vPsychology for Business


We are dedicated to bringing out the best in you and your employees

Volume 4, Number 25                                                             December 12, 2003


Psychology for Business is an e-mail newsletter written by  Dr. John Weaver, Dr. Lynda Dahlke, and Dr. Paul Glass, business psychologists and independent consultants, provided to you at no charge. It is published bi-weekly. You’ve received this newsletter because you’ve subscribed to it or it was forwarded to you by a friend or colleague. To subscribe sign up at our website, http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/. If you wish to cancel your subscription, please see the end of this e-mail for easy instructions

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Coaching for Performance Series

by Dr. John Weaver, Business Psychologist and Executive Coach

In the middle of this road we call our life, I found myself in a dark wood, with no clear path through….

                Dante Alighieri,  Divine Comedy, “Inferno”

I can hear it in your voice or see it in your eyes. It has been a difficult stretch with poor business results. Your initial enthusiasm has faded. Heroic efforts have been unsuccessful in turning things around. You thought you had the answer, but it did not last, and it has happened so often that you begin to wonder if there is an answer. Your thoughts have drifted toward surrender and defeat.

How you handle this situation can be the difference between long term success and a mediocre career.

This is, unfortunately, an unavoidable moment in the steps toward success. The story of every thriving individual includes these doubt filled challenges. In fact, if you have not had this experience, you are probably not challenging yourself sufficiently.

That is because, as a high achieving human being, you are always pushing yourself toward the limits of your ability. When you reach that limit, you see if there is a way to break through and do more than you thought you could. These are the conditions that create the fatigue and doubt I am observing in you. You need to make a decision.

“Is this the time to back away and try another direction or do I just need to persevere until I am able to break through?”

In my coaching work, this is a question that must be faced by individuals who have a desire to achieve at the highest levels of performance.

The key skills necessary to work productively at this level of intensity have been grouped under the term “resilience.”

Resilience is a set of skills that make you able to make lemonade out of the lemons of the stresses encountered at the limits of your capacity. It is the ability to bounce back when an attempt results in failure. It is the ability to persist even when it seems impossible. It is the ability to know the difference.

It involves several discreet skills, which must be learned.

v      The first skill is the ability to recognize and understand the situation.

It is easy to blame the problems on the external circumstances (e.g., a poor economy, the unethical actions of a competitor) or to naively decide that you can overcome any challenge. It is wise to learn how to read the demands of a situation and how to assess your resources for meeting the challenges. The most resilient people I know are uncompromising realists. It takes courage to let go of the “demands” about how the world “should” operate and to deal with things as they really are. It also takes skill and effort to recognize that an interpretation of a set of events is just that, an interpretation. Reality may or may not conform to my interpretation. Resilient people are committed to see things realistically. This means that they are willing to examine both the objective circumstances and their interpretation of the events to accurately assess the issues.

v      Then it becomes necessary to identify the ways you might inadvertently perpetuate the damaging effects of the situation.

This type of realism involves considering the situation from multiple points of view. It also involves a willingness to acknowledge that an interpretation of events could be wrong or only partially correct. Subtle thoughts and attitudes must be examined. Is it helpful (or accurate) for me to say to myself, “I can’t take one more thing going wrong”? One of the tasks of resilience is to recognize and correct thoughts and attitudes that distort the situation or lead to demoralization. “If one more thing goes wrong, I will be even more frustrated, but I will take each challenge as it comes and work through it.”

v      When you are able to understand the assumptions you make, you will become a much better decision maker.

Those who are resilient learn to function at the level of process rather than concentrating on content. At the content level, information is exchanged. It contains rational speech and logic. Resilient individuals recognize that much of human behavior is also driven by something beyond the rational. Learning what those underlying forces are makes it possible to choose rather than be blindly influenced by unexamined assumptions. Assumptions work to organize information in most “normal” circumstances. In periods of challenge, these same assumptions can blind us to opportunities. A part of resilience is the willingness to review and question the assumptions we make about how things should be done.

v      Stress can cause you to misjudge the potential risks and benefits of important decisions.

To achieve resilience, it is necessary to step back from the stress and pressure of the moment and to make judgments more calmly and with greater clarity. This means recognizing that stress distorts our perception of risk and being willing to resist these impulses and to make a careful assessment of risks and benefits. The distortions always seem to lead to a judgment that the circumstances are catastrophically awful. It is an important skill to be able to stay focused on the next important decision rather than getting caught up in panic about things that have not yet happened.

v      There is something you can do to deal with those “impossible” situations that trigger the worst in you.

Resilience is closely connected to optimism. But this type of optimism is not based on a naïve belief that “everything will work out in the end.” Rather it starts with a realistic assessment of the situation, involves deep questioning and a willingness to face fears and accept responsibility for mistakes. This process yields optimism that you can make a choice and that your decision will make a difference in the outcome. It is difficult to convince resilient individuals to give up.

v      Seeing the situation with perspective allows us to learn from mistakes rather than to be doomed to repeat them.

