30 Days to Better Mental Health Reply

Dr Eric Maisel

Dr Eric Maisel

New strategies for emotional well-being in 2015

by Eric R. Maisel, Ph.D. in Rethinking Psychology

I’d like to invite to join me over the next thirty days. Each day I’ll present a simple daily lesson and a simple daily strategy designed to improve your mental health.

If you’ve made some resolutions for the coming year, for example to loss weight or to stop smoking cigarettes, these 30 days of useful strategies and important lessons will support your efforts. Whether or not you’ve made any resolutions, why not join me and improve your emotional and mental health over the coming month? Wouldn’t that be an excellent way to start 2015?

You may want to subscribe to this blog to make sure that you get each day’s post. I am not a technological wizard but I believe that if you look to the right of this post you will see a way to subscribe. Or just put it on your to-do list to visit here daily <smile>. Either way, I hope to see you tomorrow when we begin!

I also hope that you’ll join me for a free virtual conference I’m hosting in February called The Future of Mental Health. I think you’ll find the conference really eye-opening. In it I interview 15 experts from around the world about what’s working in the way we conceptualize mental health and the way we deliver mental health services—and what isn’t working.

An array of experts of this caliber—Robert Whitaker, author of Mad in America, Joanna Moncrieff, author of The Myth of the Chemical Cure, Gary Greenberg, author of Manufacturing Depression, and a dozen others—has never been gathered before. Don’t miss this free opportunity. You can register here:

https://www.entheos.com/The-Future-of-Mental-Health/Eric-Maisel

We will begin in earnest tomorrow. This is nothing to do to prepare <smile>. But you might want to do the following. I recommend to my coaching clients that if they have a problem they are trying to solve—a personal problem, a professional problem, a creative problem—they go to sleep with a “sleep thinking prompt” that orients their brain toward solutions. This sleep thinking prompt might sound like “I wonder what Mary wants to say to John in chapter three of my novel?” or “I wonder how I can invest some new meaning in my work life?”

In our context, tonight you might want to ask yourself some version of the following sleep thinking prompt: “I wonder what I might try this month to improve my mental health?” In the morning, take a moment to ask yourself the prompt again and see if your sleeping brain has provided you with any useful information. Make sure to write down what your brain is offering up. You may find yourself learning something important! (If the art of solving creative, personal and career problems through sleep thinking interests you, I recommend you take a peek at my book The Power of Sleep Thinking.)

I look forward to us beginning tomorrow. I hope to see you then!

**

Dr. Eric Maisel is the author of 40+ books including Life Purpose Boot Camp, Rethinking Depression, and Coaching the Artist Within. In 2015 he will be launching a Future of Mental Health initiative. You can learn more about Dr. Maisel’s books, services, trainings and workshops at http://ericmaisel.com. Contact Dr. Maisel at ericmaisel@hotmail.com

Dan Ariely: What Makes Us Feel Good About Our Work? 1

What motivates us to work? Contrary to conventional wisdom, it isn’t just money. But it’s not exactly joy either. It seems that most of us thrive by making constant progress and feeling a sense of purpose. Behavioral economist Dan Ariely presents two eye-opening experiments that reveal our unexpected and nuanced attitudes toward meaning in our work. (Filmed at TEDxRiodelaPlata.)

If You Pay Your Employees Equally, You’re Not Being Fair to Any of Them Reply

Hauling-logsBy Eric Chester, Business 2 Community 

The Sawmill:

Jake and Justin, twin brothers who were 23 years old, worked for a large sawmill not far from where they grew up.

Their father was aware that even though both sons had essentially the same job title and duties, Justin was paid significantly more than Jake. Curious as to why, the father sought out the owner and asked him about the variance. In response, the owner invited this father to drop by his mill and casually observe the activities.

A few days later, the father showed up at the mill. The owner picked up the phone and called Jake into his office. He said to him, “There’s a trucker from Portland at the gate with some logs he wants to sell us. Go find out what he’s got.” Within fifteen minutes, Jake returned and said, “I checked out the load and it looks like he’s carrying about 40 to 50 large logs, mostly pine, and all appear to be in pretty good shape.” The owner thanked Jake and dismissed him from his office.

