ORGL-680: Leadership & Hardiness.
Course pedagogy introduced me to existential psychology and psychological hardiness within the context of organizational leadership. I gained an understanding of existentialism and how it represents the foundation of psychological hardiness. We began with a personal exploration of meaning and how meaning informs psychological attitudes and existential courage during personal and organizational adversity. I learned to deconstruct and operationalize psychological hardiness through scholarly literature, classroom exercises, discussions, assignments and simulations. I partnered with my climbing team to study a resilient organization that has responded well to adversity and challenge, exploring principles of hardiness embedded in organizational culture, climate, structure, operations and workforce issues. Core competencies included 1) develop knowledge and strategies for learning about the role of existentialism in clarifying personal meaning for self and organizations 2) develop knowledge of psychological hardiness as a pathway to personal and organizational resiliency 3) develop knowledge and strategies for thinking creatively and strategically in implementing psychological hardiness within organizations 4) develop strategies for applying principles of psychological hardiness in real life simulation.
Rarely does one encounter course pedagogy that affirms and transforms as much as this course on existentialism. Entering in to this course I considered myself a relatively resilient individual that managed adversity well. The course content moved my integrated holistic understanding of resilience from a focal point on self to a focal point on others. Viktor Frankl writes, "Forces beyond your control can take away everything you possess except one thing, your freedom to choose how you will respond to the situation. You cannot control what happens to you in life, but you can always control what you feel and do about what happens to you." (Frankl, 2006).
Additional literature for the course included what has become a staple in recommended texts titled High Altitude Leadership. Warner & Schminkcke capitalize on their successes climbing Mt. Everest as a metaphor for organizational success in a text that captivated my undivided attention (also known as an all-night can't-put-down read). Key learning includes, "Whether in an office or on a mountain, choosing to stay stuck in the safe world ensures losses of great opportunities to the ultimate strategy killer: fear. It stops staff from making great decisions, stops change agents from disrupting the status quo, and stops leaders from leading" (Warner & Schminkcke, 2009). Additionally, the chapter on Tool Seduction captured my rapt attention. How often do we believe that the right piece of technology or 'gear' (organizational system) will improve the challenging situation? As leaders we want to have the best tools available however at times the tools selected can contribute to preventing growth and opportunity if the tool isn't appropriate for the situation or fails to work for the individual using it.
The most important competency applied included a team climb up Mt. Adams in the State of Washington. I achieved 9000 of the 12,276 foot mountain and while I did not summit, the 5-month preparation and dedication to training and radical transformation physically in me is reflected in my commitment to a healthy lifestyle, a lifestyle I continue to this day. My next dream is to summit Mt. Shasta in California and I am in training three times per week towards my goal.
Climbing Mt. Everest with a Mountain on My Back The Sherpa's Story BBC full documentary 2013 nepal. (2013, February 2). Retrieved October 16, 2015, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HlAiU5fIaKY&list=PLkmSaH0vJ-kHwHzbFd875ApeNNEQpdIGM
Collins, J. C., & Hansen, M. T. (2011). Great by choice: Uncertainty, chaos, and luck: Why some thrive despite them all. New York, NY: HarperCollins.
Everest: The Death Zone. (1998). Retrieved October 16, 2015, from http://topdocumentaryfilms.com/nova-everest-the-death-zone/
Frankl, V. E. (2006). Man's search for meaning. Boston: Beacon Press.
Gonzales, L. (2003). Deep Survival. London: W. W. Norton & Company.
Maddi, S. R., & Khoshaba, D. M. (2005). Resilience at work: How to succeed no matter what life throws at you. New York, NY: AMACOM.
Storm over everest [Motion picture on YouTube]. (1996). USA.
Stress portrait of a killer [Motion picture on YouTube]. (2010). Sydney: Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
Useem, M., Useem, J., & Asel, P. (2003). Upward bound: Nine original accounts of how business leaders reached their summits. New York, NY: Crown Business.
Valikangas, L. (2010). The resilient organization: How adaptive cultures thrive even when strategy fails. New York: McGraw-Hill.
Warner, C., & Schmincke, D. (2009). High altitude leadership: What the world's most forbidding peaks teach us about success. San Francisco, CA: Jossey-Bass