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Category Archives: Education

Why Are Millennials So Difficult to Manage?

alex atkins bookshelf cultureSimon Sinek is a British-American organizational consultant, ethnographer, motivational speaker, and author. Sinek also teaches graduate-level strategic communications courses at Columbia University. He has published five best-selling books that focus on how leaders can inspire others, how leaders can build a company that people want to work for, and how to discover one’s true purpose. His first book, Start with Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action (2009), led to his popular TED Talk, How Great Leaders Inspire Action, which is one of the most popular presentations in that forum. Sinek introduces the concept of the Golden Circle: “a naturally occurring pattern, grounded in the biology of human decision-making, that explains why we are inspired by some people, leaders, messages and organizations over others.” One of the most common questions that Sinek answers in interviews is the infamous “millennial question” — that is to say, how do you manage millennials that pose a bit of a challenge to most company managers? During an interview with Tom Bilyeu, host of “Inside Quest” (a web-base talk show) to promote his third book (Together is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration, an illustrated and scented quote book to inspire human interaction), Sinek answered the millennial question this way:

“Apparently, millennials — as a group of people, which are those born from approximately 1984 and after — are tough to manage. They are accused of being entitled and narcissistic, self interested, unfocused, and lazy — but “entitled” is the big one. Because they confound the leadership so much, leaders will say “what do you want?” And millennials will say “we want to work in a place with purpose, we want to make an impact, we want free food and bean bag chairs.” Any yet when provided all these things they are still not happy. And that is because there is a missing piece. It can be broken down into four pieces, actually — 1. parenting; 2. technology; 3. impatience; and 4. environment.

1: Parenting

The generation that is called the millennials, too many of them grew up subject to “failed parenting strategies.” Where they were told that they were “special” all the time. They were told they can have anything they want in life just because they want it. Some of them got into honors classes, not because they deserved it, but because their parents complained. Some of them got A’s not because they earned them, but because the teachers didn’t want to deal with the parents. Some kids got participation medals. They got a medal for coming in last. Which, the science we know is pretty clear, is that it devalues the medal and the reward for those who actually work hard and that actually makes the person who comes in last embarrassed because they know they didn’t deserve it so that actually makes them feel worse.

[So] you take this group of people and they graduate and they get a job and they’re thrust into the real world and in an instant they find out they are not special. Their moms can’t get them a promotion. You get nothing for coming in last and — by the way — you can’t just have it because you want it. In an instant, their entire self-image is shattered. So we have an entire generation that is growing up with lower self esteem than previous generations.

2: Technology

The other problem to compound it is we are growing up in a Facebook/Instagram world, in other words, we are good at putting filters on things. We’re good at showing people that life is amazing even though “I am depressed.” Everybody sounds tough, and everybody sounds like they have it all figured out, [but] the reality is there’s very little toughness and most people don’t have it all figured out. So when the more senior people say “well, what should we do?” they sound like “this is what you gotta do!” But they have no clue.

So you have an entire generation growing up with lower self esteem than previous generations — through no fault of their own, they were dealt a bad hand. Now let’s add in technology. We know that engagement with social media and our cell phones releases a chemical called dopamine. That’s why when you get a text, it feels good. In a 2012 study, Harvard research scientists reported that talking about oneself through social media activates a pleasure sensation in the brain usually associated with food, money, and sex. It’s why we count the likes. It’s why we go back ten times to see if the interaction is growing. And if our Instagram is slowing we wonder if we have done something wrong, or if people don’t like us any more. The trauma for young kids to be “unfriended” is too much to handle. We know that when you get the attention it feels good — you get a hit of dopamine… Dopamine is the exact same chemical that makes us feel good when we smoke, when we drink, and when we gamble… [and] it’s highly, highly addictive.

We have age restrictions on smoking, drinking and gambling but we have no age restrictions on social media and cell phones. Which is the equivalent of opening up the liquor cabinet and saying to our teenagers “hey by the way, if this adolescence thing gets you down — help yourself.” [So] an entire generation now has access to an addictive, numbing chemical called dopamine through cellphones and social media, while they are going through the high stress of adolescence.

