZE IT, AND MANY DENY IT CAN HAPPEN TO THEM: BURNOUT.

Life is full of pressures to not only succeed, but exceed expectations at everything we do. It’s a world that places value on achievement, rank, and one’s ability to be able to prove oneself as able to handle the daily pressures of modern society. A young person’s life is full of expectations to be met - get good marks, get a good job, study hard, save money for post secondary, get accepted to their chosen post secondary destination, plan for the future – the pressures are endless and often hard to handle all at once. When all these things become too much, and we push ourselves too hard, we run the risk of burning ourselves out.

Burnout, as defined by the Mayo Clinic, is as a state of physical, emotional or mental exhaustion combined with doubts about your competence and the value of your work. Burnout is what roadblocks you into being able to push yourself any further into completing the tasks at hand. Burnout is your body’s way of telling you to STOP and take care of your own well-being before trying to accomplish anything else.

Burnout is difficult to recognize and accept in high achievers. Most of us don’t have time for burnout, never mind the time to dedicate to resting, or taking time off, especially with imminent deadlines and items to scratch off the to-do list. Yet learning how to recognize, and treat burnout, is one of the most effective ways that you can protect your productivity and effectiveness and ensure that you are always putting your best face forward in what you do.

HOW DO YOU RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU ARE BURNING OUT?

1.    Complete and utter exhaustion. When you have a lot on the go, it’s easy to feel tired and draggy, but when you start to feel abnormally tired, you’re napping more often, or falling asleep in places where you should be staying awake, your body is sending you a sign that you’ve reached exhaustion or burnout.

2.    Negative thoughts and feelings. Do you find yourself feeling overly critical of others? Do you get frustrated easily by the smallest things people do? Do you find yourself thinking negatively about something that once gave you energy and joy? A shift from positive thinking to more negative thoughts may indicate burnout and that it’s time for a refresher.

3.    Lack of motivation. The thought of your to-do list is so intimidating and daunting that you can’t even bring yourself to look at it. Your desk is piling up with papers and tasks you need to complete, but you can’t even bring yourself to sit down and tackle it all. You find yourself finding compelling reasons to avoid your work and much more important tasks that demand your time (aka. Procrastination). If you are just finding that you don’t have the gas in your tank to move forward, it may be time to stop to refuel.

4.     Increased headaches, muscle aches, or general decrease of physical well-being. If you find yourself reaching for remedies to decrease aches and pains when you normally wouldn’t need to, your body may be sending you a big signal that you are burning out.

5.     Slipping performance. If grades aren’t as up to snuff as they usually are, or people who depend on your productivity are commenting that you’re under-performing, it’s perhaps time to recognize why there has been a decrease in your normal awesome level of output. Burnout, when not recognized and cared for, can put those things you are working the hardest for at jeopardy.

Feel like you may be burning out? The first, and most helpful thing that you can do for yourself is let yourself off the hook, and recognize that it’s okay to burn out from time to time. The most influential leaders of this world can point to a time, or several times, when they were burned out, and had to recognize and address it in order to continue on to be effective leaders. There’s no shame in burning out – it’s just a humble recognition that you’ve been a bit too much of a rock star in your life and you deserve some time away to regroup. Everyone needs time to reignite their light inside from time to time.

NOW THAT YOU’VE BEEN ABLE TO RECOGNIZE THAT YOU’RE EXPERIENCING BURNOUT, IT’S TIME TO SHOW BURNOUT WHO’S BOSS AND WORK TOWARDS A HEALTHIER, MORE BALANCED, AND PRODUCTIVE VERSION OF YOURSELF. HERE ARE A FEW TIPS TO DEAL WITH BURNOUT IN YOUR LIFE:

1.     Schedule in your “me” time. It’s very easy to schedule in time to study, work, or complete errands or tasks. It’s not as easy to schedule in time for yourself. When making your schedule, try something revolutionary: Before you put in your appointments, tasks or to-dos, put in time for yourself first. “Take a walk”, or “go to the gym”, or “spend time with friends”, or “Netflix binge” (we all need our Netflix binges!). When you put yourself first, and schedule your life around you, you may be surprised at the way you approach your studies or work refreshed and energized.

2.     Give yourself an attitude adjustment. If you have been noticing that you’ve been a bit short with people, or you have found yourself immediately going to more negative thoughts, call yourself out on those. Try your hardest to flip negative thoughts back to the positive. “There is no way that I am going to meet this deadline,” becomes, “I have always met my deadlines, and I will find strategies to ensure I meet this one too”.

3.    Seek support. Whether it’s reaching out to experts who are available to help young people move towards success, or finding support within your friends group, talking to others and seeking the help of others to help you relieve your burnout can help you find new perspectives, or new strategies to ensure that you don’t experience burnout on the regular.

4.     Set goals. Take time to relate your present pressures to your future outcomes. Remind yourself of what you are working to achieve. Adjust your goals when necessary if you find that what you are doing now isn’t going to help get you to the place you want to be in your future. Take time to reassess your goals and what you are doing if the burnout is starting to exceed the reward.

5.    Rest. It is OK to take time off. If you have gotten to the point where your well-being is starting to become seriously at risk, look at your options for taking a few days, or weeks off from what you are doing to regroup. A lot of workplaces have flexible options for employees to take time away. Weekends are also a great time to dedicate to rest if you can. Put a box around your rest time, and protect it with your life, as without rest, you can’t even begin to help yourself relieve your burnout, never mind move back towards a more productive place.

Now that you’ve learned about burnout and how to recognize and minimize it, there are few other things to consider if you are feeling burned out. Sometimes you have to persevere through multiple bouts of burnout in order to get to a particular place in your life. For instance, school exams are a time when young people tend to get burnout. It’s important to recognize burnout and practice self-care as outlined above, but it’s also important to remind yourself that this feeling of burnout is only temporary. It is a necessary stepping stone to something greater and it is starting you on your path to finding that career that allows you to follow your dreams.

When you have launched your career, it's important to pay close attention to burnout, and understand when and why it occurs. Sometimes the feeling of being burned out in your career may be indicative of something greater than just being a bit overworked and in need of a rest. If the feelings we described in this article are more than occasional, that could be your body signaling to you that it may be time for a change or to consider something different in your career.

BURNOUT IS NORMAL, AND BURNOUT IS NOTHING TO BE ASHAMED ABOUT, BUT THERE IS A LOT YOU CAN DO TO ENSURE THAT YOU ARE MINIMIZING YOUR FREQUENCY OF FEELING BURNED OUT, AND MINIMIZING THE DAMAGE EXCESSIVE BURNOUT CAN CAUSE YOU.

 

The Reflection Journal: Get It Out Of Your Head!

Last week I introduced the role of reflection in professional settings, reflection being an important mechanism through which we learn from our experiences as professionals. I referred to my friend Anne-Marie, who studies reflection for a living, and her definition for reflection:

“Reflection is a deliberate emotional and intellectual process in which self-aware learners introspectively analyze their understanding of the world by drawing on acquired knowledge and information to critically evaluate their experience. From these processes, the learner is able to produce rational thought and use this to inform current and future action.”

I put forth the notion that reflection can help you learn on a deeper level as a professional; it helps you to think about your actions, the consequences or outcomes of your actions, and make a way forward for yourself based on your introspection of your experienced.

Reflection asks you the questions: What? So What? Now What?

I mentioned a few methods through which you can engage in reflection, and today, I am going to focus on the reflective journal, or the reflection journal.

There is no right or wrong way to complete a reflection journal. Your reflection journal is literally a space through which you can complete your reflection activities and thoughtfully engage in introspection. It is intended to be a private space, a diary of sorts, where you can let it all out, without fear of criticism or that someone may know that you are using a space to think out your professional work. Your reflection journal is your space, and yours only.

What can you do in your reflection journal? Here are a few activities or ideas on ways that you can use the power of putting pen to paper to make you a more effective professional:

The Tentative Explanation

Sometimes we get into situations or circumstances happen that we don’t always understand. Sometimes we need a bit of time to toss the things that happen to us in a day around in our heads to ensure we come to a better understanding. Taking time to write a tentative explanation journal entry will help you put onto paper everything you know, currently understand, and all the information you have collected about a situation into one place. It will help you visibly be able to sort through an incident and work through it in an organized way.

The Judgment

As a human, it’s easy to draw personal judgments about people or situations. It’s easy to come to our own conclusions and make those conclusions dictate our behaviour going forward. A reflection journal is a space in which you can explore those judgments or assumptions you have made about others. Explore with yourself where those judgments come from, and whether they are actually justified. Could the reflection journal be the space in which you let go of your judgments before allowing them to affect the way you interact with others? It just may be!

 

 

The Critical Incident

A critical incident journal entry will allow you to take a particular incident, or a particular interaction and thoroughly think through its implications so that you may be able to affect a similar outcome in the future. For me, as an Emergency Room doctor, not all situations have positive outcomes. As a doctor, I owe it to my patients to be able to reflect on incidents that happen with in the ER, my own performance in a situation, and how I can do things differently in the future.

The critical incident asks you to reflection on the questions I posed at the beginning of this piece: What? So What? Now What?

The what of the critical incident describes the who, what, where, why and how of the incident. It is a literal description of the situation.

The so what of the critical incident brings you through the sense-making process. It asks you to assign meaning to the situation as well as significance. Why is the incident important and why is it important that you take the time to reflect on it?

The now what part of the critical incident journal makes connections from the experience to future action. For example, what would you do differently to come to a different outcome? What are the key lessons you learned that you will incorporate into your practice and what will you share with your colleagues in order to help them learn from your experience?

In upcoming blog posts, I’ll introduce some other methods of reflective journaling. There are several ways that you can use the reflective journal to help you become a better professional and help you become your own student, whether it be through structured activities or free writing. Until then, why not try one of the three exercises I listed below as you begin your foray into reflective journaling. You may be surprised with what you come up with!

 

 

The Role of Reflective Practice: Letting Emotions Be A Guide

Have you ever been told that there is no room for emotions in your workplace or your professional life? This may be something that you have grown to believe, or something that is reinforced within your workplace culture. Way back to the times of Plato, who we know was a big proponent of the mind and the processes of rational thought and reason, emotions tended to be seen as animalistic, involuntary, irrational, unprofessional and as the antithesis to rational and intellectual thought. As professionals, we have often been told to suppress our emotions, keep a stiff upper lip, and not show our vulnerability in the workplace. But when you deal with people, complex situations, stress, deadlines, interpersonal issues, and all the tough stuff that being a professional can bring, it’s not always easy: you’re human.

I’m going to talk a little bit emotions in the context of reflection and the reflective practice. The Latin word reflectere means to bend back or to turn back, or in English, to reflect. Think about when you look into a mirror – it does precisely this. It makes visible to you what is visible to others, and makes you visible to yourself.

Reflection, or the reflective practice is intended to do just this. A friend of mine, Anne-Marie, who specializes in the study of reflection created her own definition of reflection: “Reflection is a deliberate emotional and intellectual process in which self-aware learners introspectively analyze their understanding of the world by drawing on acquired knowledge and information to critically evaluate their experience. From these processes, the learner is able to produce rational thought and use this to inform current and future action.”

I asked Anne-Marie why she came up with such a complex definition of reflection that seemed to incorporate so many elements. Anne-Marie explained to me that in her study of reflection, she came across many factors:

·       Reflection is a process where the person doing the reflecting becomes a learner

·       Reflection is a conscious process; recognizing that as human beings we are naturally reflexive, but actively engaging in reflection takes it further

·       Reflection requires you to consider his or her own place in the world as well as the constructs of the world they have created

·       Reflection invites you to bring in previous knowledge, such as knowledge that is acquired through field-specific education

·       Reflection requires a self-probing process where you are constantly asking yourself questions

·       Reflection requires you to be tough on yourself, providing yourself constructive criticism

·       Reflection happens with the intent that it will produce a cognitive response

·       Reflection is a tool to adjust the course for the future

Reflection, then, is a loaded term, but one I am intrigued to discuss through a series of posts about the reflective practice. Reflective practice is an incredibly important part of my life as a medical practitioner. Quite often, in the Emergency Room, I come across people, situations, and medical cases that I need to learn from.

Donald Schön is the leading scholar on reflection in the context of professional practice. Schön’s “reflection-in-action” model involves reacting to inconsistencies in a situation by rethinking one’s own tacit knowledge and reframing the situation with one’s intuitive understanding and applying that to the experience. He suggests that reflection-in-action is integral to the development of professional expertise. He believes that reflection-in-action draws upon one’s competencies and requires the application of understanding to experience and a consideration between one’s thoughts and actions in the process.

After every shift in the Emergency Room, I do my best to engage in reflective practice to review my day. I consider all the patients I saw that day, what they told me, what I derived from them, and what my course of action was in regards to their medical situation. I then recall what I learned in my training as a medical doctor, or the disciplinary knowledge I had acquired that had led me to make the choices I did when treating a patient.

