Skip to content →

Tag: leadership in hard times

The deep challenge for an ethical positive psychologist

.  .  .  this is all, this is perfect, this is it .  .  .

Words from my friend Anand Raj .  .  .

I had a great sense of relief when I read those words.  But in other times and other places these words would have driven me to suicide.  They would have heightened my panic.  I found the place unacceptable and any conversation I had with anyone needed to begin from that sentiment.

Positive psychology and despair

Because I’ve had these soul-destroying moments in past lives, I have deep doubts about some aspects of positive psychology.

I suspect the best that a positive psychologist can do when someone is deeply miserable is to AVOID theorizing.

I suspect our theory is little more than our distaste for someone else’s misery.  So our garrulous ways add to the alienation and horror felt by our companion.  And thus, is unethical if not immoral.

We need to walk-the-talk and keep the conversation on every aspect of the situation that is positive.   Gradually, we might be able to help a person out of their dark place.

Leading when life is dark

And when life is dark for us too, maybe the best we can do is to exercise leadership.

It is not helpful, IMHO, to deny that we are in a dark place.  We need to walk-the-talk, pay active attention to real threats, and take active steps to protect ourselves.  We need to focus on positive aspects – not to cheer people up but because of the genuine merits of those things – and highlight whatever is under our control.

From that appreciation, we may be able to move forward.

But leadership must be active and sincere – even from a psychologist working for money.  It’s not enough to talk about the people we lead.  We must share the journey.

The post I had planned for this morning is more cheerful.  I’ll post that this evening!

Leave a Comment

Poetry of hope for hard times

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.

Gwendolyn Brooks

One of the hardest concepts to grasp, I think, is that there is a time for everything under the sun.  But, are we supposed to enjoy tragedy?  Are we supposed to accept injustice?

Seasons at least come and go.  Some bad times are more protracted and we are trapped in waiting.  Some people are born into bad circumstances, or find themselves there with little possibility of exiting.

I really loathe the expression “glass half full”.   I think it often means “I’m alright Jack”, and when it does, it is aggressive.  It is denying someone the legitmacy of  their own experience.

That said, when it is our turn to be caught in bad situations, do we really want to wallow?

Understand the whirlwind

I’ve seen a lot of writing, here and there, that we are abandoning, at last, a Cartesian view of life – a dualism where we separate mind and body. In bad circumstances, though, I think we need dualism.  We need to see reality for what it is.  We need to say, this is reality as it is unfolding.  It is important to acknowledge reality in all it awfulness, to call it by what it is, and describe it, without any pretence to do otherwise, in its own terms.

It is also important to say that it frightens us, gives us anxiety attacks, humiliates us, and clouds our judgement.

What we must NOT do, is confuse it with ourselves.  We are not our reality.  We simply exist within the reality.

Poetry to mark our times

Obama has commissioned poet, Elizabeth Alexander,  to write a poem for the inauguration, and through the press coverage, introduced us to another American poet, Gwendolyn Brooks.  Her advice for people living in very difficult circumstances says it all.

“Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the whirlwind.”

I couldn’t see any copyright information on this page, so I have copied the poem below.  If I am in breach, please do tell me and I will respond immediately.   Thanks to George Hartley of Ohio University, more of  Gwendolyn Brooks poems can be found on the same page.  Her is the full poem.

The Second Sermon on the Warpland

Gwendolyn Brooks

For Walter Bradford

1.

This is the urgency: Live!
and have your blooming in the noise of the whirlwind.

2.

Salve salvage in the spin.
Endorse the splendor splashes;
stylize the flawed utility;
prop a malign or failing light–
but know the whirlwind is our commonwealth.
Not the easy man, who rides above them all,
not the jumbo brigand,
not the pet bird of poets, that sweetest sonnet,
shall straddle the whirlwind.
Nevertheless, live.

3.

All about are the cold places,
all about are the pushmen and jeopardy, theft–
all about are the stormers and scramblers but
what must our Season be, which starts from Fear?
Live and go out.
Define and
medicate the whirlwind.

4.

The time
cracks into furious flower. Lifts its face
all unashamed. And sways in wicked grace.
Whose half-black hands assemble oranges
is tom-tom hearted
(goes in bearing oranges and boom).
And there are bells for orphans–
and red and shriek and sheen.
A garbageman is dignified
as any diplomat.
Big Bessie’s feet hurt like nobody’s business,
but she stands–bigly–under the unruly scrutiny, stands
in the wild weed.

In the wild weed
she is a citizen,
and is a moment of highest quality; admirable.

It is lonesome, yes. For we are the last of the loud.
Nevertheless, live.

Conduct your blooming in the noise and whip of the
whirlwind.

Enhanced by Zemanta
6 Comments
%d bloggers like this: