Didn’t win the lottery? Here’s a jackpot for you…

I had fun asking colleagues and friends what they would do if they won the $1.6 billion lottery. While some said that they would show up to work the next day just to gloat, others said that they would take some time off to adjust to their new status of being wealthy and then return to work. Each person included some statement about their job.

turn the tide book coverIf you did not have the winning number, I have a prize for you and it’s better than a consolation prize. If you are employed, this prize can Turn the tide: and help you Rise above toxic, difficult situations in the work place.

This is the apt title of Kathy Obear’s new book, launching January 19. I think Obear’s book can help you have a happier life because you will have a guide to lead you through the minefields of “losing it” or feeling shut down and disrespected, whether in your professional or personal life. If you really want to change the way you respond to others when you are in an untenable situation, you will want to learn about the seven-step process in the “triggering event cycle.”

Learning about The Triggering Event Cycle will help readers understand that the impact of their negative over-reactions do not get erased after one blows off steam and moves on. Negative over-reactions can be the trigger or stimulus for more dysfunction in the workplace or in personal relationships in the future because we get into a cycle that will demand special effort to change course. The author’s suggestions about how to find the off-ramps are particularly helpful.

There is much to like and praise in this book. Vignettes of examples of the kinds of issues that arise in work situations makes the advice easily understood and remembered. The problems experienced by Kerry (fictional or pseudonym) at the beginning of the book are so extreme, just reading about her problems could make most of us realize that our own situation is not so bad after all.

The encouragement the author gives from the beginning is comforting and puts the reader in a relaxed and receptive mood to learn. I also like that there is a guide to how to use this book. If one needs advice right away, there is a chapter for what might be “first-aid,” and then there is the sound advice of reading the entire book and doing the exercises. With this much in the opening, I was eager to get started! And, I kid you not when I tell you that I read the book straight through, beginning to end, because it captured my interest and became my priority.

In reading the book, the author’s voice in sharing her personal experiences makes the reader feel as if there is one-on-one coaching and the author really understands what I, the reader, am experiencing because she has experienced something similar or has worked with others who experienced similar reactions.

Because so many have respect for Obear and the work she does, readers will be encouraged when they read that she, too, has had to learn how to deal with triggering events and how to take charge of her reactions.

The vignettes of workplace situations are excellent in defining new concepts. Bringing the vignette of Kerry, who was described at the beginning of the book, back in the concluding section of the book, is an excellent way to demonstrate how the tools for effectively responding could be used. The practical usage of the tools is what readers will appreciate.

Your jackpot and lottery is below:

REGISTER TO DOWNLOAD MY BOOK FOR FREE ON JANUARY 19th!!

My new book, TURN THE TIDE: Rise Above Toxic, Difficult Situations in the Workplace, will be featured at the BOOK LAUNCH PARTY/webcast along with several others publishing with Difference Press on January 19th at 12:30pm ET!

Sign up, it’s free and even if you can’t listen in live, you’ll get an email with links to all the recordings AND the books to download! AND access to free offers from authors including my new 10-minute video, “What is a Triggering Event?” and the Companion Discussion Guide to lead Lunch & Learns and trainings in your organization!!! 

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Register at: www.theauthorincubator.com/livefromtheauthorcastle


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Oh and they are giving away lots of cool prizes to celebrate the book launches!


Hope to see you there!!
Kathy Obear

Copyright © 2016 Kathy Obear Life Coach, All rights reserved.
You signed up for updates from Kathy Obear on her book launch – “When workplace situations explode: Tools to respond when your buttons get pushed!”

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What the Sage Learned

It’s the morning after a few days as “Sage in Residence” at California State University Channel Islands (CSUCI). I went to the University to follow the advice of Yoda, the wise one in Star Wars, and “pass on what I have learned.” What I want to pass on now are a few things I learned from the visit. I met a kaleidoscope of talented people during my visit and the University surrounded by mountains and verdant fields, despite the drought, is a gold mine for students of student affairs.

I learned that if you are the founding president, Dr. Richard Rush, and the founding vice president, Dr. Wm. Gregory Sawyer, you have an opportunity to create a culture of learning and love by the careful selection of faculty, staff, and administrators for positions throughout the University. You also have the obligation to create an ethos of intellectual curiosity and motivation to acquire more learning. I think these leaders took advantage of their opportunity and satisfied their obligation.

We’ve heard the advice of “managing while walking around.” At CSUCI, I learned that Dr. Sawyer, also the vice president for student affairs, manages by telling stories. He is the consummate story-teller and his staff affectionately number his stories as they represent particular lessons learned, expectations, and aspirations.

