Posts Tagged learning
The book, Spark, by John J. Ratey, M.D. is the holy grail of research applications related to the interaction of exercise, neuroplasticity, and performance. The information on brain chemistry changes in the areas of learning, addictions, anxiety, depression, women’s issues, ADHD, and aging is priceless. The essence of the book is that the data indicated the brain is able to create new neuronal connections, grow new nerve cells throughout life, manage major psychological conditions, pain conditions, and learning is significantly enhanced through exercise. Ratey stated that “exercise is the single most powerful tool you have to optimize your brain function”- based on hundreds of research studies (p.245). Ratey suggested that the more fit you get (regardless of where you start), the “ more resilient your brain becomes and the better it functions both cognitively and psychologically. If you get your body in shape, your mind will follow” (p. 247).
How much is enough? Ratey stated that walking is enough. Low-intensity exercise is at 55 to 65% of maximum heart rate, moderate is 65-75% and high intensity is 75-90%. “The process of getting fit is all about building up your aerobic base” (p.251). Ratey goes on to discuss the role of strength training and flexibility as important elements of optimizing your brain chemistry and hormone levels.
What does this have to do with optimizing your performance at work and in all areas of your life? Everything! Get started today and stick with it.
Have a day filled with optimal brain chemistry,
Robert A. Mines, Ph.D.
CEO & Psychologist
As the parent of a seven year old, I’ve been enamored with the concept of “intentional parenting.” The essence of this philosophy is to think about the type of person you want your child to be when they become an adult and to give them age appropriate responsibilities to support their development. I, for one, am committed to raising a global citizen who has an appreciation for other cultures, languages, perspectives, and lifestyle choices.
I was exposed to traveling at a very early age and was always deeply appreciative that my parents expanded my horizons and perspectives through global travel. I’m sure my mom wasn’t completely surprised when I told her I had bought a one-way ticket to New Zealand and wasn’t sure when I would be back. And, sure enough, after two years of traveling out of a backpack, returned home to start graduate school. I loved the sense of intrigue and mystery that came with traveling to exotic lands and far away places.
I also came home with a profound sense of appreciation for the global diversity that we have right here! Looking at situations from a new perspective, asking open ended questions to understand a different point of view, and being curious about someone’s background or beliefs are all windows towards creating a sense of belonging to a global community. I feel so fortunate that much of the work I do in BizPysch – be it executive coaching, diversity training, or providing conflict mediation services – are all ways to build bridges and create a sense of community and connection.
Now, I’m getting ready to embark on another global adventure. As a parent who is committed to raising a “global citizen,” I am getting ready to move overseas with my son. We will be gone for a little less than a year and during that time we will both be students learning a new language and embracing a completely different way of living. There are so many ways to embrace global diversity, be it participating in a cooking class with foods from another country, learning a new language, seeing a foreign film, reading books about other countries, or following your curiosity by exploring new places on the internet! I trust I will return with a new set of perspectives which is what makes traveling and experiencing different cultures, no matter how you choose to do it, so exciting!
Marcia Kent, MS
When a person starts a new job they expect to be provided the resources, information, and tools to perform the functions of the job. This expectation applies no matter what level they are hired for in the organization. In turn, the organization expects that person to bring all the knowledge, skill, and potential for which they were hired to contribute to the organization’s success. An initial partnership is formed. Is this basic expectation set sufficient for ongoing success of the individual and the organization? In very few cases it might be. However, in most jobs, the organization hopes for and expects growth in that individual, whether it is in increased proficiency, expanded roles, or leadership and promotion. Stagnation is a huge risk for the individual as well as the organization. So, how do we promote appropriate growth for individuals working in organizations?
Could we consider that focusing on educational excellence in the workplace may be necessary beyond the “on-the-job training” that generally and naturally occurs? Educational excellence means focusing on strategies that are effective for employees and the organization. As was quoted in an email from our CEO this week, “No one can do your pushups for you, only you can decide to learn and use the information.” So education in organizations is a combination of employer and employee responsibility. The employee must be self-motivated to learn and grow, and the organization can focus on using approaches, strategies, and educational opportunities that best promote useful expansion and growth.
The great organizational theorist Peter Sengee captured the term “the learning organization.” In his book, The Fifth Discipline, Sengee proposes “the basic meaning of a ‘learning organization’ is an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future. For such an organization it is not enough merely to survive. ‘Survival learning’ or what is often termed ‘adaptive learning’ is important – indeed it is necessary. But for a learning organization, ‘adaptive learning’ must be joined by ‘generative learning,’ learning that enhances our capacity to create.” In his work Sengee speaks of the whole organization as a “learning organization.” In this system, individuals collectively make up this generative learning process.
Organizations promote educational excellence in a variety of ways:
- TQM or the total quality management movement has focused on efficiency improvement. This can affect all levels in an organization to inspire a focus on creating better processes to create better results. Educational opportunity such as “six sigma” and “lean six sigma” have focused high-level education primarily on upper level managers to create greater efficiency.
- In our EAP services through MINES and Associates, most of our client companies contract for a certain number of training hours. These contracted hours can be used for “lunch and learn” presentations offered to a wide range of employees on various topics such as communication, time management, financial issues, nutrition, or even humor and creativity in the workplace. Companies may choose to target these educational hours towards managers growing their management skills or to specialized departments on their interests or skill development needs.
- In our work in BizPsych we may determine from an organizational assessment that a work group needs specific skill building such as conflict management skills or alignment skills.
- Many organizations offer tuition assistance for employees to promote their own education, either related specifically to their jobs or to help them grow and develop in the directions of their choosing.
In any of these cases, if we consider it to be an organization’s essential responsibility to focus on providing educational opportunities for employees to grow in their work, it is important to focus on strategies that are most effective. Thus, many larger employers create “Learning and Development” teams and specialists dedicated to this pursuit. Strategies that are effective would define educational excellence in organizations. We may then move closer to Sengee’s ideals of creating learning organizations who build the capacity to “create their futures.”
Patrick Hiester, MA, LPC
Vice President, BizPsych