I ask myself questions like:

·       Where did I succeed? / Where did I fail?

·       What was the outcome for the patient and how did I affect that outcome?

·       Could I have taken a different approach to the treatment of my patient?

·       What could I have done differently?

·       How will I adjust my practice going forward to use this as a learning experience?

By reflecting, I don’t just let my medical practice pass me by. I take each and every opportunity to build myself as a professional, consider all I’ve known until now, and to introspectively build my knowledge about myself and my approach as a medical doctor.

Every profession lends itself to the reflective process, and every experience lends itself to a learning opportunity through the reflective process. Once you understand reflection and incorporate it into your life, and professional practice, you open yourself up to being your own best teacher.

I’ll be posting blog posts throughout the next months that will talk about various aspects of reflection: what is the connection between emotion and cognitive thought? What are some methods to engage in reflective practice? How can I create a work culture that encourages reflection? Is reflection really possible for every profession?

I’ll leave you today with a bit of a challenge: I’d like to be observant of the experiences, conversations, and situations you come across throughout your day that lend themselves to a reflection and begin to warm yourself up to the idea of active reflection. We’ll work together to present ways you can take those opportunities to reflect and turn them into meaningful learning experiences.

“By three methods we may learn wisdom: First, by reflection, which is noblest; Second, by imitation, which is easiest; and third by experience, which is the bitterest.” -Confucius

 

How Your Mindset Sets Your Physiology

The connection between the body and mind is undeniable. Modern medicine agrees with the benefits of mindfulness therapy and cognitive techniques to reduce anxiety, chronic pain and depression. 

Techniques such as yoga, meditation and some martial arts have risen in popularity in the last 10-20 years. But do they really work? What is actually going on here? 

As a Medical Doctor, I see a lot of the negative consequences that can come as a result of not taking the time to reduce stress, relax or practice self-care. Heart failure, low immune systems, and chronic illnesses become what results from lives lived at warped speed, where exercise, nutrition, sleep and healthy habits have taken a back seat. This is a huge problem. 

The funny thing is, most doctors don't practice what they preach.  The number of overweight doctors is on the rise as the workload becomes more grueling and competitive. The truth it, it is extremely hard. So let's take a moment to think about the negative effects of how poor mental strength adversely effects our health.

Neglected mental health and well-being produces negative effects on the body. The mind and the body are incredibly interconnected. The way you think can determine the way you physically feel, and the way your thinking patterns form over time can actually alter your physiology.

Here are a few ways:

Your State of Mind Affects Your Heart. When you are under conditions of stress, blood pressure increases as well as your heart rate. As we know, illnesses related to high blood pressure (hypertension) and other heart diseases are among the leading causes of death in the world. Taking time to use techniques that include relaxation, meditation, mindfulness or self-care will help you reduce stress and in turn reduce your blood pressure and also reduce your likelihood of other stress related illnesses such as obesity.

Your State of Mind Affects Your Ability to Fight off Cold and Flu. Believe it or not, being in a place of high stress or when you are not taking care of your mental health, can leave you susceptible to those nasty viruses that are floating around you in your environment. How does this work? We believe that it has to do with inflammation; when your body is in a state of stress or are in a state of negative emotions, your body weakens its ability to fight off inflammation, and your immune system isn’t as effective.

Your State of Mind Affects Your Weight Management. Maintaining a healthy weight is a key to a healthy life, we all know that. Recently, it was proven that there is a significant connection between our mental health, stress and our appetite. Cortisol, what is released when we are stressed, can negatively affect our appetite, leading us to choose unhealthy foods that are high in sugar and fats, which of course have a direct link to our ability to maintain a healthy weight.

Shift workers who do the graveyard shift will agree that in states of fatigue, our ability to control our cravings can seriously go out the window. There is no simple answer here, it is down to good planning and disciplined sleep hours during the day. 

Your State of Mind Affects Your Overall Health. In America alone, a country known to be one of “high stress”, over 90% of people recognize the link between their stress levels and their likelihood of developing a major illness. In modern society, people deal with the stressors associated with money, work, family responsibilities, personal health concerns, relationships, and their general ability to “keep up” with the demands of life. 

To put it blankly, the way you think IS the way you feel. Your mindset or state of mind can have direct affects on your heart, immune system and overall health.

Do you take care of your state of mind and mental health like you take care of your physical health?

Take time to truly consider this question for yourself. When you feel a pain in your chest, or you break a bone, you will take the time to visit a doctor. When you know you need to get more exercise, you will get a gym membership with the intention that you will go on a regular basis.

When you feel stress, do you actually take the time to de-stress? Do you seek relaxation by practicing yoga or another mind/body related practice? When something is going on in your life that may be negatively effecting your mental health, do you seek help through therapy or coaching to guide you through?

Neglecting our mental health is easy. It’s too easy. This busy world rarely allows us the time to take care of our mental health, never mind our physical health with the responsibilities that continuously get thrust upon us.

I would like to consider another question for yourself. In fact, I consider this a challenge I would like to pose for you. Ask yourself this: What is one thing I can do today to take care of my mental health?

Here are some ideas:

·       Go for a walk to release some positive endorphins

·       Use a reflection journal to get some thoughts and feelings down on paper about significant events

·       Take time to go out with friends and enjoy yourself – for once, let yourself off the hook!

·       Try a new relaxation technique you haven’t tried before such as yoga, reiki or guided meditation. You may surprise yourself!

Throughout this blog, I’ll discuss various ways that you can manage your mental health, including stress, and the ways we handle the things that happen to us in our lives. I’ll continuously encourage you to reflect on various aspects of your life, recognizing that you have the tools within you to help yourself be better to yourself and your mental health.

Are you truly happy or just repeatedly elated?

When is the last time you felt absolutely elated? You know, that feeling of ecstatic, euphoric, joyous, glee where you feel as though you may jump out of your skin with excitement. I get that feeling with live music. When I know that one of my favorite bands are about to hit the stage. The energy in the concert hall is so palpable, that sometimes my face starts to hurt from smiling so much. I can also remember that feeling of total elation when I was accepted to study in my first graduate program, as I knew that I had come through some tough competition to secure my spot in my chosen program.

Elation is a great feeling. You feel the adrenaline pumping and the positive endorphins being released; in those moments you wonder how you could ever feel sadness, discouragement or general unhappiness.

Elation is a good thing, but it’s important to know that being elated is not the same thing as being happy.

We all chase happiness, and we all take steps in our lives to experience euphoria, joy and that feeling of being beside oneself with excitement. We book vacations that we look forward to. We save our money so that we can buy a new car or technological device to stay on the cutting edge. We compete for opportunities with hopes that we are the ones who come out on top. We go out to eat at restaurants in order to enjoy a nice social vibe while satisfying our hunger. When we achieve and experience the things we strive for, we feel absolutely elated, but the feeling doesn’t always equate to happiness.

An elated person is someone who feels joy, bliss and excitement episodically. It’s a positive response to something you believe will cause you happiness. Elation is an excellent feeling, but it doesn’t make you a happy person. Happiness is a far greater state of being.

Happiness can be described as FREQUENT positive emotions and INFREQUENT negative emotions. Being a happy person doesn’t guard you from life’s difficulties and doesn’t guarantee you’ll never feel emotions of anxiety or stress, but it truly is a state of mind, a consistent feeling, and your default disposition.

When we look back to Aristotle, he believed that happiness was a virtue and a condition that depended on ourselves. It was in his work Nicomachean Ethics where he laid a lot of the foundation of the science behind happiness. In this work he asks the question, “What is the purpose of human existence?” What is our end goal in life?

Ask yourself this: “What is the purpose of my existence?”

It is a very complex question, a question the philosophical field of existentialism has been trying to ask for centuries, but you don’t have to take on the question in the ways that Kant, Nietzsche or Kierkegaard and their contemporaries did, but you can easily take this question and focus it in on yourself.

What is the purpose of your existence?

For me, when I boil it down, I know that I pursue many things in my life with the goal of feeling elated. I’m not alone in this. I do get excited by being able to purchase something I’ve saved for. As an avid traveler, I get overjoyed when I book a vacation and have some time off. I like to pursue adventures and thrills as well, and find ways to do this throughout my year. But when I really think of it, the purpose of my existence is first and foremost to be a loving support to my wife and other family members. These are the people who mean the absolute most to me. Second, I feel I am working towards the purpose of my existence through the work I do. Every day, I get to help people out of difficult situations as an Emergency Room doctor and also work with inspiring leaders through our coaching work. I find happiness in knowing that I have my whole future ahead of me to continue to define my purpose.

Elation is a wonderful feeling, and we can all pursue the feelings associated with elation throughout our lives, but elation should be valued one’s life with caution. Elation happens when we have completed a struggle towards a goal or obstacle. It’s a great feeling, but can often be short-lived and difficult to sustain. Happiness occurs when the positive feelings associated with elation are distributed evenly, consistently and in a balanced way throughout your life.

How can you move to a series of episodes of elation to understanding whether you are truly happy? I certainly can’t provide the secret to happiness in this blog post, but I would like to propose some questions for self-reflection that you can ask yourself about your own happiness:

·       What are the things I am most grateful for in my life?

·       What are the things in my life I place the most importance on?

·       What am I committed to?

·       How would others describe my disposition?

·       Do the decisions I make for myself contribute towards short-term satisfaction or long-term happiness?

·       Is my own happiness a priority?

·       What is the purpose of my existence?

Taking the time to do a “happiness audit” for yourself may reveal some things about the decisions you are making for your life, what you are pursuing in your life, and how you are pursuing it. Taking time to assess your own happiness may be what you need to be able to put yourself first and help yourself define the purpose of your own existence.

Is your life a series of episodes of elation or are you truly happy? 

Recognizing Your Belief System

"We are born believing. A man bears beliefs as a tree bears apples." - Ralph Waldo Emerson

Belief Definition

An acceptance that something exists or is true, especially one without proof.

Decisions in our life are driven by two main factors, what is rational and what is irrational.

Let us start with the rational. Something driven by rationality is bound by factual evidence and logical thinking. Fact is data available to one or more to the five senses, data available to two or more people. It is the essentially the scientific method. Gather a bunch of facts that are consistent with each other to formulate a theory, and using that theory to come up with a prediction based on probability

[. For example, we see the sun rise each and every day, we then find that out of 1000 days, the sun rises 1000 times. These are facts. The probability that the sun will rise tomorrow is very high, yet not yet 100% accurate - but it is the best we have in terms of a method of prediction. 

Now take a more a slightly more complicated example. Say we live in a place where we only see white swans. After the 1000th white swan we make a theory that "All swans are white". A prediction we can draw from this theory is, the next swan we see will be in all probability, white. Yet this is limited to the environment in which we live in - perhaps another part of the world, there are all black swans. 

Now regarding the irrational, these are things like belief systems, values and feelings which are not necessarily bound by fact or evidence. They are purely subjective notions.  A classical argumentative technique is to catch when the other party is found to go "beyond the facts". For example, if a worker, Sam, gives these three factual statements regarding a promotion;

1.  "I have worked for 5 years"

2. "John has worked for 5 years"

3. "John received a promotion"

If Same were to then say, "Therefore I should get a promotion", he would be going beyond the facts. He has placed his value system through the word should. This value system is specifically concerning the notion of "fairness" - which is a subjective notion. There are also a myriad of other elements that may have impacted Sam's promotion - including skill, ability, productivity which are more objective notions. 

Often people may not have factual evidence and go with their other irrational notions such as "feelings". 

"I feel that I have worked hard, and I deserve the promotion". 

This statement can appeal to the feelings of the other party but in reality, cannot be proven true or false as the appeal is within the person's subjective emotions which cannot be argued against. 

Now this is not to say to never appeal to the emotions in order to reach a goal (often in the form of rapport), but realize that it is a very poor argument that can easily be refuted. 

Let's go into more detail with beliefs.

Beliefs are a thought that you make a reality for yourself. Beliefs are thoughts that you have decided are true. Beliefs exist when you have faith in certain things. Beliefs are at the core of our humanity and are usually the driving force that motivates us.

For those people out there who are extremely rational in their thinking, they may be losing out on the power of belief and will. The internal drive that is not bound by logic can take one further than one firmly set into the ground via rationality. A classic example is fear, although mostly irrational, it can be a huge driving force to avoid pain and disaster. 

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Here are a few ways that beliefs develop:

Beliefs are taught to us. Many of us are born into families that have some sort of existing belief system. For a friend of mine, she was brought up in what I would consider a religious belief system, where her family’s faith in God was what drove most of the family’s path through life. Another friend of mine has a father who taught her to always ask questions and challenge systems and structures that govern our world, and this has been a key contributor to her work as an activist. I was raised in a family with a belief system that education was the key to success, and naturally, I followed a very supported path to education that has gotten me to where I am now. In many cases, we believe what we are taught to believe before we have the opportunity to form our own beliefs outside of the family we are born into, but experience lets us alter those beliefs as we mature.

