Author: Sarah Lewis
Sarah Lewis devotes much of her first chapter to establishing the difference between positive psychology and positive thinking. Positive thinking is basically the concept that, simply through believing it so, all will work out fine. If it doesn't, it's because you weren't positive enough. Positive psych is the more scientific study of the positive aspects of human life, those things which make life most worth living. The differences are subtle but crucial. As the title implies, the book applies positive psych to the world of work. As with many such books, much of Lewis's material is related to "business" but applications to the teaching industry are clear.
I would not say Posistive Psychology at Work is particularly readable but the material is useful. I especially appreciated an idea submitted by contributor Clive Hutchinson regarding giving feedback with a playing card model: "Clubs was just telling people they had done badly, with no reasons. Spades was negative feedback but with specific information on what was bad. Hearts was praise, but without saying specifically what was good. And Diamonds was praise with specific information about what was good." Diamonds, in this case, represent the ideal. Teaching students to give meaningful feedback to each other has been a major focus for me recently and I may well adapt this metaphor.
I also like this perspective on leadership: "Increasingly, it is being recognized that the best leaders don't work to become perfect. Rather, they focus on honing their strengths and finding others to make up their limitations." Strengths is an idea I have explored in depth personally and professionally (see here, for instance) and it's good to see it reinforced here.
In addition to appraising my own situation, Lewis's thoughts on work in general and leadership in particular have also shed new light for me on a certain Jean-Luc Picard and the Enterprise he captains. Stay tuned on this. It is likely to come up in future posts.