|A collector of experiences and a pragmatist|
This web site was created primarily to support my professional interests. However, there are many things that intrigue me, and on this page I’d like to share some thoughts that I believe are consistent with my professional perspective, but not necessarily identical to what I might say or do, when I am wearing my “professional hat.”
For many years, I’ve believed that the challenge of life is to find a path that is consistent with our talents, that allows expression of positive character and personal integrity, and that makes a contribution that we experience as meaningful. However, it is only in recent years that I’ve been able to look back at my own life and see what seem like themes, progression, and the story of me.
Professionally, I somehow found my way to the right academic discipline, psychology. I’ve always considered myself to be a generalist, initially doing laboratory research in human learning and memory, but eventually morphing to focus on social and organizational behavior. I loved doing research, and I was almost always in my element whenever I was in a classroom. Then, a door opened to administration, I walked through, and I found myself moving in directions I never anticipated.
I feel sure that it was a blessing that I wound up on a regional campus of Ohio State, and then continued to work with regional campuses and in continuing education after moving to Ohio University. It was the right fit for me, and it allowed me to develop toward what I think of as the sweet spot, at the intersection of regional/branch campuses, programs for adult learners, and distance learning.
I have always been a person of broad interests. I’ve described myself as a collector of experiences, and I do well in games like Trivial Pursuit, but I’m also a pragmatist, in the sense of William James, and so I’ve tried to put what I’ve learned into practice.
My interest in the challenges of leadership, as well as a long standing interest in history, led me to read extensively about the Civil War, as well as to visit sites of major battles, to get a sense of what the generals were looking at, and how and why they proceeded as they did. I’ve been interested in biographies of many sorts for the same type of reason, but including a particular enjoyment of baseball biographies. I won’t try to describe the significance of baseball, here, as compared to basketball or football, but I do see a connection.
For the past 15 years or so, most of my writing and presentations have related to administrative matters. However, I used to do many presentations and seminars for business and professional organizations, on topics such as work motivation, managing change and conflict, working with difficult people (That was a popular one!), and so on.
I’ve probably spoken more on stress management, in more different contexts, than any other topic, except perhaps managing change. Of course, managing change, either personally or within an organization, and managing stress are very much related. These topics also fit well with a personal interest in health and fitness, which I’ve held for more than 30 years. Participation in sports has come and gone in my life, but I’ve been jogging and lifting weights for all that time. A description of my “interests” would be incomplete without mentioning my spiritual journey. I was raised in a Christian home and never rejected that commitment. Over the years, however, I have been interested in Eastern philosophies, as well as other efforts to understand the meaning and purpose of life. Some of the more recent books I’ve read and enjoyed are listed as recommendations, on this page.
To summarize the themes in my life, I’d start with a commitment and genuine enjoyment of learning and connecting ideas. Test scores show that I’m a strong extrovert, and that certainly is consistent with enjoying any form of teaching, but especially public speaking. To be sure, my education in psychology brings a strong orientation to data, but I’m also quite willing to trust my intuition, when I feel as if I have developed insight into situations. I believe that character and integrity count, that we make good decisions when we act from strength and commitment, and that faith in something larger than ourselves can bring a sense of purpose that carries us through difficult times.
Today, the areas of exploration that intrigue me include positive psychology, Appreciative Inquiry, strengths-based leadership, organizational coaching, mid-life career transitions, and developing cross-generational work teams. I am thoroughly enjoying and feeling energized by my own transitions, but I also hope to continue making professional and personal contributions to organizations that are reaching for new ideas and opportunities, during a challenging time of rapid change.