Tag perseverance

Rethinking How We Define Passion & Why We Should Cultivate A Craftsman’s Mindset …*

Rethinking How We Define Passion & Why We Should Cultivate A Craftsman’s Mindset ...* | rethinked.org

I am reading a fascinating book on the history of the color palette and one of the chapters I was just reading addresses the historical shift of the perception of painting as a “craft profession to an art one.” This shift was accelerated in the mid-seventeenth century with the nascent field of ‘colormen,’ professionals who mixed raw materials into paints, something artists had mostly done themselves until that point.

“For “craftspeople” the ability to manage one’s material was all important; for “artists” the dirty jobs of mixing and grinding were simply time consuming obstacles to the main business of creation.”

[ . . . ]

“What was the good of painting a masterpiece if its constituent elements would spend the next few years fighting together chemically on the canvas, and ultimately turn black? The early seventeenth-centuy painter Anthony Van Dyck knew how to employ varnish so that colors that would otherwise react with each other would be safe from ruin; Victorian artists, however, did not, and this was, Holman Hunt predicted, to be their downfall. Part of the issue was that he–and his teachers, and his teachers’ teachers–had rarely had to mix paint from basic materials. He had never had to grind a rock, or powder a root, or burn a twig, or crush a dried insect. Nor, more importantly, had he observed the chemical reactions involved in paint-making and seen how colors changed over the years.”

Source: Color: A Natural History of the Palette by Victoria Finlay

This reminded me of advice I read from Cal Newport about shifting from a ‘passion’ mindset, which has been a dominant cultural trope these past few decades–“what do I love to do and how do I do only that?”–to a “crafstman’s” mindset, a relentless focus on activating one’s unique potential by continually pushing to develop one’s skills and acquire new ones.

My advice is to abandon the passion mindset which asks “What does this job offer me? Am I happy with this job? Is it giving me everything I want?” Shift from that mindset to Steve Martin’s mindset, which is “What am I offering the world? How valuable am I? Am I really not that valuable? If I’m not that valuable, then I shouldn’t expect things in my working life. How can I get better?“ Like a craftsman, you find satisfaction in the development of your skill and then you leverage that skill once you have it to take control of your working life and build something that’s more long-term and meaningful… When I talk about the habits of the craftsman mindset, it’s really the habits of deliberate practice. So someone who has the craftsman mindset is trying to systematically build up valuable skills because that’s going to be their leverage, their capital for taking control of their career and they share the same habits you would see with violin players or athletes or chess players.

The craftsmen out there are not the guys checking their social media feeds every five minutes. They’re not looking for the easy win or the flow-state. They’re the guys that are out there three hours, pushing the skill. “This is hard but I’m going to master this new piece of software. I’m going to master this new mathematical framework.” That’s the mindset, the habit of the craftsman.

Source: Cal Newport on how you can be an expert and why you should *not* follow your passion

I think there is something about the craftsman’s mindset that is particularly important in our age of instant gratification and seemingly constant technological innovation. The abundant research on flow states is just one potent reminder of the joys and rewards to be found in taking the long road when creating something, whether it is a painting, a life or a career. Working through challenges is not a guarantee for reaching a flow state, but without an appropriate degree of difficulty relative to one’s skill level, without stretching past what we know, flow is impossible.

We need a collective rethink in how we define passion. Passion is not easy nor instantaneously gratifying and it is certainly not always joyful. When we ignore the painful aspects of passion, we lose out on the chance to ferociously pursue the possibility of living meaningful and fulfilling lives where we have the potential to contribute to something bigger than ourselves. 

“Passion has little to do with euphoria and everything to do with patience. It is not about feeling good. It is about endurance. Like patience, passion comes from the same Latin root: pati. It does not mean to flow with exuberance. It means to suffer.” – Mark Danielewski, House of Leaves 

learn, practice, create & rethink …* 

{ Keep Going } The First Rule of Anything Creative: Forgive Yourself For the Horror of the First Draft …*

Here’s a little creative inspiration for your Tuesday in the form of this lovely animation from The School of Life on the need to overcome “the horror of the first draft” and just keep putting in the work to slowly bridge the gap between our vision and what we are producing.

This video reminded me of Ira Glass’s advice:

“Nobody tells people who are beginners, and I really wish somebody had told this to me, is that all of us who do creative work, you know we get into it, and we get into it because we have good taste. But there’s a gap. For the first couple years that you’re making stuff, what you’re making isn’t so good. It’s not that great, it’s trying to be good, it has ambition to be good, but it’s not quite that good. But your taste, the thing that got you into the game, your taste is still killer. And your taste is good enough that you can tell that what you’re making is kind of a disappointment to you, you know what I mean? A lot of people never get past that phase, a lot of people at that point they quit. And the thing I would just like to say to you with all my heart, is that most everybody I know who does interesting creative work, they went through a phase of years where they had really good taste and they could tell that what they were making wasn’t as good as they wanted it to be. They knew it fell short. It didn’t have the special thing that we wanted it to have. And the thing what to do is everybody goes through that. And for you to go through it, if you’re going through it now, if you’re just getting out of that phase, you’ve got to know it’s totally normal and the most important possible thing you can do, is do a lot of work. Do a huge volume of work. Put yourself on a deadline so that every week or every month you know you’re going to finish one story. Because it’s only by actually going through a volume of work that you’re actually going to catch up and close that gap. And the work you’re making will be as good as your ambitions. In my case, I took longer to figure out how to do this than anybody I’ve ever met. It takes a while. It’s going to take you a while. It’s normal to take a while and you just have to fight your way through that, ok?

