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The subject of my Master of Applied Positive Psychology course this semester is Positive Psychology and Organisations.  Our first assignment was to find an example of a positive organisation and to analyse it against:

  • Seligman and Csikszentmihalyi’s notion of a positive institution (2000) where they define positive institutions as those that “move individuals toward better citizenship” through cultivating “responsibility, nurturance, altruism, civility, moderation, tolerance, and work ethic” (p. 5); and
  • Stansbury and Sonenshein’s (2012) three elements of positive ethics; these being morally praiseworthy, discretionary and positively deviant


I chose the Lort Smith Animal Hospital as my case-study.  The following are a few excerpts from my assignment.
 
The Lort Smith Animal Hospital has been committed to caring for animals for the past 80 years.  The hospital’s vision is “to be the recognised leader in Australia for animal health and wellbeing” and its mission is “to improve the health and happiness of animals and the people who care for them,” with the supporting values of care and compassion, quality and affordability, integrity and respect (Lort Smith Animal Hospital, 2014).  The hospital is the largest not-for-profit animal hospital in Australia, providing veterinary care, adoption and fostering services, emergency boarding and bereavement services to animals and their owners…

 … In addition to providing sanctuary, rehabilitation, welfare and a new home for animals, nurturance permeates all that the hospital provides and is linked to its core principle of preserving the human-animal bond … A further example of nurturance is the “Mates for Inmates” program (Humpage, 2015) in which female inmates care for and train rescue dogs, providing a second chance for the inmates by providing responsibility, a sense of purpose and future opportunities for employment.  The dogs also get a second chance where they are loved, cared for and trained to increase their likelihood of finding new homes. 
 
… A strong example of positive deviance and compassionate generosity to victims of hardship as described by Stansbury and Sonenshein (2012), is the hospital’s Emergency Boarding Program which is part of the Adoption Centre; … this program provides care for the pets of some of the most vulnerable members of community – for example, those who have mental health issues, the homeless, the elderly requiring emergency hospitalisation and victims of domestic violence.  The Lort Smith has been providing emergency accommodation since 1936 ensuring that pets are fed, accommodated, receive medical assistance if needed and receive tender, loving care until they can be reunited with their owner.  It can be argued that this program has been deviating existing norms in a way that is positive and honourable (Stansbury & Sonenshein, 2012) for many years.
 
… While the day-to-day actions described provide clear evidence that the hospital is a positive institution and is positively ethical, there many more actions undertaken by the hospital which, while not included, further reinforce its standing as positive and ethical. 
 
insium is a proud supporter of the Lort Smith Animal Hospital.
 
If you are interested in reading the entire assignment, please let me know.


Humpage, A.  (2015, September 3).  Rescue dogs in Mates for Inmates program at Dame Phyllis Frost Centre, Ravenhall.  Herald Sun.  Retrieved from http://www.heraldsun.com.au/leader/west/rescue-dogs-in-mates-for-inmates-program-at-dame-phyllis-frost-centre-ravenhall/news-story/1a27937d5ba808b9d783e40511ef0a0a
 
Lort Smith Animal Hospital (2014).  Mission, Vision & Values.  Retrieved from http://www.lortsmith.com/what-we-do/about-us/mission-vision-values/
 
Seligman, M. E., & Csikszentmihalyi, M. (2000). Positive psychology: An introduction. The American Psychologist55(1), 5-14.
 
Stansbury, J. M. & Sonenshein, S. (2012).  Positive business ethics: Grounding and elaborating a theory of good works. In K. S. Cameron & G. M. Spreitzer (Eds.), Oxford handbook of positive organizational scholarship (pp. 340 – 352).  New York: Oxford University Press.

 

If you'd like to download a copy of this newsletter, you can do so via this link: insium newsletter April 2016. If you'd like to join our mailing list and receive our newsletter regularly, click on the "News" link in the "About" section of our website and complete the form.

Wellbeing boards for your workplace

Thursday, 21 April 2016 00:00

Following is a simple idea for building wellbeing at work.  The idea involves creating a space for a “board” and then rotating the “subject” of the board on a monthly basis in order to keep the board fresh and novel.  Everyone is encouraged to participate, but it is certainly not mandatory; input may be as often as desired.