Beliefs come through evidence. There is a very strong part of beliefs that are built on rationality. But these beliefs often go beyond the evidence. As humans, we automatically take in information, and then the frontal cortex of your brain helps us decide whether to keep that information or not. Quite often, we use evidence based knowledge to strengthen our belief systems. We apply facts, statistics or examples to strengthen our beliefs. Can you think of a time when you backed up one of your beliefs with a strong fact or statistic when discussing your beliefs with another person?

Beliefs come through association. When we surround ourselves by various people, we also begin to take on their belief system. For instance, when you align yourself with a particular political party, you tend to take on those views, or beliefs, of the political party as your own. When you work for an institution or well-established business, you begin to take on their beliefs as your own. I recently spoke with a friend who worked for a particular educational institution for a long time, and recently moved to another line of work, and she remarked how much she realized her former institution informed her belief system. Belief systems can come and go depending on who we surround ourselves with.

Beliefs come through experiences. When things happen to us in our lives, we begin to form beliefs about ourselves, our lives, and our relationship to others. I recently coached someone who is going through a career transition, and had several unsuccessful interviews, and began to believe that he would never find a fulfilling job. We worked to change that belief when he got the opportunity of a lifetime! I had another person I was coaching tell me that she believes that the only thing that she will ever be able to do in her life is be a teacher, despite having other interests. Some people believe that they can accomplish anything they set their minds to, and through this belief, they usually can!

Beliefs come from your gut. Human intuition is quite possibly the most valuable thing that we have. Human intuition: that feeling in your gut, the sense of something that you can’t get rid of, an inkling, or a hunch. Our own sense of intuition is often a driving force in the formation of our beliefs. I’ve always learned to trust my gut, and investigate some of the hunches that my gut is telling me. Often, when I look further into my gut, it is often a result of something within my belief system that is urging me to look further. 

What do you believe?

Beliefs are an important thing for you to reflect on. Through your beliefs, you manifest yourself and your place in this world. Your beliefs dictate what you do, the decisions you make, your opinions on people or events, and most of all, how you treat others.

Are there any right or wrong beliefs? Yes, there are. For instance, some of our world’s most notorious criminals carried out some of the most heinous crimes against humanity, citing their beliefs as their motivations.

Here is what I believe about beliefs: While I like to operate under the belief that everyone is entitled to their beliefs, I do believe that beliefs can be harmful at times. Phew.

One’s beliefs do not have to be the beliefs of the mainstream, in fact, it is differences in beliefs that make the world go ‘round. One’s beliefs can be unique, not always understood by others, and everyone is within their right to develop their beliefs, but when beliefs become the mechanism through which we harm others, then the ideas of beliefs and their role in shaping our world become more serious.

Take some time to undertake an exploration of your beliefs, especially in terms of how your beliefs manifest themselves in your work and life.

Here are a few questions I can offer for self reflection that you can ask yourself in terms of your beliefs and your belief system:

·       What are some beliefs I was born into? How have my beliefs changed over time?

·       What “belief systems” do I belong to or align myself with?

·       How do my beliefs differ from others? How are my beliefs similar to others?

·       Are any beliefs that I carry around with me have the potential to isolate myself from others, or isolate others from me?

·       How much do my beliefs play a role in my decision-making processes?

·       Do I have some beliefs that can use a bit of an adjustment?

As humans, we often think we have a grasp on the things that make us human – our thoughts, our knowledge, what we are told, what we feel, what we believe – yet we don’t always take the time to reflect on those intricate elements within our own beings that dictate who we are. We need to know when to appeal to our beliefs and when to step back and make sure that at least the majority of our actions are bound by logic. What do you believe?

 

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For Medical Professionals: Self-Care Before Patient-Care (Part 1)

Before you start a flight, you have to go through the safety instructions on how to be prepared for the event of an emergency, and one thing is always consistent in their instructions no matter what airline you fly: before you help another person with their air mask, put your air mask on first.

As I became more aware of the idea of self-care, I found this analogy helpful as a reminder to take care of myself before I take care of others.

Of course, when you are in serving profession, your immediate instinct is to help others before yourself. You pull long hours at the hospital or at your practice, time for yourself becomes secondary to the needs of your patients, and sleep becomes something of your youth and something you can look forward to after retirement. While your profession is demanding, and these are often realities of the life you have chosen for yourself, it does not mean that self-care should fall by the wayside.

If you’re on a flight and the air pressure suddenly drops in your cabin, and the air masks pop out, what would happen if you went to help those who needed the air mask before you put yours on? Naturally, you would lose consciousness, leaving those who need your help putting on their air mask lose consciousness too, and you’re all suddenly worse off than you should be in this air emergency. We’ll move away from this analogy now, with the hope that everything turns out okay on your flight, the cabin regains its pressure and your air emergency gets resolved and you all land safely, consciousness intact.

Self-care as a medical professional is absolutely imperative to your effectiveness in caring for patients. Without taking the time to care for yourself, your physical and emotional needs and especially your own health, you decrease your ability to provide the attentiveness and focus to your patients that they deserve.

You don’t have to feel guilty about taking time for your self-care, nor do you need to make your own self-care a low priority; in fact, you should place self-care very high on your priority list and take the time you need for self-care without guilt, recognizing that it is a critical piece of maintaining your quality of care as a medical professional.

What does self-care look like?

Self-care does not have to be able taking long periods of time away from the job. It does not require you to step away from your responsibilities completely, nor does it warrant you to completely change the patterns in your life so that self-care becomes something that disrupts your regular daily routine. Self-care is something that you can take into your life as more of a habit rather than a burden on your schedule or something you need to get to once everything else has been completed.

Once self-care becomes a habit of mind, you’ll find that you naturally feel more effective, and you’ll see that manifest in your relationships with your patients. When you are well-rested, your own spirit is fulfilled, and you have a general sense of internal well-being, you approach your interactions in a different kind of way than if you weren’t taking care of your own needs.

Who wants to visit a medical professional who appears tired, rushed, disheveled, or generally not taken care of? Who would take advice about self-care by a medical professional who doesn’t appear to do this for themselves?

Here are a just a few ways that you can work to integrate practices of self-care into your daily life, to improve the way you care for your patients through the way you care for yourself:

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Practice What You Preach

You got into health care because you wanted to help people maximize their health and well-being, so do you always practice what you preach? When you met patients, you are always giving them tips on how to care for themselves, whether it be through an illness or injury or for daily life.

You include the importance of good diet, and sufficient exercise and sleep in your instructions to them, and in follow ups, you are sure to ask how they have been doing to keep up these good habits, taking time to remind them of the importance of these things when it appears they have let them slip.

Can you be neglecting to follow your own advice? Take time to listen to what you are saying to your patients, and turn those questions back on yourself. You have ample opportunity for this each day! If you find you are coming up short in your own answers when you compare what you’d like to hear from your patients, you may be onto a need to step up your self-care game.

Reflective Journal

While the medical profession can often be demanding on our bodies, it can also be very demanding mentally and emotionally. Sometimes you have bad outcomes that you have to deliver to patients. Sometimes a particular case just sticks with you and nags at you at the back of your mind as you move forward. Taking time to use a reflective journal will help you make sense of things that happen to you as a medical professional. What happened? Why is it significant? How will this impact the way you do things moving forward?

Eat Well

Nutrition is key to maintaining the energy and internal well-being that you require to be effective in your job. When you work long hours, and shift work, it’s very easy to neglect your own nutrition and ensure you are getting the right amount of intake of vitamins and nutrients.

Be sure to be mindful about what you eat, how you eat, and when you eat. The right (or wrong) food can make all the difference in promoting the internal health you need to be your most effective self.

In later blog posts, I’ll share more tips on self-care and ensuring that you can be the most effective medical professional you can be. For now, take the time to consider how you place your own self care in your life.

Self-care before patient-care is the key to carrying out your vocation of helping others that drove you to the medical profession in the first place.

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How Attitude Shapes Success

The remarkable thing is we have a choice everyday regarding the attitude we will embrace for that day. We cannot change our past... we cannot change the fact that people will act in a certain way. We cannot change the inevitable. The only thing we can do is play on the one string we have, and that is our attitude. I am convinced that life is 10% what happens to me and 90% of how I react to it. And so it is with you... we are in charge of our Attitudes.” – Charles R. Swindoll

One crucial part of our attitudes, and the way react to the things that happen in our life, is what we call the Locus of Control. Locus of control is the extent to which you feel that you have control over the events in your life. When you take a few moments to understand the locus of control, it can be very enlightening as it can provide you with some crucial answers that will help you understand how and why certain things unfold the way they do in your life.

There are two types of locus of control: external and internal.

Individuals who possess an external locus of control believe that they have very little to no control over what happens to them, and tend to blame outside forces for the events and experiences in their lives. These are the people who will believe that they are “lucky” if something good happens to them, or believe that “fate” was the driving force that led something to happen. Those with an external locus of control almost always think that they don’t have what it takes to change their own situations and are merely passive recipients of life happening to them.

On the other hand, those with an internal locus of control are those who believe that they are the masters of their own ship. They are empowered to take control of their lives, knowing that they are the largest force in determining their own progress and success. These people have a strong sense of self-efficacy, and feel confident that they are able to achieve what they set out to through hard work and determination. They are often more independent and self-starting, and able to take initiative for things using a proactive stance rather than reactive.

What kind of locus of control do you have?

Take a look at the below 2 sets of statements, and take a moment to decide which set of statements most applies to you:

Set 1

No matter how hard I work, I can’t seem to get ahead

Individuals have little influence over how they change the world.

It is a waste of time to set goals because so many things can happen that will make me fail in achieving them.

Some people are more lucky than others.

 

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Set 2

You can achieve anything you put your mind to with hard work.

Studying hard and being well-prepared will be what makes me do well on my exams.

People get what they deserve in life.

If you work hard and maintain focus on your goal, you can achieve it.

If you identified more with first set of statements, you may have more of an external locus of control. You may believe that you have little control or impact on what happens to you in your life. If you identified more with the second set of statements, you likely have an internal locus of control, and believe that you have the power to impact and control most factors in your own life.

While there is no “right” locus of control to have, you may be able to notice that many of the statements that represent an external locus of control can tend to be on the negative side, while the internal locus of control statements are more positive and empowering. The external statements can tend to make someone feel stuck or helpless, while the internal statements clear the path for a way forward. It is my belief that those who have an internal locus of control are more successful and happy in the long run than those who have an external focus of control.

You may feel that you identified with statements in both sets of statements. That’s OK. Sometimes we do get into situations where we feel that we are at the will of the world, and that oftentimes the world can work against us. In fact, there are many events or experiences that are completely out of our control. We cannot control illness, major world disasters, or events outside our scope. It would be naïve to think that one person can stop things from happening, as the world is a powerful place. What we can do is control our reaction to the things that happen around us. As Mr. Charles Swindoll stated in our opening quotation, life is 10% what happens and 90% how you react to it.

We ARE the masters of our own ships!

In a follow up post, I will discuss more about the internal locus of control and how you can work to move your locus of control from external to internal in order to take control of your own life and chart your own course rather than just sitting back and letting things happen to you.

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The Resilience System: Why you aren't as resilient as you could be

Do you keep hearing the words “resilient” or “resilience”? Are you told all the time that you need to learn to be resilient, or build up strong resilience? We throw around resilience as though it is something everyone has heaps of, and while to a degree this is true, some people are able to be more resilient than others.

What is resilience anyway? Some people refer to resilience as person’s ability to “bounce back” after a difficult experience or setback.

It’s the ability to adapt in the face of adversity, trauma, threats, or significant sources of stress, such as relationships, family issues, financial issues, school or career stress, illness, or other significant life event. Resilience is what helps you manage the “road bumps” that life can present at you. Resilience is not the same as being tolerant of all the things that happen to your life – we’ll discuss more about that later. But the bottom line is that we think that the “force field” of resilience must be far beyond this and way more advanced. Think of it as a filter with an attack system.

The Importance of Resilience

Resilience is particularly important for people to understand because it is what helps us cope, stay on track, and not allow ourselves to run off the rails when faced with adversity. Resilience allows us to recognize where problems exist, move into problem solving mode, and where a problem is not solvable, we use resilience to adapt and change our own behaviours to move past any setbacks.

Resilience is a highly valued trait in the professional world. While managers will be available to their employees for a degree of coaching, and they are there to support employees through difficult issues, they appreciate an employee’s ability to move past setbacks on his or her own without the constant help of their leader. When you build resilience, you build your own ability to problem solve. Managers appreciate staff who are able to come to them with solutions rather than problems. Building resilience, and the ability to move past adversity, will show that you are a solutions-driven leader who has the ability to bounce back by setback in order to move forward productively.