– Ira Glass

Ira Glass on Storytelling from David Shiyang Liu on Vimeo.

rethink, work, create …*

{ Rethinking Engagement } Cultivating the Rage to Master, Job Crafting & the Impact of Our Environments on Motivation …*

This week had me thinking about motivation and engagement: how do we trigger, cultivate and enhance our level of engagement and that of our students. It started a few weeks ago when reading 7 Secrets Top Athletes Can Teach You About Being The Best At Anything, I learned of a fascinating term coined by psychologist Ellen Winner: RAGE TO MASTER. The rage to master is a term that Winner coined to describe a common trait found amongst child prodigies– an obsessive and insatiable desire to become better at something. I found fairly little more information on this concept and would really appreciate it if any of you could point me to an article or other online resource that gives a bit more context around the term.

Anyway, the reason engagement and motivation emerged as a theme for me this week, is because as I was walking around thinking about the rage to master, I walked past a public school which stopped me dead in my tracks. The building looked so dreadful: square, brown, with heavy meshed bars on the windows, that at first I thought I had stumbled upon a prison. I happened to be thinking about Winner’s Rage to Master at that precise moment, wondering what strategies and influences might help children develop this insatiable desire for improvement, and the contrast between what I was thinking about and this building where students go to learn and flourish every day really took me aback.

I understand that there are issues of safety, especially in places such as Manhattan and that funding is limited, but there must be accessible alternatives to this block of brown and grills that would be more conducive to cultivating passionate engaged students, obsessed with learning and mastery.

. . . *

So how might we go about starting to hack our way to creating more opportunities for increased motivation and engagement? Well, the Association for Psychological Science highlights new research that suggests that Just Feeling Like Part of A Team Increases Motivation on Challenging Tasks

Across five experiments Stanford psychological scientists Priyanka B. Carr and Gregory M. Walton concluded that even subtle suggestions of being part of a team dramatically increased people’s motivation and enjoyment in relation to difficult tasks, leading to greater perseverance and engagement and even higher levels of performance.

“Simply feeling like you’re part of a team of people working on a task makes people more motivated as they take on challenges,” says Walton.

Carr and Walton hypothesized that a sense of working together would fuel intrinsic motivation by turning a tedious task from work into play.

 . . . * 

Earlier this week, my father gave me some interesting prompts for job crafting from the School of Life — Roman Krznaric’s How To Find Fulfilling Work and the 100 Questions: Work Edition Kit:

100 carefully composed questions designed to help you start a conversation about you and your working life. Use them to sharpen your understanding of who you are and what you should be asking of the world of work.

I haven’t gotten around to reading the book yet, but each morning this week I’ve spent about a half hour picking out some cards and thinking about my answers to the questions. I’ve really enjoyed the exercise, finding that it allows me to think about my work life from completely new angles that I would not have considered on my own. For example, all of the cards are broken up into several categories, and this morning I was reflecting on a prompt about what I would have to do in my working life to make my children proud. Because I’m not at all thinking about any potential future children, this is not a question I would have asked myself nor is it an angle I would have considered when thinking about how to craft my career. Yet, after spending some time with the question this morning, I found it was quite a productive prompt that allowed me to expand how I frame and approach the concept of a meaningful career.

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{ Testing Commitment Contracts } [Mis]Adventures in Motivation, Integrity & Anti-Charities …*

{ Testing Commitment Contracts } [Mis]Adventures in Motivation, Integrity & Anti-Charities ...* |rethinked.org

stickK.com homepage screen shot

Sometime last month, I read an article in the New York Times about StickK–an “online Commitment Store,” which helps you set and achieve your goals by enabling you to create a commitment contract with yourself.

The Commitment Contract concept is based on two well known principles of behavioral economics:

1.People don’t always do what they claim they want to do, and
2.Incentives get people to do things

[ …]

A Commitment Contract is a binding agreement you sign with yourself to ensure that you follow through with your intentions—and it does this by utilizing the psychological power of loss aversion and accountability to drive behavior change.
By asking our users to sign Commitment Contracts, stickK helps users define their goal (whatever it may be), acknowledge what it’ll take to accomplish it, and leverage the power of putting money on the line to turn that goal into a reality.