Why is this important? Almost every alcoholic discovered alcohol when they were teenagers. When we are very, very young the only approval we needed was the approval of our parents and as we go through adolescence we make this transition where we now need the approval of our peers. Very frustrating for our parents; very important for the teenager. It allows us to acculturate outside of our immediate families and into the broader tribe. It’s a highly, highly stressful and anxious period of our lives and we are supposed to learn to rely on our friends.

Some people — quite by accident — discover alcohol, the numbing effects of dopamine, to help them cope with the stresses and anxieties of adolescence. Unfortunately that becomes hard wired in their brains and for the rest of their lives, when they suffer significant stress, they will not turn to a person, they will turn to the bottle. Social stress, financial stress, career stress — that’s pretty much the primary reasons why an alcoholic drinks. But now because we are allowing unfettered access to these devices and media. Basically it is becoming hard-wired and what we are seeing is that [as] they grow older, too many kids “don’t know how to form deep, meaningful relationships” — their words, not mine.

They will admit that many of their relationships are superficial. They will admit that they don’t count on their friends; they don’t rely on their friends. They have fun with their friends, but they also know that their friends will cancel on them when something better comes along. Deep meaningful relationships are not there because they never practiced the skillset and worse — they don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress. So when significant stress begins to show up in their lives, they’re not turning to a person, they’re turning to a device, they’re turning to social media, they’re turning to these things which offer temporary relief. [The] science is clear, we know that people who spend more time on Facebook suffer higher rates of depression than people who spend less time on Facebook.

These things balanced, are not bad. Alcohol is not bad, too much alcohol is bad. Gambling is fun, too much gambling is dangerous. There is nothing wrong with social media and cellphones, it’s the imbalance. If you are sitting at dinner with your friends, and you are texting somebody who is not there – that’s a problem. That’s an addiction. If you are sitting in a meeting with people you are supposed to be listening and speaking to, and you put your phone on the table, that sends a subconscious message to the room “you’re just not that important.” The fact that you can’t put the phone away, that’s because you are addicted. If you wake up and you check your phone before you say good morning to your girlfriend, boyfriend or spouse, you have an addiction. And like all addictions, in time, it will destroy relationships, it will cost time, it will cost money and it will make your life worse.

3: Impatience

So we have a generation growing up with lower self-esteem that doesn’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with stress and now you add in the sense of impatience. They’ve grown up in a world of instant gratification. You want to buy something, you go on Amazon and it arrives the next day. You want to watch a movie, logon and watch a movie. You don’t check movie times. You want to watch a TV show, binge. You don’t even have to wait week-to-week-to-week. Many people skip seasons, just so they can binge at the end of the season… Instant gratification. You want to go on a date? You don’t even have to learn how to be socially awkward on that first date. You don’t need to learn how to practice that skill. You don’t have to be the uncomfortable person who says yes when you mean no and no when you mean yes. Swipe right – bang – done! You don’t even need to learn the social coping mechanism.

Everything you want you can have instantaneously. Everything you want, instant gratification, except, job satisfaction and strength of relationships – their ain’t no out for that. They are slow, meandering, uncomfortable, messy processes. And so millennials are wonderful, idealistic, hardworking smart kids who’ve just graduated school and are in their entry-level jobs and when asked “how’s it going?” they say “I think I’m going to quit.” And we’re like “why?” and they say “I’m not making an impact.” To which we say, “you’ve only been there eight months…”

It’s as if their standing at the foot of a mountain and they have this abstract concept called impact that they want to have on the world, which is the summit. What they don’t see is the mountain. I don’t care if you go up the mountain quickly or slowly, but there’s still a mountain. And so what this young generation needs to learn is patience. That some things that really, really matter, like love or job fulfillment, joy, love of life, self confidence, a skillset, any of these things, all of these things take time. Sometimes you can expedite pieces of it, but the overall journey is arduous and long and difficult and if you don’t ask for help and learn that skillset, you will fall off the mountain. Or the worst case scenario, we’re seeing an increase in suicide rates in this generation, we’re seeing an increase in accidental deaths due to drug overdoses, we’re seeing more and more kids drop out of school or take a leave of absence due to depression. Unheard of. This is really bad.

The best case scenario, you’ll have an entire population growing up and going through life and just never really finding joy. They’ll never really find deep, deep fulfillment in work or in life, they’ll just waft through life and it things will only be “just fine.” How’s your job? “It’s fine, same as yesterday.” How’s your relationship? “It’s fine.” [And] that’s the best case scenario.

