BtoB Matters Vol. 1, No. 5

Character is like a tree and reputation like its shadow.
The shadow is what we think of it; the tree is the real thing.
Abraham Lincoln

Character development is way an individual blends knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and beliefs into personal meaning and actions. This blending of contexts throughout life coincides with my perspective on the integration of lifelong learning and personal development. Your character should be the same when no one is looking AND when everyone is looking.  CharacterLab defines character as:

Character refers to ways of thinking, acting, and feeling that benefit others as well as ourselves. Character is plural—encompassing strengths of heart, mind, and will. Strengths of heart (such as gratitude and kindness) enable harmonious relationships with other people. Strengths of mind (such as curiosity and creativity) enable independent thinking. Strengths of will (such as grit and self-control) enable us to achieve goals.

The feature articles this month highlighted 4 of the 13 attributes CharacterLab identified as key to a strong character.

Creativity, Curiosity, Purpose, and Growth Mindset

Character is the core a person’s principles and actions revealing the mindset of values for self and society.  Lickona (1993) states that “through history, education has always had two great goals: to help people become smart and to help them become good” (p. 8). Character education is a learning process we can carry throughout our lifetime. Respect, justice, civic virtue, and responsibility for self and others should not be discarded once we leave formal education. Being a “good” person through life matters. Behaviors and actions build your reputation which creates opportunities for personal and professional development.

CharacterLabs Playbooks are guides to cultivate “strengths of heart, mind, and will.”  The 13 elements include gratitude, curiosity, grit, kindness, creativity, growth mindset, honesty, intellectual humility, self-control, purpose, proactivity, emotional intelligence, and social intelligence.

I was drawn to the playbooks of character because I can connect these elements to aspects of Blooms to Blossoms purpose.  All 13 factors align with the 7 Dimensions of Wellness.  All 13 factors require lifelong learning and contribute to personal development through how you model it, celebrate it, and enable it.  Using these 13 playbooks to guide education of students or your own growth will “cultivate strengths of heart, mind, and will”.

Feature articles can be found at CharacterLab Playbooks
**Creativity: Thinking of Novel Solutions 
**Curiosity: Wanting to Know More 
**Purpose: Commitment to Making a Meaningful Contribution
**Growth Mindset: Believing you Can Improve Your Abilities

Read more on the topic: I encourage you to select other of the 13 playbooks based on your personal interest and consider how you encourage the development of each factor for yourself and others.

I hope you take some time to review the CharacterLab Playbooks and use the Habits of the Mind (link below) to strengthen your heart, mind, and will. Teacher Appreciation Week (May 2-8, 2021) is a good time to reflect on the value teachers have in promoting character and habits of the mind. Teachers make a difference!! We are all “teachers and students”…consider how you interact with others throughout your day (when and where do you “teach” and when and where do you “learn”).

More May Feature Articles include:

The 16 Habits of Mind That Make You Smarter
The habits themselves are nothing new or revolutionary. Costa and Kallick (2008) believe these habits are less on behavior but more on intent.

Read more on the topic of Habits of the Mind: Describing 16 Habits of the Mind

Forming Values Throughout Life

I sorted through some files last week and found a document I posted on my bulletin board in every office I had for my entire work life.  This document titled “Values for Students and Professional Leaders” is from a 1993 academic journal.  I find it interesting that 25 years later the values continue to be applicable today as desired outcomes of education and for society.  The values document was a “clip and save” page included in the National Intramural-Recreational Sports Association journal.  

Prior blogs, July 2019, and October 2019, I wrote about the connection of the academic/co-curricular experience for student learning and development.  It is passe’ to not think there is educational value to all aspects of life and that learning takes place beyond the traditional classroom setting.  Sociability, transmission of and adherence to values, and enhancement of self-identity are a few points that stand out when I think about the effect of the thoughtful integration of the academic/co-curricular experiences on student development. Learning products include development of sportsmanship, adjustment, and modification of reactions to others and their ideas, commitment to development of skills and abilities, and mental adjustments made through success and failure. 

Chickering (1976, 1993) defines experiential learning as the learning that occurs when changes in judgements, feelings, knowledge, and skills result from active engagement in life.  Kerner (2018) cites advantages of experiential learning include:

  • Ability to immediately apply knowledge
  • Access to real-time coaching
  • Promotion of teamwork and communication skills
  • Development of reflective practice habits

Mercer (2019) writes about upholding values today.  She shares a perspective that society needs more empathy, respect, love, loyalty, and honesty.

Empathy – Empathy is defined as understanding and sharing the feelings of another. People need to understand who others are and accept who they are.  Focusing on how we can grow together should be our ultimate goal.

Respect – Mutual respect is needed for all of us. This is what makes us human. Having respect for everyone, despite the differences between us, is vital in order for a society to function well.

Love – Having love in our hearts keeps us from feeling the need to harm others. Love helps us acknowledge the similarities we all share rather than the differences of color, religion or sexual orientation.