I was intrigued by the idea and since my last mostly self-devised motivation strategy (eating one (or several) donuts as a reward for each time I went running) had completely backfired and turned me into a bona fide sugar addict, I decided to give StickK a try. The service is very simple to use– you create an account on StickK.com; select a commitment; decide how much money you will pay each week if you fail to fulfill your commitment; select either a charity or anti-charity for your money to be donated to; add friends to your network of supporters and are given the option of nominating a referee to report your progress. A referee is someone who will report whether you have indeed fulfilled your commitment each week, but since I couldn’t think of who could reliably vouch for me, I opted to self-report on the honor system. Finally, you pick a day of the week to report whether you’ve met your goal for that reporting period and each week StickK sends you an email prompt to remind you to report your performance. That’s pretty much it, all that’s left is to actually go out and fulfill your commitment.

You can set as many commitments as you like but I decided to try this out with a single goal: to exercise three times a week. I like this goal, it’s achievable, has big payoffs for mental, emotional and physical well-being but it’s also one of those things that I tend to forgo when I feel stressed or overwhelmed by other commitments. I figured StickK would help me reframe this goal as a top priority and give me the little nudge I needed to transform this goal into a lifelong habit. I selected an anti-charity that I despise and set my weekly fee at $10. It’s not much, but the thought of giving so much as a penny to this organization makes my skin crawl with disgust.

It all went well for the first two weeks, and riding the high of new resolve, I fulfilled my weekly commitment with gusto. It all went well, until it didn’t, and I failed to meet my goal one particularly busy week. Sunday afternoon (my reporting day) arrived and I realized with horror that I had only exercised once that week. All those “tomorrows” on which I’d promised myself to exercise had flown by unnoticed and I hadn’t fulfilled my commitment. I considered exercising twice that day. And yes, I considered lying. What if I said I’d met my goal, and then promised myself to exercise six times next week and never again mess up? What would be worse? Lying or donating to this organization that stands so directly against what I believe in and value. This wouldn’t be a big lie, no one would be harmed by it and in fact no one would ever know that I lied, other than me. The problem with integrity, of course, is that you can’t opt out when doing the right thing is inconvenient. After having spent most of the day going over this, (time I probably could have used to exercise twice…however shady a strategy that may have been), I finally decided I wouldn’t lie on my report, it just felt too dishonest. And so I reported that I had failed and $10 went to that dreadful organization.

I felt guilty and disgusted with the idea that I had donated to this organization, and in an effort to assuage my guilt, I donated another $50 to the counter charity. Bringing my total that week for not exercising to $60 on top of my regular gym membership, plus about three hours of my Sunday trying to do mental (moral) gymnastics over how to resolve this issue, plus–and by far the heaviest cost–the sense that I had really let myself down. It wasn’t so much that I hadn’t fulfilled my commitment–I’m convinced exercise is good for me physically, mentally and emotionally and I hold it as a value, but I’m also not a fanatic about it and missing two work-outs is not catastrophic by any means. What made me feel really disappointed was the idea that I donated to this anti-charity even though avoiding that ‘punishment’ was really quite simple and only required exercising three times a week. Yet, that week, I somehow didn’t make what I value and believe in a priority, and as a result, I gave money to a cause I find abhorrent. It wasn’t the missed exercise, it was the ethical dissonance between what I believe in and my failure to act on it that I found crushing.

This all took place about three weeks ago, and I’m glad to report that since then, I have fulfilled—even exceeded—my commitment every single week. Whenever I try to find a way to talk myself out of exercising I Just remind myself how dreadful that Sunday felt and then I’m practically running to throw on my sneakers.

If you need a little nudge to keep you committed to your long-term goals, I’d definitely encourage you to give StickK a try. Have you tried it? What did you think? Let me know …*

thoughts on { grit } : sustained perseverance & passion …*

This past week I had the opportunity to hear Angela Duckworth, a professor of psychology at the University of Pennsylvania, speak about her wildly popular construct, grit. As Elsa summarized in a post back in 2013, grit is “passion and perseverance for very long term goals.” More importantly, her research indicates that people who have grit are more successful professionally and academically, and that having “grit” is more important than having mere high ability. In her talk at Teachers College, she discussed the nuances of this term and explained how it leads to success.

image from www.biggestjob.com

What is grit?

To understand what grit is, it is important to understand what it is NOT. It is NOT self-control, which is an important ability in momentary conflicts. Grit instead is the disposition to pursue challenging, long-term goals.

Grit involves stamina of both effort and interest. Gritty people persevere in the face of setbacks and obstacles and understand the importance of sustained hard work. However, they also have stamina of interests and passion: their interests are focused and stable. A gritty person will not abandon a goal in pursuit of something new and exciting.

This idea is not new. As Prof. Duckworth explained in her talk, Francis Galton and Charles Darwin were describing a similar thing back in the 1800s. As Darwin explained in a letter to Galton, “…I have always maintained that… men did not differ much in intellect, only in zeal and hard work…”

How does grit lead to achievement? 80% of success in life is showing up

Duckworth explains the relationship between grit and achievement using the formula:

Achievement = f (talent x effort)

She compares this to the formula for distance, (distance = speed x time), with the idea that some people learn things very quickly (speed or talent) but only through cumulative learning (time or effort) can knowledge be accumulated.

As can be seen in the slide I photographed during her talk, one’s skill at something is a function of deliberate practice, and around 10 years of this sort of practice is necessary to reach mastery levels.

