“What these two lack in physical stature, they more than make up for with heart and sheer willingness to fight for each other and the team.” That was my first media mention as a full senior rugby player but it didn’t make me worry about my height, instead it became my goal to fulfill.
We can all name exceptional individuals in rugby and other sports. They stand out in our minds and we celebrate and remember their achievements with great fondness. But look closely at those winners and it becomes clear that it’s actually the team around them that made things possible. This is the type of team I developed my fighting spirit with.
Who’s got your back?
The best and most successful teamshave to have an amazing work ethic and spirit, they have to be willing to fight for each other and have each other’s backs both on and off the field.
Exceptional players like Dan Carter can only excel with a strong team behind them.
We’ve all seen in the stadium (or in the movies!) how when a team is down and almost out the coach or captain makes a rousing speech. All of a sudden the team performs miracles and we celebrate and remember the speech. But what we sometimes fail to notice is that often while the speech is happening, all the players are looking each other in the eyes…and that is where the secret to the real power lies.
“The coach may have a game plan but he needs to know what to say to draw out the most important element of that plan – team spirit, a belief and trust running throughout the whole squad that each player will give everything to make that plan a success.”
A team spirit he’s seen in the training camps and practice games, a team spirit he’s seen in the blazing summer heat, freezing cold winter evenings and in the pouring rain, a team spirit that remains strong even with the knowledge that not everyone is going to make it through to the final selection. None of this stops all the players pulling relentlessly in the same direction and striving to achieve a common goal.
So how does this team spirit develop?
Great team spirit doesn’t just happen and every team has to work at it and players have to take the time out and spend it together both on and off the field. They have totrain hard and play hardbut also have a lot of fun together and it’s those moments the best teams think back on and which give them that extra bit of energy, pace and fight they need in those times of real adversity.
Learning how to build strong team spirit at a young age has been invaluable in later life.
“My school and club teams were never the greatest – we often had players who didn’t have much experience but we always managed to exceed expectations because we took the time to build a team spirit that we could rely upon in the hardest of times.”
These learnings from playing rugby have had a tremendous impact on the way I see the world and the values I bring to it, and this is especially obvious in the corporate world. I would encourage anyone who has the chance to get involved in rugby, whether that be through playing, organizing, encouraging your kids, or just simply watching, I would highly recommend this. The benefits and positive impact it can have on your life is more than worth it.
The media loves to tell us what to believe, what to think, what to feel and what to desire. School measures our success not by our ability to think for ourselves, innovate and bring forth new ideas, but by our ability to memorize and regurgitate the same old information on paper.
We are trained not to have independently thinking minds and feeling hearts, because we are easier to manage that way. But is it really our purpose to be managed by the upper echelons of a hierarchy that is feeding on inequality and the destruction of our home planet?
We are so much more than that.
Think For Yourself is a movement dedicated to restore humanity’s faith in its own potential, intelligence, heart and capacity to be sovereign.
“When we blindly adopt a religion, a political system, a literary dogma, we become automatons.” ― Anaïs Nin
Norman Garmezy, a developmental psychologist and clinician at the University of Minnesota, met thousands of children in his four decades of research. But one boy in particular stuck with him. He was nine years old, with an alcoholic mother and an absent father. Each day, he would arrive at school with the exact same sandwich: two slices of bread with nothing in between. At home, there was no other food available, and no one to make any. Even so, Garmezy would later recall, the boy wanted to make sure that “no one would feel pity for him and no one would know the ineptitude of his mother.” Each day, without fail, he would walk in with a smile on his face and a “bread sandwich” tucked into his bag.
The boy with the bread sandwich was part of a special group of children. He belonged to a cohort of kids—the first of many—whom Garmezy would go on to identify as succeeding, even excelling, despite incredibly difficult circumstances. These were the children who exhibited a trait Garmezy would later identify as “resilience.” (He is widely credited with being the first to study the concept in an experimental setting.) Over many years, Garmezy would visit schools across the country, focussing on those in economically depressed areas, and follow a standard protocol. He would set up meetings with the principal, along with a school social worker or nurse, and pose the same question: Were there any children whose backgrounds had initially raised red flags—kids who seemed likely to become problem kids—who had instead become, surprisingly, a source of pride? “What I was saying was, ‘Can you identify stressed children who are making it here in your school?’ ” Garmezy said, in a1999 interview.“There would be a long pause after my inquiry before the answer came. If I had said, ‘Do you have kids in this school who seem to be troubled?,’ there wouldn’t have been a moment’s delay. But to be asked about children who were adaptive and good citizens in the school and making it even though they had come out of very disturbed backgrounds—that was a new sort of inquiry. That’s the way we began.”
