Archive for Martin Seligman

True Grit: The Secret to Long-Term Success

What’s the strongest predictor of success in school, on the field or in your career—IQ, EQ, socioeconomic background, leadership skills or talent? Actually, it’s none of those. It’s grit.

From spelling bee finalists to Westpoint cadets, athletes to rookie teachers, scholars to salespeople, MacArthur fellow and University of Pennsylvania Psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth found two consistent predictors of achievement: grit and self-control.

Duckworth discusses the pioneering research on grit she and her colleagues have been conducting at the Duckworth Lab in the following TED talk.

What Seventh-Graders Taught Duckworth

Having left a lucrative job in management consulting to teach seventh-grade math, Duckworth started noticing something funny. The students with the sharpest IQs were sometimes the lowest achievers, and those with poorer IQ scores sometimes outshone their more talented peers.

None of the typically assumed factors for success accounted for the patterns she was seeing. What did those who excelled have in common?

After five years of teaching, Duckworth got a PhD in psychology to find out. She shares these discoveries in her forthcoming book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Already the #1 bestseller in Educational Certification & Development at Amazon, the book explores why focused persistence gets us further than raw ability.

It’s Not How You Succeed—It’s How You Fail

Those who glide through life don’t get a chance to develop the stamina and chutzpah that help them overcome obstacles when they do arise. Grit is not about skating by but rather about doggedly bouncing back every time you stumble.

Authentic Happiness author and positive psychology luminary Martin Seligman is part of the team heading up the Growth Initiative, which focuses on the subject of growth through adversity.

Seligman and his colleagues are interested in identifying how and why some people thrive following tragedy while others wither. Their goal is “to better understand the conditions under which people can experience positive behavioral changes after going through highly stressful adverse events.”

Japan: A Case Study in Post-Traumatic Growth

Just as a scar thickens the skin, trauma can build the resilience necessary to weather future calamities.

A case study in post-traumatic growth, the nation of Japan flourished following the physical and psychological devastation wrought by the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombings.

Written following the 2011 Japanese earthquake, tsunami and nuclear reactor crisis, this New York Times article argues that it is Japan’s very history with trauma that would enable it to heal from the latest onslaught.

In the article, authors Peter Fretwell and Taylor Baldwin Kiland outline the five necessary conditions to cultivate in the face of mass trauma:

  1. a sense of safety;
  2. calm;
  3. a sense of self and community efficacy;
  4. connectedness; and
  5. hope.

We can carry those lessons over into our individual lives as we learn to cope with—and grow through—adversity.

An Undercover FBI Agent Shares Her Secrets

Former FBI undercover and counterintelligence agent LaRae Quy shares these five tips for building the confidence needed to succeed in a recent article:

  1. Don’t fear failure. Taking risks, challenging yourself and making mistakes gives us an opportunity to learn—and grow. In other words, it’s what Homer Simpson calls a “crisitunity.”
  2. Value feedback. Quy cites recent Leadership IQ research indicating that lack of coachability accounted for 26 percent of failed new hires. Those who seek out and embrace constructive feedback are more likely to evolve.
  3. Practice. It gets you to Carnegie Hall for a reason—the more familiar you are with a task, the more effortlessly you will be able to execute it. You will also recover from a misstep with more grace.
  4. “Only connect.” Having the support and mutual respect of colleagues will bolster your confidence and strengthen your sense of community.
  5. Build grit. We’ve already learned the value of grit from Duckworth. There is no pearl without the sand.

How Much Grit Have You Got?

Find out by completing the Grit Survey available at Authentic Happiness. Registration is free, and you’ll gain access to tons of goodies.

How have encounters with adversity led to your growth? Are you ready to up your game?

Chris Cook can help you develop the necessary grit to achieve your goals. Call 541.601.0114 or email Chris today.

What Do You Expect from Your Job?

Our Values and Culture, Wegmans

Really? Is this a valid question?

The business world is changing along with our expectations. More than ever, we are looking to work for an organization with vision and values that align with our own. We are seeking a sense of purpose in what we do and how we do it.

Think about your own work. What really matters to you? Why do you do what you do?

I think it all boils down to happiness and a sense of wellbeing. Start with a question like, “Why do you do what you do?” You may get the answer, “Because I like to help people [fill in the blank].” Then ask, “Why do you like to help people [fill in the blank]?” And keep asking, keep drilling down. I bet you will finally get to an answer that sounds something like, “Because it makes me happy.” Yep. People do what they do in pursuit of happiness.

But what makes people happy? What feeds a state of wellbeing?

In his book Flourish, positive psychology’s grandfather Marty Seligman states that it’s the combination of positive emotion, engagement, relationships, meaning and achievement. Sounds reasonable.

But wait. It’s health, wealth, relationships, happiness and meaning, according to bestselling author and executive coach Marshall Goldsmith. Yeah, that sounds reasonable, too.

And Zappos CEO Tony Hsieh says it’s a combination of perceived control, perceived progress, connectedness and having a sense of vision and meaning in one’s work—being a part of something bigger than oneself. I can get on board with that as well.

The good news is that in the last several years, we’ve seen more and more examples of businesses of all shapes and sizes taking employee wellbeing and happiness into account—even putting it front and center. And they’re not all progressive tech giants like Google, Apple or Facebook. Happy companies are everywhere and every size.

Just look at Fortune’s Top Companies to Work For 2013. I’ll admit I’m proud to say little old Wegmans Food Markets is at position number five. I say I’m proud because Wegman’s was started in Rochester, NY, where I hail from. And while it’s not a Mom and Pop store anymore, it maintains that quality while offering an astounding shopping experience. For me, one of the best parts about visiting “home” is getting to grocery shop at “Weggies.”

What’s so great about Weggies? According to Fortune, “Turnover is an exceptionally low 3.6% at the Northeastern grocery chain, which lets employees reward one another with gift cards for good service. Many workers like it there so much they bring in relatives—one in five employees are related.” And the story goes that when Cher was in town for a concert, part of her VIP treatment included an exclusive visit to Wegman’s.

What about your work makes you happy? What helps you flourish? What inspires your creativity and fuels your desire to give a little more? Please let us know—reply to this blog! We will all benefit.