He then summoned Justin and made the same request. “There’s a trucker from Portland at the gate with some logs he wants to sell us. Go find out what he’s got.” A half hour later, Justin came back and said, “I counted 38 pines; most are about 20 feet and are in really good condition. There are also 11 aspens which are slightly shorter, and all but 3 are in pristine condition. He wants $1,000 for the whole load. Sam McHenry was down here twice last week looking for aspen for this large furniture project he’s working on, so I called him and asked if he’s still in the market for aspen. He told me he’d take the eight good aspen off our hands and offered $150 for each. If we accept his offer, we’ll make all our money back plus 20% and the 38 pine will be pure profit.” The owner told Justin to sell the aspen to McHenry, then thanked him and sent him on his way.

He then looked at the father. “If this were your mill, would you pay those two employees the same amount?”

“Absolutely not,” the father said. “Though equal, it certainly wouldn’t be fair.”

(The Sawmill is a parable by Eric Chester.)

ON POINT – Compensating employees using time spent on-the-job as the sole metric (hourly wage, monthly salary, etc.) may be simple to calculate, but it does little to engage employees and incentivize top performance. The most effective compensation methods are those where employees are paid in direct proportion to the value they bring to their organization. This is not simple or easy, but it is a prerequisite to building a great workplace culture and being recognized as an employer of choice.

The Science Behind “Self-Fulfilling Prophesies” 1

By Chris Simmons

It goes without saying that how one person treats another determines how that individual performs. What is not so well understood, especially by bosses and parents, is the legitimate science behind this occurrence.

An individual’s performance goes up or down, in large part, based upon the expectations levied against him/her. When high expectations are placed on a person, he/she will perform better. This phenomenon is called the Pygalion or Rosenthal Effect.

At the other extreme is the Golem Effect, which occurs when decreased performance results from low expectations.

The Rosenthal Effect takes its name from a study on student performance, while the Pygalion reference is taken from an ancient Greek legend. In the Rosenthal-Jacobson research, elementary school students were given a disguised IQ test. Twenty percent of the schoolchild were then randomly chosen — and for experiment purposes — identified as “peak performers.” The names of these purportedly high-potential students were then shared with the teachers. During the course of their study, all the schoolchildren advanced academically. However, the falsely labeled “peak performers” universally exceeded all expectations and past achievements.

Part of this phenomenon derives from how we make decisions. The 1st Rule of Human Nature, Self-Interest Trumps Best Interest,” captures the core principle that all decisions are based on emotion, not logic or reason. Furthermore, since Self-Interest is strongly tied to  Identity and Self-Image, the positive reinforcement that comes from high expectations triggers internal motivators that drive one towards the identified goal. Additional research has discovered that these affirmations and positive social interactions prompt a favorable chemical response in the body. This “endorphin rush” makes you feel better (and happier), which legitimately amps up one’s performance and emotions.

Ultimately, the increased performance by the employee/child also alters the behavior of the boss/parent. The leader will invest more time, attention and effort in their protégé, further incentivizing and sustaining the increased performance.

Taken in their totality, these actions create a self-sustaining feedback loop of positive emotions and in short order, this repetition creates a highly rewarding self-fulfilling prophecy. Sadly, the inverse is equally true. As Calvin Lloyd noted, “Nobody rises to low expectations,” succinctly highlighting the crippling impact of negative feedback and the Golem Effect.

The Skill of Self Confidence Reply

As the Athletic Director and head coach of the Varsity Soccer team at Ryerson University, Dr. Ivan Joseph is often asked what skills he is searching for as a recruiter: is it speed? Strength? Agility? In Dr. Joseph’s TEDx Talk, he explores self-confidence and how it is not just the most important skill in athletics, but in our lives.

The Personality Profile That Makes Leaders Make War Reply

Leaders with a high need for personal power, like Putin, go to war more often

by Ian H. Robertson, Ph.D. in Psychology Today

World leaders who make war tend to have a particular personality profile called “high need for power”. American presidents who show this are, throughout history, more likely to take their countries into war than those who don’t. Dwight Eisenhower didn’t show it for instance, while George W Bush did.

“Need for power” was identified by the great psychologist David McLelland as one of three basic, largely unconscious drives, which motivate people to different degrees. The need for power – the others are the needs for affiliation and achievement – is where you are motivated to dominate and control what other people want, need or fear.

In simulations of the Cuban missile crisis where nuclear holocaust between Russia and USA was narrowly averted, people who are high in the need for power acting the role of war room decision makers tend to take actions which would, in 1962, have resulted in nuclear war.