IMG_5434 (2)

Duckworth finds that people who are gritty do deliberate practice of their craft, which is characterized by:

  1. having a specific stretch goal
  2. concentrating 100%
  3. immediate, informative feedback
  4. practicing repetitively until fluency

In other words, experts know what they are working on, and they put on their blinders when working on it. Deliberate practice is often hard and rarely fun.

Future directions…*

Future directions for this research include looking at various ways to build grit, investigating how social supports relate to grit, and determining whether communities can build a culture of grit.

 I’d like to talk a bit more about this idea of grit, and what I like and don’t like about it over the next few weeks. For instance, when do you give up? How long should one doggedly pursue a singular goal if one’s effort are fruitless? Additionally, we should think about times when having a diversity of passion is useful, such as for creative endeavors.

Until next time…*

Learn to Identify, Cultivate & Deploy Your Unique Character Strengths to Live A Full & Authentic Life …*

Learn to Identify, Cultivate & Deploy Your Unique Character Strengths to Live A Full & Authentic Life ...*  | rethinked.org

“Herein is my formulation of the good life: Using your signature strengths every day in the main realms of your life to bring abundant gratification and authentic happiness.” -Martin Seligman, 161

Last week we looked at the idea set forth by Martin Seligman in Authentic Happiness, that engaging in experiences that produce flow may be a way to build psychological capital. You might recall that achieving flow depends on several factors, key among which, the matching of a challenge to engage your unique and personal strengths. Today, let’s look at what Positive Psychology has to say about these strengths –how we identify, cultivate and exercise them.

CREATING A TAXONOMY OF CHARACTER STRENGTHS 

Given the importance of deploying one’s character strengths in as many situations as possible throughout life to live fully and authentically, Seligman identified the need to create a comprehensive taxonomy of good character. He assembled a team and together they started poring through hundred of ancient texts from various times and cultures -“we read Aristotle and Plato, Aquinas and Augustine, the Old Testament and the Talmud, Confucius, Buddha, Lao-Tze, Bushido (the samurai code), the Koran, Benjamin Franklin, and the Upanishads–some two hundred virtue catalogues in all.” (132) What they found were some ubiquitous virtues, valued across time and culture. These virtues, of which there are six, are: wisdom and knowledge; courage; love and humanity; justice; temperance; spirituality and transcendence. (133) Seligman and his team use the word ubiquitous rather than universal because there are some rare exceptions.

It is true that very rare exceptions can be found; the Ik, for example, do not appear to value kindness. Hence we call the strengths ubiquitous rather than universal and it is important that examples of the anthropological veto (“Well, the Ik don’t have it”) are rare and glaring. This means that quite a few of the strengths endorsed by contemporary Americans are not on our list: good looks, wealth, competitiveness, self-esteem, celebrity, uniqueness and the like. These strengths are certainly worthy of study, but they are not my immediate priority. My motive for this criterion is that I want my formulations of the good life to apply just as well to Japanese and to Iranians as to Americans. (140)

Of course, all of these virtues can mean many different things to different people and there are many ways of achieving them. Since Positive Psychology is based on empirical and scientific study, Seligman and his team had to push further and establish a system by which to identify the measurable and acquirable routes one takes to achieve the virtues–the strengths of character.

To be a virtuous person is to display, by acts of will, all or at least most of the six ubiquitous virtues: wisdom, courage, humanity, justice, temperance and transcendence. There are several distinct routes to each of these six. For example, one can display the virtue of justice by acts of good citizenship, fairness, loyalty and teamwork, or humane leadership. I call these routes strengths, and unlike the abstract virtues, each of these strengths is measurable and acquirable. (137)

SOME COMPONENTS OF STRENGTHS

The first step then in creating a taxonomy of good character is to define the characteristics of the strengths. Seligman starts by highlighting the difference between strengths and talents:

Strengths, such as integrity, valor, originality, and kindness, are not the same thing as talents, such as perfect pitch, facial beauty, or lighting-fast sprinting speed. They are both topics of Positive Psychology and while they have many similarities, one clear difference is that strengths are moral traits, while talents are nonmoral. In addition, although the line is fuzzy, talents generally are not as buildable as strengths. True, you can improve your time in the hundred-meter dash by raising your rump higher in the starting position, you can wear makeup that makes you look prettier, or you can listen to a great deal of classical music and learn to guess the pitch correctly more often. I believe that these are only small improvements, though, augmenting a talent that already exists. Valor, originality, fairness and kindness, in contrast, can be built on even frail foundations, and I believe that with enough practice, persistence, good teaching and dedication, they can take root and flourish. (134)

Strengths are voluntary and involve choices about when to use them and whether to keep building them, but also whether to acquire them in the first place. Meanwhile, talents are relatively automatic, involve some choices, but only of those of whether to burnish it and where to employ it. Seligman then highlights eight additional criterion by which to identify strengths:

