Dissertation Progress

images-1Ladies and gents, boys and girls, here I am. I find myself at that dreaded yet pivotal point where the pen and pad do not see eye to eye or align perfectly. Indeed, I am at that point where all of the words, phrases, or scientific terminology I need do not come easily.

Alas, dear reader, I have come down with what writers typically call writer’s block. I know what you may be saying, how is it that you have all the time and writing skill one needs to draft a blog about writer’s block and still have writer’s block, but dear reader, trust me, for some odd reason, I can’t for the life of me finish this dissertation. Indeed, in the world of academia, this dissertation is considered a critical rite of passage that every individual has to go through if they ever aspire to become a Doctor of Philosophy, also known as a PhD holder.

Ladies and gents, I didn’t think that it was going to be this tough finishing a dissertation, but quite frankly it is. Writing then rewriting. Revising then getting approval from your dissertation committee is a handful to say the least. Now I know what you may be saying, STOP making excuses and get it done, but if you could walk a mile in my moccasins, you’d realize its hard too.

But at the end of the day, I am hanging in there, I finished chapter 3  of five a little while ago. I now need to simply complete the remaining two chapters of my dissertation to get my PhD. Wish me luck and stay tuned for more details of my dissertation journey. I’ll keep you posted.

Here are some tips that may help you with your writer’s block. First things first, write something, anything. Indeed, if you can’t write what you aspire to write, write something at least. I found in my past that if my writing wasn’t pitch perfect or without flaw, then I wasn’t going to write. However, this approach or attitude is foolhardy. Armed with this approach, I got nowhere quick. In writing as in life, sometimes you have to make a move even if it isn’t perfect. It is said that a thousand mile journey begins with one step. I think it is the same way with writing. Don’t be afraid to make the first move. Write something….anything. Get the pen moving.

The second tip is to write in a piecemeal fashion. Indeed, you don’t have to write the great American novel on the first shot. Start with a solid page, paragraph, or perhaps even just a sentence. Writing becomes easier when it is done in chunks. Space out your writing material, it makes it easier and more manageable, trust me.

Lastly, it is important to reward your self for making a move and writing something even if it isn’t perfect. The reward will give you momentum and confidence to keep writing. Momentum silences the critics (at least temporarily) and arms you with confidence to keep the pen moving. So dear reader do not be dismayed by writer’s block, it happens. The more important question is how are you going to deal with it when it occurs. I hope this post helps you in this regard…

Posted in dissertation, doctor of philosophy, phd, writer's block

IRB Approval

irbDear Readers,

I have some good news to share.  Recently, I was informed by my school (i.e. Capella University) that I have obtained Institutional Review Board (IRB) approval.

Indeed, a highly important part of the dissertation process is to obtain Institutional Review Board approval from your school to ensure that the human subjects involved in your research are protected and not mistreated.

A PhD learner cannot begin the data collection process until IRB approval has been awarded.

Please see the attached approval letter for my dissertation.

Approval Letter – 2015-Dec-10 (2) (1)

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Bringing the positive back to psychology

psychPsychology has long treated the treatment of disorders but now a new trend is beginning to emerge. Psychologists are beginning to examine what factors contribute to optimal psychological states such as flow, thriving, and renewal. This shift in focus has been the impetus for changing my dissertation’s emphasis.

In the beginning I wanted to explore burnout and its debilitating effects on human service workers. However, upon  further research I determined that there was a great deal of data on that very subject. My focus began to take me in the direction of positive psychology.

Positive psychology is a field of psychology that stresses the importance of understanding what makes a life worth living. Positive psychologists focus on understanding human strengths and the role they play in shaping behavior or performance at the job.

Positive psychology gained prominence after former APA (American Psychological Association) president Martin Seligman gave a presentation that pointed out psychology’s heavy emphasis on treating psychological disorders after the second world war. Seligman was essentially making the case that psychology was not simply an academic investigation into what was wrong with human behavior but rather psychology was a field of study that was equally interested in exploring the factors that made life worth living.

I resonated with Seligman’s central argument. I found that a great deal of research in psychology focused all-too-much on the pathology and disorder of psychology but not on what makes life worth living. However, as an individual that has the maximizer strength in their signature strength arsenal (after taking the strengthsfinder assessment), I find the pathology orientation of psychology to be informative yet unproductive and limiting.