During my time in this academic community, I felt the respect and love throughout the University. Everyone knows one another and everyone has a story that brings a smile or laugh. Dr. Sawyer has a difficult time traversing the campus because he has connections on a personal level with everyone he meets and students and staff refer to him as a “rock star.” What he wants is for his student affairs staff to be and to realize that they are rock stars. He encourages their aspirations, supports their professional development and further education, and celebrates all of their successes.

Students chose the University for the same feeling that I experienced while on campus. They said that their faculty and staff were responsive from their first contact with the University and faculty and staff were not only supportive, they were invested in students’ success. Surely, CSUCI is building an alumni base that will give back to the University that gave so much to them.

Three take-aways that I recommend to other student affairs communities are these:

  1. As vice president, be visible and forge strong connections with students especially during this time of student activism. This will position you to work with students to meet needs and demands continuously rather than reacting to ultimatums in a manner that won’t satisfy regardless of what you do.
  2. Take assessment of the impact of the contributions student affairs makes to the mission of the University seriously and make it a priority.
  3. Reveal what is in the secret box of student affairs by creating external committees composed of representatives from every area of the college or university to review the results of your plans and learning outcomes and solicit their feedback.

If one is on the campus or in communications with students, faculty, or staff from CSUCI, you will understand why the division of student affairs has received recognition as one of the Most Promising Places to Work.

Demonstrating “The Confidence Effect” for Students

I just read The Confidence Effect-Every Woman’s Guide to the Attitude That Attracts Success by Grace Killelea. The book is an easy and quick read written in a conversational tone with anecdotes from the author’s own experiences as well as examples from other successful women. This book reinforces what other authors of leadership books have written about getting ahead. However, Killelea’s presentation style makes it easy to remember her advice with techniques such as the “4 Rs of Success” and the “IPO of Networking. ”

Though the target audience for the book is women, I recommend it for faculty, Student Affairs professionals, and all staff at colleges and universities. Why? Because while students say that their parents are their heroes, you are their role models. If you exhibit the twin goals for success that Killelea recommends—confidence and competence, students will be watching and some will be inspired to find their own paths to confidence and competence.

In addition to acquiring helpful tips on building confidence, there are some other gems that I think might resonate. For example, newer professionals in higher education or other careers often agonize over how long to remain in a position that might not be all that they would like it to be. As a role model for students and for your own success, you might want to heed Killelea’s advice:

The lane you’re traveling in right now might not be ideal; it may be full of challenges, potholes, conflicts, and politics, but the way out of it is through it. Don’t suddenly jump lanes and abandon the track before it’s appropriate to do so.

The author suggests questions to ask to help know when to switch lanes. These are the kinds of questions you will want to have handy when students seek your advice and counsel regarding their career goals. In building your own confidence through a track record of success, you can tell and show students how to move forward with confidence.

Students you don’t even know are watching you. You will want to show them The Confidence Effect.

The Martian: Important Messages in Film

What did you aspire to be when growing up and why? The power of entertainment to influence career choices is undeniable.

My favorite television show featured a doctor who always seemed the smartest person in the room because he knew why someone had died. While I wanted to keep people from dying, this show nonetheless influenced my desire to be a pathologist. Although I clearly did not become a pathologist, I still wanted to help people before the ultimate crisis.

I recently had the opportunity to see The Martian as a pre-release, and highly recommend it for students and educators. Opening in theaters October 2, this sci-fi movie directed by Ridley Scott is the best marketing piece I’ve seen to promote the study of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Playing an astronaut left behind after an expedition to Mars, Matt Damon’s character sums it up, saying, “I’m going to have to science the shit out of this.”

As a non-STEM viewer, I also gleaned a lot from the film. Here are some of the themes that resonated with me:

  • Being a leader means that you have to take responsibility for making hard decisions that have an impact on other people’s lives as well as your own;
  • Without critical thinking skills, one cannot create scenarios about the possible outcome of various courses of action or how to respond when the unexpected occurs;
  • Having confidence in the power of one’s own knowledge is the foundation needed to resolve to tackle and accomplish the seemingly impossible;
  • Keeping a sense of humor and music in our lives is the difference between desperation and hope;
  • Writing a journal is not just a record of what has happened, it is a secret companion and place for reflection;
  • Hacking can be good;
  • Never say that there is a “failure to communicate;” there is always a way;
  • What people think or public relations should never come before doing the right thing;
  • Be prepared for negative consequences sometimes when you do the right thing;
  • Math is really handy to know and could save your life;
  • Optimism and hard work are important values;
  • Millennials don’t care if you are the boss;
  • To what end are we working — purpose is key.

Movies do influence, and seeing someone in the movie with whom you can identify strengthens the connection and acceptance of the message. Women, Latinos (as), African Americans, Asians, Caucasians, and being Hindu and Baptist with black skin could all see reflections of self in a good light in this film.

