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Two Common Attitudes That Sabotage a Leader’s Effectiveness

Two Common Attitudes That Sabotage a Leader’s Effectiveness

No leader begins their journey with the words: “I want to become a leader, so I can feel overwhelmed.” Or, “I want to become a leader because I love feeling exhausted.” Or, “I want to become a leader, so I can lose sleep at night.”

Unfortunately, that’s exactly what happens to most of us.

To followers, leadership frequently looks quite glitzy. It appears to be about authority, power, budgets and making things happen. And while it may involve each of these words, at its essence, it is about giving your authority to others, offering your power to your team (ever heard of empowerment) or dividing the budget for others to use, not you.

Author Simon Sinek said, “The cost of leadership is self-interest.” We lose the right to be selfish.

What Works Against You as a Leader?

There are attitudes that prevent us from flourishing as a servant-leader. When we give into these attitudes, we cease practicing life-giving leadership. They creep into our minds because we’re not ready to be unselfish. After all, we have rights. We’re only human. We can only take so much from these people.

1. Resentment: You begin to regret that you took on this role and begrudge the people around you. You become bitter and harbor hard-feelings about your situation.

2. Entitlement: You begin to feel you deserve perks and benefits for the disadvantages you’ve put up with; you assume others don’t realize how hard you work or sacrifice.

These two attitudes commonly reside together, and they feed off each other. When you feel resentful about something wrong on your team, it breeds a sense of entitlement that you deserve better. When you feel entitled to a perk or a different situation, you often begin to feel resentful that you don’t have it. It’s a vicious cycle.

What Causes Resentment or Entitlement in Leaders?

  • Over-extension for long periods of time.

Your time and energy are taxed, and it becomes the norm in your schedule.

  • Pushing people instead of leading them.

Instead of encouragement and example, you rely on manipulating people to go faster.

  • Personal agendas come before the mission.

You begin working for personal gain and recognition, exploiting others to get ahead.

  • Short-term results are valued over long-term health.

Your decisions target short-term goals at the expense of long-term objectives or health.

  • Fear becomes a primary motivator.

You stop leveraging wisdom or strategy to incentivize folks, but instead you use fear of what may occur if they don’t succeed.

These are all warning signs—and the worst one is, you stop heeding any warning signs.

Four Responses to Resentment and Entitlement for You

1. Note your current anger levels and identify the source.

Negative emotions often begin with anger. What is the source? Do you see this pattern?

  • Anger: I’m not getting my way today.
  • Fear: I won’t get my way tomorrow.
  • Resentment: I didn’t get my way yesterday.

2. Refuse to be a victim of your past.

When you give in to resentment or entitlement, you begin playing the victim card, and that prevents you from staying in control of your life. Isabel Lopez said, “I came to understand that in harboring the anger, the bitterness and resentment towards those that hurt me, I was giving the reins of control over to them.”

3. Replace old memories by creating new ones.

Remembering negative experiences holds you hostage. The quickest way to overcome this and become liberated is by pursuing positive relationships and experiences. It works like habits—you can’t get rid of old ones unless you replace them with new ones.

If love creates butterflies in your stomach,
Resentment creates wasps in your memory.

4. Choose gratitude over any negative emotion you spot.

I have found that focusing on all the good fortune I’ve received, that I didn’t deserve, causes my resentment or entitlement to evaporate. Gratitude turns what we have into enough. And it compounds. Zig Ziglar said, “Gratitude is the healthiest of all human emotions. The more you express gratitude for what you have, the more like you’ll have even more to express gratitude for.”

Today’s youngest generation should be observing leaders who refuse to let resentment and entitlement master them. Let’s be leaders worth following.

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Why Tough Grading Teachers Produce Better Learners in the End

Why Tough Grading Teachers Produce Better Learners in the End

This may not surprise you, but a new study found that students perform better on standardized tests each year when their teachers are tough graders—and argues that when students have the mindset that says “everybody gets a gold star,” it does “more damage than good.”