Resilience can sometimes be characterised as “mental toughness”, or the ability to automatically defer to problem solving mode rather than take too much time dwelling in the circumstances that led to the adversity. In a Forbes article, they refer to this as “armadillo-like hide”, and suggest that this a leader’s secret weapon. This ability to have a “stiff upper lip” and move past adversity and into problem solving mode will be guaranteed to serve you not only in your professional life, but as your life undoubtedly throws challenges your way.

You know that adage “If at first you don’t succeed, pick yourself up and try again”? Resilience is just this. Resilience isn’t about avoiding failure, but it’s the ability to move past failure in order to try again. Resilience is that strong life-force that keeps you going strong, even when your mental and physical reserves seem to be depleted.

Resilience is NOT Tolerance

I mentioned that resilience is not the same as tolerance. It’s important to recognize that being resilient doesn’t mean that you have to tolerate, accept, or perpetuate any kinds of conditions that present adversity. For instance, you do not have to be resilient towards bullying behaviour in your office – you have the right to work in an office free of those threats, and thus, should be taking steps to address that behaviour. Similarly, you do not have to put up with poor treatment from a romantic partner – your strength is not in being able to “bounce back” from abuse, but rather find your way out of it. It’s extremely important to address the fact that being resilient doesn’t always mean you have to be tolerant, place yourself in unsafe situations, or go against your own moral code.

Resilience is something all human beings have inside us. It is instinctual – how else do you think our ancestors survived life when they had a lot less “convenience” than we do in the modern world? Resilience is not always strong in all people, but the good news is that it can be built. Resilient people take care of themselves first, and see life as one big learning opportunity. They know how to laugh through the chaos, and hold onto those they love through the sadness. They put positivity and an open heart high on their personal priority list.

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The Resilience System

I like to think of resilience as an extension of the immune system. The basic function of the immune system is to fight off pathogens that can potentially harm us. There are two basic “layers” of this defense system.

Innate System

Toxins or microorganisms that enter an organism first find themselves fighting against the innate immune system. The way this system recognises potential pathogens is by “Pattern Recognition Receptors”. Essentially they find components of a microbe which are known to be harmful to the body. This system is non-specific. It will attack this pathogen in a random way through inflammation, or by blocking the entry of them into the body all together. This system does not confer long-lasting immunity against a pathogen. The innate immune system is the dominant system of host defense in most organisms

Adaptive System

A more sophisticated response to a foreign pathogen. It is the host defense system that alloss long term immunity. It has a high level of memory and the recognition of certain antigens is extremely accurate. There are multiple levels of response in this system which can either save your life if working properly, or can put your life in extreme danger if it is malfunctioning.

Our Resilience System also has an innate and adaptive equivalent. It is important to recognize that our individual experiences shape how effective this system is. This system however, is located in our brain.

There are three structural levels in your brain. Brainstem, Midbrain and Neo-Cortex.

Let’s take a real life example. John receives notification that he did not successfully get a job he was going for. Generally, this is a negative experience. Let’s start with the basic emotional reaction.

Why our bodies have an emotional reaction. What is it’s use?

By nature, we are not logical creatures. As much as we try and be as rational as possible, our biochemical reactions will always precede logical thought. Our actions will be to some extent influenced by emotion, and while there are those who are very good at masking their emotions and maintaining composure, everyone has a threshold where eventually an emotional reaction will overcome all systematic thinking processes.

These basic emotions derive from the brainstem, the most primitive area of the brain. This area is the master of reflex and reaction. It also works as an amazing filter if our basic needs are not met. Basic decision making ability in this area is also primitive. For example, if you are hungry, sleep deprived or sick, this area of the brain will dominate when you are dealing with any task. So in John’s case, if he was sleep deprived or hungry he would likely react based on reflex which may manifest as anger. John’s decisions during this time would likely be wise decisions.

The midbrain is the ‘next level’ structure when it comes to cognitive structure. This area has more regulatory ability when it comes to controlling emotions. The thalamus and the hypothalamus are two major components in the midbrain which in a social situation will only be accessed fully if the basic human needs are met, where reactions and interpretations will bypass the brainstem level of operations.

The level which deals with high level functioning and problem solving is the neocortex. This is the area which we want to be working with at all times in order to make good decisions and react appropriately to different situations. The midbrain and the neocortex are the areas which determine which of the following reactions John will have;

  1. Accept that this opportunity for some reason did not show a positive outcome and try again next time

  2. Interpret this event as an attack his personal abilities and character and subsequently feels negative emotions.

  3. See this as an opportunity to improve

  4. Completely block this event out of his mind and avoid the reality of the situation.

From the above, we know now that the area that we want to be working in most is the neocortex level where high function exists. In order to bypass the brainstem level of function we must consistently make decisions in our day to day life that deals with basic human requirements.

  1. Hydration and Nutrition

  2. Sleep

The other important aspects that will allow you to bypass the brainstem deal with danger, and uniqueness of our environment

  1. Danger present? Activate flight or fight response.

  2. New environment or situation? Quickly absorb as much information as possible and move along.

These two areas of your life will, if satisfied, will allow you to go to the midbrain level of functioning.

The midbrain acts as the bridge between neocortex and brainstem. It deals with consistency of a problem arising. It is constantly sending problems back and forth as problems become more complex or basic. The bottom line is, if our basic human needs are met, then we are focusing on the organisation of information and the ‘how’ to the respond, rather than have a reflex reaction derived from the brain stem.


Our Resilience System is the area where we want to be. Only then can we strengthen it through various strategies and tools. It is the where motivation and achievement is found. If you are not in this area, the chances are you are not getting the results you want, no matter how hard you try.

 

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Motivation Is NOT Your Friend.

Do you ever get that feeling when you know what you need to do, but just can’t find the desire or energy to actually do it? Lack of motivation manifests itself different ways for different people. For some, lack of motivation may look like surfing the net for hours on end when they have a fast-approaching deadline. For another it may feel as though they are physically incapable of opening the books they need to study for an upcoming exam. For another, it may be having a hard time getting to polishing up that resume for an imminent and necessary job search.

Lack of motivation is common, and is something that some of the most successful and driven leaders can succumb to at times. It’s okay to feel unmotivated at times; but equally important is recognizing a lack of motivation and finding strategies to find that motivation again in order to build momentum for the things you need to do.

First, let’s look at motivation itself. What is motivation, and what does it mean to be motivated? Motivation refers to the reasons behind someone doing something, or their general interest or willingness to behave in a certain way to order to work towards certain results. Motivation is what gets us up in the morning in order to get ready for school or work. Motivation is what makes us study hard in order to do achieve high exam scores. Motivation is what causes us to choose a university to attend in order to start on a path to a particular career.

Many things in life rely on a force of motivation that is expected to exist within us to be moved forward. Studying for exams, getting into a choice university or program, earning a degree or diploma, getting your first job, gaining a promotion, saving money, buying a home, having a family, and so on, are important life achievements we have placed value on as a society. Through placing value on these things as a society, together we have built the correlation between motivation and the degree to which we achieve success in these life accomplishments. The harder work, the greater the dividends.

With all this pressure to succeed and achieve, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, question your abilities to meet expectations, and let your motivation be negatively affected. This is something we’ve come to understand at Education Lab.

Lack of or loss of motivation can happen for many reasons. Perhaps you feel as though your efforts aren’t paying off: no matter how hard you study, you can’t get to get that A you want; or no matter how many interviews you go on, you just can’t land the job you’re hoping to get – it’s that feeling as though everything seems to be going against you and you’re not sure why you even continue to try. Sometimes lack of motivation comes from not being able to see connections between why you’re doing something now for a future requirement that you know you will need to fulfill (such as studying hard to achieve high exam scores). Sometimes lack of motivation can come because your goal isn’t clearly defined, or your goal is not in line with what you truly want for yourself and your life.

Lack of motivation is common but the key is to not succumb to the NEED for motivation. Motivation is good when it is available but is also highly unreliable. It is a bad friend who is only around sometimes. But first, we need to know the basics of what motivation is, how to get more of it when it is available, and finally how to not grow dependent on it.

 

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Here are some helpful tips to understand and find your motivation:

DETERMINE THE GOAL

What is it exactly you are working towards? Is your goal to get a score in an exam to improve your chances of getting the job you want? Is your goal to sustain an 85% average throughout university? Is your goal to get into a study abroad program that will allow you to go to a different continent? Is your goal to make $200,000 in a year? Is it to start your own business? You will increase your ability to achieve your goal, and your motivation to do so, if you work as hard as you can to make your goal specific, within your reach, and something that you can measure your own progress on. However, on the flip side, allow you goals to be flexible enough to allow yourself some wiggle room as you review your goal on a regular basis.

VISUALISE

Using visualization, or taking the time to reflect and “see” yourself in the future, is one of the most effective strategies to restore motivation. There are two things you can visualize when you feel as though you are stalled in your efforts. First, visualize achieving your goal. What does that achievement feel like? How has attaining that goal changed your life? This can help give you the excitement you need to push on when you can see what you are working towards. Next, visualize not achieving your goal. How does coming short of your goal feel? What would you have lost in your life had you not achieved your goal? Visualization is an effective motivator as it helps bring us into that mind frame of achievement and success, but also spurs us into action by helping us anticipate the consequences of not achieving what we have set out to do. 

Another exercise in visualization is to picture your ideal self. The absolute best version of yourself is someone might be someone who has good habits, who is true to their word, is organised. This version might have other aspects of their life in order that doesn't relate to the goal you want to achieve but is somehow intrinsically related. This version of yourself is healthier, stronger, more composed than yourself now. This person can make your goal look easy. If you feel the emotions surrounding this visualization exercise, this can be the trigger that gives you that extra bit of energy and that allows you to overcome obstacles that your current self might see daunting. 

IMPROVE YOUR PHYSICAL HEALTH.

One of the best things you can do to kickstart your internal motivation is to release the endorphins within yourself that lead to positive thoughts and action. It’s very simple: when you have a healthy body, you have a healthy mind. Taking small steps to improve your physical health can improve your energy levels so that you can get up a bit earlier to get to your to-do list. Sleeping and getting sufficient rest will improve your endurance, concentration levels and ability to work through things demanding your attention a little easier. Improving your physical health reduces overall strain and allows motivation to take over.

TAKE A BREAK

Sometimes regaining your motivation will require you to take a break and unplug in order to avoid burnout. Take time away from studying to watch Netflix for a few hours in order to give your mind a break, dedicate your Saturday to spending time with your family, or simply just put down the books a whole day to fully rejuvenate and restore your energy. Perhaps your lack of motivation is due to simply being just too involved and ingrained in what you’re trying to accomplish that you’re forgetting to “look up” from time to time, which is exhausting and can lead to a lack of motivation, due to mental fatigue.

BREAK THINGS DOWN

Lack of motivation can often come as a result of being overwhelmed with the task at hand, or the plethora of tasks you know you’ll eventually have to get to. The human brain has limitations, in that it simply cannot focus on two or more complex things in parallel. It simply stops working and being effective. The feeling of being overwhelmed becomes so distracting and all-encompassing that we can go from wanting to do everything, to accomplishing literally nothing at all. We need to help our brains work at their best by minimizing the strain we are putting on it all at once. Breaking down tasks into their individual steps, and committing to taking only one step at a time can help decrease that feeling of being overwhelmed and help restore your motivation. For instance, you know that you need to read a 300 page book in one week for one of your school courses. You look at that big thick book and wonder how you’re going to manage to get through 300 pages in just 7 days. Reduce your feeling being overwhelmed by breaking down the book into daily manageable chunks – read 50 pages of your book a night six nights of this week while giving yourself a night off. Suddenly 300 pages becomes 50 pages, 6 times. Perhaps reward yourself with an extra day off by committing to reading 75 pages two of those nights. It’s these small little mind shifts that can help your brain work more effectively, reduce the feeling of being overwhelmed and clear the way for motivation towards action and productivity.

DON’T WAIT FOR MOTIVATION. RELY ON DISCIPLINE.

A caveat about motivation is that it is not reliable. It comes and goes even for the most successful. It is like having a friend who for the most care wants to see you do well, but isn’t reliable in showing they actually care about what you’re doing or how you’re feeling. Sometimes you have to quit waiting on motivation and instead rely on discipline. Discipline is doing something without thinking about whether you ‘should’ or ‘shouldn’t’ do it - because you have already decided you should do them already. It is a machine like process that doesn’t rely on emotions, energy or thought. It doesn’t wait for the perfect conditions for you do do something. After you have mastered discipline, motivation is unnecessary.

We recognise that the expectations that are placed on people today can sometimes lead to, or cause, a lack of motivation. We also understand that young people have to push through necessary educational requirements in order to achieve their goals. We work with our students to understand motivation, define what motivates them, and find the strategies that work for them to ensure that motivation turns into momentum.

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Deal With Chaos Like a Pro.

Even if the desire is there, it is almost impossible to maintain focus away from chaos these days. It’s a world that is built to distract us. It’s a world that thrives on busyness and distractions. Living in such a world isn’t always easy when there are things to be done, deadlines to meet, and imminent exams that need some serious studying for. For some, chaos can become catastrophic – chaos becomes what leads to procrastination and letting things fall off the priority list. What results is creating chaos from chaos.

What is chaos exactly? Chaos is basically a state of disorder and confusion. Chaos can be unpredictable, random, and can set off pretty consequential events if it is significant enough. Chaos is looking at your day planner and wondering how you’re going to get through your tasks that were due yesterday, then having a new assignment added with a “today” deadline. Chaos is sitting and intending to focus, but being interrupted by visitors, emails, and other unpredictable goings on of a day. Chaos is having 20 browser windows open on your computer at once. Chaos is sitting down and trying to work, but seeing about a million things around you that you would rather be doing. Chaos is everywhere, and you can’t avoid it, but you can learn to manage it.

In a chaotic world, you can develop strategies that will allow you to recognize chaos, manage it, and maintain focus. How can you become a master at handling chaos? Here’s a few ways:

ACCEPT IT

The most important step in managing chaos is to accept it. Be mentally prepared for the unexpected. This requires practice. For those who thrive on being organised this may take some time. However, the benefit of doing this may be more than you expect. The concept of “willpower” as a limited resource comes into play. In summary, we all have a limited amount of energy each day. How is it that someone can manage more stress and chaos than others? This comes down to managing what we decide to put energy towards and maybe more importantly, how we react to unexpected situations or “chaotic” moments.

COMPARTMENTALIZE

Compartmentalization helps you separate things from each other, or put things into groups. Compartmentalization helps you place things into their own box, and you become the decider of when that box is opened again. When you compartmentalize, you can create boundaries around things, and protect them, to ensure their integrity and importance. Examples of compartmentalization would be to completely separate your work and social life so to be able to create lines in the sand – when you’re working, you’re working; when you’re socializing, you’re socializing. You can also compartmentalize spaces. For instance, certain spaces in your home, campus or where you live you can designate as places for focus/work/school where others are for relaxation and fun and you will use those spaces only for those purposes. This helps you keep the chaos to where you want to designate it.

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TURN OFF DISTRACTIONS

Sometimes managing chaos is as simple as pressing the off button. I know, I know, it’s so hard to be disconnected when there is a world of connectivity at your fingertips. But trust me, you’d be surprised what can happen when you shut off your phone, turn off your social media, shut down your browser, and focus solely on your task at hand. Let’s break it down. A recent study examining the media usage of teens and tweens stated that youth spend an estimated 9 hours on their screens a day. 9 HOURS! Imagine what could happen if you took just one of those hours away from your media – one hour of an uninterrupted break from chaos. Suddenly the time you take to browse through someone’s Facebook timeline becomes the time you write a paragraph of your essay due tomorrow. Suddenly the time you take to compose that perfect 140 character Tweet becomes getting three emails answered. Use your time wisely!

SET YOUR PACE

If you have 10 things to do by the end of the week, do you create chaos for yourself by waiting until the last couple days of the week to hurriedly tackle all your things on your list? Taking time to plan your workload intentionally will allow you to be more tolerant and resilient to chaos. When you set a pace, and commit to disciplining yourself to accomplishing your tasks in a more spread out and consistent fashion, you allow yourself the time to deal with the unexpected assignments, or last minute invitations.

MINIMIZE THE FEELING OF BEING OVERWHELMED

Sometimes the mere feeling of being overwhelmed can cause a serious hit on your productivity. When we are overwhelmed, all we can think about is how much we need to do, how little time we have, and all the distractions that will prevent us from getting to where we need to be. Taking time to manage that feeling of being overwhelmed can reduce the chaos you are feeling in your life. Use a planner to write down your tasks and deadlines rather than keeping them in your head. Delegating tasks when possible, and not being afraid to ask for help. Take time to really consider what can be taken off your to-do list, and what can truly wait until later and a better time. Once you clear your head, you can clear your way out of chaos.

ALLOW YOURSELF A BIT OF CHAOS

Sometimes it’s just kind of fun to succumb to the chaos. Just because sometimes chaos can tend to distract us doesn’t mean it is totally bad, or you can’t enjoy some of it. You can be spontaneous. You can take the time to goof around with your friends or co-workers. You can take the time to spend 2 hours following YouTube recommendations for entertainment’s sake. You can decide to drop what you’re doing to join in the fun. However, when you keep your priorities in check by using strategies designed to ensure those priorities are taken care of first and foremost, you free yourself up for more chaos. The fun kind of chaos.

It is a chaotic, distracting, disordered and confusing world, but when you prepare yourself to take on the chaos head on, you pave your way to success and productivity. Try some of these strategies, even just one or two at first, and see how your ability to handle chaos changes. Demonstrate these strategies to others, so together, you can work to reduce the chaos around you, by still finding time and opportunity to create and enjoy the kind of fun chaos you want in your life.

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Ready, Aim, Fire! Cutting Edge Tactics in Business Strategy

In a perfect world, you would come up with a business idea, develop a product or service, and then sell it — without any regard to the competition.

Of course, that doesn’t happen. In order to succeed, businesses need to always be looking at what rival firms are doing. This is especially true when a company is trying to enter a new industry or prevent others from joining an already crowded market.

Companies need to engage in either offensive or defensive strategies to fend off competition. According to Peter Yannopoulos’ “Defensive and Offensive Strategies for Market Success” — which appeared in the International Journal of Business and Social Science in July 2011 — these moves will impact one another, forcing companies to respond in various ways. Businesses will gain or lose market share or focus instead on a new market that is undefended. It is a real life game of chess but on steroids.

So what’s the difference between an offensive and defensive strategy?

Mostly, they are just two large collections of various techniques a company can utilize; attacks are intended to take new market share while defenses are meant to guard and protect market share while also deterring potential rivals.

Since fewer resources are required to defend, it’s easier to guard than attack, Yannopoulos notes in his article. Offensive strategies can certainly be effective, but also have the potential to invite serious retaliation from rival companies.

GOING ON THE OFFENSIVE 

The clearest offensive strategy to understand is the direct, frontal attack. A company could choose to copy a rival’s products, pricing model, and advertising campaigns — often inviting a war with a rival firm. Oftentimes, notes Yannopoulos, companies will choose a limited frontal attack, focusing on one particular element like price or quality.

 As one may imagine, frontal attacks have the potential for the most retaliation. They therefore succeed whenever the defendant is limited in its options to fight back; for example, the rival firm may not be able to cut prices due to shareholders’ profit expectations.

 Frontal attacks require a lot of money and manpower. If a defending firm is well established, an attack requires at least 3 times as many resources, said Yannopoulos.

 An alternative to the frontal attack is an “indirect attack” — an offensive move that is masked or hidden.

 Some examples include: 

  • A flanking attack hits competitors where they are most vulnerable. If a company has notably bad customer service or high fees, a company could choose to focus their efforts there, hurting the competitor in a masked but significant way. Companies that employ this strategy should be aware that they may inadvertently attract the attention and focus of new rivals in the process.
  • Strategic encirclement essentially suffocates a rival company by surrounding it with multiple brands. The rival company (usually smaller and weaker than the aggressor) is unable to defend itself against all the attacks at the same time. It requires a lot of money, along with research and production capabilities, to successfully pull off a long-term encirclement campaign.  
  • With a predatory strategy, a company will cut its prices below costs, wait until a rival leaves the market, and then raise them again. Companies often will use the profits from one industry or product line to finances the cuts in another. It’s difficult to make this strategy last in the long term, and businesses need to be aware they could hurt relationships with suppliers in the process. 
  • Exploring undefended markets is a classic business strategy: if one market is filled with rivals, become the first to enter and thrive in a new market. Rather than taking on Coca Cola head-to-head in the soft drink industry, PepsiCo Chairman Roger Enrico decided in the late 1990s to focus instead on the supermarket; PepsiCo divisions Frito-Lay and Aquafina thrived and dominated the company’s profits. PepsiCo didn’t concede its soft drink business completely, although that is always a risk when using this strategy.

 

Smaller companies can attack too. In his article, Yannopoulos outlined some key strategies for companies that are taking on larger rivals:

  • A guerilla attack strategy features small surprise attacks on a rival firm. This could include raiding supplies of a competitor’s business or offering coupons that attack a specific product. When used, this strategy comes with a high risk of retaliation.

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  • In the Judo strategy, the smaller company uses its larger opponent’s strength as a weapon. Small Canadian airline WestJet, for example, used a similar pricing structure with lower costs to attack Air Canada; the larger airline had higher costs and were therefore unable to lower its prices. Smaller companies may often learn, copy, and modify the best practices of their rivals like Microsoft did when it copied the now-defunct Netscape Navigator web browser. Marketing can even be strategically used as a weapon; Drypers took on Procter and Gamble’s large couponing strategy by offering its own promotion that let customers turn in their P&G coupons for $2 off Drypers products. 
  • Small companies can also use an underdog strategy. By proclaiming their small status and promising an alternative to the status quo of large corporations, these businesses can gain customers.

DEFENDING THE TURF

Companies that are already established in an industry can use defensive strategies to fend off potential rivals. The main goal of a defensive strategy is to make a possible attack seem unappealing and not worth the return on investment, forcing rivals to abandon their plans.

The best defensive attacks occur right away before the challenger has time to enter the industry. These “pre-entry” defensive strategies include:

  • Using signaling, a company will make announcements through statements, speeches, trade journals, or in the press about their commitment to the industry. They may hint at threats of retaliation or make promises to match rivals’ prices.
  • In a fortify and defend strategy, a firm will raise barriers of entry; this will make it harder for newcomers to earn high profits and deter them from trying altogether. Automobile companies — through economies of scale, specialized technology, access to raw materials, and more — have succeeded in making it very difficult for newcomers to join in on the competition.
  • Similar to an encirclement strategy, covering all bases involves adding new products to create a “full product line.” This prevents a rival company from capitalizing on a new product that isn’t already in the market. Cereal companies use this strategy often by introducing new brands of cereal to their product line. It does require a lot of resources, and there’s a risk of spreading resources too thin.
  • In continuous improvement, a company will constantly focus on improving their quality, making their production methods more efficient, and lowering their costs. This will help them succeed in staying one step ahead of rivals, but does mean that they will need to make their own products obsolete (e.g. Apple releasing new versions of the iPhone each year) in the process.
  • If there are high capacity costs in an industry, a firm can undergo capacity expansion and add even more excess capacity as a deterrent for newcomers.

 

There are also some strategies to defend against rivals after they’ve entered the industry.

 

Companies can continue to fight back asserting their position (e.g. making it clear that price-cutting attacks will be answered with retaliation) especially when a rival is small and vulnerable.

 A business could choose to introduce a “fighting brand” — a lower-priced alternative to a rival’s primary product. When Heublein, the maker of Smirnoff, was attacked by a rival they increased the cost of Smirnoff and added a new product with a lower cost; this allowed them to take on the rival without negatively impacting their core product.

 Companies can also engage in a cross-parry with a rival. When Michelin lowered the prices of is tires in North America, Goodyear did not cut its North America prices but instead did so in Europe. This defensive move hurt Michelin and forced them to rethink their strategy.

 There’s also the Pivot and Hammer strategy, a combined offensive-defensive business strategy coined by Evan Dudik. The Pivot represents a company’s ability to defend itself against rivals and maintain sales despite competition. The Hammer is the company’s ability to attack its competitors. Companies that employ this strategy need to focus on both parts – offensive and defensive — in order to succeed. The more that the Pivot can successfully guard against the competitors, the harder the Hammer can strike.

 

Now that you are aware of these strategies, you can foresee what the competition will do and you can also use tactics that will protect yourself from an attack. A game plan is essential for long term success in any industry - and now you have some tools to work with.

 

 

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Three-Dimensional chess. What you need to know about offensive and defensive strategies

In a perfect world, you would come up with a business idea, develop a product or service, and then sell it — without any regard to the competition.

Of course, that doesn’t happen. In order to succeed, businesses need to always be looking at what rival firms are doing. This is especially true when a company is trying to enter a new industry or prevent others from joining an already crowded market.

Companies need to engage in either offensive or defensive strategies to fend off competition. According to Peter Yannopoulos’ “Defensive and Offensive Strategies for Market Success” — which appeared in the International Journal of Business and Social Science in July 2011 — these moves will impact one another, forcing companies to respond in various ways. Businesses will gain or lose market share or focus instead on a new market that is undefended. It is a real life game of chess but on steroids.

 

So what’s the difference between an offensive and defensive strategy?

Mostly, they are just two large collections of various techniques a company can utilize; attacks are intended to take new market share while defenses are meant to guard and protect market share while also deterring potential rivals.

Since fewer resources are required to defend, it’s easier to guard than attack, Yannopoulos notes in his article. Offensive strategies can certainly be effective, but also have the potential to invite serious retaliation from rival companies.

 

Going on the offensive 

The clearest offensive strategy to understand is the direct, frontal attack. A company could choose to copy a rival’s products, pricing model, and advertising campaigns — often inviting a war with a rival firm. Oftentimes, notes Yannopoulos, companies will choose a limited frontal attack, focusing on one particular element like price or quality.

 As one may imagine, frontal attacks have the potential for the most retaliation. They therefore succeed whenever the defendant is limited in its options to fight back; for example, the rival firm may not be able to cut prices due to shareholders’ profit expectations.

 Frontal attacks require a lot of money and manpower. If a defending firm is well established, an attack requires at least 3 times as many resources, said Yannopoulos.

 An alternative to the frontal attack is an “indirect attack” — an offensive move that is masked or hidden.

 Some examples include: 

  • A flanking attack hits competitors where they are most vulnerable. If a company has notably bad customer service or high fees, a company could choose to focus their efforts there, hurting the competitor in a masked but significant way. Companies that employ this strategy should be aware that they may inadvertently attract the attention and focus of new rivals in the process.

  • Strategic encirclement essentially suffocates a rival company by surrounding it with multiple brands. The rival company (usually smaller and weaker than the aggressor) is unable to defend itself against all the attacks at the same time. It requires a lot of money, along with research and production capabilities, to successfully pull off a long-term encirclement campaign.

  • With a predatory strategy, a company will cut its prices below costs, wait until a rival leaves the market, and then raise them again. Companies often will use the profits from one industry or product line to finances the cuts in another. It’s difficult to make this strategy last in the long term, and businesses need to be aware they could hurt relationships with suppliers in the process. 

  • Exploring undefended markets is a classic business strategy: if one market is filled with rivals, become the first to enter and thrive in a new market. Rather than taking on Coca Cola head-to-head in the soft drink industry, PepsiCo Chairman Roger Enrico decided in the late 1990s to focus instead on the supermarket; PepsiCo divisions Frito-Lay and Aquafina thrived and dominated the company’s profits. PepsiCo didn’t concede its soft drink business completely, although that is always a risk when using this strategy.

GET A FREE WEEK OF PERSONAL COACHING WITH DR. TERRY NGUYEN

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Smaller companies can attack too. In his article, Yannopoulos outlined some key strategies for companies that are taking on larger rivals:

  • A guerilla attack strategy features small surprise attacks on a rival firm. This could include raiding supplies of a competitor’s business or offering coupons that attack a specific product. When used, this strategy comes with a high risk of retaliation.

 

  • In the Judo strategy, the smaller company uses its larger opponent’s strength as a weapon. Small Canadian airline WestJet, for example, used a similar pricing structure with lower costs to attack Air Canada; the larger airline had higher costs and were therefore unable to lower its prices. Smaller companies may often learn, copy, and modify the best practices of their rivals like Microsoft did when it copied the now-defunct Netscape Navigator web browser. Marketing can even be strategically used as a weapon; Drypers took on Procter and Gamble’s large couponing strategy by offering its own promotion that let customers turn in their P&G coupons for $2 off Drypers products. 

  • Small companies can also use an underdog strategy. By proclaiming their small status and promising an alternative to the status quo of large corporations, these businesses can gain customers.

Defending the turf

Companies that are already established in an industry can use defensive strategies to fend off potential rivals. The main goal of a defensive strategy is to make a possible attack seem unappealing and not worth the return on investment, forcing rivals to abandon their plans.

The best defensive attacks occur right away before the challenger has time to enter the industry. These “pre-entry” defensive strategies include:

  • Using signaling, a company will make announcements through statements, speeches, trade journals, or in the press about their commitment to the industry. They may hint at threats of retaliation or make promises to match rivals’ prices.

  • In a fortify and defend strategy, a firm will raise barriers of entry; this will make it harder for newcomers to earn high profits and deter them from trying altogether. Automobile companies — through economies of scale, specialized technology, access to raw materials, and more — have succeeded in making it very difficult for newcomers to join in on the competition.

  • Similar to an encirclement strategy, covering all bases involves adding new products to create a “full product line.” This prevents a rival company from capitalizing on a new product that isn’t already in the market. Cereal companies use this strategy often by introducing new brands of cereal to their product line. It does require a lot of resources, and there’s a risk of spreading resources too thin.

  • In continuous improvement, a company will constantly focus on improving their quality, making their production methods more efficient, and lowering their costs. This will help them succeed in staying one step ahead of rivals, but does mean that they will need to make their own products obsolete (e.g. Apple releasing new versions of the iPhone each year) in the process.

  • If there are high capacity costs in an industry, a firm can undergo capacity expansion and add even more excess capacity as a deterrent for newcomers.

 

There are also some strategies to defend against rivals after they’ve entered the industry.

 

Companies can continue to fight back asserting their position (e.g. making it clear that price-cutting attacks will be answered with retaliation) especially when a rival is small and vulnerable.

 A business could choose to introduce a “fighting brand” — a lower-priced alternative to a rival’s primary product. When Heublein, the maker of Smirnoff, was attacked by a rival they increased the cost of Smirnoff and added a new product with a lower cost; this allowed them to take on the rival without negatively impacting their core product.

 Companies can also engage in a cross-parry with a rival. When Michelin lowered the prices of is tires in North America, Goodyear did not cut its North America prices but instead did so in Europe. This defensive move hurt Michelin and forced them to rethink their strategy.

 There’s also the Pivot and Hammer strategy, a combined offensive-defensive business strategy coined by Evan Dudik. The Pivot represents a company’s ability to defend itself against rivals and maintain sales despite competition. The Hammer is the company’s ability to attack its competitors. Companies that employ this strategy need to focus on both parts – offensive and defensive — in order to succeed. The more that the Pivot can successfully guard against the competitors, the harder the Hammer can strike.


Now that you are aware of these strategies, you can foresee what the competition will do and you can also use tactics that will protect yourself from an attack. A game plan is essential for long term success in any industry - and now you have some tools to work with.

 

GET A FREE WEEK OF PERSONAL COACHING WITH DR. TERRY NGUYEN

FREE WEEK OF COACHING

 

 

 

My Top 4 Mistakes in Medical Negotiation

1. Not understanding that all interactions are negotiations.

This comes from my lack of understanding of the definition of a negotiation. The broad definition includes the following:

 

- A way to improve outcomes where people are involved

- When we influence thoughts, emotions, perceptions or beliefs

Not understanding this definition heavily impacts the way I previously negotiated.

Not understanding that all interactions are negotiations results in not appreciating the value of preparation before an interaction. Having the awareness that I will eventually step into a negotiation in the future, or knowing that my next interaction with a colleague or patient is a negotiation. An important interaction was one that I had with my sister. By understanding that I needed to listen to her interests, issues and options I could prepare a list of questions and the way in which I were to ask them. This simple act of mental preparation greatly influenced the outcome of the interaction.

To translate this in a patient setting, to prepare questions and responses for a diabetes patient is crucial to helping the patient understand the need to stay healthy. To do this, I will prepare how I will firstly listen to the patient, and secondly, what are the patient’s needs and interests in wanting to be healthier.

2. Having the misconception that a compromise is a win-win outcome

I previously believed that compromise was always a good outcome. The notion that additional value can be produced would be placed at a lower priority if a compromise was clearly the easier and most achievable outcome. This obviously loses potential value for both parties. A new mindset to come up with multiple options and a better option are always available is one that will change the way I negotiate in the future. The ‘Pareto Frontier’ was a good framework to understand this concept which I will use in coming up with options.

The patient interaction in regards to compromise can be about the number of days that patient needs to exercise. Now I understand that if a patient needs to exercise 5 times a week, and we have compromised and come down to 3 times a week – this is not necessarily a good outcome. Instead, what I should focus on is how to create a scenario which 5 times a week of exercise is a small amount in comparison to the value he is getting. To great better value for the patient is the key. Therefore, emphasising the benefits and risks of exercise and not exercising can be one of these strategies.

 

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3. Communication and polluting words

I previously considered myself a good communicator. However, after reading a few communication books it has become evident of how much pollution I inadvertently bring to a negotiation. Being increasingly aware of the amount of times I have interrupted, assumed that I was right, fail to acknowledge merit in the other person’s argument (Hron, 2013) among other polluting acts. Since this realisation, I believe I leave an interaction with less disagreement and more potential for sustainable relationship and future negotiations.

4. Not completely appreciating the complexity of a negotiation

I previously had a substantially less awareness of the elements that impact the negotiation. The number of stakeholders and their interests, in particular, was an eye-opening concept. Such themes are amplified in cross-cultural interactions (which happen all the time in Australia). To add more complexity, the interactions between different parties (between stakeholders) are difficult to fully appreciate. The impact of adding even one extra party is incredibly large, even if they are part of your team. Their interests, issues and processes can be different and if these are not made aware prior to the negotiation, it can be very detrimental to the outcome. This is particularly important in multidisciplinary team interactions. Value in the outcomes can be diminished if we do not understand the complexity of the interests of each party involved.

 

 

References:

 

FELLS, R. 2013. Effective negotiation, US, Cambridge University Press.

SEBENIUS, J. K. 2001. Six habits of merely effective negotiators. Harvard Business Review, 79(4), 87-95.

WATKINS, M. (1999). “Negotiating in a complex world”. Negotiation Journal, Volume 15, Issue 3, pp 229-244.

 

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The lack of philosophical understanding in management

The study of philosophy provides a manager with the ability to argue effectively and with the ability to see the world through many perspectives.

 

Managers in today’s organisations lack the ability to effectively make decisions.  Decision-making is the crux of a manager’s function. However, many managers are legitimised into these roles not for their skills in making decisions but purely based on performance or popularity. The rise of the post-modernist has resulted in the expression of feelings as the tool for argument for which there is no place for criticism. The old time dynamic of rational discourse has deteriorated and given way to notions that avoid confrontation for fear of offending a colleague.

 

Managers are paid to argue, to question, to disagree, to logically come to a conclusion based on premises that can in turn be challenged. The lack of these critical elements leaves us with the familiar picture of a boardroom of sycophants. Subsequently, decisions made in this environment are less than satisfactory. The role of the manager is at risk of being reduced to a mere shadow of what once was one of a critical thinker.

 

Socrates encouraged the use of language to argue and sought the truth to things through breaking down thoughts and opinions to the words used to describe them. He emphasized on the importance of understanding the exact meaning of the words we are using so that we can articulate our thoughts precisely. Today’s lack of precision in the use of language has lead to a loss of clarity in our communication. Hence, if truth these days are subjective, decision-making is now merely an act of guesswork.

 

The understanding of the importance of the assumptions we have on every decision we make is critical in management. The assumptions that an individual brings to the organisation combined with those from the mission of the firm and the limitations of these assumptions are an important element to understand. It is important because we must have a grasp of where things are in relation to each other and how different perspectives can interpret these relations. These perspectives are derived from classic philosophical views such as Aristotle, Plato and Machiavelli. Philosophy provides the ability to see a single circumstance through a number of different lenses, each one with benefits and limitations. A manager equipped with such knowledge understands the motivations and processes of an organisation’s environment and can decide on what perspective best suits particular situations.

 

The above flaws in the system can be slowly eliminated through the study of philosophy. This education, rather than training, provides insight into the foundation of argument. The understanding of language and how it has evolved and deteriorated in modern society provides sensitivity to language and ways to think rationally. The wide range of perspectives that are available to a manager from the study of philosophy will provide them with a firm foundation with which to make effective decisions.

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What our emotional labour in medicine teaches us about leadership

The coping techniques we have gained from our medical training is invaluable in any walk of life.

The emotional labour that medicine requires is far above the average profession. Regardless of the type of leader a doctor must be, they all must demonstrate a high level of empathy to the patients they care for. Although certain leadership styles may outperform others in the short term, some would argue that no other definitive leadership style can create a sustainable environment that promotes well-being at work, consistent effectiveness, and positive organisational politics as authentic leadership.

The idea that a leader must be flawless and ‘great’ has been an unachievable goal for many managers. Studies have suggested that individuals may not be authentic in an effort to conceal their perceived inadequacies and flaws. This may also be accompanied by the idea that the leaders may believe there is a particular persona that is required for success (Fuda, and Badham, 2011). This “emotional labour” or the process by which workers are expected to manage their feelings in accordance with organizationally defined rules and guidelines (Wharton, 2009), creates an inner conflict. The relationships that are formed in this scenario create an obstacle between meaningful relationships that are required for long-term prosperity in the work place.