The board subjects might include:

  • Success – that is, what are the successes – small or large – that you/we/I have experienced
  • Gratitude – what are you/we/I grateful for
  • Good Things – what are 3 good things that have happened to you/us/me
  • Appreciation – that is, this is what I appreciate about you/this team/what you have done/what I have done
  • “Surprise/Gift” - everyone has an envelop with their name on the board and others are encouraged to include “gifts/surprises” for that person… this can be playful and/or serious
  • Wellbeing Ideas – that is, everyone is encouraged to share their ideas of what they do to maintain/improve their own wellbeing
  • Ideas for more boards – that is, everyone is encouraged to come up with their own ideas for board subjects

The idea of having wellbeing boards comes from a number of people - thank you.

A daring culture and feedback

Friday, 15 April 2016 00:00

Brené Brown describes a daring culture as one that is honest, constructive, and engages in feedback.  She also explains that giving or receiving feedback is likely to result in some discomfort; “feedback thrives in cultures where the goal is not getting comfortable with hard conversations but nomalising discomfort.  By letting people know that this discomfort is normal, is going to happen and why, this actually reduces the anxiety, fear and potential shame.  This is consistent with growth and learning being uncomfortable, with individuals stepping outside of their comfort zone in order to learn and grow. 

In telling her students that there will be times that they will feel discomfort, discomfort becomes an expectation and the norm, to the point where her students inform her, “I haven’t been uncomfortable yet.  I’m concerned.”  This in turn leads to key feedback conversations regarding their engagement and also, her teaching, leading to growth and learning for all.

The key for leaders is to foster and support the courage to be uncomfortable; is to be willing to be vulnerable and role-model this daring behaviour; to help the people with whom we work to accept this discomfort as a part, even a sign, of growth and learning.

 

Brown, B.  (2012).  Daring greatly:  How the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead.  London:  Penguin Books.

The influence of language

Tuesday, 05 April 2016 00:00

What language do you use?  Habitually?  Consciously or unconsciously?  “Our words create our worlds” – this simple phrase when spoken by David Cooperrider, had considerable impact on my noticing my vocabulary and intentionally changing it to be more positive and to create the space for possibility and growth.

 

Following are a few more quotes that I have reflected on and have impacted my words and my world:

 

  • “The seeds of change are implicit in the first question we ask.  The more positive the questions, the more positive the potential for transformation.” Diana Whitney
  •  " The power of questions and questioning is to open the door to new possibilities.”  David Cooperrider
  •  “To change behaviour, change the conversation.”  Wim Croonen
  •  “When I tell you my story, you give me colour.  I exist, I am in the moment.”  Eric Koenen

Innovation - Shift Happens

Tuesday, 22 March 2016 00:00

Our last blog discussed how organisations often focus on providing tools for idea generation and evaluation, but fail to create the curious environment that is critical to innovation and that enables the ideas to be generated and evaluated.  We suggested that curiosity, courage, fearlessness, vulnerability and playfulness are all important attitudes and mindsets for innovation.

Last week we suggested that you look at a commercial for Apple from the late 1990s.  This week, we're offering another YouTube video for your consideration.

While you're watching, you might like to consider:

The world is constantly changing at a fast rate;  

  • What impact does this have for our organisations, our customers, our products?  
  • For how we do business?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wMB77eJPYs8

 

Innovation - the Apple Commercial

Wednesday, 16 March 2016 00:00

Organisations often focus on providing tools for idea generation and evaluation, but fail to create the curious environment that is critical to innovation and that enables the ideas to be generated and evaluated.

Curiosity, courage, fearlessness, vulnerability and playfulness are all important attitudes and mindsets for innovation.

The following link will take you to a commercial for Apple from the late 1990s.  As you watch it, you might like to ask yourself:

  • How are we crazy?  What does crazy look like for us?
  • What do we do so that we are not ignored?
  • How will we change the world?

