Saturday, January 29, 2011

Saturday morning comic

Another great comic by Jorge Cham, PhD. Jorge's work is available at PhDComics -- check it out!

Cheering you on in your work this weekend!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Energy and optimism - a guest blogger's view

How do people maintain energy, enthusiasm, and optimism for their work? When I see people who I think are particularly strong in this area, I am curious as to how they do it. Kate Price, a program associate at the Jean Baker Miller Training Institute at Wellesley College is one of those people. Kate has been leading an effort to build community among scholars and practitioners whose work connects with JBMTI (JBMTI is the intellectual home for Relational Cultural Theory -- an amazing theory about how we grow-in-relation). She leads this effort with consistent optimism and positive energy. I asked Kate, "how do you do it?" She replied:

Love. When I am down, in doubt, or in conflict with someone else (or myself), I turn to love to regroup. I wish I could say that I had a more mysterious or elaborate remedy to keep me afloat, but for me, love is everything. A rub of my soulmate cat's belly, a glance at photos of loved ones recent and old, having a "family snuggle up" with husband and son, or the sound of my best friend's voice (even just her voicemail message) make me right as rain. Even silently sending love to someone with whom I am in conflict. I am sure there is a physiological answer involving brain chemistry as to why these actions lift me more than any other, however, for me the simplicity of each is part of the sustenance.

And yet, I suppose that turning to love can be mysterious and elaborate, as love and loving is far from easy. Loving unconditionally is a risky venture in this world full of rules dictating who one is supposed to love and who deserves love. I have certainly lost relationships and arguments when I dare to love outside the circumscribed lines, such as loving someone who has broken the law or does not act in socially-acceptable ways. Or I am labeled "soft-hearted" (as if compassion is a bad thing) who will only get my feelings hurt when and if love is not returned.

In those moments, I think love is needed even more. I am not saying I am going to entrust my child to a person who is addicted to drugs, or invite a hostile misanthrope to a family dinner, but I will love that person with all of my heart and, further more, not be attached to love being "returned" in any particular form. I firmly believe the reason for our existance is to love and to be loved: to have the possibility of being and knowing love in any moment, especially in the moments when choosing anger and violence would be the easy (and socially-subscribed) way out.

As David Bowie and Queen so eloquently say in "Under Pressure":
'Cause love's such an old-fashion word
And love dares you to care for
the people on the edge of the night
And love dares to you to change your way
of caring about ourselves

Kate Price
Program Associate
Jean Baker Miller Training Institute
Wellesley Centers for Women

Thanks Kate, for being a guest blogger today!

Cheering you all on in your work,

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Thank you for being my mentor!

Today is national Thank Your Mentor Day, part of National Mentoring Month.

I invite you to send this post to your mentors as a way to say THANK YOU!

For more ideas about honoring your mentor, visit:

Be well!

photo by HLS

Friday, January 21, 2011

Saturday morning video -- the dissertation defense

Hi All,

This should give you a laugh and some good energy, before you begin your weekend school work.

Cheering for you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Improve your group process

A recent study at Carnegie Mellon revealed the value of group intelligence as well as some information on how to improve your group's effectiveness:

Surprisingly to Dr. Woolley, the average IQ of a group had almost no impact on its collective intelligence. It also didn't matter whether a group had one high-IQ individual.

There were three factors that did make a difference, though.

One was the social sensitivity of group members -- how much they paid attention to each other and asked questions.

The second was turn-taking. Groups that shared the floor had much better results. "When you had someone really dominating the conversations in these groups, the group did not perform well," she said.

Finally, in general, the more women in a group, the smarter it was.

As they analyzed that result, she said, it didn't mean the women had higher IQs than the men, but that they were more socially sensitive and less likely to dominate discussions.

Full article:
"Groups produce collective intelligence, study says"

Be well!

Sunday, January 16, 2011

Writing about worries, eases anxiety

This from the University of Chicago:

Students can combat test anxiety and improve performance by writing about their worries immediately before the exam begins, according to a University of Chicago study published in the journal Science.

Researchers found that students who were prone to test anxiety improved their high–stakes test scores by nearly one grade point after they were given 10 minutes to write about what was causing them fear, according to the article, “Writing about Testing Boosts Exam Performance in the Classroom.” The article appears in the Jan. 14 issue of Science and is based on research supported by the National Science Foundation.

The writing exercise allowed students to unload their anxieties before taking the test and accordingly freed up brainpower needed to complete the test successfully — brainpower that is normally occupied by worries about the test, explained the study’s senior author, Sian Beilock, an associate professor in psychology at the University.

For full article, click here

If your instructor doesn't provide this time for you, go to the classroom or somewhere quiet, before your test, and try this on your own. I also wonder if it would work for other anxiety-producing situations like job interviews, presentations, etc. Seems worth a try!

Cheering you on in your work,


Wednesday, January 12, 2011

Attention creates energy

I've been reviewing a wonderful book "Energize Your Workplace: How to Create and Sustain High-Quality Connections at Work" by Jane Dutton, (Jossey-Bass, 2003). I was looking over highlighted sections, wondering how it might relate to students involved in group projects. The following passage caught my attention:

"When two people at work deliberately direct attention toward each other and away from other possible distractions, they activate a sense of mutual connection that energizes both people."

This quote made me wonder how we energize, or de-energize each other in dyads and group projects, based on our attention. Consider that if you and your colleagues put down your cell phones and email, and really focus with each other during group meetings, you may increase your effectiveness, efficiency, and the quality of your work. Thoughts?

Interestingly enough... Indira Nair, who I mentioned in my last post, said in an interview about mentoring "It's not about making time, it's about making attention."

Have a good day.

Sunday, January 9, 2011

The Art of Mentoring - interview with Indira Nair, PhD

January is National Mentoring Month. I invite you to hear the words of one of my mentors, Dr. Indira Nair, vice provost emerita at Carnegie Mellon. I interviewed Indira for a new podcast series that I have just launched, "The Art of Relational Practice."

You can access the podcast at the website below or by going to iTunes and searching for "Harriet Schwartz".

Indira is wise and insightful... if you are engaged in mentoring -- either as a mentor or a protege -- take a listen. And learn.

Cheering you on in your work!

Thursday, January 6, 2011

Ten Tips for Better Writing

Ten Tips for Better Writing from Life Hacker.

These tips are not specific to academic writing, however I think they could be helpful. Take a look. Do you already use any of these strategies? If not, I encourage you to select one that sounds like it might improve your process, and give it a try for a month. Let us know how it goes.

Cheering you on!

Monday, January 3, 2011

Back from break! What are you looking forward to?

Hi All,

Hope that you had good holidays and a wonderful break!

I think that as we head back into another semester, sometimes we tend to get quickly overwhelmed with knowing how much energy it takes to get going again and we slip into an anxious state about the work ahead. Let's flip that around and consider this question:

What are you looking forward to as the semester starts? A particular class? Seeing a teacher or advisor? Reconnecting with classmates? Exploring a research question that interests you?

Take a moment and consider -- what are you looking forward to? I invite you to share your response in the comment section below.

Welcome to 2011!

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