Resilience presents a challenge for psychologists. Whether you can be said to have it or not largely depends not on any particular psychological test but on the way your life unfolds. If you are lucky enough to never experience any sort of adversity, we won’t know how resilient you are. It’s only when you’re faced with obstacles, stress, and other environmental threats that resilience, or the lack of it, emerges: Do you succumb or do you surmount?
Environmental threats can come in various guises. Some are the result of low socioeconomic status and challenging home conditions. (Those are the threats studied in Garmezy’s work.) Often, such threats—parents with psychological or other problems; exposure to violence or poor treatment; being a child of problematic divorce—are chronic. Other threats are acute: experiencing or witnessing a traumatic violent encounter, for example, or being in an accident. What matters is the intensity and the duration of the stressor. In the case of acute stressors, the intensity is usually high. The stress resulting from chronic adversity, Garmezy wrote, might be lower—but it “exerts repeated and cumulative impact on resources and adaptation and persists for many months and typically considerably longer.”
Prior to Garmezy’s work on resilience, most research on trauma and negative life events had a reverse focus. Instead of looking at areas of strength, it looked at areas of vulnerability, investigating the experiences that make people susceptible to poor life outcomes (or that lead kids to be “troubled,” as Garmezy put it). Garmezy’s work opened the door to the study ofprotectivefactors: the elements of an individual’s background or personality that could enable success despite the challenges they faced. Garmezy retired from research before reaching any definitive conclusions—his career was cut short by early-onset Alzheimer’s—but his students and followers were able to identify elements that fell into two groups: individual, psychological factors and external, environmental factors, or disposition on the one hand and luck on the other.
In 1989 a developmental psychologist named Emmy Werner published the results of a thirty-two-year longitudinal project. She had followed a group of six hundred and ninety-eight children, in Kauai, Hawaii, from before birth through their third decade of life. Along the way, she’d monitored them for any exposure to stress: maternal stress in utero, poverty, problems in the family, and so on. Two-thirds of the children came from backgrounds that were, essentially, stable, successful, and happy; the other third qualified as “at risk.” Like Garmezy, she soon discovered that not all of the at-risk children reacted to stress in the same way. Two-thirds of them “developed serious learning or behavior problems by the age of ten, or had delinquency records, mental health problems, or teen-age pregnancies by the age of eighteen.” But the remaining third developed into “competent, confident, and caring young adults.” They had attained academic, domestic, and social success—and they were always ready to capitalize on new opportunities that arose.
What was it that set the resilient children apart? Because the individuals in her sample had been followed and tested consistently for three decades, Werner had a trove of data at her disposal. She found that several elements predicted resilience. Some elements had to do with luck: a resilient child might have a strong bond with a supportive caregiver, parent, teacher, or other mentor-like figure. But another, quite large set of elements was psychological, and had to do with how the children responded to the environment. From a young age, resilient children tended to “meet the world on their own terms.” They were autonomous and independent, would seek out new experiences, and had a “positive social orientation.” “Though not especially gifted, these children used whatever skills they had effectively,” Werner wrote. Perhaps most importantly, the resilient children had what psychologists call an “internal locus of control”: they believed that they, and not their circumstances, affected their achievements. The resilient children saw themselves as the orchestrators of their own fates. In fact, on a scale that measured locus of control, they scored more than two standard deviations away from the standardization group.
Werner also discovered that resilience could change over time. Some resilient children were especially unlucky: they experienced multiple strong stressors at vulnerable points and their resilience evaporated. Resilience, she explained, is like a constant calculation: Which side of the equation weighs more, the resilience or the stressors? The stressors can become so intense that resilience is overwhelmed. Most people, in short, have a breaking point. On the flip side, some people who weren’t resilient when they were little somehow learned the skills of resilience. They were able to overcome adversity later in life and went on to flourish as much as those who’d been resilient the whole way through. This, of course, raises the question of how resilience might be learned.