  1. Strengths are traits (137)
  2. Strengths are valued in their own right (137)
  3. Strengths are what parents wish for their newborns (137)
  4. Onlookers of strengths being displayed are often elevated and inspired rather than envious or jealous (138)
  5. The culture supports strengths by providing institutions, rituals, role models, parables, maxims and children’s stories. (138)
  6. Role models and paragons in the culture compellingly illustrate a strength or virtue. (138)
  7. Some of the strengths have prodigies, youngsters who display them early on and amazingly well. (138)
  8. Conversely, there exist idiots (from the Greek, for not socialized) with respect to a strength. (139)
  9. The strengths are ubiquitous. (139)

EXERCISE: IDENTIFY YOUR HIGHEST, WEAKEST & SIGNATURE STRENGTHS

My favorite positive “intervention” is merely to ask you to take the VIA Strengths Survey, then think about which of these strengths are the ones you own and how you might use them every day. Quite astonishingly, your own ingenuity and your desire to lead the good life often take over from there, even if I step aside. (137) 

Head over to the Authentic Happiness website and under the tab labeled “Questionnaires” you will find the VIA Survey of Character Strengths. You will need to create an account on the website and there is a fee to take the test, I did it and thought it was worth it. You will receive a 30 page detailed report of your character strengths in rank order. You will also learn about the benefits of each of your signature strengths, ways to cultivate them and avoid the pitfalls of mismanaging your aptitudes. 

Once you have taken the survey, Seligman’s next exercise is to evaluate your results–do the strengths the survey identified feel authentic to you?

Typically you will have five or fewer scores of 9 or 10, and these are your highest strengths, at least as your reported them. […] You will also have several low scores in the 4 (or lower) to 6 range, and these are your weaknesses.

Look at the list of your top five strengths. Most of these will feel authentic to you, but one or two of them may not be the real you. My strengths on this test were love of learning, perseverance, leadership, originality, and spirituality. Four of these feel like the real me, but leadership is not one. I can lead quite adequately if I am forced to, but it isn’t a strength that I own. When I use it, I feel drained, I count the hours until it is done, and I am delighted when the task is over and I’m back with my family.

I believe that each person possesses several signature strengths. These are strengths of character that a person self-consciously owns, celebrates, and (if he or she can arrange life successfully) exercises every day in work, love, play and parenting. Take your list of top strengths, and for each one ask if any of these criteria apply:

  • A sense of ownership and authenticity (“This is the real me”)
  • A feeling of excitement while displaying it, particularly at first
  • A rapid learning curve as the strength is first practiced
  • Continuous learning of new ways to enact the strength
  • A sense of yearning to find ways to use it
  • A feeling of inevitability in using the strength (“Try and stop me”)
  • Invigorating rather than exhaustion while using the strength
  • The creation and pursuit of personal projects that revolve around it.
  • Joy, zest, enthusiasm, even ecstasy while using it.

If one or more of these apply to your top strengths, they are signature strengths. Use them as frequently as you can and in as many settings. If none of the signature criteria apply to one or two of your strengths, they may not be the aptitudes you want to deploy in work, love, play, and parenting. (160)

THE VIRTUES & CHARACTER STRENGTHS – A BRIEF OVERVIEW

{ WISDOM & KNOWLEDGE }

The first virtue cluster is wisdom. I have arranged the six routes to displaying wisdom and its necessary antecedent, knowledge, from the most developmentally basic (curiosity) up to the most mature (perspective). (140) 

  • Curiosity / Interest in the world
  • Love of Learning
  • Judgement / Critical Thinking / Open-Mindedness
  • Ingenuity / Originality / Practical Intelligence / Street Smarts
  • Social Intelligence / Personal Intelligence / Emotional Intelligence
  • Perspective

{ COURAGE }

The strengths that make up courage reflect the open-eyed exercise of will toward the worthy ends that are not certain of attainment. To qualify as courage, such acts must be done in the face of strong adversity. This virtue is universally admired, and every culture has heroes who exemplify this virtue. I include valor, perseverance, and integrity as three ubiquitous routes to this virtue. (145)

  • Valor & Bravery
  • Perseverance / Industry / Diligence
  • Integrity / Genuineness / Honesty

{ HUMANITY & LOVE }

The strengths here are displayed in positive social interaction with other people: friends, acquaintances, family members and also strangers. (148)

  • Kindness & Generosity
  • Loving & Allowing Oneself to Be Loved

{ JUSTICE }

These strengths show up in civic activities. They go beyond your one-on-one relationships to how you relate to larger groups, such as your family, your community, the nation, and the world. (149)

  • Citizenship / Duty / Teamwork / Loyalty
  • Fairness & Equity
  • Leadership

{ TEMPERANCE } 

As a core virtue, temperance refers to the appropriate and moderate expression of your appetites and wants. The temperate person does not suppress motives, but waits for opportunities to satisfy them so that harm in not done to self or others. (152)

  • Self-Control
  • Prudence / Discretion / Caution
  • Humility & Modesty

TRANSCENDENCE

I use “transcendence” for the final cluster of strengths. This term is not popular throughout history—“spirituality” is the label of choice—but I wanted to avoid confusion between one of the specific strengths, spirituality, with the nonreligious strengths in this cluster, like enthusiasm and gratitude. By transcendence, I mean emotional strengths that reach outside and beyond you to connect you to something larger and more permanent: to other people, to the future, to evolution, to the divine, or to the universe. (154)

  • Appreciation of Beauty & Excellence
  • Gratitude
  • Hope / Optimism / Future-Mindedness
  • Spirituality / Sense of Purpose / Faith / Religiousness
  • Forgiveness & Mercy
  • Playfulness & Humor
  • Zest / Passion / Enthusiasm

Source: Seligman, Martin. Authentic Happiness: Using the New Positive Psychology To Realize Your Potential For Lasting Fulfillment. New York: Free Press, 2002. Print.