The report, published by the Thomas B. Fordham Institute, found this effect holds true for students across ethnic groups, gender, socioeconomic makeup or prior academic background. What’s more, the study also found evidence of long-term learning gains for students.

Truth be told, however, most students don’t love that demanding teacher or the one that grades tough on papers or exams. In fact, they push back.

Because of this, many teachers cave to students’ and parents’ pressure to ease up a little. According to one report, “Fordham staff interviewed middle and high school teachers across the country about their views on grading and found that many teachers said they felt pressure from administrators, parents, or the students themselves to award higher grades. In the short run, that makes people’s lives easier,” the authors said. “In the long run, that really hurts students. It gives them a false sense of security; it sets them up for failure or at least lower performance down the road.”

But Doesn’t Tough Grading Hurt Students Emotionally?

Many parents today might argue that their kids are already stressed out enough with A.P. classes, college applications and peer pressure to perform academically. They fear a tough grader just makes things worse. Yet, the data shows that’s just not true.

Professor Seth Gershenson, from American University, said “his study found ‘zero evidence’ that high grading standards hurt students. There is no effect on high school graduation, although this might be because students who are taking Algebra 1 in 8th or 9th grade are already unlikely to drop out. The study also found some evidence that having a teacher with higher grading standards can slightly increase students’ intent to attend a four-year college or university,” according to EdWeek.

That contradicts the concern that kids are going to get discouraged by having a realistic grade,” Gershenson said.

The fact is, teachers with the highest grading standards increase their students’ end-of-course scores on standardized tests by 16.9 percent over teachers with a softer grading standard.

So, how can teachers and parents capitalize on this?

The Key: Be a Surgeon Not a Vampire

One of our Habitudes for Life-Giving Leaders might inform how this works for students. I believe we can offer grades and provide feedback in one of two ways:

  1. A Vampire—sneaks up on unsuspecting people, bites them and they never recover. The vampire acts out of his own selfish appetite.
  2. A Surgeon—prepares well for the surgery, lets patients know what’s coming, operates in a well-lit room and only takes out the tumor, instead of operating on everything.

Both of these people draw blood—but it leads to very different outcomes. The vampire operates out of RELIEF, desiring to relieve or satisfy his own appetite. It’s about him and his needs. The surgeon operates out of BELIEF, wanting the very best for his or her patients. Even though there’s a knife involved, the surgery is done with a positive, constructive intent.

My Favorite Surgeon

My teacher in fourth grade was Mrs. Mayo. She was a tough teacher. Early on each semester, she’d review how we would interact with each other and the level of respect we would show to each other and to her; we learned how to ask questions and how to let her know we hadn’t heard her correctly (she didn’t let us say: Huh?). As we learned about math, reading, and science, we also learned how to conduct ourselves in society. I didn’t realize what amazing training I was getting at nine years old.

Because her son, Jody, was my friend, Mrs. Mayo had me over to her home for dinner and fun. Jody and I would play games together, and I was able to watch Mrs. Mayo demonstrate social and emotional learning (SEL) skills off-campus. She managed her home the same as her classroom. She got to know us; she told us she loved us, and she graded tough, but always explained it was because she believed in us and knew when we performed up to our potential. This made me want to please her.

That year, I disobeyed the rules on the playground one day. I joined with some friends in bullying a classmate. Like many 10-year-olds, appearing “cool” to my peers was important to me, so I treated a fellow student cruelly. It happened during recess, but it didn’t take long for Mrs. Mayo to find out about it.

Uh oh.

I discovered quickly I had disappointed her. I was crushed. I felt ashamed. She knew, however, just how to handle the situation. She didn’t want me to wallow in my shame, so she said to me: “Timothy. This was not like you. I know you’re better than what happened on that playground. Am I wrong? Do you think what you did fits who you are?”

“No,” I whispered quietly.

Then, she turned the whole episode on its ear. She said something like:

We’ve learned too much about how to conduct ourselves for this day to ruin it. I know the real you. And I need you to use your influence in this classroom well. Other people look to you; do you realize that? I expect more of you, and I know you can meet those expectations.

Enough said. What a tough but wonderful surgeon.

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Five Steps to Help Students Avoid the Comparison Trap

Five Steps to Help Students Avoid the Comparison Trap

Over the last five years, I’ve heard dozens of authors and speakers talk about the “comparison trap.” I believe it’s because people are not only prone to compare themselves to each other, but social media has exacerbated the problem. The student focus groups we hosted two years ago illustrated this challenge for teens. Here are some of the statements we heard from middle school and high school students:

“I guess I get my self-esteem from how other people react to my Instagram posts. It’s how I know how popular I am at school.”

“I always compete with my friends for ‘likes’ and ‘shares’ and spend a lot of time figuring out how to filter my pics so that I can get more responses than them.”

“For me, FOMO and FOBO are real. When I see what’s online I start comparing myself to those people . . . and when I’m off-line, I imagine what other kids are saying.”

What’s Going on in Our Brains?

“Social comparison theory was first put forth in 1954 by psychologist Leon Festinger, who hypothesized that we make comparisons as a way of evaluating ourselves. At its root, the impulse is connected to the instant judgments we make of other people — a key element of the brain’s social-cognition network that can be traced to the evolutionary need to protect oneself and assess threats,” Rebecca Webber writes in Psychology Today.

In short, we naturally compare ourselves to others, especially when we’re young.

Sadly, the mental health of those who tend to make negative comparisons can be seriously harmed as a result. “When we’re reliant on others for our sense of self, only feeling good if we get positive feedback or markers of status, we’re at risk for depression,” says Mitch Prinstein, a psychologist at the University of North Carolina and the author of Popular: The Power of Likeability in a Status-Obsessed World.

Yet this is exactly what’s happening to millions of kids in Generation Z. When you and I were teens, we struggled with comparisons, but they diminished when we got home from school. Today, kids with smartphones continue to struggle because the comparisons stay with them.

“Social rewards are basically the activation of dopamine within the brain when we feel we’re getting attention or positive feedback from peers,” Prinstein explains. “It can also come from comparing yourself to others, especially highly valued others, and seeing you agree with them, they agree with you, or that you’re similar to them. It activates parts of the brain not unlike the way a drug does, which may be why adolescents become truly addicted to social media.”

But the addiction can be a trap.

Five Steps to Empower Students to Break Free from a Comparison Trap

There is no easy answer to this natural tendency, so educators and parents must understand the battle will be won overtime, not overnight. Let me suggest five steps to take.

1. Talk about what’s not being posted.

When your students fall into comparison traps after viewing social media posts, sit down and discuss the “rest of the story.” Remind them of the not-so-glitzy parts of their friends’ lives (which are never highlighted) and of the incredible benefits and blessings your kids enjoy that seem distant and fuzzy in that moment. Comparison traps are sinister in that they’re seldom realistic nor are they accurate depictions of real life.

2. Remind your students of their unique strengths.

When I was a kid, I played little league baseball, and I was average at best. My mom would always encourage me after each game, but when she could tell I was comparing my baseball skills to others, she’d say, “Remember how good at art you are. You won that art contest last month!” It sounds cliché, but her words restored perspective to me when I saw peers with different, superior skill sets. We’d focus on what I did better than most of my fellow students, which was a comfort to me.

3. Teach your students to not take the bait.

We often call headlines, “clickbait.” But that’s not the only bait thrown into cyberspace. Whenever a friend talks about their “best vacation ever” or the perfect dinner date they just enjoyed, remind your kids it’s likely hyperbole. Teens usually over-speak on social media because it’s crowded with noise. They all want to be heard, so they exaggerate. They fail to show their daily, boring routines. Discuss this reality.