4: Environment

Which leads to the fourth point which is environment. Which is we’re taking this amazing group of young, fantastic kids who were just dealt a bad hand and it’s no fault of their own, and we put them in corporate environments that care more about the numbers than they do about the kids. They care more about the short-term gains than the life of this young human being. We care more about the year than the lifetime. We are putting them in corporate environments that are not helping them build their confidence. [Corporate environements] aren’t helping them learn the skills of cooperation [or] helping them overcome the challenges of a digital world and finding more balance [or] helping them overcome the need for instant gratification and [teaching] them the joys and impact and the fulfillment you get from working hard on something for a long time that cannot be done in a month or even in a year.

So we thrust them into corporate environments and the worst thing is they think it’s them. They blame themselves. They think it’s them who can’t deal. And so it makes it all worse. It’s not them. It’s the corporations, it’s the corporate environment, it’s the total lack of good leadership in our world today that is making them feel the way they do. They were dealt a bad hand and it’s the company’s responsibility to pick up the slack and work extra hard and find ways to build their confidence, to teach them the social skills that they’re missing out on.

There should be no cellphones in conference rooms — none, zero. When sitting and waiting for a meeting to start, instead of using your phone with your head down, everyone should be focused on building relationships. We ask personal questions, “How’s your dad? I heard he was in the hospital.” “Oh he’s really good thanks for asking. He’s actually at home now.” “Oh I’m glad to hear that.” “That was really amazing.” “I know, it was really scary for a while there.” That’s how you form relationships. “Hey did you ever get that report done?” “No, I totally forgot.” “Hey, I can help you out. Let me help you.” “Really?” That’s how trust forms. Trust doesn’t form at an event in a day. Even bad times don’t form trust immediately. It’s the slow, steady consistency and we need to create mechanisms where we allow for those little innocuous interactions to happen.

When we are out with friends, as we are leaving for dinner together, we leave our cell phones at home. Who are we calling? Maybe one of us will bring a phone in case we need to call an Uber. It’s like an alcoholic. The reason you take the alcohol out of the house is because we cannot trust our willpower. We’re just not strong enough. But when you remove the temptation, it actually makes it a lot easier. When you just say “Don’t check your phone,” people will just go to the bathroom and what’s the first thing we do? We look at the phone.

When you don’t have the phone, you just check out the world. And that’s where ideas happen. The constant, constant, constant engagement is not where you have innovation and ideas. Ideas happen when our minds wander and we see something and we think, “I bet they could do that…” That’s called innovation. But we’re taking away all those little moments.

None of us should charge our phones by our beds. We should be charging our phones in the living rooms. Remove the temptation. We wake up in the middle of the night because you can’t sleep, you won’t check your phone, which makes it worse. But if it’s in the living room, it’s relaxed, it’s fine. Some say “but it’s my alarm clock.” Buy an alarm clock. They cost eight dollars.

The point is: we [who are] now in industry — whether we like it or not — we don’t get a choice — we now have a responsibility to make up the shortfall and help this amazing, idealistic, fantastic generation build their confidence, learn patience, learn the social skills, find a better balance between life and technology because, quite frankly, it’s the right thing to do.”

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: What Makes a Great Mentor?
What Makes a Great Teacher?
Great Teachers Inspire
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of Parents
What Should you Teach your Kids Before They Leave Home?

For further reading: https://impacttheory.com/blog/simon-sinek-millennial-question-tom-bilyeu/
Start With Why: How Great Leaders Inspire Everyone to Take Action by Simon Sinek
Leaders Eat Last: Why Some Teams Pull Together and Others Don’t by Simon Sinek
Together Is Better: A Little Book of Inspiration by Simon Sinek
Find Your Why: A Practical Guide for Discovering Purpose for You and Your Team by Simon Sinek
The Infinite Game by Simon Sinek

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There Are Two Educations

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsThere are obviously two educations. One should teach us how to make a living and the other how to live.