But I invite you dear reader to disagree and offer your perspective. Let the discussion commence! Looking forward to your response…

For more info on positive psychology, see the following articles:

Jen Rolfe’s article in Management Today

An article from WomensMedia that is on Forbes.Com

Dr. Marla Gottschalk’s article on LinkedIn’s Pulse website


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Why We’re So Unhappy With Work — And How to Fix It

Why We’re So Unhappy With Work — And How to Fix It – https://lnkd.in/bmKKtYb

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Burnout & Passion At Work

I1-passion-workn today’s workplace, there is an unmistakable need to have members of your staff that are passionate about what they do. Indeed, passionate workers tend to persist in the face of obstacles and setbacks at the workplace.

These individuals consistently seek different ways to refine their knowledge, skills, and abilities as a means of reaching a degree of excellence at what they do. Passionate workers do this by engaging in what is called deliberate practice.

Deliberate practice provides different opportunities for learning and skill acquisition (Lie, 2011). However, deliberate practice differs from leisure activities in the sense that the activities involved with deliberate practice can be demanding, repetitive, and not always enjoyable.

Even though there is a hunger for passionate workers, from a research or academic standpoint, there does not appear to be a clear consensus as to what exactly passion is. Winnen (2005) says that passion has been defined in a variety of ways. In fact, some define it as loving what you do. Others describe it as the fire that burns within you and stirs the soul. Despite the different understandings of passion, there still appears to be a need to better understand passion’s antecedents and what modifies the strength or weakness of this phenomenon.

One of the seminal researchers on passion, Dr. Robert Vallerand has defined passion as a strong inclination towards a self-defining activity that people love, that they consider important, and in which they devote significant amounts of time and energy. In other words, passion basically refers to this longstanding desire that one has to engage in an activity that they really love. According to Vallerand’s construct, activities are passionate when they become central features of people’s identities. People with a passion for dancing or writing do not merely dance or write. They become dancers or writers.

In 2003, Vallerand and his colleagues developed a psychometric instrument to assess an individual’s level of passion. This instrument is called the Passion Scale.

However, passion is a far cry from another psychological construct that has received considerable attention from the world of academia in recent years. That psychological construct is called burnout.

Burnout is a psychological syndrome marked by emotional exhaustion, feelings of inefficacy, and cynicism towards one’s clients and coworkers (Maslach, 1982). This syndrome tends to occur after an individual has experienced significant and prolonged stress in the workplace.

Burnout has informed the psychological literature considerably. However, more research is needed to understand not only why someone is burnt out but rather how one creates and sustains passionate commitment toward what they do for a living. This is the starting point or backdrop for the dissertation I am currently working on.

As has been stated before on this blog, I am currently in the process of writing and preparing my research plan for my dissertation. As things stand now, I am working with my mentor and dissertation committee to have my Research Plan officially approved. I will keep you posted as any new developments arise.

References for further reading:

Lie, H. (2011). Deliberate practice in professional speaking expertise (Order No. 3493859). Available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses Global. (920315449). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/920315449?accountid=27965

Maslach, C. (1982). Burnout–The cost of caring. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall.

Vallerand, R. J., Salvy, S., Mageau, G. A., Elliot, A. J., Denis, P. L., Grouzet, F. E., & Blanchard, C. (2007). On the Role of Passion in Performance. Journal Of Personality,75(3), 505-534. doi:10.1111/j.1467-6494.2007.00447.x

Winnen, C. J. (2005). To be or not to be: The role of passion and obsession in the entrepreneurial process (Order No. 3193450). Available from ProQuest Psychology Journals. (305384413). Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com.library.capella.edu/docview/305384413?accountid=27965

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Strengths-Based Leadership

Know Your Strengths words written on a sign and held by a different or unique person with a competitive advantage in a game, competition, challenge or life

TRENTON– As an I/O Psychology professional in the making, I recognize that I am highly curious about coaching, training and development.

Coaching is becoming increasingly more important as organizations and individuals seek to develop and acquire more knowledge, skills, and abilities either for themselves or for their organizations.

According to BusinessBalls.Com, coaching refers to methods of helping others to improve, develop, learn new skills, find personal success, achieve aims and to manage life change and personal challenges. Coaching commonly addresses attitudes, behaviors, and knowledge, as well as skills, and can also focus on physical and spiritual development too.

