Publication Date: January 30th, 2018
Rating: 4 ¼ Stars
I chose this book because it reminded me of my senior seminar class, Positive Psychology in the Workplace. As an accounting and business undergraduate major I had no business enrolling in a positive psychology class, and found myself surrounded by senior Psych majors. However, this class turned out to be a FAVORITE. I wholeheartedly believe a positive psych class should be required of ALL majors, because no matter your background you will inevitably find yourself in the workforce, alongside coworkers you won’t always enjoy, and in situations you won’t be able to control, surrounded by environments that breed stress. But the methods, strategies and research developed by top positive psychologist, which were taught to me in this class, and again in Big Potential, will be a tool that I wield again and again.
“The average age of being diagnosed with depression in 1978 was twenty-nine. In 2009, the average age was fourteen and a half. Over the past decade, depression rates for adults have doubled, as have hospitalization for attempted suicide for children as young as eight years old.”
This statistic, found on page 22, is staggering, but even more frightening it is unsurprising. With the creation of social media, bullying has only increased. Lately, the news seems fraught with stories of violence, bullying and underage deaths which support the findings above. As a graduate of Harvard, Shawn Achor witnessed (and experienced) the depression that comes from no longer being the superstar students once were in high school. Not to mention the me, me, me, individualistic ideals breed in the traditional workplace. These feelings combined with the constant barrage of negative certainly play a strong role in the statistics cited above.
“The decades-long study in Framingham, Massachusetts, has revealed powerful findings about the relationship between social connections and our cardiovascular health. While the results of their research are far too wide-reaching and complex to fully address here, the main takeaway I had from that meeting was that they found having healthy individuals in our community or network actually increase the chances that we ourselves will be healthier.” (p.40)
Literally put, having friends and meaningful social connections helps your physical health. Get off Facebook or Instagram, surround yourself with positively health conscious friends and in turn stimulate happiness, healthiness and prosperity (okay the prosperity is just assumed).
“Given how contagious negativity is, surrounding yourself with optimists is like giving yourself a flu shot against stress and apathy.”
2017-2018 brought with it the most flu caused deaths in as long as I’ve been alive. For this reason, the quote above from page 73 stuck out to me. Aligned with the cardiovascular research, this point hammers home the importance in who you surround yourself with as it has a direct effect on your health. Shed the negative people like you hope to shed your winter weight, they aren’t good for you, so protect yourself and your health.
“The brilliant Amy Wrzesniewski, professor of organizational behavior at Yale University’s School of Management, has dedicated much of her research to expanding meaning in our work. According to her research, people view their occupations in one of three ways: as a job, a career, or a calling. A job is merely something to endure in order to get a salary. A career is work that gives you prestige or position within society. A calling is work that you view as integral to your identity and meaning in life, an expression of who you are that gives you a feeling of fulfillment and meaning.” (p. 109)
This was not my first time reading these specific descriptions surrounding our work as it relates to job, career and calling. Unsurprisingly in my positive psychology in the workplace we discussed these findings. When I first came across these three work descriptors (job, career and calling), I was working for a large company, in a dull workplace, with people that had been in their roles for many, many years. I asked them each how they would define their current position, given the definitions presented above, and EVERY SINGLE ONE said they viewed their work as just a job…that’s when I knew it may be time to start looking for a new job, and more positive surroundings.
Defining your work in one of these three categories requires some serious self-reflection. I was fortunate to realize quickly in my career that I needed to find something more than just a job. Spending much of your day in a role you defined as “merely something to endure in order to get a salary” was not only going to depress me, but cause strains on my marriage and personal relationships outside of work. Reflecting on the positions I’d had that didn’t feel like a job, no matter how menial or what my age was at the time of employment, allowed me to focus my career search more adequately.
“One of the most common mistakes I see people make, [is] with praise: giving such compliments as ‘Your report was better than Jack’s’ or ‘You’re the smartest person in the room’ or ‘You were the best player out there on the field.’ Why? Because what you are actually doing is comparing not praising. You are attempting to prop people up by kicking others down!” (p. 120)
This may be my biggest take away from this book. Having been a competitive athlete through the collegiate level I am extremely guilty of providing others with comparison praise. In banking, this type of praise is ingrained in us, our success is literally measured on how well EACH of us individually grew the overall loan or deposit balances and how well we compared via benchmarks to our competitors. It starts from the time we are born, but we are past due, the “at least you were better than that guy” mentality needs to be wiped away. Comparison praise plants the seed of self-doubt that feeds into our individualistic society.
“Dr. Seligman stated these wise words: ‘Action is not driven by the past, but pulled by the future.’” (p. 199)
Ultimately, the act of determining your future, whether it be by setting goals for yourself or the dreams of others, propels you, your energy and your motivation forward. In summation, readers must continue to strive for the goals they’ve set, using the positive techniques, strategies and insight given to them by Shawn Achor in Big Potential to pull them towards their bright, bright futures.
*Disclaimer: a copy of this book was provided by Blogging for Books in exchange for an honest review.