Although this quotation is often attributed to John Adams (1735-1826) — and it certainly sounds like something he would have said —  it was actually written by James Truslow Adams (1878-1949), an American historian and writer, in the essay “To Be or to Do: A Note on American Education,” appearing in the publication, Forum (June 1929). Adams (no relation to the second President of the United States) is best known for coining the term “American Dream” in The Epic of America (1931). Adams defined the American Dream as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement. It is a difficult dream for the European upper classes to interpret adequately, and too many of us ourselves have grown weary and mistrustful of it. It is not a dream of motor cars and high wages merely, but a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature of which they are innately capable, and be recognized by others for what they are, regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position.” Adams was awarded a Pulitzer Prize for History for the first volume of a three-volume history of New England.

Read related post: The Paradox of the American Dream


The Parable of the Farmer and His Fate

alex atkins bookshelf wisdomThere is an age-old Chinese parable about a farmer and his fate. It goes something like this: there once lived an old farmer who had diligently tended to his crops for many years. He relied on his trusty, hard-working horse to plow the fields. But one day, the horse broke through the fence and ran away. Upon hearing this news, the farmer’s neighbors rushed over to the farmer to voice their concern. “What bad luck this is,” they said, “You will not have your horse during the critical planting season.” The farmer listened intently, nodding his head as if in agreement, smiling slightly. Then he spoke softly, “Bad luck, good luck — who really knows?”

A few days later the horse, accompanied by two wild horses, returned to the farmer’s stable. The farmer immediately realized that he could train these two new horses to help him plow his field more efficiently. Soon after, the neighbors heard about this and visited the farmer. “You are now blessed with three strong horses,” they said in unison, “What great luck this is!” But the laconic farmer simply replied, “Good luck, bad luck — who really knows?”

The farmer gave one of the untamed horses to his son. While riding the horse, the son was thrown off and broke his leg. The farmer’s neighbors came around again and expressed their worry, “It is a shame that your son will not be able to help you during planting season. This is such bad luck!” The farmer smiled faintly, and said “Bad luck, good luck — who really knows?”

A few days later, the Chinese emperor’s army rode ominously into town under gray clouds. The general’s order was to draft the eldest son from every family into the army. One of the soldiers took one look at the farmer’s son’s broken leg and motioned to have him left behind. The army marched out of town while tearful residents waved goodbye to their sons, knowing that they may not see them again. Later in the day, the neighbors gathered at the farmer’s house. “You are the only family that did not have their son drafted into the army,” they said. “This is such good luck!” The farmer, who was busy with his chores, looked up and said, “Good luck, bad luck — who really knows?”

This timeless Chinese parable teaches us that luck can be paradoxical — bad luck can be very good luck (and vice-versa). Another lesson is that fate — whether considered “good luck” or “bad luck” — is a matter of perspective. This is one of the greatest lessons that Viktor E. Frankl, a Holocaust survivor, teaches us: “Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of human freedoms — to choose one’s attitude in any given set of circumstances, to choose one’s own way.” [Emphasis added] from Man’s Search for Meaning published in 1946.

The parable also reminds us of the famous proverb “every cloud has a silver lining” that originated in the late 1800s. That is to say, one should never feel down and hopeless because challenging times lead to happier, better days ahead. The proverb also introduces a very important metaphor about life — every situation in life is transitory; gray clouds that create dark days will eventually pass, allowing the sun’s radiant light to shine through. Or expressed another way, no matter how dark the night, each dawn ushers in a new day full of hope and new opportunities.

At another level, the parable teaches about a very important life lesson: acceptance. Rather than creating drama around a situation that is either “good luck” or “bad luck” it is best to follow the Taoist tradition of detachment and acceptance. It is important not to celebrate the good luck or scorn the bad luck too excessively. Moreover, it is critical to simply accept life as it is, rather than expending energy to consider what could have been or should have been. Only then one can fully consider the question that my Jesuit mentors often posed: “what is the next, best step?”

There is an absolutely brilliant discussion of fate and misfortunate, through the lens of Boethius’ Consolation of Philosophy and William Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet, by an erudite, insightful young (as in high school aged) scholar titled: The Consolation of Adversity’s Sweet Milk, Philosophy. If you are passionate about literature and/or philosophy, you will definitely find it fascinating and thought-provoking; moreover it will inspire you to pick up and read (or re-read) two timeless classics.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Parable of the Carpenter’s Son
The Parable of the Ship Mechanic
The Mayonnaise Jar and Cups of Coffee
The Wisdom of a Grandparent
The Wisdom of Parents
The Wisdom of Tom Shadyac

For further reading: https://www.knowyourphrase.com/every-cloud-has-a-silver-lining
Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor E. Frankl

 


The Wisdom of Famous Cartoon Characters

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsEveryone knows that cartoons and animated films of the Disney variety are for kids. However, they are written by adults and sometimes, tired of writing halfwitted jokes and inane conversation, they manage to sneak in a few life lessons along the way. And given the rapid-fire pace of dialogue in kiddie shows, you have to listen pretty closely to separate the wheat from the chaff. The hope is that some of this wisdom might make a lasting impression on the kids who are watching (and perhaps the adults watching with them) so they can learn from it. Here is some of the wisdom of famous cartoon and animated film characters.

Merida (Brave): “Our fate lives within us, you only have to be brave enough to see it.”

Aladdin (Aladdin): “Do not be fooled by its commonplace appearance. Like so many things, it is not what outside, but what is inside that counts.”

Alice (Alice in Wonderland): “I can’t go back to yesterday because I was a different person then.”

The Blue Fairy (Pinocchio): “Always let your conscience be your guide.”

Eeyore (Winnie the Pooh): “A little consideration, a little thought for others, makes all the difference.”

Snow White (Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs): “You’re never too old to  be young.”

Mulan (The Emperor of China): “The flower that blooms in adversity is the most rare and beautiful of them all.”

Stitch (Lilo & Stitch): “Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind or forgotten.”

Zeus (Hercules): “A true hero is not measured by the size of his strength, but by the strength of his heart.”

Mewtwo (Pokemon): “I see now that the circumstances of one’s birth are irrelevant; it is what you do with the gift of life that determines who you are.”

Chef G (Ratatouille): “You must not let anyone define your limits because of where you come from. Your only limit is your soul.”

Rafiki (The Lion King): “Oh yes the past can hurt you, but you can either run from it or learn from it.”

Jack Skellington (The Nightmare Before Christmas): “Just because I cannot see it, doesn’t mean I can’t believe it.”

Master Shift (King Fu Panda): “Anything is possible when you have inner peace.”

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of Tom Shadyac
The Wisdom of Martin Luther King
The Wisdom of Maya Angelou
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks

The Wisdom of Lady Grantham
The Wisdom of Morrie Schwartz

The Wisdom of Yoda
The Wisdom of George Carlin
The Wisdom of Saint-Exupery
The Wisdom of Steven Wright
The Wisdom of Spock
The Wisdom of Elie Wiesel

For further reading: visual.ly/community/infographic/entertainment/life-advice-50-beloved-characters-kids-entertainment?
http://www.stevenaitchison.co.uk/20-life-changing-lessons-we-can-learn-from-cartoon-characters


What is the Average Cost of a College Credit?

alex atkins bookshelf educationCollege students are some of the worst consumers in America, flipping the commonsense frugal strategy on its head: rather than “pay less for more” they “pay more for less.” It’s like prepaying for an elegant steak and wine dinner and then choosing a hot dog and chips for your meal. Expressed another way, college students (or more accurately, their parents) pay a very high price for an undergraduate education, while college students choose to take the minimal amount of courses, and often the least challenging courses to graduate. But the biggest waste of money occurs when college students — without parents to nag them about it — cut classes for whatever reason (hangover, went to bed at 4:00 am, the dog ate my homework, etc.). When you consider the average cost of a college credit, you might want to reconsider whether it makes sense to skip those classes.

The staff at Student Loan Hero used data from the Department of Education to calculate the average cost per college credit. There are significant differences of course between 4-year and 2-year schools, and whether the schools are public, private, or for- profit. Four-year colleges typically require 120 credits to earn an undergraduate degree. Thus, to earn a degree at a public school, tuition will cost $39,000; at a private school, the tuition adds up to a staggering $77,640. Here are the average cost per credit hour for colleges across these four sectors:

2-Year Public College: $135

4-Year Public College: $325

4-Year for Profit College: $647

4-Year Private College: $1,039

Average Cost of a College Credit: $594

So the next time you want to sleep in and skip morning classes, you may want to consider the actual hit to your pocketbook and decide if that is a wise use (or misuse) of your money.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: Getting the Most Out of College
How College Can Help You to Live a Good Life
How Many College Grads Have Jobs Related to Their Major?

The College Admissions Mania
The Parable of the Carpenter’s Son
The Best Books for Graduates: 2015
What Makes a Great Mentor?