4. Suggest they “fast” from social media.

Social media platforms can skew what psychologists call our “preferred comparison domains.” This means—when we begin seeing people posting about a certain topic, we can get caught up in it too, forgetting we may not even care about it personally. We do so only because it seems everyone else does. The best antidote for this is to get off of social media for a day or two. Do a “technology fast,” and stop consuming it. Most who do this feel liberated from caring about superficial topics like others do.

5. Mentor them to choose a different scorecard.

Most of the time (certainly not all), students fall into a comparison trap over the wrong stuff — clothes, vacations, parties, restaurants, etc. One of the greatest remedies to the trap is to drop out of that game. Choose to care about more important items, like serving an underserved community or becoming career ready. I know it sounds silly, but the more teens mature, the less they care about childish or adolescent issues. Mature adults usually compare themselves to their former selves and look for improvement. That’s a far more accurate scorecard on personal success.

Most of us who grew up prior to the existence of social media can recall having experienced the same inward drive for peer attention as teenagers. It’s part of a natural process where we cultivate a sense of who we are from how others view us. “That hypervigilance about how others see you is supposed to go away in adulthood,” says Prinstein. “But social media has created this lifelong adolescence. It makes it too easy to keep making comparisons in a very adolescent way.”

Hmmm. Maybe we should all apply the list above.

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How to Lead in Times of Change

How to Lead in Times of Change

As a kid, I vividly remember getting my first cavity. I had never heard of such a thing, but the dentist explained that I had a hole in my tooth’s enamel that needed a filling. If that news wasn’t bad enough, he went on to ask, “Do you think you and your mother can stay a bit longer today, so I can fill it now?”

Not only did I need more work on my teeth, but he wanted to do it right away.

When my mom replied that we couldn’t do it that day, since she had errands to run, the dentist then requested we return as soon as possible to get that cavity filled. “Good grief!” I remember thinking. “What’s the big deal with this cavity? Why is it so important and urgent?”

Was this guy sadistic?

I soon discovered the answer to my question. All dentists know if they don’t fill cavities quickly, bacteria will fill the tooth. In fact, all kinds of wrong stuff enters into the crevice and can cause more problems. In fact, it can be the source of lots of pain.

Dentists don’t want the situation to get worse.

Leaders Are Dentists

The fact is—this image is a vivid picture of good leadership in times of change. When change is taking place, people collect empty spaces in their minds about what’s going on. Call them “mental cavities.” Since things are different, they don’t yet know all the details; a vacuum exists where accurate information and experience once resided. They move from knowing exactly what’s happening to feeling like they know very little about what’s happening. People have holes in their minds or “empty chapters” in their “narrative.”

This is why leaders must over-communicate in times of transition or stress.

Just like a cavity in a tooth, if it isn’t filled with accurate information and truthful narratives, people can become afraid, and wrong narratives can take over. People conjecture; they can get suspicious about the worst-case scenario when they get scared. It’s the fear of the unknown. Have you ever seen what happens during times of change?

  • Rumors pop up.
  • Speculation occurs.
  • Gossip happens.
  • Backbiting can even take place.

Why is this? Because people are human before they are professionals. People can be insecure; they can get scared. They can feel threatened and they can attack in such times. I have noticed:

  1. The larger the cavity — the greater the possibility of inaccurate narratives inside people.
  2. The larger the cavity — the more leaders must over-communicate with their team.

What makes this issue doubly difficult for leaders is that we live in a world saturated with information. Thanks to portable devices and social media — people are receiving as many as 10,000 messages a day. That’s a lot of information. Because humans naturally seek out what psychologists call “confirmation bias” (meaning we look for others to confirm what we already assume to be true), many people may not be storing a truthful narrative inside them. Social media messaging creates an echo chamber where we naturally consume information from others with the same political, social and ideological bias that’s lingering in our minds already.

This simply means we must furnish accurate information for their mental cavities.