{ The Science of Character } Character Strengths Can Be Learned, Practiced & Cultivated …*

This whole idea about developing our character really took shape in 2004, when two psychologists suggested that instead of just focusing on all the things that can go wrong with us, it’s also important to celebrate all the things that can go right. You see, they looked throughout history to identify core virtues that humans across cultures have agreed lead to a meaningful life. And then they identified 24 character strengths that when practiced and developed could lead to these virtues.”

 

{ The Science of Character } Character Strengths Can Be Learned, Practiced & Cultivated ...* | rethinked.org

Periodic Table of Character Strengths via LetItRipple.org

 

Hope everyone found a way to celebrate yesterday’s International Day of Happiness. Some of you might have also been celebrating Character Day, which was organized by Tiffany Shlain and her team for the premiere of their short film, The Science of Character.

The Science of Character is an 8 minute film that explores the neuroscience and social science behind character development and our ability to shape who we are. 

The film is available in Arabic, German, French, Hindi, Russian, Spanish, Swahili, Chinese and was shown at over 1500 screenings happening all over the world (in over 40 countries and all 50 states). Also, fun rethinked …* fact– our own Dominic Randolph was an advisor for the film. Be sure to check out the resources over on letitripple.org to learn more about character strengths and the research behind them. Teachers, you’ll be pleased to discover discussion guides for elementary, middle, and high school students to further discuss character in your classrooms.

Did you do anything special to celebrate Character Day? How did it go? What did you learn? Let us know.

rethink & grow …* 

“There are a lot of exciting conversations happening about character, one that I find interesting is that there are seven strengths in particular that can be real game-changers in academic achievement, success and happiness no matter what your circumstances. Those seven are: optimism, gratitude, social intelligence, curiosity, self-control, enthusiasm and perseverance, also known as grit. While there have been many different theories about character throughout history, what scientists in this field agree on is that character matters and that character strengths can be learned, practiced and cultivated ”  

The Science of Character via Tiffany Shlain & The Moxie Institute Films‘s YouTube Chanel, published March 20, 2014.

Watch your thoughts: they become words

Watch your words: they become actions

Watch your actions: they become habits

Watch your habits: they become your character

Watch your charater: it becomes your destiny

-Frank Outlaw

Delve – A New Platform To Inspire Your Curiosity & Learn Something Unexpected …*

Delve - A New Platform To Inspire Your Curiosity & Learn Something New & Unexpected ...*  | rethinked.org

Screen Shot of Delve’s Instagram Page

 

Knowmads rejoice, here is a cool new new platform to inspire your curiosity–Delve–which was started by Adam Westbrook in January 2014.

Delve is a project with a simple aim: to inspire your curiosity by making complex ideas fascinating through our video essays. Each month we publish a long-form video essay exploring history, philosophy and other humanities in an unexpected way. We also publish more regular videos on Instagram.

I love how they are leveraging Instagram to inspire curiosity with bits and pieces of fascinating stories and ideas. From time travel to the origins of the word OK, passing by the ‘greatest escape of WWII,’ Delve’s Instagram feed is sure to be an instant hit with the curious and lovers of learning.

Here are the first two of Delve’s video essays, which focus on debunking the myth of the creative genius who succeeds thanks to innate talent. Both videos highlight the patience, grit and growth mindset that precede all great achievements.

The Long Game Part 1: Why Leonardo DaVinci was no genius from Delve on Vimeo.

The Long Game Part 2: the missing chapter from Delve on Vimeo.

Hat Tip: Instagram History Lessons Are More Engaging Than Traditional Textbooks via PSFK, published March 4, 2014.

Robert Steven Kaplan On Why You Need To Be Aware of Your Failure Narrative & Other Tips For Reaching Your Potential

“You’ve got three stories, I’m only interested in one of them. There’s the facts of your life story: where were you born; where did you go to school; your parents; your family–just the facts. There’s a second story, which you’ve got a lot of practice at, it’s called your success story, which is the story of how you overcame obstacles, excelled and got to where you are now. It normally has drawbacks, it has failures, it has terrible things that happened to you and you said, “I will not stand for that! I will overcome that and I decided right then, I was going to do this and then I went and I did it.” There’s a third story, this is not one that you’re telling in your job interview and this, I would call, is your failure narrative. And every one of you has got one and it’s based on the same facts of your life. “

 …*

I first heard about Harvard Business School’s Marvin Bower Professor of Leadership Development, Robert Kaplan’s, concept of the ‘failure narrative’ last week while watching this short excerpt of an interview he did with Big Think. I was thrilled to hear him stress the importance of writing down one’s perceived narrative to drive awareness and facilitate change as I’ve been experimenting with a similar type of cognitive intervention entitled Self-Authoring these past two weeks (more on that next week).