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SswMzUWOiJg

 

There are a number of apps that are readily available that will support you in building and maintaining your well-being; these apps focus on:

  • Meditation
  • Mindfulness
  • Brain training
  • Breathing
  • Tracking moods
  • Yoga
  • Mindset
  • Positive practices
  • Physical fitness and more 

When choosing an app to support your well-being, consider its fit*; that is:

  1. Fit with your key well-being goal(s)
  2. Fit with your strengths and motivations
  3. Fit with your lifestyle
  4. Fit with what seems natural to you
  5. Fit with having some fun

Apps that we use regularly, which fit for us, include:

Buddhify 2 – a targeted mindfulness app which provides suggested exercises based on asking you “What are you doing?”; www.buddhify.com

Lumosity – designed to provide your brain with a workout; it’s a lot of fun and can get somewhat competitive in our household!; www.lumosity.com

Mood Meter – helps to identify emotions, thereby building emotional vocabulary which in turn helps in emotional self management/self regulation; www.moodmeterapp.com

Run Keeper – designed to track your physical activities; www.runkeeper.com

 

If you’d like to see a list of apps that we recommend, please click here

 

* Adapted from Sonja Lyubomirsky, 2010.  “The How of Happiness,” Piatkus, London.

 

P.S.  Does your team/organisation need assistance to build or maintain well-being?  If yes, let’s discuss my Melbourne University Master of Applied Positive Psychology Capstone project.  I may be able to help!

 

If you'd like to download a copy of this newsletter, you can do so via this link: insium newsletter March 2016. If you'd like to join our mailing list and receive our newsletter regularly, click on the "News" link in the "About" section of our website and complete the form.

Simon Sinek:Start with Why

Thursday, 03 March 2016 00:00

Originally filmed in 2009, I cannot begin to tell you just how relevant “Starting with Why” still is today, and how many conversations I have with leaders, marketers and sales people about the impact of starting with why.

This reminds me of a story told by Stephen Covey in his book "The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People". He tells the story of a NASA employee who is asked by a visitor what his job is.  His reply, “I help send man to the moon.”  His job: janitor.  Now’s there’s a clear and inspiring example of why.  

A few questions that you might like to consider as you watch Simon’s talk:

§  What is your purpose?  Why do you get out of bed in the morning?  What is your why?

§  What impact does knowing your why have on your well-being?

§  What is the impact of you operating from the inside?

My why is to open doors.  I invite you to step through these doorways with me and soak up the other side.

 

The 5 minute, edited version of Simon’s talk can be found here:  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IPYeCltXpxw

Simon Senek's full TedTalk of around 18 minutes entitled "How Great Leaders Inspire Action" can be found here: 

https://www.ted.com/talks/simon_sinek_how_great_leaders_inspire_action?language=en   

Shawn Achor on happiness

Tuesday, 23 February 2016 00:00

Shawn Achor defines happiness as “the joy you feel moving towards your potential.”  It is not pleasure which is short-lived; joy invests more deeply.  In fact, you may feel joy even in those moments that are not pleasurable.  For example, have you felt joy at the conclusion of a tough, nail-biting team sport?  Whether you were watching or playing?  Have you felt joy at the end of robust workplace conversations that have resulted in growth, development and other positive outcomes for the parties involved?

A couple of reflection questions for you:

  • How do you define happiness?
  • What moments have you experienced that were not pleasurable but have brought you joy?

If you’d like to see Shawn’s talk, you can find it here; it runs for less than 1.5 minutes:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/big-myth-about-joy_us_56743dd9e4b0b958f65667d4?utm_content=27400667&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook    

Another TedTalk from Camille Seaman

Wednesday, 17 February 2016 00:00
We thought you might enjoy the short (3mins 26 secs) TedTalk by Camille Seaman (we blogged about another of her TedTalks "Haunting Photos of Ice" recently).  Camille's photos are amazing, and in this TedTalk she shares a story about "everything is interconnected," and thoughts such as "the clouds are lovely monsters."
 
As you watch and listen, you might like to think about
  • What are the "interconnections" for you?
  • What memories and stories are you reminded of?
  • Where do these photos take your imagination?
  • What are the emotions that are evoked for you?  Why these emotions?
 
We'd be interested to hear what comes up for you.  Please feel free to get in touch with us to let us know.  Enjoy!
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