On Materialism

It is what it is. If the shoe fits, wear it. If you’ve got it, flaunt it. A rose by any other name…. Our language is peppered with such phrases that urge authenticity. Perhaps Shakespeare said it most eloquently (Hamlet, I,3, 564-566) with This above all--to thine own self be true, And it must follow,... Continue Reading →

Silence! I’m Composing…

The story is told of the Beethoven fan who had exhausted the usual pursuits of musical enthusiasts—he had all the recordings, publications, pictures, anecdotes, and so forth. At his wit’s end to spend his zealous energy further, he arrived one midnight with spade in hand at Ludwig van’s grave in Vienna. He dug to the... Continue Reading →

I’m Just a Churl Who Can’t Say “No”

Well, not really a churl. Or a girl, for that matter. At the Center for Applied Cognitive Studies, we employ the Five-Factor Model to describe individual differences in personality traits. One of the traits is Accommodation, which reports how an individual typically behaves around power. Broadly described, Challengers are those low in Accommodation—as a rule... Continue Reading →

Understanding Your Panic Button

I have more terms of endearment for my wife than there are waves headed for the beach. And like waves, they just keep on coming. Turn-of-the-century anthropologist Franz Boas (1858-1942) first identified this phenomenon. People have more words for things that are most important to them. Snow is vitally important to those living within the... Continue Reading →

Driving Happiness

Happiness is more like a car, less like a building. I have written elsewhere that five modes of positive being are as good or better than happiness itself— Goals—making progress towards a goal Fit—having goals that build on who you are, not who you are not Flow—having goals that are challenging, but not too much... Continue Reading →

Managing Micromanagers

“Get off my back—I can’t fly when you are weighing me down!” Such is the lament of the underling suffering from micromanagement—the uninvited incursion by a manager into the how to’s and wherefores of a subordinate’s day. Just last week a client asked me, “How do I get her off my back? I’ve about had... Continue Reading →

Leaders Can Be Made, If Not Born

One can be born to be a 7-foot NBA center, but one cannot be made into one. Or? Look at the Dutch, who have an unusually tall population and who also are known for their unusually heavy consumption of calcium (milk, cheese, and their kin). Clearly most human behavior has a largely genetic component, but... Continue Reading →

Appearances Can Be Deceiving (4. Bravery)

Think twice—what you see may not be what you think. In three previous posts, we explored situations in which a single behavior might have multiple meanings and interpretations. First, we considered how fidgeting is not always impatience. Then, how solitude is not necessarily loneliness. Last week, how smiling is not always liking. I call these... Continue Reading →

When You’re Not You

“You just don’t seem your same self!” someone remarked with friendly concern. “What’s going on?” What does it mean to be oneself? And, what does it mean not to be oneself? One’s self is who we are in our shoes-off state—being able to take our shoes off is (usually) evidence that we are experiencing minimal... Continue Reading →

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