Some Practical Tips for Leaders

When communicating with your team during changing times, keep these tips in mind:

  1. People do not need to know everything you know; they need only what is relevant.
  2. People need clarity from you, more than certainty. Tell them when you don’t know.
  3. Transparency earns trust; be truthful about the ups and downs of your changes.
  4. Always communicate with a spirit of belief and optimism about the future.
  5. Always offer them next steps: what can they act on in response to the information.

This idea of “dentists and cavities” is actually a brand, new Habitudes® image. We teach leadership with images and now have a new event to offer you on your campus or in your organization on leading change. It is all about enabling your leadership team to help others navigate the changes going on and to make it to the other side better. This principle is one of nine that we provide on change. Click here to discuss bringing this event to your location.

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Springfield County Office of Economic Development

Springfield County Office of Economic Development

During this week, you will have an opportunity to conduct analysis of the second case study. This case analysis exercise will be completed as an independent work. The objective of the case study analysis is to “take an active role when interpreting the presented problem and discover its meaning” (p. xxv) and practice practical skills while learning about theories, models and concepts of organizational behavior and development.

The case analysis should be between 500 and 750 words, well organized, well written, and formatted in APA 6th (or 7th) style.

Read Case: Where do we begin? Selecting an intervention at the Springfield County Office of Economic Development (pp. 162-167)

Anderson (2018) shares a few tips for analyzing case studies:

  1. Read the entire case first, and resist the temptation to come to early conclusions. Maintain a spirit of inquiry and allow yourself to linger and think deeply about the problem.
  2. Use charts to map out organizational structures and underline key phrases and issues.
  3. Sort through the useful primary information from the unnecessary secondary information. Ask yourself what the client is trying to accomplish, and focus on the core issues and central facts.
  4. Prioritize the most pressing issues, and resist the temptation to comment on, or solve, everything.
  5. When you write a response or an analysis, ask yourself whether you have addressed the central questions or issues of the client/case. Also consider if your analysis is professionally written, clear and well organized. Ensure that the client will understand how you have reached specific conclusions and why you have made certain recommendations.
  6. Use and cite specific data to justify your interpretation and bolster your conclusions.

Outline of your Case Study Report

Cover Page

Title of Your Assignment

Your Name

The Name of your University

Introduction

Identify all the important issues that need to be addressed, including the company’s situation, its strategy, and the significant problems and issues that confront management. Avoid recounting facts and history of the company.

Analysis/Evaluation

Perform an appropriate qualitative or quantitative analysis and evaluation by identifying factors related to employees, teams, groups, managerial competence, and culture as well as those factors related to organization’s strategic success or failure as marketing, productions, or operations. Decide whether the organization has valuable resource strengths and competencies and whether it is capitalizing on them.

Recommendations

Propose a set of recommendations addressing the issues you have identified in the context of various Organizational Behavior and Organizational Development concepts, models and theories. Create 3-5 recommendations addressing some of the issues and problems you identified and analyzed. State how your recommendations will solve the problems you identified. Remember to avoid any recommendation that you would not yourself be willing to do in the future

Action Plan

Propose an action plan addressing the issues you have identified in the context of OB and OD concepts, models or theories. Simply, offer a definite agenda for action, stipulating a timetable and sequence for initiating actions, indicating priorities, and suggesting who should be responsible for doing what.

Conclusions

In one paragraph, restate the aim of this assignment and summarize the main points you discussed. If you wish, you may propose future research in the context of the analyzed case study.