George Bonanno is a clinical psychologist at Columbia University’s Teachers College; he heads the Loss, Trauma, and Emotion Lab and has been studying resilience for nearly twenty-five years. Garmezy, Werner, and others have shown that some people are far better than others at dealing with adversity; Bonanno has been trying to figure out where that variation might come from. Bonanno’s theory of resilience starts with an observation: all of us possess the same fundamental stress-response system, which has evolved over millions of years and which we share with other animals. The vast majority of people are pretty good at using that system to deal with stress. When it comes to resilience, the question is: Why do some people use the system so much more frequently or effectively than others?
One of the central elements of resilience, Bonanno has found, is perception: Do you conceptualize an event as traumatic, or as an opportunity to learn and grow? “Events are not traumatic until we experience them as traumatic,” Bonanno told me, in December. “To call something a ‘traumatic event’ belies that fact.” He has coined a different term: PTE, or potentially traumatic event, which he argues is more accurate. The theory is straightforward. Every frightening event, no matter how negative it might seem from the sidelines, has the potential to be traumatic or not to the person experiencing it. (Bonanno focusses on acute negative events, where we may be seriously harmed; others who study resilience, including Garmezy and Werner, look more broadly.) Take something as terrible as the surprising death of a close friend: you might be sad, but if you can find a way to construe that event as filled with meaning—perhaps it leads to greater awareness of a certain disease, say, or to closer ties with the community—then it may not be seen as a trauma. (Indeed, Werner found that resilient individuals were far more likely to report having sources of spiritual and religious support than those who weren’t.) The experience isn’t inherent in the event; it resides in the event’s psychological construal.
It’s for this reason, Bonanno told me, that “stressful” or “traumatic” events in and of themselves don’t have much predictive power when it comes to life outcomes. “The prospectiveepidemiologicaldata shows that exposure to potentially traumatic events does not predict later functioning,” he said. “It’s only predictive if there’s a negative response.” In other words, living through adversity, be it endemic to your environment or an acute negative event, doesn’t guarantee that you’ll suffer going forward. What matters is whether that adversity becomes traumatizing.
The good news is that positive construal can be taught. “We can make ourselves more or less vulnerable by how we think about things,” Bonanno said. In research at Columbia, the neuroscientist Kevin Ochsner has shown that teaching people to think of stimuli in different ways—to reframe them in positive terms when the initial response is negative, or in a less emotional way when the initial response is emotionally “hot”—changes how they experience and react to the stimulus. You can train people to better regulate their emotions, and the training seems to have lasting effects.
Similar work has been done with explanatory styles—the techniques we use to explain events. I’ve written before about theresearch of Martin Seligman, the University of Pennsylvania psychologist who pioneered much of the field of positive psychology: Seligman found that training people to change their explanatory styles from internal to external (“Bad events aren’t my fault”), from global to specific (“This is one narrow thing rather than a massive indication that something is wrong with my life”), and from permanent to impermanent (“I can change the situation, rather than assuming it’s fixed”) made them more psychologically successful and less prone to depression. The same goes forlocus of control: not only is a more internal locus tied to perceiving less stress and performing better but changing your locus from external to internal leads to positive changes in both psychological well-being and objective work performance. The cognitive skills that underpin resilience, then, seem like they can indeed be learned over time, creating resilience where there was none.
Unfortunately, the opposite may also be true. “We can become less resilient, or less likely to be resilient,” Bonanno says. “We can create or exaggerate stressors very easily in our own minds. That’s the danger of the human condition.” Human beings are capable of worry and rumination: we can take a minor thing, blow it up in our heads, run through it over and over, and drive ourselves crazy until we feel like that minor thing is the biggest thing that ever happened. In a sense, it’s a self-fulfilling prophecy. Frame adversity as a challenge, and you become more flexible and able to deal with it, move on, learn from it, and grow. Focus on it, frame it as a threat, and a potentially traumatic event becomes an enduring problem; you become more inflexible, and more likely to be negatively affected.