An Observation on the Eulogy

Like many of you, I was moved and enlightened by President Obama’s eulogy for Congressman Clementa Pinkney. President Obama honored those who lost their lives, and he reminded us of this nation’s history of violence based on racial hatred and prejudice. His remarks about how the deaths of those in the church stimulated “big-hearted generosity” and “thoughtful introspection and self-examination” in South Carolina and in the United States was a needed balm for all who grieve. It helps to think that these lives were not lost in vain.

I was taken with the emotion and sincerity that the President showed throughout the eulogy. However, I think he made one comment that he did not mean for us to take literally. We all know that he spoke the truth when he said that we cannot expect a “transformation of race relations overnight,” but I think his emotions were outweighing his beliefs when he said that we do not need more conversation or more talk about race. The point he was making is that we need to act on our talk. Just having conversations is not enough.

Discussions, dialogue, and discourse are the coins of the realm in colleges and universities. These are our tools and we must use the tools we have. We cannot be part of helping to achieve the vision the President painted if we don’t have the talk with our students.

I think it’s the manner in which we have historically fashioned these conversations that doom them from the start. We can’t just invite students to come to a conversation on race and expect anyone to come except those who already have what President Obama called the “path to grace,” that he described as “an open mind” and “an open heart.” A lecture on the history of racial prejudice followed by discussions won’t change a mind or heart if students have not experienced personally or vicariously through peers what it means to be the object of discrimination or violence based on racial hatred. In a world de-sensitized by violence and tragedy, empathy does not come naturally.

If we, in Student Affairs, want to participate in President Obama’s vision of not avoiding uncomfortable truths, not judging people as bad because we disagree with them, not shouting but listening, and move towards “recognition of ourselves in others, we need to set the stage for the conversations by inviting students to have conversations that are firmly grounded in the academic program of the college.

To achieve this grounding in the academic program, Student Affairs partners with faculty to expand the definition of student success to include skills essential for the workplace and for good and humane citizenship. We must convince faculty that Student Affairs can help to deepen students’ learning of the content of their courses and programs by reinforcing the content in a structured group experience where students are also learning how to influence others and be influenced by others through the development of strong interpersonal communication skills.

If Student Affairs Had a Hammer – A Strategy to Teach Adaptive Skills

Whenever I have heard variations on the quote “If you only have a hammer, everything looks like a nail,” it has been used in a pejorative sense indicating that one has few resources or ideas to address any issues with which one is confronted. No matter what the issue is, the same response is used. I want to use this hammer and nail saying in a positive manner.

In my most recent blog, I wrote about the need for Student Affairs to reorient our work to address a critical learning need for students. That critical need is for students to acquire experience in learning about and in practicing adaptive skills. I have been honing the list of skills for years, and the list I’ve settled on includes interpersonal communication skills; cultural intelligence; and social responsibility. After reviewing the many lists of competencies suggested as essential for college graduates over several years and asking for feedback from faculty, Student Affairs professionals, and students, I am confident that these categories of skills are sufficient to meet the career and personal needs of college graduates.

I am also confident that my strategy to help students acquire these competencies and skills will have a powerful impact when employed effectively. The hammer that I think can address many of the challenges we see among students and, frankly, the population in general, is the implementation of co-curriculum laboratories attached to or embedded in academic courses and programs. The co-curriculum laboratory is the hammer that can be applied to the nails/ challenges that prevent many colleges and universities from fully realizing their learning goals for students.

For example:

If students see themselves less open to having their views challenged than they think they ought to be, this is a nail. A co-curriculum laboratory can be the hammer to help students practice interpersonal communications where controversial issues can be discussed with a skilled facilitator present.

When tragedies occur such as the mass murders at the church in South Carolina last week, there are many nails to pound such as racism, gun violence, and the call for civic engagement. A co-curriculum laboratory can be a hammer because it provides a safe space for the discussions to occur.

When tragedies occur caused by natural disasters such as the recent devastating earthquakes in Nepal, and students appear not to have empathy for the victims, this is a nail. A co-curriculum laboratory can be a hammer to require discussions about other countries and cultures and to assign students to make deliberate connections with people beyond the home country in order to better understand the impact of a tragedy on people who are not within students’ inner circles.

If students have little experience in figuring things out on their own and appear not to have practical skills for functioning, this is a nail. A co-curriculum laboratory can be a hammer to help students take incremental steps towards independence aided by peers who role model and encourage personal growth and maturity.

The concept of attaching co-curriculum laboratories to or embedding them into academic courses and programs can be an effective strategy to address many of the challenges we face in helping students acquire adaptive skills. Yes, co-curriculum laboratories are the hammers Student Affairs can use to reorient the focus of our work in effectively contributing to holistic and transformative learning for our students.

FYI

Ending my role as interim senior vice president for student services on June 5th.

Still smiling, still enthusiastic.

So grateful for the opportunity.

Once in a life-time experience.