References1 hour agoREQUIREMENTS

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Research:Data Collection and Analysis

Research:Data Collection and Analysis

Part V “Phase 2 Data Collection/Analysis – Groups, Teams, Conflict and Negotiation

Designing Interview Questions

  1. Refer to Activity 3 “Data Gathering (Anderson, 2018, p. 315) and read the author’s recommendations for designing effective interview questions. Simply, the interview questions should:
  2. Be nonjudgmental. That is, they should not presume a particular response or make assumptions in the question, leading the interviewee to a desired position.
  3. Be phrased as open ended, allowing the respondent maximum flexibility in answering what is important to him or her.
  4. Follow up to seek additional detail where necessary, asking the interviewee to reflect on a particular experience if he or she shares general observations, for example.”
  5. Read Chapters 10-11 in Konopaske et al. (2018)
  6. Create a set of interview questions related to this week’s themes on groups, teams, conflict, and negotiation.

Interview 3: “Groups, Teams, Conflict, and Negotiation”

  1. Conduct your third interview by gaining insights into organizational practices related to work groups, teams, managing conflict, and negotiation tactics.
  2. Based on your interview with the manager, provide a preliminary diagnosis of the exiting norms relative to working in groups, developing various types of teams, managing conflict, and utilizing negotiation tactics.
  3. What evidence supports the manager’s explanation? Which theories, models, or concepts best explain what you observed during your interview this week? How do team and group work practices inform the organizational diagnosis you conducted so far? How effective is the organization in managing conflict among individuals or groups?
  4. Draft 1-2 culturally competent recommendations for change incorporating this week’s Organizational Behavior concepts (e.g., high-performing teams, groups, and conflict).
  5. What multicultural and international issues would need to be considered in the context of work teams and managing conflict, if this organization expanded globally?

This section will be between 500-650 words in length and will be formatted in APA (6th or 7th formatting) style, including double-spaced, 12-pt font, in-text citation and references at the end of the paper (3-5 references).1 hour agoREQUIREMENTS

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Climate Crisis Term Paper

Climate Crisis Term Paper

TopicsThe Climate Crisis
A.Discuss the social, economic, ethical and political challenges related to the climate crisis. To what degree will dealing with the climate crisis require new business and policy models? Will there be economic sacrifices, or even economic opportunities, and to what degree will they balance each other out? How can political support for change be achieved?

Resource that have to be in the full paper:

https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/the-false-choice-between-economic-growth-and-combatting-climate-change
https://link.springer.com/article/10.1007/s10584-018-2162-x
https://briarpatchmagazine.com/articles/view/the-leftists-case-against-the-carbon-tax

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Experiment on Engineering

Experiment on Engineering

The experiment conducted was the small
wind tunnel lift and drag experiment. In this experiment, the drag and lift
coefficient were recorded as part of our data collection. It is important to
note that a small wing was used in part of the experiment conducted. In the
experiment, the angles were changed within each recorded data set. After
testing different angles, a stall angle was determined to be 12 degrees. In
confirming the stall angle, extra data was recorded to ensure the value was
correct. Angles were taken at increments of 2 degrees. The readings complied
with the main goal of achieving a stalling angle.

The purpose of this experiment was to
measure the lift and drag of a wing. A small wind tunnel with a wing was
utilized to gather lift and drag coefficients. Thus, there are several factors
that are dependent on the wing’s position/angle. There will be different
affects at different angles. This can be applicable to many objects in modern
day such as aircrafts or UAVs. Lift is a big factor in making an aircraft take
off or land. Drag creates a downforce that will push an object down. The three
variables of cross section, air speed and angle of attack are vital in the
application of lift and drag. The experiment conducted was applicable with a
small wing. The angle of the angle was able to changed from a negative to
positive coordinate of degrees to observe stalling angle. As the angle
increases, the lift begins to decrease and stalling will be achieved.

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Four Steps to Helping Students Make Good Decisions

Four Steps to Helping Students Make Good Decisions

Alex is a college student I enjoyed a coffee with recently. Our discussion revolved around all the options he was staring with next semester, including courses and jobs, clubs and other extra-curricular activities. Like so many others, Alex is suffering from “decision fatigue.” It’s the experience of being worn down by making lots of choices in a short amount of time.