In the video below, Kaplan elaborates on the failure narrative while highlighting the key steps of the process he outlines in his new book, What You’re Really Meant to Do: A Road Map for Reaching Your Unique Potential, to help people reach their unique potential.

Kaplan argues that the reason why so many of us don’t reach our full potential is that we don’t understand that it is an ongoing process, instead we “tend to think of it as a magic answer or a destination.” Kaplan notes that most of us would find it a bit ridiculous if one of our friends told us that they were trying to lose weight and wanted to go on this diet and then never have to worry about their weight again. Obviously, that wouldn’t work, change needs to be maintained. Same thing with growth–reaching our potential is a never ending journey, not a destination. Here Kaplan highlights five critical steps of the process necessary to reach one’s full potential, while providing tips on how to put each of them into action.

1. Assess Your Skills ~ Reaching your potential starts with an honest, accurate assessment of your strengths and weaknesses relative to a job. You need to learn to get in the habit of writing notes down, relative to a job and seeking the feedback of those that observe you so you can do it accurately. 

2. Find Your Passions ~ Passion is the rocket fuel that allows you to work on your weaknesses, makes you get advice from people and helps you do all sorts of other things, bad days, bad months, bad years–tolerating adversity. Passion is the rocket fuel that lets you do it but you do need to know what tasks you’re passionate about. You’ve got to be able to write that down. It is hard to perform at a very high level for a long period of time unless you’re passionate about what you’re doing. 

3. Understand Yourself ~ Why do people fail? Why do people fail to get feedback? Why do they fail to be able to understand their passions? Why don’t they go for it when they see something they want to do? Why do they keep quiet when they should speak up and act like owners? Normally, it’s doubt. 

  • What is that doubt for you? 
  • Can you write it down?
  • Are you aware of it?

The reason why being aware of your own failure narrative is so crucial is that, as Kaplan points out, “The biggest issue many people have is they don’t understand themselves.” We can’t always explain our rationale for our decision making and behavior. To develop more productive habits and further our chances of reaching our full potential, we need to be aware of our own beliefs. We need to examine what it is that is holding us back and triggering the self-doubt that we all feel throughout our lives.

Injustice happens. The key is, for most people, it feeds into your childhood, maybe events growing up, injustices that happened to you, maybe a difficult boss feeds into your self-doubt. And all of you have a narrative that’s in your head, whether you’re aware of it or not, right now that says, “I’m not good enough, I can’t do this. I doubt that I’ll ever be a _____ at ___, I don’t think I can.” And if you don’t think you’ve got [ a failure narrative], let me give you an assignment: write down your failure narrative. And the reason I urge people to write this down, this is [a narrative] that’s not politically correct to talk about, you’re not sharing it with your peers. Most of us wear a mask every day but we have self-doubt about something. And I might ask it to you this way: what’s your biggest fear? What is your biggest area of self-doubt? What is it you can’t do? And for many people, they’re not even aware that it’s in their head, but I can tell you it’s affecting what you do every day. It’s affecting your ability to reach your potential. Write it down, it may surprise you. 

Here’s the reason I like talking about the failure narrative. First of all, if you have the failure narrative always in your head, it might make you feel better to know, you’re not the only one. Everyone, to varying degrees has one. Most people think that their failure narrative is unique to them and they’re the only one–not so. Everyone has a failure narrative that is in their mind much more than you would believe. Now, they cover it over, they look great and their hair is nice and everything is great but I’ll tell you, if you watch them enough and you see what they can do and where they just can’t do it–that failure narrative is there. So step one is to realize you’re not the only one–there’s not something wrong with you because you have a failure narrative. Step two is, do you know what it is? And then step three is, how is it affecting your behavior now? And then you get to a question: do you need to be a prisoner of it? You’re not going to get rid of it, by the way, I have no clue how to get rid of one, but I do believe, if you’re aware of it and you try to address it, you don’t need to be a prisoner of it.

4. Performance and Career Management ~ What’s the vision? What are the top two or three tasks you must do well? Can you write them down? You should gear your skill development against those. Your dream job–you’ve got to think about the tasks you would dream about. You need to take ownership of thinking about these things. 

5. Good vs Great: Character  & Leadership ~ Once you’ve done strengths, weaknesses, passions, your story, matching all that to the job you’re in and what’s most important–do you act like an owner? […] Do you stick your neck out, appropriately? Do you help others who need help even though you don’t get any credit for it? This is what makes the difference, in my experience, between the people who are decent or good and great. Great companies are built around people who act like owners. Do you? 

via AtGoogleTalks, published on YouTube, August 9, 2013.

Friday Link Fest…*

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READ

Gearing Up for a Summer of Making, Connecting and Learning by Doing  ~ Suzie Boss, on project-based learning ideas for summer. via New York Times, published May 15, 2013.

