Resilient people are proven to work smarter because they can negotiate the inevitable changes that are the one certainty of life.  People who know what teamwork really means can turn good teams into great ones.

Derek Roger is a leading UK-registered business psychologist who shares his insight with you here in his regular blog, "Psychobabble," which will provoke thought and stimulate interest in the fields of Resilience, Wellbeing and Stress Management.

Psychobabble - Derek's Blog

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Archived entries

Certainly Uncertain

This year, 2017, is being described as a time of uncertainty, but when was that not the case? It is a truism that the one constant in life is change, but it is nonetheless true, and change unfolds into an unknown future. The real point is that sometimes change suits us, sometimes it doesn’t, and because the costs and benefits of change are seen differently by different people, change is almost always divisive. That need not necessarily be a bad thing: democracy depends on having an opposition to the establishment, which is why everyone in the UK and NZ ought to be concerned about the weakening of the Labour party. Opposition tempered by reasoned debate is to be welcomed, but when the issues are overwhelmed by blind emotion, reason is discarded. This is the danger of democracy, which Plato described in his Republic as the second-worst form of government after dictatorship. What then emerges is the mob: the Terror that followed the French Revolutio
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Enough is Enough

One of the scales on the Challenge of Change questionnaire is titled Perfect Control. The higher your score the stronger your perfectionist and controlling tendencies are, and on the course we emphasise that low scores are the goal. We are not saying the work is never perfect – books have to balance and you can’t have a spelling mistake on a billboard – but that’s not the sort of work that trips up people high in perfect control. More typically, these are the people you see going over and over (and over!) plans, graphs, emails, etc., double-checking and checking again that it’s “right”. They’re also likely to be the people staying late, putting on the finishing touches and making the presentation just perfect – they find it almost impossible to say “enough now”. For people high on Perfect Control the cost is when they find themselves spending too much time and effort on one task when their attention needs to be given to another.
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Oaks and Reeds

One of our colleagues had planned an afternoon mountain biking with his wife and teenage family. He had studied and planned the afternoon with his son but when they got to the trail they found it closed. Our colleague suggested they bike up the road to the top of the hill and see what was there, to which the teenage son replied: "we don't know where it's going. What's the point? The whole day is ruined now. We may as well go home."
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Hide or Seek

In the Challenge of Change Profile we have a scale called avoidance coping, which is described as the ostrich principle for dealing with issues – stick your head in the sand and ignore them. If you're the sort of person who puts off making phone calls because you're afraid of the response you might get, who postpones tackling a project because you don't know where or how to start, or who focuses endlessly on the trivial tasks at work because the big, really important one pushes you out of your comfort zone, you might be what we call an 'avoidance coper': you've learned to respond to the pressures in your life by trying to avoid thinking or doing anything about them.
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Pick it up and let it go, Part 2

This is part two of last week's blog. In view of recent international events developing sensitivity to others couldn't be more important. We know that you can develop your sensitivity to others, though you do firstly have to think that it’s a worthwhile investment of your time and then you have to try. So what about the second part of the scale, being overly sensitive to your own emotions and how others respond to you?
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Pick It Up and Let It Go, Part 1

One of the scales in the Challenge of Change Resilience Profile measures Sensitivity. We usually talk about this in conjunction with the Detached Coping scale: people who are high on both have what we call Detached Compassion, which means that they can pick up quickly and accurately how other people feel but don’t themselves become identified or involved with the emotions.
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Antivenom

Guest blog by Cynthia Johnson. Heaven help me, I’ve just been holidaying with a Toxic Achiever. Do these people never relax? Toxic Achievers are organised, and want everyone else to be organised too. The upside: because of them the Holiday Will Happen, and as Camp Manager they’re focused on confirming arrangements, making sure we get a great spot and that everyone will pay their share of the deposit on time.
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Lizards and Leaders

In the course of delivering the Challenge of Change Resilience programme, participants will from time to time suggest that rumination must have a purpose, otherwise it wouldn’t have evolved. Evolutionary oversimplifications of this kind are widespread and persistent: as early as 1966 Robert Ardrey claimed in The Territorial Imperative that a human being is ‘as much a territorial animal as is a mockingbird singing in the clear California night’. The basis for his argument was that humans own property, but let’s dispense with these sorts of glib notions by looking at the evidence.
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Smash, Grab and Burble

We know that expressing emotion is a vital part of resolving experiences and building resilience. Those people who soldier on, denying or ignoring their emotions will have a much tougher time dealing with life's rapids. . .
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I'm Stickin' With You

The immediate feedback we receive from our Resilience courses is overwhelmingly positive and very humbling, and speaking to participants we meet later shows that the key messages are remembered by many of them.
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Me First!

There have been many references over the past few years to managers being narcissistic or even psychopathic. Unfortunately there's been no clear definition of these terms, and since we have established conditioned responses to these words they end causing a great deal of confusion.
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It's not Black and White

In the Challenge of Change Resilience training programme we emphasise that there is no ‘good stress’, and that all that stress offers is a life that may be shorter and will definitely be more miserable. Once you define stress properly, as ruminating about emotional upset, the miserable part is self-evident to everyone. We illustrate the ‘short’ part during the training by referring to the impact on your health of sustained high levels of adrenaline and cortisol, which are secreted when the system involving the hypothalamus and the pituitary and adrenal glands (the h-p-a axis) is activated. The dramatic increase in adrenaline and cortisol in response to demand is called ‘fight or flight’, and these are not ‘stress hormones’ at all – they’re doing exactly what they’re designed to do, facilitate action, but they’re adaptive only in the short term.
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Mind full of what?