In a Times Magazine article “Do You Suffer From Decision Fatigue?” John Tierney explains how having to make a series of decisions can take a toll on any of us:

“Decision fatigue helps explain why ordinarily sensible people get angry at colleagues and families, splurge on clothes, buy junk food at the supermarket and can’t resist the dealer’s offer to rustproof their new car. No matter how rational and high-minded you try to be, you can’t make decision after decision without paying a biological price. It’s different from ordinary physical fatigue — you’re not consciously aware of being tired — but you’re low on mental energy. The more choices you make throughout the day, the harder each one becomes for your brain, and eventually it looks for shortcuts, usually in either of two very different ways. One shortcut is to become reckless: to act impulsively instead of expending the energy to first think through the consequences. (Sure, tweet that photo! What could go wrong?) The other shortcut is the ultimate energy saver: do nothing.” 

Four Stops on the Path

When faced with many decisions, we—and our students—can suffer from this syndrome. And Tierney is correct in his explanation. In such times, our brains look for shortcuts to an acceptable decision. We take the shortest path to the answer; after all, we’re tired.  So, I began to reflect on the “path” that intentional people tend to take toward a decision.

For this path to be memorable, I want you to imagine you’re walking through a typical town. As you journey through it, you’re looking for a “good decision.” In fact, you’re on a hunt. Those who are intentional usually make four stops in route to their decision:

1. First stop is our Memory Bank.
We search past experiences for guidance today.

We make many deposits in this bank, every day, so making a withdraw is usually our first stop. Because our memory banks store lots of past experiences we search for a previous deposit that will inform our current decision.

2. Second stop is the General Store.
We search what others have said for insights.

If we can’t find any memories to help us, our next stop is the General Store, where we search the shelves of a myriad of insights others have shared, either in a book, an article or in a Google search, for ideas to guide us.

3. Third stop is a Group of Friends.
We search the brains of those closest to us.

If we can’t find something relevant in the General Store, our next stop is a group of friends we spot chatting on the street corner. They’re close enough to approach, and they know us, so inquiring of them makes good sense.

4. Fourth stop is Wisdom Reservoir.
We search the depths of this reservoir for ideas.

Finally, if we’re still paralyzed about making a decision, Wisdom Reservoir is often the ultimate spot to find answers. Fishing in this reservoir is always fruitful, though it may take a while to catch something helpful. We must be patient translators.

In Wisdom Reservoir, there are timeless, universal principles under its depths; principles that may have been around for centuries: quotes, tips, proverbs, fables, sayings, and scriptures. If we’re smart, we will fish for them, and learn how to translate their wisdom to our current situation. I am a huge fan of “principle-centered living.”

This is exactly what we endeavored to compile in Habitudes: Images That Form Leadership Habits and Attitudes. Beginning in 2003, I began sorting and assembling what I felt were the most important and relevant truths young people need to learn, as they lead themselves and as they influence others. Rivers or Floods, Tollbooths or Roadblocks, Chess and Checkers,  the Starving Baker, Quarterbacks or Referees are each metaphors (images) that teach a timeless wisdom principle Millennials and Generation Z need today. We have over 130 of them in nine courses—ready to be discussed and digested, so good decisions can be made.

We must be careful to insert the timeless into the timely context of our lives today.

To check out a sample of Habitudes, click here.

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Parents: Why You Need to Stop Doing Your Kid’s Work

Parents: Why You Need to Stop Doing Your Kid’s Work

The latest example of the new way parents view their children just occurred. It illustrates our shift from equipping our youth to cope with adversity, to seeking ways to reduce the adversity. Instead of believing they’re strong enough to face tough times, we look outward for an answer.

It happened the week following Kobe Bryant’s tragic helicopter crash, killing all nine people on board. I was in disbelief over this horrible accident but had no idea how parents would react. One high school principal told me he received several phone calls the next day asking if he would have extra counselors on campus to manage the kids’ grief. Another parent assumed the students should get some time off.

Wow. I think that may just be a bit melodramatic.