There has been a push towards the idea of the incomplete leader in all areas of literature. It is argued that the leaders attempt to be the all knowing individual in fact is a detriment to the team they lead. They fail to know when to allow others to take on responsibility and give in to the natural progression through the greatness of its individual members. This is a call for a more authentic leader in organisations and a more distributive style of leadership (Ancona, et al 2007).

The debriefing process after traumatic events and circumstances that require a high level of emotional labour is an important one. It allows members of the team to be authentic in their communication. They have a chance to express their true emotion. The benefits of being authentic far outweigh the burden of constantly hiding behind a different identity. It has been found that individuals can sense the incongruence in a leaders personality when they are not being authentic (Fuda and Badham, 2011). The fact is leaders cannot succeed on their own and require other individuals to distribute the requirements to fulfil the organisations objectives. Hence, an effective support team can be built around a leader’s authenticity. At times of uncertainty, assistance can be easily requested and the overall achievements of the company will be felt throughout the company.

References

Wharton, A.S., 2000, The Sociology of Emotional Labour, Annual Review of Sociology, 35, pp.147-165

Deal, T. and Key, M. (1998), Celebration at Work: Play, Purpose and Profit at Work, Berrett-Koehler, New York, NY.

George, B, Sims, P, McLean, N and Mayer, D., 2007, Discovering Your Authentic Leadership, Harvard Business Review, Feb., pp.129-138

 

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The essential framework to build a life and business

It is not the beauty of a building you should look at; it is the construction of the foundation that will stand the test of time
— David Allan Coe

Consider your entire life an entity that mirrors a corporation. You’ll be surprised at just how similar the drivers of success in a corporation are to your own.So What are the drivers of long-term success in a corporation? To find the answer, we have to go back to basics. 

CORE COMPETENCIES 101

In a 1990 article published in the Harvard Business Review, authors C.K. Prahalad and Gary Hamel argued that the corporations that identified and developed these competencies were able to truly succeed and beat competitors across the world.

In order to succeed in global market, it’s not enough for corporations to simply produce great products. Even if there are multiple sections of the business doing well, it still might not be enough to propel the corporation to global dominance.

Instead, the secret is to build up “core competencies” — skills that are taught and mastered across the corporation and used to create a variety of products in different markets.

SO WHAT ARE CORE COMPETENCIES

In business, core competencies are a set of skills that:

●    transfer across a corporation’s many business units — they’re taught and used by employees of all levels and job types

●    help a corporation manufacture and sell a variety of successful products

●    improve (through the end products) the lives of customers 

In life, core competencies are a set of traits that:

●    transfer to many aspects of your life and career. Skills such as graphic design that can be applicable across your job and your hobbies. Knowledge such as financial expertise and accounting. Communication abilities such as the ability to persuade or negotiate. 

●    help you pave a career path in multiple directions. The ability to write allows you to document and product a product in any field. Your experience in sales allows you to sell whatever concept you have to multiple parties. 

●    improve (through your unique set of skills) the lives of others. 

It is important to remember that many people may possess the individual traits that you possess, however it is in their unique combination that makes your truly stand out.

A great example is Jamie Foxx. Under direction of his late grandmother, his ability to play the piano and act came at a very young age (way before he realized it would one day become useful). Little did he know that it would one day end up being a hidden core competency that in combination allowed him to play one of the greatest musicians in the world, Ray Charles. 

”I’d been playing piano since I was 5, when my grandmother said, “This is how you’re going to make your money.”” - Jamie Foxx

CORE COMPETENCES WILL HELP YOU STEM GREAT THINGS - EFFICIENTLY

Think of it like a tree. The components of a tree/corporation/yourself include:

●    Leaves, fruits, and flowers — often the first things that are noticed when looking at a tree; these are like the end products that customers purchase in the store.

●    Branches — the parts of the tree that holds the leaves, fruits, and flowers; these are like the business units that focus on manufacturing and selling specific end products.

●    Trunk (or very large branches) — the main part of the tree, and similar to the core products that a company makes (like 3M’s sticky tape).

●    Roots — key to the success of the tree’s growth are the roots; these are the core competencies that are used to develop core products, and in turn make the end products that customers will buy.

The tree analogy shows that without strong roots (the core competencies), the tree would die or not be able to continue growing as fast. The leaves (the end products) will only thrive if the the tree is strong. 

As employees of various roles within a corporation use these core competencies, the corporation will be able to more efficiently and effectively produce great end products. The core competencies (the roots of the tree) will also become stronger the more they are used and taught — creating a strong entity that doesn’t depend on the success of one or two end products.
How to develop core competencies

PLAY TO YOUR STRENGTHS

The old notion of playing to your strengths is very relevant here. While going out of your comfort zone is often a sure way to develop your skills, it is definitely worth your while to identify out what core competencies you have within yourself and use them as a starting point before deciding on an objective.

According to Prahalad and Hamel, there are a few different ways that corporations develop these core competencies:

●    Internally build up the competency throughout all of its business units, by taking the time and effort to teach and develop the competency

●    Purchase technology

●    Partner with other companies

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THE S.H.A.P.E. FRAMEWORK: HOW TO DEVELOP YOUR OWN CORE COMPETENCIES - AND STAND OUT

This is also true when it comes to your own journey. So how do you develop your own core competencies?

S: SELECT

First step is to identify what your core competencies are. To do this you must have a full understanding of the entire spectrum of traits, skills, experience you have. 

Consider this step a brainstorming session.  will take you the longest, but once you have done this it will prove immensely useful in understanding yourself. You will be able to identify abilities you possess and things you do not.

SOCIAL

Persuasion
Negotiation
Deliberation
Public speaking
Inter-personal communication
Leadership
Teaching
Languages

SKILLS

Baking/Cooking
Website design
Programming
Graphic design
Writing
Sales
Mechanics

KNOWLEDGE

Psychology
Medicine
Nutrition
Strategic management
Finance/investment
Marketing


H: HONE

For each trait score each out of 5 based on its

1. Strength/Quality
2. Uniqueness
3. Versatility

Score total: 15

A: ARRANGE

After you have honed in on each competency, arrange them in order of highest and lowest ranking. 

P: POOL

This step is crucial for really getting into the crux of core competency theory. You must now group together competencies that  work together well. Obviously the communication competencies will be the most versatile and therefore be present in multiple groups.

It’s critical that managers across business units work together to develop the corporation’s core competencies. In order for a corporation to succeed, these common skills need to be shared across businesses; they can’t be soloed into a corner for only certain employees to master.

You must continually practice working on the strength within the group of competencies. For example, practicing your communication skills in each aspect of your knowledge base. Success comes with the additional value and uniqueness you can add by joining competencies.

E: ENHANCE

●    Internally build up the competency, every chance you get. Communication is often a very valuable tool to consistently develop. Methods to deliver a message in a way that will help you achieve the results you need will benefit you in all walks of life. 

●    Enrol to courses/ training classes. The internet has given us the ability to read almost every book ever written on a topic. Do a thorough search of the best resources available on a core competence you want to develop. This could be sales training, website development or motivational classes.  

●    Follow a mentor in the core competency. By shadowing and spending time with someone with a particular trait you will quickly learn how that person shines and stands out in their ability in that field. 

It’s important to avoid a situation similar to where a corporation’s own business units are competing against one another. If managers of specific sections of the business are trying to hoard specific employees, then these units become independent sections; this came harm the overall growth of the corporation.

Instead, employees who are well-trained in the corporation’s core competencies need to be put on the most exciting and important projects. Strategic business unit managers need to look beyond their own unit at the larger picture of the corporation’s growth.

Corporations that are developing core competencies need to have strong communication throughout the business. While physical products can wear out or lose favour, core competencies will grow stronger and stronger the more they’re shared and used.

The same can be said for your own core competencies in life. Never neglect them. The skills you once thought to be your best asset, will eventually become a distant memory and your natural ability to convey expertise in that trait will disappear. 

WHAT NOW?

 If it isn’t already clear to you at this stage. The foundation you have laid out works as an excellent starting point for all areas of your life and business. It helps you decide which project to embark on based on your strengths. The clarity you have achieved with this framework will allow you to find areas which are lacking and eventually make them a core competency. The potential for success is determined from the bottom up - and this is the best possible start you can have.

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The Fallacy of Personality Tests

 

In management, there has been a proliferation of interest towards the means to predict success in managerial roles. The attraction towards a variety of personality tests has led to a deviation away from performance metrics as the true measure of management ability. The assumption that these evaluations predict performance in management lacks any empirical evidence despite many attempts in literature to prove their worth.

In order to discredit the value of tests that measure potential we must first explore the illogical nature of its assumptions. The problem originates from the abstraction that is ‘potential’. The concept assumes that there is an entity behind an action. The words used to describe this entity have changed throughout the ages including that of ‘soul’, ‘psyche’, and ‘mind’. The ‘mind’ is a construct which origins can be traced back to Homer and equates to his natural concept of concrete noun of physical ‘breath’. The concrete noun 'breath' being a physical object changed in meaning through time. This can be attributed to Plato's work which added a metaphysical universe that is not available to sense data. The transition of the breath into the soul and then into the mind remained popular as the Christian religion embraced these concepts. Therefore, the existence of the mind or soul lacks any real substance but is instead an inversion of language. If it is immaterial it cannot be measured. Objective measurement is the basis of all real scientific study.

Looking beyond the origins of the word ‘mind’, the search for the existence of the mind in science has never produced any real evidence. The idea that we have thoughts that are stored in our brain has never been empirically established in any field. Even with today’s technological progress in brain imaging we are unable to prove the existence of a mind. This concept can be extended to other abstractions such as ‘personality’ and potential. Therefore, ‘potential’ is as immeasurable as any other abstraction and has no value in making predictions.

The more objective measure is performance. Performance can be measured in a number of ways which can be directly related to a person’s actions. Producing results through various means is the primary purpose of a manager because results in the form of metrics such as profit, revenue, cost efficiency and productivity are the output of each individual employee input – as Peter Drucker would advocate that such metrics are an essential condition for the company’s continued existence and sustainability.

The notion that performance being a key element in management can be supported by the world view of Homer that describes that one is the sum of their actions – in fact that there is no ‘’one” behind the action. The concept of “potential”, being an abstraction, is intangible and therefore would not equate to any worth in a Homeric philosophy. Hence, Drucker’s central philosophy that a manager’s job is to prepare people to perform reflects this Homeric ideal.

An important point to understand is how performance is tested. Looking at one’s past performance in preparation for a future role can be argued as assessing their ‘’potential’’ for the future role. It is only when a manager is already in the role that performance is truly tested. This real time testing is a true representation of the effectiveness of the manager because it is testing the person in the correct context. A good performance test will effectively determine their suitability to continue. The alternative performance tests involve looking at things such as one’s past experience. This is a better predictor of suitability for a role however still assesses ‘’potential’’ rather than ‘’performance’’. This type of potential is far more useful; however, than those based on personality tests.

The famous Myers-Briggs personality tests are designed to determine one’s personality type from which certain personality ‘traits’ can be determined. These traits supposedly give a manager a prediction of an employees’ likely potential in a particular role. Descriptions such as ‘’efficient’’, ’’intellectual’’, ‘’action-orientated’’ and ‘’analytical’’ are examples of certain personality traits. There has never been any evidence to support the test’s use to predict performance in any organisation. Therefore, the idea that people with extraverted personalities perform better in certain roles when compared to people introverted personalities is unsupported.

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The existence of a ‘’trait’’ presupposes that one inherits these qualities from their parents. This leads to a dilemma where all accountability is lost. The ridding of responsibility due to an uncontrollable predetermination is contrary to existential philosophy. Predetermination leads to predictability from whatever personality one may have. The construct of management would therefore be superfluous since all action can be predicted based on potential and all responsibility for actions whether positive or negative in nature cannot be accredited to the individual but rather their inheritance. Obviously this is not the case and therefore all that is left is performance or behaviour based testing.

Performance testing is an extension of the concept of technical ability because it looks at a person’s skills rather than value based judgements which are more closely aligned to the concept of ‘’potential’’ or ‘’charisma’’. The latter concepts move towards an illogical basis for following or choosing a manager. Subsequently, methods that delve into these notions include interviews. Assessing an aspiring manager using this technique gives an employer an idea of how they will respond under pressure. This real time assessment of behaviour in certain situations has remained popular business; however this method of testing fails to be completely reliable as there is countless evidence that those who do well at interview don’t necessarily translate the same success in their managerial roles.

Another way that potential is often tested is through IQ tests. These attempt to make predictions of a candidates ability to perform based on the supposed correlation of IQ with performance. This notion is true to a certain extent, however has been shown to provide diminishing returns as one’s IQ reaches a level which shows a tendency for the manager to lose interest in an environment that is not intellectually stimulating. This type or performance testing is far removed from the roles requirements however still provide a better predictor than that of personality testing.