What Makes a Great Teacher?
What Should you Teach Your kids Before They Leave Home?

Education Reform
Lifelong Learning with The Great Courses

Education or Indoctrination?

For further reading: https://studentloanhero.com/featured/cost-per-credit-hour-study/


The Six Types of Courage

alex atkins bookshelf educationYou cannot imagine a more unlikely trio for an important life journey: an empty-headed scarecrow, a rusty tin woodman, and a cowardly lion. But those are Dorothy’s companions on the famous yellow brick road to the Land of Oz — from the imagination of L. Frank Baum. While Dorothy seeks to return home, the scarecrow wants a brain, the woodman longs for a heart, and the lion desires courage. When Dorothy accuses the lion of being a coward, he responds: “You’re right, I am a coward! I haven’t any courage at all. I even scare myself.” We can presume, that the Cowardly Lion seeks physical courage, that is, “acting intentionally in the face of risks, threats, or obstacles in the pursuit of morally worthy goals.” The classic example is the fireman who rushes into a burning house to save a helpless infant. In mythology and literature, the lion is traditionally a symbol of power, wisdom, confidence, bravery, and pride. Baum’s lion lacking courage, of course, is dramatically ironic. But despite what the Cowardly Lion believes, there is much more to courage than physical strength and bravado.

Dr. Lisa Dungate, PsyD, a parenting coach and child/family therapist, along with best friend Jennifer Armstrong, an award-winning author of historical fiction for children and teens, created Lion’s Whiskers, a fascinating blog that shares compelling stories and insight to help parents and their children to develop courage to meet the many challenges that life presents; they state: “We have found one of the best ways to inspire courage is through story — traditional stories, family stories, true stories from history — and by giving our children opportunities to practice courage every day.” [Incidentally, the title of the blog was inspired by a charming and instructive Ethiopian folk tale about a healer who teaches a woman how to be courageous.] Dungate and Armstrong provide a new insight into the understanding of courage. First, by definition: “Courage, very broadly, involves making a decision or taking action where a risk is involved — something actual or imagined to fear. Courage is the necessary force ensuring growth rather than retreat.” Second, by classification: they believe that there are six types of courage — and, taken together, are critical to deal with the inevitable slings and arrows of life. Briefly, here is their classification of courage:

Physical courage.  This is the courage most people think of first:  bravery at the risk of bodily harm or death.  It involves developing physical strength, resiliency, and awareness.

Social courage.  This type of courage is also very familiar to most of us as it involves the risk of social embarrassment or exclusion, unpopularity or rejection.  It also involves leadership.

Intellectual courage.  This speaks to our willingness to engage with challenging ideas, to question our thinking, and to the risk of making mistakes.  It means discerning and telling the truth.

Moral courage.  This involves doing the right thing, particularly when risks involve shame, opposition, or the disapproval of others.  Here we enter into ethics and integrity, the resolution to match word and action with values and ideals.  It is not about who we claim to be to our children and to others, but who we reveal ourselves to be through our words and actions.

Emotional courage.  This type of courage opens us to feeling the full spectrum of positive emotions, at the risk of encountering the negative ones.  It is strongly correlated with happiness.

Spiritual courage.  This fortifies us when we grapple with questions about faith, purpose, and meaning, either in a religious or nonreligious framework.

Courage is multifaceted, and as such, a sticky wicket for research. Dungate and Armstrong elaborate: “Courage remains a difficult construct to accurately and categorically define for social researchers, psychologists, theologians, and philosophers alike (Woodard & Pury, 2007; Goud, 2005).  [We] are in the process of conducting research to compile an accurate definition for courage for the Lion’s Whiskers blog.  At this point, we fully acknowledge that our perspective is wholly Western and we look forward to a more multicultural, and thus universal, definition of courage as we develop this blog.

The study they cite, Courage: Its Nature and Development (ResearchGate, March 2005), psychologist Nelson Goud identifies three dimensions of courage (fear, appropriate response, and a higher purpose) as well as three main themes in the developmental process for learning courage: 1. building confidence and self-trust; 2. perceiving a worthy purpose; and 3. managing fear. (Gould also cites research that suggests six different types of courage: physical, moral, civil, vital, psychological, and existential.) In terms of learning courage, Dungate and Armstrong believe that four more themes need to be added: 4. empowering decision-making; 5. intention and willing action; 6. opportunities to practice and persevere; and 7. ensuring a sense of belonging and self-worth.

