Friday, September 21, 2012

Managing Change Starts with the Realization of Hope

Recently, my husband and I entered a new "season" of our lives- better known as the "empty nest".  Yes, both of our children are college students, away at school.  And, yes, it has caused me to face a major life changing event for which I was definitely not ready.  What is interesting to me is that I have always been one to embrace change, even to seek it out.  Yet for the first time, I find myself desperately wishing that there was a way to turn the clock back and go back to the way things used to be. 

Logically and rationally I know that children grow up and move on.  I did, you did, we all did.  It is the normal progression of life, yet as we well know, managing change, especially unwanted or undefined change is emotional, not logical.  We feel its ramifications in our gut, in our hearts, and in our souls.  To face this change and address it in a positive manner, I realized that I need to really listen to the same guidance I share with my clients.

First and foremost, facing change requires three key actions:  Being Courageous, Acknowledging There Is Hope, and Using and Leveraging our Strengths.  We have to demonstrate courage and be willing to take a risk.  Look for the positives associated with the change and recognize that staying where you are or moving backwards is not the answer.  Whether the change you face is in the work place or at home, when we take the risk to positively engage the change and move with it instead of allowing ourselves to be trampled down by it, we can make progress.  We can even triumph!  We need to proactively get involved with the change that is going on around it. Then it won't be around us, instead we will be part of it.

Once we take that risk to get involved, we can begin to see that there is hope:  there is a reason for the change and it is to help us move forward.  We need to begin to move beyond the change at hand and search further into the future.  How can we use the effects of the change to bring us closer to achieving what is most important in our lives.  Sometimes a change provides us with new clarity regarding a life goal. Other times, the change is a detour or a struggle that will make us stronger.  The change may confuse us or put in a situation where we lack clarity about the future.  It is in these situations, we need to take a moment to find something we can hope for.  Having hope for the future, for a goal, for a new direction, for an outcome is essential for us to manage change effectively.  We have to find something associated with the change that lends itself to a hopeful outcome.

Finally, we all have strengths.  Everyone of us has talent and ability.  Discover your strengths and use them.  Just using your talents and your strengths in some way, every day will help you to move forward.  As humans we find joy and happiness when we have success.  The surest way to achieve success is by doing those things that use our key strengths every day.  Take the time to identify your greatest strengths an then find activities at work, at home that allow you to use them every day. 

If you engage in the change, have hope for the future and use what you are really good at, before long you will also move along.  You may even find yourself initiating more change.  Most importantly, you will feel good about who you are and where you are going.  And, quite honestly, that is what matters the most.  When we feel sad or stressed about a change, it is usually because we feel a gap or a void somewhere.  If we can fill that gap or that void by being courageous, having hope and using our strengths, we can move on to a good place.  We might miss the times of the past.  We might want to reminiscence and hold those memories close, Yet, we will still be able to look forward to more good times ahead.

Yes, I have to admit I still miss the late night, "Hey Mom, I need.... and I need it for tomorrow morning."  And, yes, I walk past their bedrooms looking for a glimpse of the past.  However, I know there is a next phase, and if I actively engage in it, I will in all likelihood have new adventures, new memories, and, yes, even more changes in the future!!!

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Caffeine and Collaboration

The results of recent study presented some intriguing information about the use of caffeine and the ability to collaborate effectively.  According to Lindsay St. Clare and her research team in the UK, caffeine negatively impacts the ability of men to collaborate under stress.  The study  "Interactive Effects of Caffeine Consumption and Stressful Circumstances on Components of Stress" was published in the  Journal of Applied Social Psychology In December.  The study results indicate that when it comes to collaborating on stresssful tasks, caffeine impairs men's performance, but boosts women's.  The research team say that their laboratory study raises the question of whether men "fight or flee" while women "lend and befriend" under stress, and whether caffeine may intensify these behaviors.  It also leads to the question as to whether providing coffee at business meetings may actually sabotage collaboration.

For more information on this study, read the abstract and overview below: 

Overview of the Study: 
The study involved 64 male and female participants all of whom were coffee drinkers at the University of Bristol which is located in the UK.  The average age of the particpants was 22. Participants were required to complete various construction puzzles, negotiation and collaborative memory tasks in same-sex pairs. They did this after drinking decaffeinated coffee, which either had or had not been intentionally altered with caffeine (the equivalent of about three cups' worth of coffee). Stress was elevated for some of the pairs by advising that they would be required to give a presentation to a group, and that their participation fee would be performance dependent.

The results were very interesting.  The men's memory performance under stressful conditions with caffeine was described by the researchers as 'greatly impaired' whereas caffeine didn't affect women in the same situation. For the construction puzzles, caffeine under high stress conditions led men to take an average of twenty seconds longer (compared with no caffeine) whereas it led women to solve the puzzles 100 seconds faster.

Further research is clearly need to replicate the findings and explore the possible underlying mechanisms. Such work is urgent, the researchers concluded, 'because many ... meetings, including those at which military and other decisions of great importance are made may be dominated by men and coffee or other caffenated drinks may be provided.  Their research suggests that men's effectiveness is particularly likely to be compromised. Because caffeine is the most widely consumed drug in the world, it follows that the global implications could be potentially staggering.'

Source:   St. Claire, L., Hayward, R., and Rogers, P. (2010). Interactive Effects of Caffeine Consumption and Stressful Circumstances on Components of Stress: Caffeine Makes Men Less, But Women More Effective as Partners Under Stress. Journal of Applied Social Psychology, 40 (12), 3106-3129

Please feel free to share your thoughts and insights on this topic!!!