Loyalty – Loyalty is a value that binds us to a person, thing or sentiment. With loyalty, we do not betray. If we all shared loyalty, it would help us build the strength needed to stand up against something that would harm our society.

Honesty – One form of honesty in society is accepting yourself. With honesty, you can admit your flaws and take the necessary steps to improve yourself. When we can admit to our flaws it can help someone else admit theirs. Ultimately, we can all help each other become better people.

My point is that the integration of academic/co-curricular experiences and active engagement in life creates knowledge and values. Use the twelve values listed above and consider if these are values you uphold.  What experiences (in the classroom, out-of-class experience, living life) reinforce each?   

Take the idea above a step further and consider the three steps below.

Step 1: Creation of your values
**How did you form your values?

Step 2: Identification of your values
**What are your values?  Why do they matter? 

Step 3: Application of your values
How do you…

** define your personal values?
**prioritize your values?
**live your values with integrity?  
**use your values to guide decision-making?
**adapt and change your values when needed?

Stuff Happens: Time to Retune

It is a challenge to objectively evaluate how life is progressing. I often make sports analogies in my writing however I find that “evaluating” life is hard to quantify or score. My first blog this year, Intentions Rather Than Resolutions, outlined plans for the year and I made the distinction between intentions and resolutions. 

To me, New Year’s resolutions are goals we think we “should” achieve while intentions are goals, we want to achieve.  Intentions set the direction for the upcoming year.  My intentions create my plan and the desired result I wish to achieve is my goal.

One expected outcome of setting your direction (goals) for the year is to have a happy life.  Lyubomirsky’s (2010) description of happiness aligns directly with Blooms to Blossoms purpose when she says that happiness is a state positive well-being combined with a sense of a meaningful and worthwhile life.

I have found that identifying a purpose is a guide to happiness and satisfaction.  This purpose leads to relationship building and gratefulness.

Purpose (Meaning) + Relationships (Linkage) +Gratefulness (Thankful) = Happiness

Kahneman & Deaton (2010) research on happiness supports the idea that objectively measuring how “life is going” is not easy.  They reviewed Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index (GHWBI) data, which include measures of subjective well-being, from 450,000 US residents collected by the Gallup Organization.  Two aspects of subjective well-being are emotional wellness and life evaluation.

“Emotional well-being refers to the emotional quality of an individual’s everyday experience—the frequency and intensity of experiences of joy, stress, sadness, anger, and affection that make one’s life pleasant or unpleasant. Life evaluation refers to the thoughts that people have about their life when they think about it.”

The plans we make at the new year serve as a guide as we move through each month, week, and day.  At times, a “bump in the road” will result in an unexpected ending…sometimes better, sometimes not so much.  

Last week I was thinking about a couple “intentions” I have that have not progressed as I had hoped. During this time, my husband was upstairs practicing guitar (one of his primary hobbies).  When he begins his practice the first task is to tune his guitar.  There are four types of alternate tunings (open, instrumental, regular, and special).

“Open” tuning is the most simple and common tuning to “special” tunings which are a grouping of miscellaneous tunings created in recent years.  Anyone who plays guitar knows that it is a general rule to tune your guitar every day and that the tuning is determined by the piece of music selected.

There are several reasons a guitar goes out of tune; a couple examples are:

**Old strings can keep you from that perfect tuning. As they wear, they lost their capability to hold tension, making them feel brittle and less able to hit the fret. That will make some notes to sound sharp.

**Strings are affected by extreme changes in temperature, as they will expand when it’s warm (making it sound flat) and contract when cold (resulting in a sharper sound).

Listening to my husband tune his guitar made me realize that in life we need to retune or reset…lack of progress, a bump in the road, a crossroad leading to a change does not mean the intended purpose will not be achieved…the intended purpose may merely change. Confidence in the original plan may be high but the needed change may be a blessing in disguise.  

Fader (2014) published an article on Psychology Today using “tune your guitar” as an analogy to reach happiness. 

Purpose (Meaning) + Relationships (Linkage) +Gratefulness (Thankful) = Happiness

“Over time, a guitar inevitably comes out of tune—not because it’s a bad guitar, but because that’s the nature of guitars. In fact, the key to maintaining a guitar is to notice when it’s not in tune and continually re-tune it…”

“Keeping a guitar well-calibrated involves a series of small tunings and re-tunings. It should be the same way with happiness: your happiness may fluctuate, it may even bottom out, but this doesn’t mean you should envision a huge insurmountable pyramid in which you need to reach the pinnacle of self-actualization for true happiness. It just means you need to adapt to your new equilibrium, to re-tune your inner guitar. That’s what happiness is—our ability to make the small but meaningful adaptations to whatever life throws at you.”

Just like guitar strings there are many reasons plans/goals go out of tune…some we can control and some we cannot.  Stuff happens.  It is time to retune and reengage.

Spending time on yourself to further your personal development is a great way to value your well-being, happiness, and success.  McGinley (2017)