Indeed, Dungate and Armstrong as the pied-pipers of courage, weave the strands of myths, fables, folklore, as well as true stories to form a sort of “courage cloak” to wrap around yourselves and your children, “to help you muster courage in the face of fear, to be an inspirational parent to your children, and foster the security and hope for your children’s future.” These are exactly the types of stories that the world needs now, particularly in America, where spineless, feckless politicians, that pull the levers behind the curtain, present dreadful role models. And these are the stories, passed on from generation to generation, that never get old.

SHARE THE LOVE: If you enjoyed this post, please help expand the Bookshelf community by sharing with a friend or with your readers. Cheers.

Read related posts: The Four Qualities of Empathy
Life Lessons From Scrooge
The Importance of Empathy
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For further reading: http://www.lionswhiskers.com/p/six-types-of-courage.html
https://www.researchgate.net/publication/264805603_Courage_Its_Nature_and_Development
Penguin Dictionary of Symbols by Jean Chevalier

 


The Four Qualities of Empathy

alex atkins bookshelf quotationsOne of the central lessons of Harper Lee’s Pulitzer-Prize winning classic, To Kill A Mockingbird, is the importance of empathy. The most famous and memorable quotes occurs in chapter three, when Atticus Finch, a respected lawyer, is sharing an important life lesson with his daughter, Scout: “You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view — until you climb into his skin and walk around in it.” Finch is defining empathy — sharing how another person feels, identifying with the struggles of a fellow human being — through the metaphor of walking in another person’s skin. That particular image is, perhaps, a bit too gruesome. Of course, he could have easily said, “you never really understand someone until you walk in their shoes.” But we can all agree that Finch’s image is much more memorable in a “Silence of the Lambs” kind of way. Can you feel me?

Empathy is often confused with sympathy or compassion. However, Finch’s compelling imagery helps to understand the key difference between empathy and sympathy. As we have noted, feeling empathy is stepping inside someone else’s shoes — being them, understanding their emotions, feeling their distress, and seeing things from their perspective. Sympathy is feeling concern or sorrow for someone as you stand on the sidelines, watching them muddle along a rough patch in life. You do not step out of your shoes and step into theirs. Psychiatrist Neel Burton elaborates: “[Sympathy], unlike empathy, does not involve a shared perspective or shared emotions, and while the facial expressions of sympathy do convey caring and concern, they do not convey shared distress.” Compassion, on the other hand, is more transformative, leading to action. Burton continues: “Compassion is more engaged than simple empathy, and is associated with an active desire to alleviate the suffering of its object. With empathy, I share your emotions; with compassion I not only share your emotions but also elevate them into a universal and transcending experience. Compassion, which builds upon empathy, is one of the main motivators of altruism.” [emphasis added]

Brene Brown is an expert at walking in other people’s shoes. Brown, who is a research professor at the University of Houston, has spent the last two decades studying vulnerability, empathy, shame, and courage; she has written five books about her findings. One of her TED Talks, “The Power of Vulnerability” is one of the most viewed talks of all time. Brown defines empathy as “feeling with others” and believes that empathy is taught primarily by role modeling (specifically by parents, teachers, friends, and peers) and reading (eg, literature, history). To that list, legendary film critic Roger Ebert would add film; he wrote: “Movies are like a machine that generates empathy. It lets you understand a little bit more about different hopes, aspirations, dreams and fears. It helps us to identify with the people who are sharing this journey with us.” According to Brown, there are four qualities of empathy: 1. taking the perspective of another person; 2. suspending judgment; 3. recognizing emotion in others; and 4. communicating emotion.

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Read related posts: The Importance of Empathy
The Wisdom of Tom Shadyac

The Wisdom of Martin Luther King
The Wisdom of Maya Angelou
The Wisdom of a Grandmother
The Wisdom of the Ancient Greeks

Wisdom of Morrie Schwartz
Wisdom of an Immigrant Father

For further reading: Braving the Wilderness: The Quest for True Belonging and the Courage to Stand Alone by Brene Brown
Heaven and Hell: The Psychology of the Emotions by Neel Burton
https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hide-and-seek/201505/empathy-vs-sympathy

 


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