The new buzz-word is ‘mindfulness’. You might be forgiven for thinking this is some brand-new psychological construct, but it isn’t – mindfulness is one of the central practices of Buddhism, and has been around for as long as people have asked the fundamental question of philosophy: ‘what am I?’ As has so often happened, something profound and practical has been hijacked by psychobabblers, and has been completely misinterpreted along the way.
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The Conundrum of Engagement

One of Cynthia’s abiding interests is employee engagement, which HR people have long known is highly correlated with a variety of measures such as productivity, absenteeism, retention, and customer satisfaction.
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Where is TED?

A recent TED talk by Kelly McGonigal was an opportunity to demonstrate that the earth is not after all flat. It was an opportunity missed – instead the talk ended up merely adding to the accumulated misinformation about stress.
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Resilience: Inoculation Against Stress


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People Skills

Think how much more effective your company could be if you could identify the best potential candidates for leadership and then fast-track them with training to enhance their skills. The question, of course, is what these skills might be. What is it that makes an effective manager? And are the required skills 'hard-wired', or can they be learned through appropriate training? These may not be million-dollar questions, but they probably get fairly close to it!
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Reflecting, Sleeping, Ruminating

The first two steps in the Challenge of Change Resilience programme are waking up and controlling attention, and the key to understanding what the programme is about is attention. Using a simple example, a piece of work arriving on your table is an event, and that event provides information through your senses about what needs to be done. You then process the information and give attention. When you attend to something it progresses, becoming a new event with new information, new processing, and new attention.
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The Planning Trap

Being awake is about having presence of mind, which means that your mind is in the present. The practice of presence of mind is not to be in the present exclusively, however – we're constantly making sense of the world by moving between past, present and future. The question is whether this is done intentionally or not.
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Sir Graham Henry and the All Blacks: Champions of Resilience by Associate, Cynthia Johnson

How is Sir Graham Henry coping with the stress of releasing a book and the furore surrounding his suspicion about match fixing in the 2007 game against France? From the comments he has previously made about pressure and stress, we imagine he is not doing too badly. Henry seems to be a student of pressure and stress, whether consciously or not, and we at The Challenge of Change agree with much of what he says.
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Refreshing News

There’s an old joke about the aspiring jazz musician visiting New York and trying to find directions to Carnegie Hall. He stops and asks a jazz busker on the street how to get there, and the busker says “practice, man, practice”.
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More Delicious Data

The Challenge of Change uses psychology to help individuals become more resilient in the workplace. This enhanced resilience enables them to perform better and cope with the day-to-day pressures of work. The Challenge of Change is results focused and research based. This blog refers to research carried out over 20 years that proves the ethicacy of the training. The most recent research, carried out in 2012 further proves the effectiveness of the Resilience Training.
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Delicious Data


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Psycholimitations

Over the years many models have been proposed to try to define and explain stress, but a common feature is a reliance on capacity. So-called life-event scales, for example, assume a capacity for coping which is exceeded when someone is exposed to a sufficient number of events. The approach was refined by adding ‘readjustment scores’ to the events, but to no avail: the life-event approach not only completely fails to explain stress, it also misleads people into thinking that events are somehow inherently stressful. Other models have relied on materials science, using concepts of strain and stress, but since coping is fundamentally influenced by emotion, inert materials are no model at all. Others again have spoken about coping resources being exceeded by demand, another mechanical view which explains very little.
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Anti-silo

The costs of competition are not only between organisations and companies but also between people and departments within companies. This is how the so-called ‘silo effect’ comes about. Initially, when a company is small there is a sense of cohesion and working for a common goal. In these circumstances there is a natural cooperativeness, but as the company grows there is greater and greater competition between individuals for the scarce resource of promotion and the rise in status and pay that it brings.
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Regaining trust?

To regain trust in organisations it must once have existed. The problem is rarely company-wide; rather, there are teams in all companies where there is trust and others where there isn’t.
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Another day, another myth

During the 1950s and 60s two US Naval surgeons noticed a relationship between the number of things that had happened to people and their tendency to become ill. The relationship is in fact negligible, but based on dubious...
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Listen, just relax

We generally attach relaxation to particular times, such as weekends or the summer holiday. If you only relax on these occasions then the rest of the time (in other words, most of your life) you must be tense. Unfortunately relaxing...
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To sleep, perchance to dream?

Participants in the Challenge of Change Resilience training sessions spend time at the beginning generating objectives for the day, and a common theme that emerges from the exercise is about sleep. One of the defining features of stress is disturbed ...
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Prioritising: knowing what doesn’t need to be done

How often are we told we need to prioritise if we’re to be efficient? Learning to prioritise is important, but we need to understand what’s required. Prioritising is usually thought of as deciding what the most important thing...
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The Challenge of Change: A New Zealand case study

One of the consequences of a recession is a greater need for evidence when making decisions about how to spend a diminishing budget. It might require very little thought: someone comes up with a machine that produces the widgets you...
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Dangerous Myths

The New Zealand Herald recently carried an article claiming that “showing your anger rather than repressing emotions is the key to a successful life at home and at work”. The article reports research by George Vaillant at Harvard, who opines...
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Resolutions

New Year is the time for resolutions: a new year, a new opportunity, a celebration to mark the occasion. But how long do yours last? For most people, a week would be about average!
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Being Well

‘Well-being’ and ‘wellness’ are increasingly popular phrases in the training world, but what do they actually mean?...
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Happiness

In the most recent World Values Survey, which ranks the countries of the world on happiness, Denmark tops the list. Perhaps not altogether surprising – a small but prosperous country with generous state benefits – and it is...
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