The idea that our behaviour is a reflection of the mind is an argument that supports the claim that psychology is a science. Conscious mind versus unconscious mind, regressed and egressed thoughts are ideas that have stemmed from Sigmund Freud’s popular theories. The interpretation of behaviour as symbolic is the crux of Freud’s life work. The method in which psychologists claim to study an immaterial psyche is through their understanding that the behaviour is a direct expression of the mind but is disguised with as metaphors. This creates an issue that psychology is using human behaviour as a connection to the mind and therefore can be studied empirically. Freud's work has been one of the most influential of all of psychology with much of his work still supported today. Freud deals with the unconscious mind and offers an explanation of the inner self through interpretation of dreams. Freud's theory lacks any scientific evidence because there has never been proof that people have one singular driving force that dictates behaviour. Herein lies the problem that where there is a theory that is untestable and hence unfalsifiable. These are necessary characteristics of scientific study. Therefore even Freud's work, as influential as it has been, is not a science. This is an illogical stance as it requires a material mind to exist in order for it to project disguised behaviour.

 

The proposition that the mind exists fails the tests of empirical facts and logic. The remaining criteria is a ‘faith’ based approach and is the weakest of the three. Freud claims that he simply observes human behaviour and comes up with a pragmatic explanation. This is clearly not a science but a personal opinion that cannot be tested.

Eysenck’s personality questionnaire looks to find personality traits which are divided into introvert, extravert, emotional and stable. Managers have used this test to make predictions despite Eysenck’s strong advice against such a use. Theoretically, this test can be used to find those who are risk takers, irresponsible and have low self-esteem. This questionnaire has produced the most reliable results over the last few decades and yet lacks strong predictability when used in a real world setting. The correlations are statistically significant, yet its predictive powers are minimal. Therefore, harder, more objective data through the assessment through true performance metrics are more robust than even the best personality tests.

Drucker is strongly against the use of staffing to suit personality (even if it exists). The argument lies on the point that jobs are not created by nature or by God and therefore do not follow are predictable course. Hence, consider an organisation that was to create a job based on a specific personality type - it would undoubtedly fail in the long term as the job would defeat the employee. People are not infinitely predictable and therefore cannot be aligned perfectly into a particular role. Therefore, the assessment of potential for a particular role, even if in a point in time a candidate seems to be a perfect fit, would ultimately be redundant.  Drucker advises to instead look at performance based testing during the time that the manager is already in the role because it has the tendency to isolate individual strengths in particular areas.

The pragmatism required in management has led to an obsession in finding whatever tools and methods to have a competitive advantage in the environment. This can often result in a company spending large amounts of money in such tools for the mere fact that it is popular at the time. Performance testing in management, particularly those that assess employees whilst in their respective roles, are more robust and reliable than tests that assess potential. The foundation for this argument derives from the lack of logic in the notion of personality, and also the lack of empirical evidence that looks at the predictive power of such testing methods.

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Leadership and Achievement

The human motivation to “achieve” is key to economic growth

However, “achievement” specifically refers to an individual entrepreneur.

 

They may be regarded as heroic and individual in their achievement and be regarded as a “leader”.

 

But this “leader” is typically not a “leader of men”

For example, a boy building things can decide if he has done a good job. He doesn't need someone else to appraise his performance

 

These days, we have evolved into a society that requires relationships in organisation.People must work together, rather than have individual achievements. Therefore a whole different set of skills are required than those that are required from an individual “achievement” level.

 

A managers task is not to sell, but to inspire others to sell

which requires different personal goals.

 

These managers are often guys of high achievement, but don't have skills required to inspire others to achieve.

 

On the other hand. People who are employed may themselves be after “achievement” but are often “working for others” - which is not where they want to be. And hence will not perform to their potential.

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Philosophy of Leadership in the 21st Century

The 'ideal characteristics' of a person in a position of leadership has been long studied with great interest. In particular, the need for a competitive advantage in business and management has resulted a rise of popularity and credibility in claims that have never been substantiated. Examining the possible sources of authority reveals the why leaders have followers, whilst understanding the impact of abstractions such as personality and values will show that followers are mostly uninterested in logic. This will lead us to the conclusion that people in leadership need to think logically and at the same time be able to communicate in an irrational language to influence their followers. In addition the availability of differing ethical or moral standpoints plays a large role in leadership. The ability use the understanding of this allows one to be effective in leading a group of people. Hence, leadership is the conjunction of technical competence and moral complexity as a person in leadership needs to make decisions on how to act in an environment where technical decisions may not coincide with ethical perspectives.

A function of a leader is to coordinate a group of people in a direction that is most appropriate for the particular situation. This involves making a decision about where to go and what action to take. This decision is based upon the technical competence of the leader that involves logic and rationality. This particular decision is weighed against what is considered morally or ethically sound. This reveals a conflict between deontological ethics and utilitarianism. Whether morality is about good motives or whether the ends justify the means is a conflict that a leader needs to balance with his technical competence. An example of the impact this has on management comes with whether to reward fairly and treat subordinates well because it is good for business, or in other words, prudence. A second alternative is to reward fairly and treat subordinates well because it is his duty to do so. This does not necessarily mean that the leader needs to adopt particular ethical stand points, but instead use the understanding in order influence subordinates to achieve the outcomes required. Therefore an understanding of certain philosophical perspectives in combination with technical competence is important when being a leader.

The effectiveness of a leader goes beyond technical competency because throughout history there have been endless examples of a technically sound decision being attacked due to the ethical context. General George Patton had undeniably the most technical competency when it came to war. His success in defeating the German army throughout France was forced to a stop just short of the German border by President Eisenhower not for fear of failure but for fear that Patton would go onto invade Russia. The technical ability to win battles was undermined by an ethical perspective. The impact that this has on management is the manager must influence on a level beyond the technical. If a manager is to employ subordinates into a particular role he must look beyond technical ability and hire for ethical predictability. An employee with a morality that is incongruent with the team environment is not favorable to the success of the entity. The most extreme type leadership would favour complete consensus and loss of individuality because the more agreement you have amongst a group of people the easier it is to lead them. Adolf Hitler’s case is a classic example of how this is true. The issue with this extreme position is that it is unsustainable in a contemporary management setting and is arguably a hindrance to effective discourse amongst the members of the team. 

The plethora of philosophical perspectives represents the variability of morals or ethics. The subjectiveness of what is right or wrong in any situation leads to challenges in decision making, especially in the post-modernist society in which people in management are currently in. For example, whether a decision to terminate an employee is moral or immoral would depend on the worldview of the manager. A Machiavellian type manager would not hesitate to fire an employee if it meant the greater benefit of the state (or the company) whereas a manager with Christian values would consider it 'wrong' to fire an employee, as it is essentially a selfish act that brings harm to a colleague. Right to privacy is a contemporary issue that is facing an ethical debate as it is threatened by advancing technologies. The efficiencies that can be gained through open access to employee information are unjustified based on the ethical notion that individuals have a right to their own privacy. This is an example of how technical justification is outweighed by the ethics of the situation. 

The moral complexities that face managers are due to the availability of many ethical perspectives that tend towards contradiction if one were to attempt to live by all of them. The first example is Aristotle’s ethics. Aristotle teaches us that humans are teleological entities whose acts are grounded by purpose. His worldview is that humans must become virtuous both intellectually and morally. The ability for the human to ‘choose’ is central to Aristotle’s philosophy. A life of amusement must be disregarded for a life of public service with the voluntary control of emotions. This notion of a noble man with accountability for his actions and control over his emotions is one that favours many people management. A leader or subordinate with an understanding and worldview of Aristotle’s philosophy can be effective in many circumstances today because there is a consistency and reliability in this way of thinking. Those in management must also understand that the teams overall goals must be consistent with the virtues of the subordinates otherwise there will be a conflict which will undermine the overall objectives of the team. 

Aristotle’s teaching of having control of emotions can be used as an example in medical management, where the qualities of a good clinical leader need to be considered against both technical and moral complexity.  Dealing with death and the analysis of risk versus benefit in these situations requires a leader to often go against technical competency and look to make decisions based on ethical or moral grounds. Being a virtuous person as in Aristotle’s worldview is someone we can trust to act habitually in a ‘good’ way. The nature of ‘good’ can be argued in this context as the end outcome for the patient rather than the end of medicine that often relies purely on technical competency. A lifesaving operation to remove a brain tumour may be the most technically sound decision, however the post-operative course for the patient may be filled with pain and suffering and ultimately lead to a decrease in quality of life. Aristotle’s virtuous person would not regard this as a ‘good’ thing to have done. Therefore, a leader in this situation must have the ability to balance technical and the moral in this particular context. Skill or ‘technical goodness’ is often necessary but insufficient when it comes to being virtuous. Aristotle held techne (technical skills) to be one of the five intellectual virtues but not one of the moral virtues.

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An Aristotelian leader must also find the distinction between the rational and irrational. Unreasoned, feeling based decisions are not congruent with the teaching of how to be a noble leader. In addition, the leader must also be wary of his subordinates who attempt to mix the irrational with rational in order to come to a conclusion. This is often a situation faced when dealing with uncertain circumstances. A leader that is required to be virtuous also benefits from understanding what is immoral so that he can identify those who are unvirtuous. In a situation where the options available to a manager all technically legal, they may not all be ethical. Despite the efforts of people in the legal system to incorporate the moral complexities in society, this is not an easy task and therefore a leader must rely or at least understand his morality.

The concept of leadership today is heavily geared toward that of technical competence especially throughout the industrial revolution and includes the influence of Peter Drucker and his theory of management and performance. However, this logical source of authority is undermined by the fact people are often not interested in logic, especially in management. Technical competence prevails in situations such as technological advancement and financial analysis where these concepts are well accepted to be quite logical in nature. Where technical competence tends to fail is in situations which consist of people or circumstances where values and emotions are involved.  A truly great leader is able to use their power to manipulate those with irrational thinking. This comes with the understanding of the diversity and complexity of morals and using rhetoric which is part of technical ability in order to achieve the results required. To gain rapport from a follower and ultimately influence them out of their morality is a difficult task. However, a leader who can do this truly has a grasp of both technical rhetorical ability and an understanding of a follower’s morals in order to manipulate them.

Nietzsche’s contribution to postmodern thinking through his The Will to Power worldview can explain the need for a leader to understand moral complexities. The central idea that Will is all encompassing and human beings must assert their Will is an idea that does not allow for rational authority. This is from the notion that if everything is Will to Power and everything is a result of Will then there can be no personal choice and therefore no ethical commitment. By understanding that this current era is no longer interested in rational truth a leader can shift his abilities to focus on more irrational sources of influence. An example of this in management is the view that everyone is entitled to his or her view and there is no truth in any statement. The subjectivity of the truth can lead to a deviation of what is normally accepted (usually Aristotelian virtues).  A manager can in this situation add value-based ideas to his arsenal of logical and empirical evidence. By doing this, a leader is showing both technical competency and the ability to manipulate irrational moral positions in his favour.

The medicalization of moral behaviour due to biological reductionism leads to a loss of responsibility. Therefore, a technically competent leader must be able to confront these issues which often do not relate to the skills that they were originally employed for. The human resources movement of the last century has forced leaders to not only understand their own morality in a particular role but also deal with the morality of his subordinates. Work related stress is a classic example of what managers must now deal with. Managers are increasingly called upon to handle psychological issues of their subordinates. The understanding that these psychological issues are a problem with morality and not a real medical illness allows the manager to appropriately handle the situation with rhetoric rather than enable this behaviour.  Nietzsche promoted a philosophy based on joyful striving. This contradicts the behaviour seen in the present era of complaining about the occupational stress. Since leaders require both technical competency and an understanding of moral complexities, they are more likely to understand that there is a tendency for biological reductionism to replace an individual’s inability to handle hard work. They are subsequently able to identify these individuals and simply not employ them into the role or simply not reward the behaviour by showing compassion and sympathy. A leader with political qualities will have the ability to do this in a strategic way requires the leader to build rapport for the employee and not be hated.

The notion that leadership is the conjunction of technical competency and moral complexity is true because both are required in order to be an effective leader. Morals come with the subordinate and therefore a leader is unable to escape conflict that will inevitably arise as a consequence of disagreements in worldviews. As demonstrated earlier, the implications in management is based on the notion that a manager must have the rhetorical ability in order to build rapport to influence those who are struggling with their own morality. By doing this, they limit the ability for their subordinates to function outside consensus and create an environment conducive to the optimal outcomes they were employed for. Accompanying this is their ability to lead in a context that is congruent to their morality. This is especially important in situations where the leader cannot be solely reliant on constructs such as the legal system to make decisions. An understanding of moral complexity enables a leader to understand that where there is more of a consensus in moral standards there is less individuality and the subordinate becomes a part of a whole group of people. A leader must be aware about the level of defiance that can be expected in an environment where moral complexities within a group are unpredictable.

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