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Tim Cigelske
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When you’ve been in the same job for awhile, it’s all too easy to fall into the same routines and go through the motions. Blogging helps you break out of that complacency by forcing you to brainstorm blog topics, pay attention to trends, and organize your thoughts through writing. It creates a free professional development opportunity. 

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If this was a normal email, it would probably start off with a stock phrase like “haven’t talked to you in awhile,” or “hope you are well!” or “I enjoyed bumping into you at the networking event last night.” 

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When you’ve been in the same job for awhile, it’s all too easy to fall into the same routines and go through the motions. Blogging helps you break out of that complacency by forcing you to brainstorm blog topics, pay attention to trends, and organize your thoughts through writing. It creates a free professional development opportunity. 

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Summer 2016 

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Helpful 
How to Raise Moral Children

I thought this article on child-raising had a lot of good ideas in it.  There was stuff that was new to me, and stuff that was old, but the old stuff was worth reviewing, and the new research quite enlightening.

Do read the article even if you don't have children. The principles it outlines apply to our lives as adults as well, to leadership in the workplace and in the world.  And while I've reproduced many of the best bits below, it's well worth going to the article itself, because it is heavily linked to the original research.

What matters most is not achievement but caring

The article opened with the familiar advice that "when parents praise effort rather than ability, children develop a stronger work ethic and become more motivated."  But it went from there in a surprising direction:

"When people in 50 countries were asked to report their guiding principles in life, the value that mattered most was not achievement, but caring."

Contrary to popular advice, praise of character is more effective than praise of behavior

"Many parents believe it’s important to compliment the behavior, not the child — that way, the child learns to repeat the behavior. Indeed, I know one couple who are careful to say, 'That was such a helpful thing to do,' instead of, 'You’re a helpful person.'"

But that's not what the research shows:

"...A couple of weeks later, when faced with more opportunities to give and share, the children were much more generous after their character had been praised than after their actions had been. Praising their character helped them internalize it as part of their identities. The children learned who they were from observing their own actions: I am a helpful person. This dovetails with new research led by the psychologist Christopher J. Bryan, who finds that for moral behaviors, nouns work better than verbs. To get 3- to 6-year-olds to help with a task, rather than inviting them 'to help,' it was 22 to 29 percent more effective to encourage them to 'be a helper.' Cheating was cut in half when instead of, 'Please don’t cheat,' participants were told, 'Please don’t be a cheater.' When our actions become a reflection of our character, we lean more heavily toward the moral and generous choices. Over time it can become part of us."

I think this is an important insight.  Internalizing our experiences and making them part of our identity is a key element of growing up. 

Note:  "by the time children turned 10, the differences between praising character and praising actions vanished: Both were effective. Tying generosity to character appears to matter most around age 8, when children may be starting to crystallize notions of identity."

I will note that the advice for dealing with bad behavior (as opposed to good behavior) is just the opposite:  to emphasize the behavior, and not the character.  You don't want a kid to internalize the idea that he or she is a bad person!  That was the next key point, the distinction between guilt and shame.

"If we want our children to care about others, we need to teach them to feel guilt rather than shame when they misbehave."

This is a fascinating distinction:  

"When children cause harm, they typically feel one of two moral emotions: shame or guilt. Despite the common belief that these emotions are interchangeable, research led by the psychologist June Price Tangney reveals that they have very different causes and consequences.

"Shame is the feeling that I am a bad person, whereas guilt is the feeling that I have done a bad thing. Shame is a negative judgment about the core self, which is devastating: Shame makes children feel small and worthless, and they respond either by lashing out at the target or escaping the situation altogether. In contrast, guilt is a negative judgment about an action, which can be repaired by good behavior. When children feel guilt, they tend to experience remorse and regret, empathize with the person they have harmed, and aim to make it right."

...

"The most effective response to bad behavior is to express disappointment. According to independent reviews by Professor Eisenberg and David R. Shaffer, parents raise caring children by expressing disappointment and explaining why the behavior was wrong, how it affected others, and how they can rectify the situation. This enables children to develop standards for judging their actions, feelings of empathy and responsibility for others, and a sense of moral identity, which are conducive to becoming a helpful person. The beauty of expressing disappointment is that it communicates disapproval of the bad behavior, coupled with high expectations and the potential for improvement: 'You’re a good person, even if you did a bad thing, and I know you can do better.'"

Children learn generosity not by listening to what their role models say, but by observing what they do.

"In a classic experiment, the psychologist J. Philippe Rushton gave 140 elementary- and middle-school-age children tokens for winning a game, which they could keep entirely or donate some to a child in poverty. They first watched a teacher figure play the game either selfishly or generously, and then preach to them the value of taking, giving or neither. The adult’s influence was significant: Actions spoke louder than words. When the adult behaved selfishly, children followed suit. The words didn’t make much difference — children gave fewer tokens after observing the adult’s selfish actions, regardless of whether the adult verbally advocated selfishness or generosity. When the adult acted generously, students gave the same amount whether generosity was preached or not — they donated 85 percent more than the norm in both cases. When the adult preached selfishness, even after the adult acted generously, the students still gave 49 percent more than the norm. Children learn generosity not by listening to what their role models say, but by observing what they do."

So true.  As I said above, all of this applies to adults too. 

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When goats attack. +Jess Cigelske
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What's on your homescreen 
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Good advice for facing an audience 
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