And recognizing these truths about coaching, I felt it necessary to develop a blog specifically about coaching and one of the things they talk about the most, strengths. I know the naysayers may be saying why focus on strengths when I got all these weaknesses to fix.

This type of thinking is understandable but ultimately misguided. Spending all your time fixing your weaknesses can be draining and/or depleting whereas working on or developing your strengths can be life-enhancing, confidence-building, and research has proven that it can lead to improved performance.

Gallup defines a strength as the ability to “provide near perfect performance in a specific activity”.

As a graduate student at Capella University, I had to take a number of assessments to get through my program of study. One of those assessments included Gallup’s strengthsfinder. Through this assessment, I was able to determine and pinpoint my 5 signature strengths which include Maximizer, Empathy, Connectedness, Input, and Intellection.

This assessment has taught me that it is important to apply my signature strengths in different ways in both my career and personal life. It has helped me tremendously in terms of strengthening my self- understanding. When one has a stronger sense of self-understanding they can make more well-informed decisions on what they are willing or not willing to do, both from a professional or personal perspective.

For more information on Gallups strengths finder, click here. By using this assessment and learning from it, you too, may determine what makes you tick or motivates you. It can also aid you in solving the day-to-day problems you or I may face or encounter. Armed with this information, one can develop an action plan to improve their workplace performance and hopefully develop or apply their strengths into other areas of their lives.

For further reading on strengths based leadership, check out Tom Rath and Barry Conchie’s book Strengths Based Leadership: Great leaders, Teams, and Why People Follow.

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Keep Calm And Finish Your Dissertation

dissertationLadies and gents, boys and girls, if you would please, lend me your ears. Today, I am fortunate enough to be the bearer of some more good news.

I just found out recently that the research topic for my dissertation was approved by the good ol’ folks at Capella University.

As stated in a previous post, I am deeply interested in exploring or developing a theory of how seasoned human service workers i.e. teachers, social workers, and nurses, etc. create and sustain passionate commitment even though their occupations are typically known to be stressful or burnout-inducing.

I wanted to share this information with everyone because I thought it may help others understand how the overall dissertation process works. This process is definitely no walk in the park. Believe you me, It takes a great deal of patience and openness as your work will be examined with a fine toothed comb by a number of highly educated folks who are trained to find issues and errors in reasoning, organization, and overall writing mechanics.

On top of this, the dissertation process consists of multiple milestones that have to be completed before the overall process is complete. As a case in point, at Capella University, each PhD learner must complete ethics training on conducting research on human subjects. This training takes a good week to complete in full.

Even though the dissertation process is lengthy and multilayered, it is not an insurmountable task. Indeed, it can be conquered one step at a time with enough moral support and a good deal of perseverance on the part of the learner. This is why this blog post is aptly entitled ‘Keep Calm and Finish Your Dissertation’.

If you are going through the dissertation process yourself or if you are thinking about pursuing a doctoral degree, I want to offer some tips that I hope will prove helpful.

So, other than getting that necessary moral support from friends and family and doing what you must to persevere, it is also equally important to manage your time appropriately, delegate tasks when necessary,  and don’t be afraid to ask for help if need be. Indeed, one doesn’t complete a dissertation by them self.

As a person that struggles mightily with time management, I recognize how this can be difficult for the average Joe Schmo. So, in the words of former President Bill Clinton, ‘I feel your pain’.  But things can be done to manage time effectively and get things done if you are willing to put in the work. Some things you can do is find out when you are most productive. Are you a morning person, night owl, or do you excel during the afternoon or midday? When I figured out that I was a morning person, I would schedule the most important things at that time. For more info on time management, click here.

Along with this, its also important to delegate tasks to free up your time for more high priority items on your to-do list. By delegating these low priority tasks, you also give others an opportunity to develop skills and experience. One way to delegate is by asking yourself, what you do over and over again that you have mastered. By delegating this task to someone else they can develop a new skill that may prove marketable in the future to employers. For more info on delegating tasks, click here.

Lastly, as human beings, sometimes there is this issue with soliciting help from others. It could be a matter of pride, it could be a matter of not knowing how to ask for assistance, but whatever it is, it is something that can derail your dissertation process if you don’t request help from others occasionally. If you struggle with this like I do, click here or here for more information.

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