All leaders need to have a certain appetite for power – leadership is too stressful otherwise, and power’s effects on the brain’s act as a sort of anti-depressant. But like all addictive drugs, too much for too long causes dangerous changes in the brain, which include reckless disinhibition, risk-blindness and difficulty in seeing things from other’s perspective: ex UK Foreign Secretary Lord David Owen has described this as the “Hubris Syndrome” which he diagnosed leaders Margaret Thatcher, Tony Blair and George W Bush, among others, as showing.

Few if any leaders can survive more than ten years of power without being tipped into this dangerous state of altered personality and increased desire for even more power. Most democracies have devised constraints – limited terms of office for instance – to counteract such dangerous changes to the brain. Even the Republic of China changes its leadership every ten years.

It is the neurologically-created conceit of many powerful leaders that – in the words of Louis XV of France –  “après moi le déluge” (after me, the flood). Power fosters the delusion of indispensability and many political leaders have created havoc in fighting to stay in post because they genuinely believe their abilities are crucial for the survival of their country and that no-one else can do it.

President Vladimir Putin has held power in Russia as President or Prime Minister for approaching 15 years – too long for any man or woman’s brain to endure without dangerous changes which foster recklessness and a blindness to other perspectives. Saturday’s military incursion into Ukraine may be a particularly worrying symptom of this leader’s affliction.

@ihrobertson

Think You Can’t Change The World? Don’t Believe It Reply

By Chris Simmons

What words do you use to describe a man who cashed in his retirement pension to fund – and serve with – volunteers who flew high-risk Search & Rescue missions?

In the early 1990s, Cubans were so desperate to flee their prison-homeland that tens of thousands attempted to cross the Straits of Florida. However, the 93 miles between Key West and Havana are notoriously dangerous. The Cuban Navy would capture and tow escaping rafters back to the island or worse, sink their vessel and leave survivors to die at sea. Sharks were a constant threat.

And finally — the wind. Lacking money for any kind of motor, rafters were at the mercy of the trade winds. If the winds blew the wrong way or a rafter’s navigation was off – they were condemned to a slow, lingering death in the open waters of the Gulf of Mexico or the Atlantic Ocean.

Living in the Florida Keys, Matt Lawrence refused to be a bystander to this human tragedy. He teamed up with three friends to fly their own rescue missions. The locals quickly dubbed them “Los Gringos con Corazon” – “The White Guys with Heart.” Matt’s pension paid for their equipment, fuel, and other necessities, but at a cost of roughly $1000 per mission, they needed to stretch every penny. To enhance their ability to save lives, the friends created the nonprofit group, Freedom Flight International.

Matt racked up over 500 hours of flight time during the next several years. Over the course of three “rafter seasons,” which ran from late spring through summer’s end, he flew an estimated 75-100 rescue missions.

Flying in search of rafters was inherently dangerous. Partnering with sister groups, Los Gringos and two or three other planes would fly abreast of one another, about five miles between each aircraft. The sheer size of the Florida Straits forced them to fly low since rafters left Cuba on lashed-together inner tubes or almost anything else that would float. Upon finding a rafter(s), they descended to 50-100 feet above the water, an extremely dangerous task at 130 miles an hour. The low altitude was necessary so they could drop emergency aid, communicate with the survivors, and assess the situation. After a mission, countless additional hours were spent on plane maintenance, prepping for the next flight, and training.

Matt Lawrence and the rest of Los Gringos stopped flying in August 1994 – the month President Bill Clinton reversed US policy and ordered the Coast Guard to repatriate every Cuban rafter found at sea. The exodus was over.

In the course of three short years, Los Gringos con Corazon helped save 511 rafters.

Matt Lawrence did what he felt was necessary to save lives. He asked and expected nothing in return. Some may see his actions as reckless – his girlfriend did – she walked out on him because of his rescue efforts. Looking back, he sees his sacrifices as wholly justified – and I trust 511 Cuban-Americans would agree with him.

Now a best-selling author and dive instructor, Matt Lawrence is also a former treasure hunter and aficionado of sea-recovered artifacts. He lives quietly in Summerland Key, a few islands to the east of the madness that is Key West.

“Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.” — Margaret Mead   

The sad sight that Matt Lawrence called "A Tombstone at Sea."

An empty raft — a sight Matt Lawrence called “A Tombstone at Sea.”

"Los Gringos con Corazon" on a mission with "Brothers to the Rescue." From left to right, Thomas Van Hare, Conrad Webber, Steve Walton, Matt Lawrence.