Those who are resilient do not make fewer mistakes than others. They may even make more mistakes because they are willing to try things that would seem impossible to others. The real difference is that resilient people see mistakes as an opportunity to learn and that learning will help the next time (and there will be a next time) the situation arises. In times of stress or frustration, there is a tendency to narrow our perspective and focus only on one detail. To be resilient, we need to push ourselves to step back and take in the whole picture.

v      It all comes together when you can practice these skills in the daily circumstances of your business life.

We get good at what we practice. If we worry and fret about small details, we get good at worrying and fretting. If we practice the skills of resilience, we get better and better at being resilient in more and more aspects of our lives.

If you are performing at a high level of skill and really using your talents, you will find yourself, like Dante, in the middle of this road you call your life, emerging in a dark wood with no clear path through. This is not a sign that you are defeated, but rather a step on the journey of excellence. Real success is not an easy journey, but one that challenges you to be realistic, question everything, trust yourself and persevere.

Developing resilience is a skill that can be learned. If you are interested in resilience coaching, contact me by email at: mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com or call me at (262) 789-2728 for a free initial consultation.

On Executive Coaching:  "If ever stressed-out corporate America could use a little couch-time, it’s now. Trust in big companies is at an all-time low. Baby-boomers have been burned; Gen Xers aren’t expecting the Corporation to take care of them. Under the circumstances, employees are much likelier to go outside and get independent advice to help them be better managers" Karen Cates, Assistant Professor of Organizational Behavior, Northwestern’s Kellogg Graduate School of Management.

Did you know that executive coaching is not geographically limited?  Coaching by telephone is effective.  It is also an efficient use of time and resources.  You never need to leave your office to travel, nor do you need to pay travel expenses for your coach. We offer coaching either onsite or by telephone. To find out if coaching is right for you, contact us to schedule a 1/2 hour consultation at no charge.  Or request a price sheet to determine the best value for your organization.  Call us at: (262) 789-2728 or email us at mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com.

I want to thank everyone who took the time to write and express sympathy for my loss. It means a lot to me that so many of you took time from your busy schedule to offer condolences. Thank you again.  John

About the Author

John Weaver, Psy.D. is a licensed psychologist with 22 years’ professional experience working with organizations, groups, and individuals. He has experience leading groups and creating teamwork in organizations. His areas of expertise include executive coaching, conflict resolution, coaching teams and individuals to improve performance under stress, assessing employees and potential employees to ensure the right person for the right job, and training in stress management and "The Vitamin C’s for an Emotionally Healthy Workplace."  He is an experienced professional speaker and published author.

Based in Waukesha, WI, Dr. John Weaver is available for consultation or executive coaching by phone, e-mail or in person. He may be reached at (262) 789-2728 (office) or (414) 491-8719 (cell), by e-mail: mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com or: 

John Weaver, Psy.D. 
Psychology for Business
2717 North Grandview Boulevard, Suite 303
Waukesha, Wisconsin, 53188

10 Questions to Ask Before Hiring a Coach is now available for download by visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/questions.htm.

Also receive your copy of 9 Ways to Motivate Your Workforce by visiting http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/motivate.htm

If you are interested in having Dr. Weaver speak for your organization, contact him at mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com?subject=SPEAK .

To order your copy of the book, MANAGING DIFFICULT PERSONALITIES IN THE WORKPLACE: A Manager’s Practical Guide, by Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass, send your name, address, number of copies desired and a check made out to Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass for $12 per book (plus $2 shipping per book).  Or order 10 or more copies for $10 per book and $6.95 for shipping (up to 50 copies).  No fluff, this book gets right to the point. Send orders to:

Dr. Paul Kenneth Glass
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188   

Email: mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com

To order the booklet: 41 WAYS TO IMPROVE THE EMOTIONAL HEALTH OF YOUR WORKPLACE, by Dr. John Weaver send a check for $6 and a self-addressed, double stamped business size envelope to:

Dr. John Weaver
Psychology for Business
2717 N. Grandview Blvd. #303
Waukesha, WI 53188

To subscribe visit us at our website: http://www.psychologyforbusiness.com/.  If you would like to learn more about Dr. John Weaver (mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com), Dr. Lynda Dahlke (mailto:ldahlke@psychologyforbusiness.com), and Dr. Paul Glass (mailto:pglass@psychologyforbusiness.com) please visit us at our website.

© Copyright 2003. All rights reserved. John Weaver. Distribution rights: The above material is copyrighted, but you may retransmit or distribute it to whomever you wish as long as not a single word is changed, added or deleted, including the contact information. If you would like to reprint part of this newsletter please contact me at mailto:jweaver@psychologyforbusiness.com to make arrangements.

Sharing this newsletter with colleagues and friends, under these conditions, is encouraged.

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Dr. John Weaver publishes another newsletter, co-authored by Darlene Weaver, THE CENTERED PENDULUMIt is our firm belief that lifelong patterns of “being” (personality, attitudes, emotions) and “doing” (lifestyle, adaptability, coping skills) interact with our genes and environment to create conditions of a healthy or a diseased brain.  If you would like to read previous issues of the Centered Pendulum newsletter or to subscribe, please visit the archives at http://www.centeredpendulum.org/newsletters.htm.