The annual Student Affairs “Renewal” January 4-5 provided professional staff opportunities to deepen practices with “The Speed of Trust” and work with consultant, Glenda Fontenot, from Franklin-Covey Leadership. Glenda’s resume is stellar; she primarily works/coaches CEO’s in the Houston area. Although she rarely travels for Franklin-Covey, Glenda agreed several years ago to work with us because she’s a Louisianan, loves New Orleans and her values align with Loyola. She assists us immeasurably on our path to a greater “Speed of Trust.” Before our “Renewal” she asked us to assess ourselves on a continuum of 1-5, with 1 being not strong and 5 being very strong relating where we believed we were living the Four Cores of Credibility—Integrity, Intent, Capabilities, and Results. She asked us to consider typical behaviors in the four core areas that supported our self-ratings. Later in our “Renewal” we had the opportunity to share, in small groups, ways in which we practiced these Cores well, and areas we’d like to strengthen.
Her timing, the beginning of January, coincided with the setting of New Year’s resolutions—now 3 weeks later—for some the end of those resolutions have already come to pass. I began my welcome remarks for the “Renewal” centered on setting New Year’s resolutions and/or personal goals with our “strengths” at the center, and over-focusing on our weaknesses. It’s not that we ignore our weaknesses; it is simply that we choose to strengthen our natural skills and talents. It’s all about where we put our attention.
At the same time, we recognize that often our strengths on “over-load” need to be calibrated. This is our challenge: calibrating our strengths. Recognition of the need for calibrating our strengths is a sign in Franklin-Covey lingo: “Think Win-Win. We have the ability to have the integrity of sticking with true feelings and values, simultaneously the mature courage of sharing those feelings and values and too, having the consideration of accepting others feelings and values. This leads to the belief that there is plenty for everyone. Many people think in terms of either/or: either you’re nice or you’re tough. Win-win requires that you be both. It is a balancing act between courage and consideration. To go for win-win, you not only have to be empathic, but you also have to be confident. You not only have to be considerate and sensitive, you also have to be brave. To do that—to achieve that balance between courage and consideration—is the essence of real maturity and is fundamental to win-win.”
This underscores our need to recognize the importance positivity plays in our spiritual, mental and physical lives; the ability to focus on what we do have not on our lack, in essence, the practice of gratitude.
Positive psychology is defined as the “scientific study of what makes life most worth living. It is a call for psychological science and practice to be as concerned with strength as with weakness; as interested in building the best things in life as in repairing the worst; and as concerned with making the lives of normal people fulfilling as healing pathology.” (Christopher Peterson) It is my belief that too often we focus our attention on changing the “negatives” and not reinforcing the “positives.” Strength-based learning is predicated on improvements coming from exercising our natural skills and talents developing versus attempting to correct deficiencies.
New Year’s resolutions and/or personal goal setting must be win-win. Quit beating up yourself with thoughts “that you aren’t enough.” Begin with the end in mind: I am enough and begin setting (or re-setting) resolutions with a positive mental attitude, knowing the ultimate goal: a life most worth living.