In December theNew York Times Magazinepublished an essaycalled “The Profound Emptiness of ‘Resilience.’ ” It pointed out that the word is now used everywhere, often in ways that drain it of meaning and link it to vague concepts like “character.” But resilience doesn’t have to be an empty or vague concept. In fact, decades of research have revealed a lot about how it works. This research shows that resilience is, ultimately, a set of skills that can be taught. In recent years, we’ve taken to using the term sloppily—but our sloppy usage doesn’t mean that it hasn’t been usefully and precisely defined. It’s time we invest the time and energy to understand what “resilience” really means.
Philosophers argue that beauty is essential to life itself, a value so dear to humans that it can overcome evils. But what if I told you that by going about your daily routines, you’re greatly diminishing your chance to harness the power of beauty?
What if by each email you send, app you download, and screen you touch, you’re making your life less beautiful?
“I’m realizing every day that sometimes the most beautiful things in life can’t be downloaded.”
Challenge yourself to find beauty in real life experiences beyond screens.
We’ve been conditioned to believe that ‘beauty is in the eye of the beholder,’ that it is completely unique to the individual. But what if we have it all wrong and beauty isn’t in the eye of the beholder?
“What if our perception of beauty is actually a response to natural selection – something pre-wired in our minds through centuries of Darwinian adaptations?”
In his TED talk entitled, ‘A Darwinian Theory of Beauty,’ Denis Dutton argues just that. After interviewing people all across the globe about their tastes in art, he found that perceptions of beauty transcend international borders. In almost every instance, people were drawn to images of natural landscapes over cityscapes, and generally preferred nature-themed paintings to any other subject.
Beautiful things transcend language and culture.
“Consider briefly…the magnetic pull of beautiful landscapes. People in very different cultures all over the world tend to like a particular kind of landscape…that just happens to be similar to the savannas where we evolved. This landscape shows up today on calendars, on postcards, and in the design of golf courses and public parks.”
These pristine, ancient landscapes were considered most beautiful even by cultures who had never seen them before.
“Could it be that taking a step back from technology is the answer to bringing more beauty into our lives?”
I’ve certainly found that at the very least, this is true in my work outs. There’s something about jumping and running and sweating – picking up a barbell twice your weight, the sound of gloves against a heavy bag or your feet hitting the pavement, that awakens the same sense of beauty that I believe Dutton’s subjects felt from viewing these nature scenes.
“We think we need watches, and apps, fancy weight machines and treadmills, but all that these things really do is remove the natural, and thus the beautiful, from our workouts.”
Listen to your body and focus on your breath – no technology needed.
By tracking every calorie, pacing around to hit our daily step goals and relying on a monitor to tell us when something is hard – we forget that our bodies, and what they can do, are amazing, beautiful, and natural.
“We’ve been overtaken by routine and overrun with choice – and it’s diminishing our human spirit.”
I’m not saying it’s necessary or realistic to go back to the pre-historic era, or ditch technology and innovation. That’s ridiculous. But maybe the key to finding beauty in our lives, and in the positive feelings it elicits, is a lot easier than we think… It’s in a face-to-face conversation, a wholesome meal, or even at the bottom of a push-up.
Our relentless love for new music and culture has always been a part of our workflow and design process. Listening to different genres spanning from classical to electronic we love to constantly hear new melodies. We mixed the XLR8R’s top 100 downloads of 2015 and will be uploading on the mixcloud page. Listen and let us know what you thought!
We have already released 2 installments of the the TOP 100. Stay tuned over the next few weeks as we count down the most wanted underground tracks of 2015.
The tech giant says more than 350 engineers will work on Google products in the new 185,000-square-foot office.
GLENN LOWSON / TORONTO STAR FILE PHOTO
Google already has an office in Kitchener at the old Lang Tanning Company building, which also holds offices for other tech startups. The new workspace will be located in the Breithuapt Block, a former rubber manufacturing facility that takes up a full city block.
By:The Canadian Press,Published on Mon Jan 11 2016
KITCHENER—Google Canada will unveil a new headquarters for its national development team in Kitchener, Ont., on Thursday.
The tech giant says more than 350 engineers will work on Google products in the new 185,000-square-foot office.
The new workspace is located in the Breithuapt Block, a former rubber manufacturing facility that takes up a full city block.
The company says the unveiling Thursday will showcase its virtual reality technology, which was built in the Kitchener-Waterloo area, and other locally made products.
Google’s thumbprint in the Kitchener-Waterloo region, which has become an IT hub, has grown since opening itsfirst office there in 2005.