Daniel Dennett’s seven tools for thinking ~Cognitive scientist and philosopher Daniel Dennett is one of America’s foremost thinkers. In this extract from his new book, he reveals some of the lessons life has taught him. via The Guardian, published May 18, 2013

{ Pattern Thinkers } How an Entirely New, Autistic Way of Thinking Powers Silicon Valley ~ Three kinds of minds — visual, verbal, pattern — naturally complement one another. Yet society puts them together without anybody thinking about it. via Wired, published May 23, 2013.

Stanford Builds Strong Innovators with New “Design Thinking” Curriculum ~ via Product Lifecycle Stories, published May 8, 2013

16 Learning Strategies To Promote Grit And Delayed Gratification In Students  ~ In psychology, intelligence is not the primary predictor of success. It is the ability to persevere in hardship, persist and learn after failure, and have a resilient spirit in the face of obstacles. Intelligence is a gift that can be developed and nurtured, but continuing on a difficult path when the gratification is far away? That is an invaluable skill for all of us to learn. via TeachThought, published May 3, 2013

Technology for Learning vs.Technology for Education ~ Learn about Sylvia’s Super Awesome Maker Show and what researchers Rich Halverson and Benjamin Shapiro at the University of Wisconsin-Madison call “technologies for learners” as opposed to “technologies for education.” The latter include student information management systems, adaptive learning software, and computerized assessment tools. Technologies for learners, however, are designed to support the specific needs, goals, and learning styles of curious individuals—like Sylvia. via Remake Learning, published May 15, 2013.

How to Expel Hurtful Stereotypes from Classrooms across the Country ~ The fear of confirming derogatory stereotypes can hinder academic performance. Researchers are scaling up relevant interventions to statewide programs.via Scientific American, published May 22, 2013.

Collaborative Platforms Empower Citizens to Shape Their Communities ~ Design Thinking comes to the neighborhood: Participatory online platforms and visual tools help gauge and meet the actual needs of the population. via PSFK.

Why getting new things makes us feel so good: Novelty and the brain ~how intricately novelty seems to be associated with learning, which means we can use this knowledge to our advantage for learning new things and improving our memory. via Buffer, published May 16, 2013.

LOOK

BMW Guggenheim Lab Maps the Trends Shaping Our Cities ~The BMW Guggenheim Lab, a traveling think tank/community discussion space, released their latest list of urban trends, gleaned from almost six months’ worth of workshops held in Mumbai, Berlin, and New York City. via Wired Design, published May 22, 2013.

Harvard Scientist Creates Incredible Microscopic Crystal Flowers In A Beaker ~ via Beautiful Decay, published May 22, 2013.

See The Works, And Stories, Of Renoir And Van Gogh As Comics ~ The Museum of Art of São Paulo brings the dramatic stories behind famous art works to life. via comics via FastCo.Create, published May 16, 2013.

Ernest Hemingway Creates a Reading List for a Young Writer, 1934  ~ via Open Culture, published May 23, 2013.

Boring Math Equations Turned Into Whimsical Animal Illustrations ~ In her illustrated series ‘Drawing Mathematics’, Zurich-based illustrator Kasia Jackowska turns boring math equations and concepts into adorable, whimsical animal illustrations. via Design Taxi, published May 20, 2013

{ Lucien Hervé: Le Corbusier in India } A Stunning Survey Of Pics By Le Corbusier’s Trusted Photographer ~ via FastCo.Design, published May 16, 2013.

WATCH

Fostering Growth Mindsets ~ Why fostering a growth mindset can give your children the drive to succeed. Part of a discussion series between Christine Carter and Kelly Corrigan. via Greater Good Science Center, published October 2007.

How Coca-Cola Used Vending Machines To Try And Unite The People Of India And Pakistan~ Rethinking…* the vending machine as medium for exchange, expressing empathy & promoting peace: Specially designed Small World Machines placed in both countries in March served as live communications portals. via FastCo.Create, published May 20, 2013.

{ Limor Fried’s Circuit Playground } A Web Series For Kids Aims To Be The “Elmo for Engineering ~ Engineer and Adafruit Industries founder Limor Fried saw an unmet need in the educational-video space. “We looked around and didn’t see an ‘Elmo for engineering’ or a kid’s show that celebrated science and engineering,” she tells Co.Design. “Every kid seems to have a cell phone or a tablet, but they know more about SpongeBob than how a LED works on the device or TV they’re watching, and we wanted to change that.” via FastCo.Design, published May 22, 2013.

Shannon Rankin’s Gorgeous Collages Made Entirely Of Old Maps  ~ “Maps are subjective. Every map is an interpretation. We bring our own personal meaning when we view them. They can reference the physical and psychological simultaneously. They elicit our memories and become a metaphor of life and personal cosmologies.” via FastCo.Design, published May 20, 2013.

Why Our Brains Get Addicted to the Internet (and How to Avoid It) ~  via Lifehacker, published May 10, 2013.

Teaching Youngsters About Medical Science With A Game–And Killer Muenster ~ Genentech teams with Ideo to create Ralph’s Killer Muenster, which makes science weird & fun enough for kids to care. via FastCo.Create, published May 21, 2013.

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