The Subtle and Sinister Shift

Millions of parents see their children becoming more and more stressed over the grind of everyday life. These kids feel the pressure of scoring high on standardized tests, making the cut for the soccer team, keeping grades up and an overwhelming schedule filled with practices for travel ball, gymnastics, karate, piano — you name it. Often, compassionate mothers or fathers feel they must relieve stress by simply doing some of these things for their children. I’ve seen this take shape in several ways:

On several occasions, I’ve walked into a Starbucks to grab a coffee and seen parents doing homework for their children.

On other occasions, I’ve witnessed science projects created by parents who worked all night so their child could impress the judges at a science fair.

Still, other parents will simply offer money whenever their children ask for it, requiring no household chores or responsibility to the family.

This reaction to our kids assumes they are “maxed out” and do not have the grit or resilience to handle life’s pressures. So, we do the work for them.

Why Do We Do This?

We do this because we look with empathy at our children who appear so anxious over everything. We intervene in ways that make sense at the time, but over the long haul, they actually stunt the development of the child. In short, the best answer is rarely to do the work for them.

When we solve their problems this way we create a pattern that’s not sustainable and does not prepare them for the life that awaits them. Relieving stress and anxiety through being their substitute is not the answer, at least not long term.

There’s science behind my logic. Our brains contain neural pathways, connections formed by axons, that signal to us what we should do. They represent circuitry, not unlike a rut in a dirt road that governs the flow of water moving down the road. When we choose a pattern over several weeks or months, that circuitry signals a new norm. It’s often how new habits take shape in our life. We get an automatic signal for what to do.

When parents feel their kids are too stressed to fulfill their normal obligations, they may naturally begin to complete that stressful work for them, but this unwittingly forms a neural pathway that conditions the child to always need others to do tasks for them. Or at least it feels that way. Next, they begin to feel entitled to someone doing things for them all the time and can end up at an adult age, but without adult coping skills to handle hard work. One day, they’ll finish school, and they may be unready for work that a supervisor refuses to do for them. So—what can we do?

Steps We Can Take

  1. Begin with belief. Kids may naturally assume they can’t work harder when in reality they have far more potential than they see. Speak words of belief about their capabilities.
  2. Help them say “no.” Sometimes, kids become overwhelmed because they’ve said yes to too many options. They’re overcommitted. Creating margin offers peace of mind.
  3. Give them regular chores. “If kids aren’t doing the dishes, it means someone else is doing that for them,” Stanford Dean Julie Lythcott-Haims says. Work helps build grit.
  4. Maintain high expectations. The best parents don’t reduce expectations, knowing that relays a message of disbelief to kids. Encourage them and keep high standards.
  5. Model social skills. Parents who do this actually help kids maintain perspective on a busy schedule. Talk over the “to-do list,” and maintain level emotions. It will catch on.
  6. Value effort over avoiding failure. It’s huge to affirm effort over grades or scores. Effort is in their control; outcomes often aren’t. Foster a growth mindset vs. fixed mindset.
  7. Help them limit their social media use. I’ve said it before—less than two hours on social media means kids are less vulnerable to anxiety each day. Over two hours leads to anxiety.
  8. Ask them how you can support them. Find ways to support them without doing work for them. Encouragement, snacks, tutors, etc. can be ways to help in a healthy way.
  9. Remind them of the big picture. Kids can get lost and overwhelmed in the here and now. Grit goes up when you remind them of long-term goals and a larger perspective.

Tyler Yaken serves on our leadership team at Growing Leaders. He and his wife Anna have an 18-month-old son named Wilson. This little toddler is already doing age-appropriate chores around the house, like carrying his diaper to the Diaper Genie, wiping down his place setting after a meal and closing the dishwasher door and pressing the start button. They are wise parents who simply want Wilson to grow up knowing he’s part of a family, and each member plays a role in serving each other. They all have work to do to help each other out.

Let’s not do it for them.

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