Los Gringos con Corazon” on a mission with “Brothers to the Rescue.” From left to right, Thomas Van Hare, Conrad Webber, Steve Walton, Matt Lawrence.

Rescued rafters

Rescued rafters

The Focused Leader Reply

by Daniel Goleman, Harvard Business Review

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Attention is the basis of the most essential of leadership skills—emotional, organizational, and strategic intelligence. And never has it been under greater assault. If leaders are to direct the attention of their employees toward strategy and innovation, they must first learn to focus their own attention, in three broad ways: on themselves, on others, and on the wider world.

Every leader needs to cultivate this triad of awareness, in abundance and in the proper balance, because a failure to focus inward leaves one rudderless, a failure to focus on others renders one clueless, and a failure to focus outward may cause one to be blindsided. The good news is that practically every form of focus can be strengthened.

The author of Emotional Intelligence, Social Intelligence, and many other books on the power of cultivating awareness explains why focus is crucial to great leadership. Focused leaders can command the full range of their own attention: They are in touch with their inner feelings, they can control their impulses, they are aware of how others see them, and they can weed out distractions and also allow their minds to roam widely, free of preconceptions.

Read the complete article here:  The Focused Leader

The “X-Y” Theory of Motivation Reply

By Chris Simmons

American psychologist Douglas McGregor detailed the X-Y theory in his 1960 book, The Human Side of Enterprise.” While some recent studies question the inflexibility of his work, X-Y is still widely used in addressing organizational motivations and culture. McGregor suggests management styles are a simple choice between authoritarian or participatory approaches. Furthermore, Theory X (dictatorial) managers will generally experience poor results while their Theory Y (engaged) counterparts see better individual and organizational performance because of the opportunities to grow and develop.

Theory X Assumptions (Authoritarian Management)

  • The average person inherently dislikes work and will avoid it if possible.
  • Because most people dislike work, they must be coerced into striving towards an organizational goal.
  • The average person avoids responsibility, has little or no ambition, desires security over all other things, and prefers to be task-directed.

Theory Y Assumptions (Participatory Management)

  • Work is satisfying.
  • Physical and mental exertion at work is as natural as play or rest.
  • Coercion is not the only way to motivate people to work. When committed to a cause, people willingly use self-direction and self-control to achieve a goal.
  • One’s commitment is tied to the value of the perceived reward for achievement.
  • People seek and accept responsibility and will do the job based on their perception of the job’s priority.
  • The ability to solve organizational problems using ingenuity, creativity, and imagination is widely – not narrowly – found among the general populace.
  • The average person’s intellectual potential is only partially realized.

For all those currently suffering under a Theory X boss, read this offering from businessballs.com on surviving an authoritarian manager

How to Demotivate Your Employees in 4 Easy Steps 3

By Chris Simmons

Many managers, supervisors, and leaders around the world are skilled in a classic “blunder cluster” known as The Four Methods of Demotivation. These time-tested methods are virtually guaranteed to increase employee dissatisfaction, send annual turnover into the double-digits, and decrease productivity. Note: Methods are NOT necessarily listed in order of demotivational effectiveness!

1. Subvert decisions. This practice is so common that employees who haven’t been “bypassed” by a supervisor are considered “endangered species.” Managers can also issue orders to subordinates that contradict guidance provided by that individual’s immediate supervisor. Done often enough, the undercut supervisor starts deferring decisions to upper management, leaving the employee confused about who is in charge.
2. “Shooting From The Hip.” Supervisors can also stifle motivation by making a decision on a newly-presented problem “on the spot.” Done correctly, hip-shooting is inaccurate, ineffective, and includes employees who should have NO say in either the problem or its solution.
3. Making what should be a collective decision, alone and in advance. In this scenario, the supervisor seeks input from those employees responsible for implementing a decision, impacted by a decision, or simply whose insights would be informative. Subsequently, employees come to understand that the solicitation was an empty gesture and as a result, offer little commitment to the endeavor.
4. Interfering. Delegation is supposed to put projects into the hands of people qualified to execute them. These qualified subordinates are then supposed to be held accountable for the project. However, for those managers unwilling to let go, interfering is best implemented by issuing clarifications, providing periodic follow-on instructions, requiring impossible suspenses and demanding an unreasonable number of status reports.

Note to all newly promoted supervisors and managers; please understand that this is a weak attempt at sarcasm and not a policy document recommendation.